Our expert says:
Non-spayed female dogs will go into "heat" usually twice a year. The age at which they start their cycles and the duration of the cycle varies greatly between the breeds of dogs and individual dogs. The first cycle usually occurs by age 6-12 months; for some small breeds, as early as 5 months, and for some large and giant breeds, the first cycle may not occur until 14 months of age or older.
Each cycle lasts on average 12-21 days, but maybe be as short as a few days to four weeks. The cycle period length varies widely between breeds and individual dogs. The length of a cycle varies widely, even for dogs of the same breed. If in doubt, assume the longer end of the range for the cycle length. Bleeding occurs prior to a female being receptive to a male (allowing mounting by the male), but male dogs may be very attracted to the female before the bleeding stage as well.
Should your dog remain a non-breeding animal, it is recommended to spay her, eliminating the risk of accidental pregnancy and reproductive diseases later on in life. Dogs may be spayed while in heat (or pregnant), but there is additional risk due to the engorged vessels and tissue of the reproductive tract a higher chance of bleeding during surgery or other complications. The cost of surgery while in heat or pregnant is often higher as well.
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