If you love Labradoodles and are looking to breed them or want to prevent accidental pregnancies, you’ll want to know all about their heat cycle. Familiarity will help you avoid unwanted litters, know when the ideal time for breeding is, and protect your dog from unforeseen health complications.
When do Labradoodles go into heat and how long does the heat cycle last? From noticing the signs when your Labradoodle is in heat to taking care of her during this vulnerable period, this detailed guide will tell you all about it.
When Do Labradoodles First Experience Heat?
Like most breeds, Labradoodles first go into heat when they reach sexual maturity. This usually happens after they turn six months old. In some cases, especially among larger Labradoodles, the heat cycle may begin after they reach the age of nine or ten months.
After the first cycle, there’s a high probability that their heat cycles will remain regular and periodic for the rest of their lives. Hence, you can easily track them for breeding, avoiding unwanted pregnancies, and mitigating unnecessary risks.
The frequency of heat cycles largely depends on the size and breed of the dogs. Most Labradoodles go into heat twice a year and it’s usually once every six to seven months.
Each heat period usually lasts for about two weeks and, in some cases, a month. Miniature dog breeds might experience heat more often. For instance, once every four to five months.
Are there signs you can take note of to know when your Labradoodle is in heat? Yes. As dogs undergo several hormonal changes during their estrus cycle, there are many telling signs that indicate its beginning.
The best way to keep track of the cycle is by keeping a calendar of each phase.
Here are other signs to look out for:
One of the obvious signs your dog is in heat is the presence of a bloody vaginal discharge. This discharge is usually very red when it first occurs but pales and thins as the heat period progresses.
It’s important to watch out for this sign as your dog may often lick the discharge away during grooming so you may not even notice it. Sometimes the discharge may not appear until your dog is well into its heat cycle.
This discharge is a sign that your dog is ready for breeding. If you’d like to breed your dog, you must wait until the discharge becomes clear before introducing them to a male dog and allowing them to mate two to three times a week.
Although not easily visible, this is one of the earliest indications that your Labradoodle is in heat. Despite appearances, it isn’t painful for your dog. The swelling usually begins a day or two before the discharge starts.
Licking its genitals is a dog’s way of keeping itself clean. This activity might increase during the heat cycle due to the extra discharge and because the area becomes more sensitive.
During the heat cycle, female dogs tend to receive more attention from male dogs. You might notice male dogs following your Labradoodle everywhere. In some cases, they may even end up fighting over your dog.
This can be tricky to decode as you’ll find female dogs engage in some form of mounting regardless of whether they’re in heat. However, you might notice it happening more often during the heat cycle.
We all know that dogs urinate to mark their territory. While male dogs use this method more often to establish dominance and hierarchy, female dogs use it to convey to other dogs that they are in heat. This is usually accompanied by increased thirst.
However, it could also be an indication of urinary tract infection or UTI. If you’re sure that your dog’s heat cycle isn’t due yet, make sure to schedule a visit to the vet as soon as possible.
By nature, dogs are burrowing animals. Hence, if you find your Labradoodle arranging a place that could be used for birthing puppies, it could be a sign she’s preparing for pregnancy.
Additionally, she can also drag her toys and other essential items to her nook and start sleeping with them.
Labradoodles are generally very affectionate and loving. However, if you notice yours becoming overly clingy and doting during its heat cycle, then it can help confirm that a heat cycle is ongoing.
Other behavioral changes that could signal the heat cycle are:
- Fidgeting or nervousness
- Tail-flagging (when a dog’s tail moves back and forth stiffly while holding it high)
- Tail moving over to one side
- Raising their rump area
While the length and timeline of heat cycles vary between breeds, the stages remain the same for all:
This is when your Labradoodle’s body starts becoming fertile. The heat cycle starts and lasts an average of nine days.
Although your dog starts displaying physical signs of heat and attracting male dogs, she won’t be receptive to their mating attempts. This is also the stage when your dog starts having vaginal discharge.
Your dog starts being receptive to male dogs and is getting ready to breed. The discharge changes from bloody to clear and watery.
During this stage, your female dog can become pregnant. Depending on your dog’s body, this can last from ten to 12 days.
At this point, your doodle will not be receptive to male dogs and can’t get pregnant. This stage usually lasts for four to eight weeks and in some cases, even longer.
There can be some discharge during this phase but it will eventually stop. The enlarged vulva will also return to its normal size.
In case your Labradoodle gets pregnant during the estrus stage, this stage can last until she births her puppies. The gestation period generally lasts 60 to 67 days after conception.
The final stage of a dog’s heat cycle is called the resting stage. During this time, there is little to no ovarian activity. Estrogen levels return to normal and remain this way for four to five months until the next cycle begins.
If your dog gets pregnant and gives birth, this is the period for rest and recovery.
Taking care of a female Labradoodle in heat can be a full-time job. You’ll not only be dealing with your dog’s heightened emotions but will also have to deal with the persistent attention of male dogs in the neighborhood.
They’ll all know that your dog is in heat and will do everything in their power to mate with your doodle so don’t be surprised if you see them glued to your fence all day long!
Here’s how you can care for your Labradoodle during this time:
Due to fluctuating hormones, dogs in heat can be more anxious and restless. Provide your dog with a calm and relaxing environment by playing soft music and giving her a nice warm bed in her favorite nook. Safe chew toys and interesting puzzle toys can also help calm an anxious dog.
You can also take your dog out on walks to help soothe her during this time. Just be sure to keep her away from areas where there are male dogs and always have her on a leash.
When your Labradoodle is in heat, you have to manage the bloody discharge and keep it from making a mess in your house. Never scold your dog for making a mess but calmly reassure her while you clean it up.
The best way to avoid this mess is by using doggie diapers. Not only will this keep your house clean, but it can also work as a shield if any male dog tries to mount her.
If you have a separate kennel for your dog, make sure to make a bed with towels for your dog to sleep in.
Dogs in heat tend to get more clingy and more affectionate. Make sure to meet your dog’s emotional needs by setting aside ample time for cuddles and hugs.
Never reprimand her for accidents in the house since it’s a normal occurrence during the heat cycle.
Some dogs go off their regular diet during this time so be ready and prepare special food to encourage your Labradoodle to eat. She needs proper nutrition during this period and plenty of water.
Some dogs are more active when in heat while others are more tired. Don’t force your dog to overexert itself and modify its exercise schedule according to its needs.
Even if you have your own yard, don’t leave your dog alone because male dogs can jump over the fence when they know there’s a female dog in heat on the other side.
Sometimes, your female dog will go in search of male dogs. This is an instinctive behavior so always keep her on a leash, even when in your yard.
Litters entail a lot of responsibility. Here’s are a few tips for avoiding pregnancy during the heat cycle:
- Use diapers or keep your dog in a closed kennel.
- Be aware of your dog’s heat cycle schedule even if it’s just an approximate estimate. This enables you to be better prepared.
- When you notice her heat cycle approaching, replace your dog’s existing sheet with a white one so you’ll quickly be able to spot when the bleeding starts.
- Keep your dog locked inside the house whenever you leave to ensure that your Labradoodle is kept away from non-neutered male dogs.
- Consider contraception pills or injectables, but be careful because it comes with many side effects such as inflammation or infection of the uterus. Consult your vet before administering any medicine to your dog.
According to the American Kennel Club, if your female dog hasn’t had at least three heat cycles, she is too young to breed. Early pregnancy not only poses health risks but can also cause behavioral problems like a female dog neglecting her puppies.
Since your dog will have a heat cycle twice a year, the earliest you can breed your Labradoodle is at around two years of age.
During its lifetime, a dog can give birth to three to eight litters. Nursing your dog and the new puppies and finding new homes each time can be time-consuming and exhausting. You should therefore give the idea of breeding your dog careful thought before proceeding.
Additionally, you should never separate the puppies from their mother before they turn eight to ten weeks old. This allows them to develop properly and get the nutrition they need.
This too differs from dog to dog. Most dogs’ ovarian activity declines after six years. By the seventh year, most dogs stop having the ability to conceive.
If you’ve decided not to breed your dog, the best and final solution is to have it spayed. Getting its ovaries removed by a veterinarian not only removes the risk of unwanted pregnancies but can also have other benefits like a longer life and eliminating the risk for ovarian cancer.
Spayed and neutered dogs also tend to be happier and calmer. In many cases, they also have fewer health issues as they get older.
Additionally, they’ll no longer go through heat cycles and this can make life easier for yourself and your dog.
Most Labradoodles enter their first heat cycle after turning six months old, but for larger Labradoodles, you may have to wait for a few more months.
When it does happen, your dog will go through several hormonal changes so make sure to shower her with adequate care and love during this time. However, if you don’t plan on breeding your dog, it’s best to have her spayed by a veterinarian.
Responsible pet parents like yourself make it a point to read up and get to know their pet’s heat cycle. By doing so, you’re better able to look out for your Labradoodle’s welfare, health, and future.