Golden Retriever Heat Cycle Explained Simply With Infographics


The Heat Cycle is something that all dogs go through. Heat is a natural sequence that female dogs go through to determine when the optimum time is to have puppies.

While it is instinctual for her, you, as a pet parent, must be aware of the signals, know how to care for your dog while she is in heat, and keep track of the timing.

Continue reading if you want to learn how to cope with your golden retriever when he or she is in heat, how to recognize the indications, and all you need to know about spaying and avoiding pregnancy.

When do golden retrievers go into heat? 

Golden Retrievers go into heat starting the age of 10-14 months old for the first time; The interval between heats is usually 9 or 10 months signs of heat include Personality Changes, Vaginal Discharge, Swollen Vulva, Mounting, Nesting Behavior, Periodic Urination, Nervousness, and Clingy Behavior.

“In heat” is the phrase for a female dog that is in the receptive stage of her sexual cycle. In other words, this is the window of time during the year when a woman can get pregnant.

Not understanding what it implies or how to detect when your dog is in heat will certainly lead to an undesirable litter of puppies. Depending on the age of your dog, this might put your female at danger of significant health concerns and unpleasant vet expenditures.

Most female puppies don’t start their heat cycles until they’re about six months old (normal for smaller breed dogs). Golden retrievers are more likely to have their first heat period between the ages of 10 and 14, whereas gigantic breeds have their first heat period between the ages of 18 and 24 months. Keep in mind that these are just estimates, and they could change at any time because each dog is unique. It’s critical to keep track of when your dog goes into heat for the first time. Mostly, their timing is expected to become normal after the first cycle.

Golden Retriever Heat Cycle explained (Timeline and Stages) 

Golden Retriever Heat Cycle timeline infographic

Golden Retrievers are in heat for around 2-4 weeks, during this period, they go through four stages:

  1. Proestrus
  2. Estrus
  3. Diestrus
  4. Anestrus

Stage 1 – Proestrus

The stage can last from 4-20 days, the average is 7-10 days.

The signs visible in this stage are a Swollen vulva (3 to 4 times larger than normal), Discharge typically, you’d notice blood on day one, which you should mark on the calendar for tracking.

Other symptoms include Pheromones which are hormones released during heat and attract male dogs and Behavioral change, typically clingier to family, yet maybe aggressive, growl, and snap at male dogs.

Stage 2 – Estrus

The stage can last from 5-14 days, this is the fertile time or known as the actual heat time, its is the period when dogs are most fertile.

Noticeable signs of this stage include discharge – around day 8-9 – that changes from red color to the color of straw (most golden’s discharge remain pink in color).

Female Goldens at that time experience the instinct to breed, willing to mate, also known as “standing heat”.

You will notice that your dog will move her tail to the side, signaling a willingness to mate, also known as “flagging”.

Stage 3 – Diestrus

The third stage usually starts at day 24 and would last for 60-90 days, at this stage, your golden retriever is not fertile and has no willingness to mate.

You will notice discharges that will go from straw color back to red, and then stop gradually.

Your golden will still have a scent, so I don’t recommend you take her out until the bleeding has completely stopped.

Your Golden Retriever at this stage will not allow a male to mount her and may get aggressive with any approaching canines.

Stage 4 – Anestrus

The final stage of the heat cycle is when your golden’s body returns to normal.

The cycle can last 60 to 90 days, and as soon as it’s over, the heat cycle starts all over again.

Below is a 9-minute video that also explains the heat in dogs in general quite well:

11 Signs your golden retriever is going into heat 

  1. Swelling of the Vulva

Usually, this is the first sign that your dog is going into heat is vulva will swell 3 to 4 times its normal size due to the change in hormones. This shift isn’t unpleasant, and it’s not anything you have to worry about.

  1. A bleed or a discharge

When your dog goes into heat, you’ll most likely notice bleeding initially. When it comes to the amount, color, and consistency of their discharge, each dog is unique. There’s no way of knowing how long their discharge will last.

It’s generally an indication that their heat is nearing an end when bleeding and discharge stop. You will become accustomed to how this sign manifests itself as your dog grows older and you witness more of her heat cycles.

  1. Excessive licking of the genital region

During her heat cycle, your dog is attempting to keep herself clean. Most Golden retrievers are excellent at keeping themselves clean, reducing the amount of time you have to spend cleaning up after them.

If your golden retriever is older (or just lazy), you might want to consider getting some doggie diapers.

  1. Urination on a regular basis

When your dog is in heat,  She’s physiologically predisposed to try to entice male dogs to her neighborhood. Urinating more often is an excellent method to achieve it. She is making her mark and letting male canines know it’s that time again.

If your dog has more accidents or has to be taken out more during her heat cycle, don’t be irritated. It’s perfectly normal and will go away once she’s no longer in heat.

  1. Unusual mounting habits

It is not out of the ordinary If your dog begins to mount other dogs, objects, or your legs, don’t be shocked. She’ll most likely do it on a regular basis. It’s a natural reaction to the hormonal changes she’s going through.

She’ll also be a lot more tolerant of other dogs attempting to mount her. It is nothing to worry about or find weird, it will pass once her heat cycle is done.

  1. Nervousness or attentiveness that induces more movement

When your Golden Retriever is in heat, she may exhibit anxious signs. When she is in heat, her anxiety might drive her to be violent.

When your Golden Retriever is in heat, she might communicate her anxiety in a variety of ways. You should be on the lookout for aggressiveness triggers if your Golden Retriever acts aggressively while she is in heat. 

  1. Nesting instincts

During your Golden Retriever’s cycle, you may observe her participating in certain nesting activities. You could get a glimpse of her digging a hole for her puppies. She could take toys or other treasured objects to the nest and sleep with them.

  1. Attracting male dogs more often

Your Golden Retriever is emitting pheromones to attract other dogs since she is in heat. Male dogs can smell your dog from a mile or more away during this time and will not hesitate to pursue her.

Make sure you keep an eye on your dog when she is out in the heat. If a determined male learns your dog is in heat, there is no wall high enough to keep him out of your yard. It’s preferable to be safe than sorry.

  1. Changes in personality – more affectionate, clingier, and playful

Dogs in heat are more clingy and irritable than they are at other times of the year. Your Golden Retriever may offer you a lot more attention than she usually does, as she longs to be near you and adored. She may also appear more nervous at this time.

  1. Change in Appetite

You may notice that your dog’s appetite has changed. She may be less interested in eating during the first week or two of her heat. She might also start to pace and whine out of dissatisfaction with her circumstances.

  1. Aggressive behavior

Aggressive conduct isn’t unusual, so keep an eye out for it. If your Golden Retriever begins to provoke fights with other female dogs, you should intervene before things get out of hand.

By the way, if you want to learn more about dogs’ behaviors regarding mating, you should definitely check out my post on why dogs get calmer after being neutered here.

When do golden retrievers go into heat for the first time?

Golden Retrievers go into heat around the age of 10-14 months. You may expect her to have a period of heat every six-nine months, lasting around two to three weeks. The 4 Stages of the Heat Cycle are Proestrus, Estrus, Diestrus, and Anestrus.

During her heat cycle, your Golden Retriever will go through certain physical and behavioral changes. Knowing what to anticipate will make things much simpler for both you and your dog.

The first heat of your dog will most likely be like any other. You’ll notice some bleeding right away, as well as additional attention from any male dogs in the house. When the signs appear, it shouldn’t be difficult to tell if she’s in heat or not.

The first heat of your Golden Retriever may be erratic. There are instances when the initial heat is more of a quiet one, with fewer symptoms. This has no bearing on their fertility.

It’s also possible that your puppy will have irregular heat for the first time. She may stop bleeding for a while and then resume a few weeks later. Her body is only now becoming used to the process of puberty.

How long does a golden retriever’s heat cycle last?

A Golden Retriever’s heat cycle lasts between two to four weeks; Because each dog is unique, they will have their own cycle to follow. If your golden retriever’s cycle is done, the easiest way to know is if there is no more discharge or bleeding. Golden retrievers remain fertile for the duration of their heat cycle.

The simplest method to tell whether your golden retriever’s cycle is over is if there’s no more discharge or bleeding. When her heat is through, her vulva will likewise return to normal size.

It’s a good idea to keep track of your Golden Retriever’s heat cycle once you’ve figured out how long it lasts. Make a note of the date as soon as you see the first indications of heat so you know when to go outside.

Dogs are in heat for the rest of their lives. The duration between your Golden Retriever’s heat cycles will tend to lengthen as she gets older, but they will not go away. If your older dogs haven’t been spayed, keep an eye on them because they might still be viable later in life.

How to take care of your female golden retriever during heat?

You can take care of your female Golden Retriever during heat by giving her emotional attention, setting aside some time for hugs, and providing chew-resistant toys. Never chastise your dog for making a bloody mess. Make your home a relaxing haven for her, and keep her occupied with toys and treats.

  • Don’t let her outside alone
  • Avoid taking her to public places
  • Provide emotional support
  • Cuddle when she’s clingy
  • Don’t scold or shout when your dog makes a mess or leaks on furniture
  • Find a good balance of exercise and rest
  • Get some doggy diapers (“heat diapers”)
  • Set aside some extra slots for lots of cuddles 
  • Offering chew-resistant toys
  • Make Your Home a Calm Place to Rest
  • Keep Her Distracted With Toys and Treats
  • Use a GPS tracker to find your dog if she wanders around trying to mate
  • Talk to your vet about spaying

How to prevent pregnancy during heat cycles? 

Here are 6 Easy ways to prevent pregnancy during heat cycles 

If you’re not planning on mating your dogs, unintentional pregnancy may not be your cup of tea, so here are ways to prevent your female golden retriever from getting pregnant during heat cycles 

  1. Don’t let her outside alone
  2. Avoid taking her to public places
  3. Use Heat Diapers
  4. Spaying Surgery – Ovariohysterectomy is a surgical procedure that removes the ovaries and uterus. The surgical removal of the whole female reproductive tract, including the uterus and both ovaries, is known as an ovariohysterectomy, or spaying. Despite the fact that this is a major abdominal operation requiring general anesthesia, there is little danger involved when conducted by a veterinarian. 
  5. Pay close attention during walks
  6. Avoid male dogs company

What are heat diapers? 

Similar to typical baby diapers, heat diapers are absorbent diapers with a hole in the back for the tail; heat diapers are meant to absorb discharges and blood during heat and prevent leakage. 

Heat Diapers can also be a method of preventing your dog from getting pregnant during heat cycles and masking their scent to a certain extent.

The best heat diapers for golden retriever

I know the variety can be overwhelming, so here are the top recommendations that you can find off amazon:

Vet’s Best Perfect-Fit Washable Female Dog Diaper

This diaper comes with a lot of advantages including:

  • Elasticity to fit your dog’s waist without risking her comfort
  • Saves you the hassle of cleaning up with its leakage proof protection
  • A large size of 20 in – 35 in. waist that would fit your Golden Retriever’s waist

Teamoy Washable Wrap Diapers for Female Dogs With Removable Pads

The Teamoy Washable diapers come at a price of $34.99 for the pack of 4, promising:

  • A waterproof material that’ll save your furniture from leaks and spills
  • Removable pads that will make it easier for you to change
  • Superabsorbent material that will not get you worried about changing it throughout the night

Paw Inspired Disposable Dog Diapers

These Female Dog Diapers with Ultra Protection come at a pack of 20 disposable diapers at a price of $22.99. The brand claims the diapers provide

  • DrySpeed Technology instantly converts urine into gel so you don’t have to worry about spills while diaper-changing
  • convenient and repositionable fasteners that make fitting your dog easy, comfortable and painless
  • A Comfortable & Secure Fit that will not make your dog grumpy
  • A Super Absorbent Core that is leak-proof and will help you avoid the tiring process of constantly cleaning up bloody messes

Should you spay your female golden retriever? 

If you don’t plan on mating your golden retriever, you should spay your dogs, spaying your female golden retriever is the responsible thing to do to avoid an unexpected pregnancy.

If you don’t want your golden retriever to go into heat twice a year, you should definitely get her spayed. It’s a great duty to keep her away from guys during these times, and it can cause a lot of disruption to your routine.

Consult your veterinarian about when you should spay or neuter your dog, as well as other choices such as sterilization, which eliminates the need for complete desexing. Make the greatest decision for your family and your dog.

When should you spay your golden retriever? 

Despite the fact that many pups are spayed before their first heat, it is not advised for golden retrievers. According to research, spaying a golden retriever before their first heat might have significant health consequences.

This study found that Golden retrievers that were spayed had a greater incidence of various joint problems and malignancies than those who were not. Increases in hip dysplasia and ligament ripping have been linked to early neutering.

When a dog is spayed or neutered, it loses the capacity to generate specific hormones that are necessary for development. Your golden retriever isn’t completely developed if you spay them before their first heat, and therefore before adolescence.

I have a full guide on the perfect time to spay or neuter your golden retriever here that you should definitely check out.

The pros and cons of spaying your golden retriever 

If you are confused about spaying your female golden retriever, here are the pros and cons:

Pros of Spaying your Golden Retriever:

  • Reduces the risk of any health problems
  • Prevents the incidence of mating and unwanted pregnancy 
  • Reduces Heat Period 
  • Lowers the risk of uterus cancer, ovaries cancer, or reproductive tract cancer
  • Decreases the urge of mating

Cons of Spaying your Golden Retriever:

  • Hypothyroidism (lowering thyroid level) and Weight Gain
  • Increases the risk of cancers, including lymphoma and hemangiosarcoma
  • complications after surgery under general anesthesia

How to know your golden retriever is out of heat? 

The simplest method to tell whether your golden retriever’s cycle is over is if there’s no more discharge or bleeding. When her heat is through, her vulva will likewise return to normal size.

It’s a good idea to keep track of your Golden Retriever’s heat cycle once you’ve figured out how long it lasts. Make a note of the date as soon as you see the first indications of heat so you’ll know when it’ll be over.

Dogs are in heat for the rest of their lives. The duration between your Golden Retriever’s heat cycles will tend to lengthen as she gets older, but they will not go away. If your older dogs haven’t been spayed, keep an eye on them because they might still be viable later in life.

Related Questions 

How long does a golden retriever bleed while in heat? 

A Golden Retriever bleeds for Seven to Ten days while in heat; during this time, her vulva is large, red, or swollen with some bleeding or blood-tinted discharge. Golden Retrievers go into heat around the age of 10-14 months. They go into heat every 6 to 9 months, lasting around two to three weeks

At what age do golden retrievers get their period? 

Golden Retrievers get their period at the age of 10-14 months old for the first time; The interval between heats is usually 9 or 10 months signs of heat include Personality Changes, Vaginal Discharge, Swollen Vulva, Mounting, Nesting Behavior, Periodic Urination, Nervousness, and Clingy Behavior.

How long after heat can you spay a dog? 

You should wait two to three months after heat to spay your dog; although you can spay them during, vets recommend the contrary as more blood flows to the affected area during this time, and that can complicate the surgery. 

Can I spay my dog while in heat?

you can spay your dog while in heat; although most people are under the impression that once a dog is in heat, you have to wait until she is done the cycle before spaying, many vets will spay a dog while she is in heat, though many will recommend against it due to the risk of serious complications. 

How do I comfort my dog when she is in heat? 

You can comfort your dog while she is in heat through providing emotional attention, setting aside some extra slots for lots of cuddles, offering chew-resistant toys, Never scolding your pup if she makes a bloody mess, Make Your Home a Calm Place to Rest, Keep Her Distracted With Toys and Treats.

You can check out the best chew toys for golden retrievers here.

Is it bad to spay a dog after the first heat? 

It is bad to spay your dog after the first heat, it is recommended to either spay them before their first heat; Early spaying (before 5 months) has several advantages, including a very low (0.05 percent) risk of mammary cancer, no risk of pregnancy, and no heat cycle bleeding.

Can I spay my dog after her second heat? 

Don’t spay your dog after her second heat; After the second heat to spay, the lifetime risk of mammary cancer is estimated to be around 26%. Mammary cancer is around 7-8 percent more likely if you spay her after the first heat but before the second heat (between 5-15 months depending on breed size).

What happens if you spay a dog too early? 

If you spay your dog too early it might lead to health issues later on because her hormones need time to adjust. Hip dysplasia, damaged ligaments, bone cancer, and urine incontinence are among the risks of early spaying.

Helpful Resources

Neutering health effects more severe for golden retrievers than Labradors

Spay/neuter and the association with cancer in dogs: part three

Spay/Neuter Your Pet

Living with a Retriever: Recommendations and Sources

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