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When Do Australian Shepherds Go Into Heat? FAQs + Breeding

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Knowing when your Australian Shepherd will go into heat isn’t so straightforward. But thankfully there are a number of telltale signs that you can look out for which will give you a good indication. This article will cover everything you need to know, what to expect when your Aussie goes into heat, plus additional tips and advice. Let’s get into it!

When Do Australian Shepherds Go Into Heat?

When can you expect your Australian Shepherd to go into heat?

Most Australian Shepherds go into their first heat between 6-12 months of age, although many Aussies can fall outside of this age range. Some can take up to 16 months to experience their first heat, which is still completely normal. All Australian Shepherds mature at different rates.

I have spoken to many Aussie owners on this topic, with some revealing that it was only 5 months before their Aussie experienced her first heat.

Yet, I have spoken to other owners who’s Aussie didn’t enter heat until 15 months of age.

The important thing to understand is 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 telltale signs that indicate heat, and remain observant, so let’s get into that now.

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Signs That Your Australian Shepherd Is Going Into Heat

The next most important area to talk about is how to know when your Australian Shepherd is going into heat.

Signs your Australian Shepherd is going into heat:

Swollen vulva
Bleeding/blood spots
Discharge
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
Flirtatious behavior around male dogs
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.

Recommended Read: Are Seizures Common In Australian Shepherds?

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What Are The Heat Cycle Stages?

Your Australian Shepherd’s heat cycles is comprised of four different stages. The two first stages are the most notable, but each will 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
Bleeding/discharge
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

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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.

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How Often Do Australian Shepherds Go Into Heat?

Aussies typically have 1-2 heat cycles per year, once every six months on average. But keep in mind this can vary. 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.

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Looking After Your 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 don’t know if your Aussie will be one that bleeds or discharges heavily, so prepare for a lot, and you’ll have everything under control.

Old spare towels you don’t mind sacrificing 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 and keep hygiene levels high.

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 he estrus stage. During this stage, she will be ready to mate and might even take it upon her self 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.

6. Try hygiene pants with your Aussie

Hygiene pants are essentially just doggy diapers. Its 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 are can be health problems that occur after the heat cycle finishes. So this would certainly be a good time 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?

There are two answers to this question… the technical answer, and a more responsible answer that takes into account the health of the female and future puppies.

Although your Aussie can technically start breeding from her first heat cycle, this isn’t what’s recommended. A safer and more responsible age to start breeding your Aussie will be once she has fully matured both physically and mentally, usually around her second or third heat cycle.

The reason it’s advised to wait, is because having puppies is an event that puts a lot of stress on the mind and body, and at 6 months old, an Aussie is still considered a puppy/adolescent herself.

This could 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.


Thank you for reading!
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