Knowing when your Australian Shepherd will go into heat isn’t so straightforward. Thankfully there are several telltale signs that you can look out for which will give you a good indication.
This article covers everything an owner would want to know about their Aussie going into heat. I’ll also cover additional tips and advice throughout.
Most Australian Shepherds go into their first heat between 6-12 months of age. Keep in mind, however, many can fall outside of this age range. All Aussies mature at different rates, experiencing their heat earlier or later than others.
When Do Australian Shepherds Go Into Heat?
On average, most Aussies experience their first heat between 6 and 12 months.
The most important thing to remember is that every Aussie is different. Some owners I have spoken to said their Aussie came into heat at 5 months, and others say theirs didn’t until 16 months!
After addressing this with our resident veterinarians, It’s reassuring to know that there is no set-in-stone or “correct” age for your Aussie to go into heat. Your Aussie might be one of the early ones, average, or late… All you can do is learn the signs that indicate heat and remain observant.
How Long Are Australian Shepherds In Heat For?
Most Australian Shepherds will be in heat for about 21 days (3 weeks).
Although this can vary by a few days.
The first 8-10 days is when your Aussie will not be fertile or want to mate, and the final 8-10 days is when your Aussie is fertile and accepting of male partners.
Psst! A quick word on training. So many Aussie owners are praising Brain Training For Dogs we’ve got to mention it. Owners are reporting improved obedience and behavior quicker than anything else they’ve tried. We highly recommend checking it out.
How Often Do Australian Shepherds Go Into Heat?
Aussies typically have 1-2 heat cycles annually, once every six months on average.
Additionally, it can take some time before your Australian Shepherd establishes a regular cycle pattern. Which makes timing more difficult in the early stages.
After your Aussie goes through her second or third heat cycle, you’ll be able to better anticipate when the next will likely be.
Signs That Your Australian Shepherd Is Going Into Heat
The next most important area to discuss is knowing when your Australian Shepherd is going into heat.
Signs your Australian Shepherd is going into heat:
● Swollen vulva
● Bleeding/blood spots
● Paying extra attention to her genital area (licking)
● Increase in urination
● Change in eating habits/appetite
● Lethargy or change in energy
● Holding her tail differently
● Aggressive behavior around male dogs (at first)
● Change in temperament (mood swings)
It’s important to mention that these signs (just like with timing in general) can vary. Some Aussies may bleed a lot, and others hardly at all. It’s crucial to keep this in mind at all times so you don’t get too fixated on trying to spot any individual sign.
Rest assured, though, your Aussie will exhibit at least one or two of the signs mentioned above. The most reliable signs are swollen vulva, bleeding, discharge, and paying extra attention to the genital area.
As soon as you spot any of these signs or any changes to her normal behavior/mood/temperament then that’s a good indication her heat cycle is about to begin.
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What Are The Heat Cycle Stages?
Your Australian Shepherd’s heat cycle is comprised of four different stages. The first two stages are the most notable, but each will be covered in detail below.
What’s also worth noting is that each stage in the heat cycle usually comes with different signs. I’ll cover them in each section.
1. Proestrus Stage
The first stage of your Aussie’s heat cycle is called the proestrus stage. This is the stage when your Aussie will not want to mate and isn’t yet fertile. Because of this, aggression towards male dogs is very common.
The proestrus stage lasts roughly 8-10 days.
Signs your Australian Shepherd is in the proestrus stage:
● Swollen vulva
● Tail tucking
● Increased licking
● Will not be tolerable of males
2. Estrus Stage
The second stage of the cycle is called the estrus stage. This is the most notable stage of all four cycles because this is when your Aussie is fertile and capable of conceiving. She will be accepting of most males, and can even take it upon herself to seek a partner. I will explain some important safety tips in another section below.
This stage lasts roughly 8-10 days following the proestrus stage:
Signs your Australian Shepherd is in the estrus stage:
● Holding tail to the side
● Will be accepting of males
● Frequent urination
● Can be aggressive towards females
● Discharge can change color or might slow down
3. Diestrus Stage
The diestrus stage is when your Aussie’s body slowly starts to return back to normal if she hasn’t been impregnated. This will take an additional 7 days after the estrus stage to complete. Of course, however, if your Aussie has been impregnated, she will remain in this stage for around 60-70 days before giving birth.
Signs your Aussie is in the diestrus stage:
● Vulva will slowly return to normal size in 7 days
● Discharge will slowly come to an end
4. Anestrus Stage
The anestrus stage is now the stage when your Australian Shepherd’s body is resting and completely back to normal.
This is the stage that your Aussie will remain in until the next heat cycle begins and she enters the proestrus stage.
Recommended Read: Male Vs Female Australian Shepherd: The KEY Differences
7 Tips To Help an Australian Shepherd In Heat
One of the biggest concerns for owners is knowing exactly how to care for their Aussie once they are in heat. What do you need to do? Is there even anything you can do? Let’s get into it.
Here are the best tips we know that should help you manage with ease when your Aussie enters into heat.
1. Have plenty of old towels ready
You won’t know how much your Aussie will bleed or discharge the first time around. If you prepare for a lot, you’ll have everything under control.
Old spare towels are your best friend during heat. Towels are perfect to lay in her bed, on the floors where she likes to lay down, and around the house in general.
Towels aren’t just to protect your floors, but they are easy to pop in the wash to keep bacteria around your home low.
2. Always supervise her when she goes outside
The moment your Aussie enters the proestrus stage, her scent will travel far and male dogs in the local neighborhood will be aware.
It’s no exaggeration that some male dogs sometimes try escaping their own yard to reach another female dog that they can smell close by.
This has happened many times before and can potentially put your Aussie in a dangerous situation.
3. Expect a change in normal behavior
One thing that really confuses owners is managing the mood swings and temperament changes.
The only thing you can do is be accepting of these changes and provide her comfort and support if she seems like she wants it.
If she wants to keep herself to herself, that’s fine too, give her space and remember, it’s nothing personal! Ensure everyone in the household understands this.
4. Use the leash when outside
Using a leash when outside is necessary once your Aussie enters the estrus stage. During this stage, she will be ready to mate and might even take it upon herself to find a partner.
Many female dogs escape from their own yard during the estrus stage so once again, supervision and even the use of a leash is crucial!
5. Keep her bed as clean as possible
She’ll likely be spending a lot more time laying down in her bed, and with the bleeding and discharge that might be happening, things can get messy quickly. It’s always advised to keep her sleeping area (and everywhere) as clean as possible to reduce bacteria build-up.
Try this: Waterproof and washable bed cover
6. Try hygiene pants with your Aussie
Hygiene pants are essentially just doggy diapers. It’s worth trying a pair with your Aussie to see if she tolerates wearing them.
Some dogs don’t mind them, and others seriously hate them… But if you’re lucky, your Aussie won’t kick up a fuss and this will keep your home and her area significantly cleaner than if she isn’t wearing them. They also help prevent her from excessively licking or irritating her genital area.
7. Schedule a vet appointment
Scheduling a veterinarian appointment isn’t mandatory, but it can be of great help. Although very rare, there can be health problems that occur after the heat cycle finishes.
So this would certainly be a good time to schedule a routine check-up just to inform your vet and have a basic examination to ensure everything is okay.
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At What Age Can Australian Shepherds Breed?
Although Australian shepherds can technically start breeding from their first heat cycle, it is not recommended. A safer and more responsible age to start breeding Australian shepherds is once they are fully mature at around 2-3 years old (2-4 heat cycles in).
The reason it’s advised to wait is that having puppies is incredibly stressful for the mind and body, and at 6 months old, an Aussie is still considered a puppy/adolescent themselves!
This can have adverse effects both physically and mentally for such a young and immature puppy. For this reason, it’s recommended to wait.
Another very important aspect of responsible breeding is to only breed dogs that are in full health themselves.
This reduces the chances of future health problems in the litter and so the bloodline improves with time. And the problem is that many health issues don’t show themselves straight away, meaning that a young female that has been made to breed at 6 months of age, might actually have underlying hereditary health issues that she will subsequently pass down to the litter.
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