How Often Do Golden Retrievers Go Into Heat?

Want to know how often Golden Retrievers go into heat?

Great! You’ve come to the right place!

If you’re planning to breed your dog or prevent pregnancy, then it’s important to understand the stages of a female’s heat cycle.

female dog in heat

Although each dog is different there are certainly noticeable signs that can alert you when your dog is in heat or receptive to mating.

In this Digdoggy.com guide, you’ll learn:

  • The frequency of heat cycles for female Golden Retrievers
  • The stages of Golden Retriever heat cycles
  • How long heat cycles last in for Golden Retrievers

And much more!

What's In This Guide?

      What are breeding Patterns for Golden Retrievers?

      This breed goes into heat roughly twice a year (every six months), and then stays in heat for two to four weeks. And while dogs do menstruate, they don’t experience menopause.

      In essence, this means a Golden Retriever stays fertile for her entire life.

      Other words used to describe a Golden Retriever in heat include ‘being in season’ and ‘being in estrus’.

      If she doesn’t become pregnant while she’s in heat, she’ll settle down for another 4 to 6 months. On the issue of dog periods, they’re not quite like human ones.

      Your golden retriever only bleeds when she’s in heat, and the reddish discharge roughly covers the first half of her cycle.

      After that, the discharge goes straw-colored during active estrus then stops for 6 months.

      When Do Golden Retrievers Go Into Heat?

      Creatures in the wild prefer to wait until they have food and shelter before they start a family. So most of them will hit their baby-making peak in spring and fall.

      In the southern hemisphere, just play it in reverse from October to February because winter falls in June.

      However, domestic dogs don’t follow the weather. So while your Golden Retriever’s cycle may be irregular, she’s unlikely to be in heat before she’s half a year old.

      And while cats have short heat cycles of 2 or 3 weeks, your Golden Retriever will have single heat cycles of 2 to 4 weeks spread roughly 6 months apart.

      This is because their gestation period is 58 to 64 days (about two months). She’ll repeat that heat cycle every four to six months.

      What Are the Signs Your Golden Retriever is in Heat?

      If you’re observant and you know your dog well, it should be fairly easy to tell when she’s in heat.

      If you plan to spay her, it’s safest to do it before her before she goes into heat for the first time. So it’s crucial to spot the symptoms.

      signs of a golden retriever in heat:

      • Her vulva swells and shows a slightly bloody discharge.
      • She’ll lick her nethers a lot and may need to pee more often.
      • She’ll pay more attention to male dogs around her.
      • She may get aggressive and actively court them.
      • She might ‘flag’ the dogs by raising her rear towards them.
      • While flagging, she puts her tail to the side for easier access.
      • She may seem distracted and nervous – it’s the hormones!
      • She may start to build a ‘nest’ of warm, soft things for her pups.
      • Some girls might mount or hump cushions, furniture, your legs, or other pets.
      • The neighborhood will get way rougher and noisier as the boys chase her!!

      When your Golden Retriever shows three or more of these signs, its time to keep her locked inside and away from males.

      Spaying is not safe during her heat cycle (though it can be done), so if you’re done with puppies, wait her out then go to the vet.

      Cute dog covered with warm plaid at home. Concept of heating season

      What Are the Different Stages of Golden Retrievers in Heat?

      Your Golden Retriever’s estrus cycle has four distinct stages. Below are the four stages of golden retrievers in heat:

      Stage 1: Proestrus – Lasts 3 to 9 Days

      When your dog is … ‘preheating’ … her behavior might puzzle you. Her vulva will already be swollen and slightly bloody, so you’ll know she’s in baby-making mode.

      But she’ll stay close to you, being extra-clingy and oddly aggressive towards male dogs.

      She’ll keep her tail firmly tucked, close to her body so the guys don’t get any ideas. And she’ll lick that red rump a lot.

      Stage 2: Estrus – Lasts 21 Days

      Your girl will pee more than usual. A lot more. It’s because she’s laying a scent and using her milkshake to bring all the boys to the yard.

      If she was fighting off her brothers before, she’ll suddenly turn on her sisters. In her mind, they’re competition, even if they’re not in heat.

      She’ll start to leave her tail to the side and the reddish rump discharge will fade to yellow.

      Stage 3: Diestrus – Lasts 2 months

      At this point, your goldie bitch will be done with all the dogs that got let out. If she’s pregnant, her gestation period will begin.

      If not, her body will gradually return to normal. Her vulva will slim down, the discharge will stop, and she’ll be back to her grinning self.

      Stage 4: Anestrus – Lasts 4 months

      This is the ‘flat’ part of her cycle so you’re all out of the woods until her next season. (Phew!)

      What Should You Know About Golden Retrievers in Heat?

      Female Golden Retrievers have medium builds, so her seasons fall at the midpoint between dog breeds.

      Larger dogs (think St. Bernard, Caucasian Ovcharka) are only in season every year or two while Chihuahuas and Pomeranians might have as many as four heat cycles per year.

      And while female Golden Retriever can technically get pregnant every time she’s in heat, it’s not that simple.

      She’ll likely go into heat for the first time when she’s 6 months old.

      As she gets older, the durations between her seasons may get longer, but it stands at a 6-month average.

      If you plan to breed your golden retriever, don’t start when she’s too young or you may hurt her and damage her stock.

      Instead, wait until she’s been in season once or twice. Her third heat cycle (at about 18 months old) is the ideal time to start breeding her if you intend to.

      Something to consider if you’re breeding your golden retriever is to get a good stud and use her most fertile period.

      You can confirm her fertility using a vet’s vaginal smear test from her vaginal cells. You can also test her blood for progesterone levels to verify her ovulation.

      One worrying thing is when your golden retriever gets glued to her new boyfriend.

      This is because the (male) dog goes through three stages, so when he’s too engorged, he can’t pull out.

      Don’t try to force your goldie free, it may hurt them both! Just give them space and time.

      Read More: >> Whats the best dog bed for German Shepherds?

      How Does Spaying Affect Frequency of A Golden Retrievers Heat Cycle?

      Spaying is when you surgically sterilize your dog. Golden retrievers are mid-sized, so you can wait up to a year before spaying her.

      You may be understandably uneasy about fixing your debutante doggie. But if she stays intact, she faces a higher risk of medical problems like:

      • Mammary cancer 
      • Pregnancy complications
      • Whelping injuries
      • STIs
      • Uterine tumors 
      • Ovarian deformities 
      • Pyometra
      • Excessive strays (from all those puppies)
      • Euthanasia at dog pounds (for unwanted pups)
      • Traffic accidents (while seeking a mate)
      • Attacks by neighbors (for being too noisy while in heat) 

      Besides, Ms. Red will live a longer, healthier, happier life if you spay her. At the other extreme, how does spaying affect golden retrievers?

      Well, it’s a routine but invasive surgery, and the risks include:

      • Reactions to anesthesia
      • Ligament injuries (CCL)
      • Potential incontinence
      • Auto-immune diseases
      • Blood-vessel cancer
      • Increased phobias
      • Unwanted weight gain

      Bottom line – being in heat is a biological necessity, but it’s uncomfortable for both you and your Golden Retriever.

      That’s part of the reason why most vets recommend spaying as the best option. But she’s your dog, and only you can decide if you want to take that chance. 

      Final Thoughts on Golden Retrievers in Heat

      It’s difficult but possible to control your golden retriever while she’s in heat.

      Unless you spay her, your Golden Retriever is in season twice a year for 2 to 4 weeks. Here’s how to manage her:

      • Keep her chipped, leashed, and away from male dogs.
      • Exercise her to work off that extra energy.
      • Look out for bloody discharge on your surfaces.
      • Doggie diapers can keep the blood in and the boys out.
      • Do a vet check to be sure she isn’t sick.

      Since there’s no consensus on whether or not bitches should be spayed, it’s up to you to do what’s best for your dog.

      But pregnancy takes a lot out of a girl! So unless you run a breeding business, it’s best to limit the number of litters your golden retriever will bear. For her sake.

      Rachael Summers

      Rachael Summers

      Rachael Summers is the Founder and Senior Editor at Dig Doggy. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! Rachael also loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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      Rachael Summers

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      Rachael Summers is the Founder and Senior Editor at Dig Doggy. She is a lifelong canine enthusiast and adores dogs of all shapes and sizes! Rachael also loves iced coffee, hammocks, and puppy-cuddling!

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