How Long Do German Shepherds Stay In Heat?

Want to know how long a German Shepherd stays in heat?

Perfect! We got you covered.

Female German Shepherds will shed about 3 weeks before they come into heat providing a good gauge on the upcoming cycle.

image of Female German Shepherd dog with two puppies

In this DigDoggy article, you will learn:

  • When a German Shepherd experiences her first heat cycle
  • Signs that your German Shepherd is into heat
  • When a German Shepherd is most fertile

And much more!

What's In This Guide?

      How Long Does A German Shepherd Stay In Heat?

      An intact female German Shepherd’s estrous cycle can last for up to 4 weeks.

      However, a heat cycle actually has different stages; there are two phases during that 4-week duration.

      Estrus, also known as the “standing heat” is the second phase of the estrous cycle. It is the time when your lady pooch will allow males to breed her. 

      The estrus stage lasts an average of nine days. Your German Shepherd is most fertile during this time.

      Read More: >> What are the best dog beds for a GSD in heat? 

      What Should You Know About German Shepherds In Heat?

      When it comes to German Shepherds in heat, there are a few things that may surprise you.

      Your Female German Shepherd May Hump Males

      An estrous cycle consists of four phases: proestrus, estrus, metestrus, and diestrus.

      Proestrus or the “preparation phase” causes estrogen levels to rise and the eggs stored within the ovaries to mature.

      The vaginal walls will thicken in preparation for sexual trauma, thus causing bloody discharge.

      Testosterone levels will also become relatively high at the end of proestrus, thereby causing your lady pooch to perform masculine behaviors.

      While your female GSD may start to hump on toys or even another dog, she will refuse mating during this period and may even respond aggressively towards males. 

      Proestrus can last anywhere between 9 to 17 days. During this phase, your dog’s vaginal walls are still not ready nor are her eggs.

      Your GSD In Heat Is Most Fertile During The Non-Bleeding Days

      Estrus is when the bleeding stops and this often misleads new dog owners into thinking that the heat cycle has finally ended.

      In reality, this phase is the best time for a female German Shepherd to get pregnant. Your lady pooch will become more receptive and submissive to males.

      If you don’t want your furry Juliet to get pregnant, you will have to “Romeo-proof” your home, especially when there are intact males nearby.

      But if your lady pooch is quite a tramp, she may try to escape from the garden and spend time with her suitors. Take note; German Shepherds can jump high!

      So take more precautions.

      Your Female German Shepherd May Experience Pseudocyesis

      Commonly known as phantom pregnancy or pseudopregnancy, it is a condition that affects 50 to 75 percent of intact females, including the German Shepherd.

      False pregnancy is the result of a rapid decline of progesterone levels and high levels of prolactin, the hormone that stimulates milk production.

      Bitches with this condition exhibit the physical and behavioral signs of pregnancy.

      Symptoms become apparent four to nine weeks after your dog has been in heat. Mammary gland enlargement, lethargy, vomiting, and fluid retention are among the common signs.

      When Do German Shepherds Enter Heat?

      On average, large breeds, such as the German Shepherd, experience their first estrus cycle when they are six months of age.

      It is still considered normal if your lady pooch reaches sexual maturity at 9 to 12 months. Some German Shepherds may not even experience their first heat until they are 18 months old.

      Compared to toy and small breeds, large and giant canine breeds have to wait a bit longer for their first heat to arrive.

      But although your dog is old enough to get pregnant, her eggs are still underdeveloped and she is mentally unprepared to go through motherhood.

      Responsible breeders would wait until their bitches undergo their third estrus cycle to ensure a healthy pregnancy.

      Read Also: >> How do you know when your GSD needs more affection? 

      image of Young dog one-year-old german shepherd in nature.

      How Often Do German Shepherds Go Into Heat?

      Once a German Shepherd enters her first estrus cycle, she will go into heat every six months.

      Unless you have decided to spay your lady pooch, she will continue to go into heat throughout her life and of course, she will always be at risk of having a litter of unwanted puppies.

      What Are The Signs That Your German Shepherd Is In Heat?

      It is not all about keeping an eye on your dog’s bleeding. Red vaginal discharge is but the tip of the iceberg!

      As mentioned earlier, there are four key stages of a dog’s heat cycle and each stage has a different set of symptoms.


      Proestrus is the beginning of the heat period where your GSD’s body is preparing to mate. Signs seen during this stage include:

      • Swelling or engorgement of the vulva
      • Blood-tinged discharge
      • Excessive licking of the genital area
      • Cling behavior
      • Aggression toward male dogs

      In many cases, a bloody vaginal discharge is the first sign that a dog owner will notice. However, the amount of discharge varies from dog to dog.


      The estrus stage is the mating phase and your lady pooch will often exhibit behavioral changes, such as:

      • Frequent urination
      • Scent marking
      • Tail flagging

      During this stage, your GSD’s vaginal discharge may either stop or change in color and viscosity. 

      Her urine contains pheromones and hormones that signal males about her reproductive state. Male dogs can detect a female in heat even from a great distance.


      This phase follows the “in heat” stage and allows your dog’s body to revert to normal or prepare it for pregnancy.


      Also known as the “inactive phase,” there won’t be any sign of hormonal or sexual behavior during this final stage of the estrous cycle.

      Read More: >> Can pregnant dogs take supplements? 

      What Affects A German Shepherd’s Heat Cycle?


      A spayed dog will never get pregnant throughout her life. If you have no plans to breed your GSD, consider spaying her either through ovariohysterectomy or ovariectomy

      Vets used to recommend spaying females as young as four months old but current research suggests that large and giant breeds should at least experience their first heat cycle to allow the necessary hormones for bone development.

      For best results, always discuss such matters with your veterinarian.


      Dogs taking medications like prednisone may experience delayed heat cycles.

      Prednisone is a steroid medication given by mouth or injection. A powerful drug, it is used in emergencies such as anaphylactic reactions, spinal cord trauma, and many forms of shock.


      Malnutrition, hormonal imbalances, genetic disorders, infections, and other health problems also cause abnormal heat cycles in German Shepherds.

      Final Thoughts On German Shepherds In Heat

      A German Shepherd’s heat cycle lasts about three weeks and the window fertility lies right after the proestrus stage.

      Contrary to popular belief, females in heat are most fertile when the bloody discharge stops. If you have no plans of breeding your GSD, you might as well have her spayed.

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      Lara Writes

      Lara, a.k.a Alpha Mama, is a great dancer and belter singer, although the world tells her otherwise. However, her greatest pleasure is working with animals. If the Alpha Mama is not being delusional, she manages to create informative articles and clear-cut buying guides. She also likes to share her personal experiences that may ignite your soul or possibly change your life!

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