Skip to Content

Pitbull First Heat and Cycle: What to Expect and When

Knowing when your Pitbull goes into heat will help you understand what your dog’s going through, handle the situation, and decide if you want to have her spayed. Common symptoms include bleeding, a swollen vulva, increased urination, and occasional irritability. Your Pitbull’s heat cycle is essential to her natural ability to reproduce.

The first heat and cycle in a Pitbull occur between 9 and 12 months of age. Your Pittie is now fertile and ready to mate at this time. Your dog will then cycle every six months after that. There are 4 phases to a Pitbull’s heat cycle, although the heat or estrus phase only lasts 4 to 15 days.

Even though it may seem complicated, you can quickly spot these changes by monitoring your dog. It will, however, be easier for you to grasp the changes occurring if you are aware of what the initial heat and cycle will entail.

In this article, we’ll discuss knowing how to know when your Pitbull is about to start her heat cycle, how long she will bleed, and how often she will go into heat. According to the latest data-backed research, I’ll also inform you of the best time to spay your Pitbull.

Hey there! As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases. We may also earn commissions if you purchase products from other retailers after clicking on a link from our site.

Pitbull First Heat

Hey! Do You Want to Check Out the Latest Trendy Dog Gear for Your Pitbull?

Head over to Amazon, where you’ll find everything you need!
Click HERE to see the Latest Dog Supplies.

So, if you want to know all about your Pitbull’s first heat and what to expect, you won’t be disappointed. Let’s begin!

What Does the Pitbull Heat Cycle Mean?

A Pitbull’s heat cycle or reproductive cycle is when a series of hormonal changes occur. The time of the first heat marks the onset of fertility. It means your dog is receptive to mating and she will release mating hormones.

The heat cycle is repeated every 6 months for the rest of your dog’s life. While some age-related variations will occur during your dog’s life, a Pitbull’s heat cycle typically happens in four stages.

Proestrus Stage

The proestrus stage in a Pitbull heat cycle is the initial period of the cycle and lasts around 4-20 days. The following signs characterize this period:

  • Frequent urination.
  • Swollen vulva and teats.
  • Bleeding, which may be more noticeable in some dogs than others. 
  • Attracting male dogs, but not necessarily ready to mate.
  • A darkened lower abdomen.
  • Tucking in the tail to keep away male dogs by covering her vulva.
  • Signs of restlessness whereby your Pittie may become more quiet or anxious.
  • A loss of appetite.

Some dogs may also clean themselves as part of self-grooming, making it hard for you to notice any bleeding. It’s essential to be vigilant during this stage to be aware of the changes happening.

Estrus Stage

Estrus is the main stage in the canine reproduction cycle. It’s the heat period or ‘season’ and the fertile phase of the cycle when ovulation occurs. At this point, your dog will naturally follow her breeding instinct and is ready to mate. 

Estrus lasts between 4 and 15 days and is characterized by the following: 

  • Change in the color of the discharge. This is a pinkish/brownish liquid and not the blood-stained discharge of the proestrus stage.
  • A ‘flagged’ tail, raised and no longer hiding the vulva. This is a direct indication your Pittie is getting ready to mate.
  • Searching for male dogs. If your dog has become more active and aggressive in seeking out other dogs, this could be a sign they are in the estrus phase.

Learn About The Canine Heat Cycle In This Video…

Canine Heat Cycle | The dog Period!

Diestrus Stage

The diestrus phase in a Pitbull’s heat cycle is marked by a period of rest following potential mating. If your dog hasn’t conceived during the estrus period, her body will rest in preparation for the next heat season and her progesterone levels will be high.

Diestrus in Pitbulls lasts around 60 days. Although your dog may still carry the scent of the heat period, her fertile window has closed at this point.

Anestrus Stage

The last phase of a Pitbull’s heat cycle is the anestrus stage, which lasts around 90 days. This is the period when your Pitbull gets ready for her next cycle, which will resume once more with the proestrus stage. 

If you’re planning to neuter your Pitbull, the anestrus period is considered the most opportune time to do so. My dog was spayed in this stage of her first heat cycle, as advised by her veterinarian.

Pitbull Wrapped In a Towel. What Does Pitbull Heat Cycle Mean?

When Do Pitbulls Come Into Heat?

Pitbulls come into heat between six to eight months of age. A Pitbull’s heat cycle typically starts with a bloody discharge that slowly turns into a pinkish-red color over the following days. This can last up to 17 days, and you can expect your dog to urinate more when in season.

Pitbulls may also come into heat at a later age. Some Pitties will even go into heat at 18 or 24 months. These variations are all within the norm, as it’s very much an individual thing.

If your dog is coming into heat, this doesn’t automatically imply that she is ready for breeding. In fact, experienced Pittie breeders know that it’s better to wait until the second heat, preferably the third. This gives the dog time to come fully into the cycle before breeding. 

In fact, your dog’s eggs are not fully mature for reproduction at the first heat, and waiting for the second or third heat ensures a healthier pregnancy. Your dog’s body will also be fully developed for gestation by this time. 

Hey! Are you looking to buy something for your dog? Make sure to check out my favorite dog gear below. Psst! Don’t miss the cool 50% off at Ollie deal!

StoreMy Favorite Product
Amazon Logo Midwest iCrate
(all-inclusive crate – nothing to buy!)

Check Price on Amazon
Something Healthy for Every Belly!
(Fresh & delivered to your door)

Get 50% Off First Box
Amazon Logo Zesty Paws Omega 3 Alaskan Fish Oil
(Chew treats
for a healthy coat!)
Check Price on Amazon
Big Barker Logo Big Barker Orthopedic Dog Bed
(10-year warranty!)

Go to Big Barker
Amazon Logo FURminator Undercoat De-shedding Tool
(Reduces shedding up to 90%!)
Check Price on Amazon

How Long Does a Pitbull Bleed When In Heat?

A Pitbull bleeds for up to 17 days when in heat but can bleed for as little as 3 days. The length and severity of its bloody discharge can vary and correspond to the heat cycle’s estrus stage. During these days, your Pittie is fertile and can get pregnant if she mates.

Note, however, that a female Pitbull can get pregnant if she happens to mate before the estrus period. This is because canine spermatozoa are motile in the female’s genital tract and can potentially survive for around 11 days.  

You may have read that a dog’s initial and subsequent heat seasons continue for two to four weeks. This is due to the fact that many people believe the proestrus and estrus stages of the heat cycle to be included in the heat period.

However, strictly speaking, a dog’s heat period is the estrus phase. This is when she’s ready to mate and is fertile enough to get pregnant. If your dog is in heat for longer than three weeks, you should take her to the vet for a check-up.

Black Pitbull. How Long Does a Pitbull Bleed When In Heat?

Signs Your Pitbull Is In Heat

To know when your Pitbull is in heat, check for specific physical and behavioral signs, including light to heavy blood spotting, excess urination, a swollen and red vulva, and mood changes.

Your Pittie might seem nervous or agitated, a common symptom associated with natural hormonal changes. It’s important to know when your Pitbull is in heat as she’ll act differently and experience various unusual mannerisms.

Let’s break down a handful of things to expect below.

  • A swollen vulva. Your Pitbull’s vagina will be red and quite swollen. Just how swollen the vulva becomes is individual to the dog.
  • A change in the color of discharge (pinkish instead of blood-stained). Pitbulls start spotting, then bleeding heavily during their heat cycle which changes to a more pinkish color.
  • Frequent urination. Since your dog’s vulva is swollen, it applies pressure on her bladder and makes her pee. Hormonal changes also increase the likelihood of your Pitbull constantly peeing throughout the day.
  • A tail set to the side (flagging). Allowing her tail to hook to the side lets male dogs know that she is receptive by giving access and is ready to mate.
  • Nervous or agitated due to hormonal changes. When her estrogen spikes, your dog will react much differently (the severity of their hormones and attitude varies from one Pittie to another).

Your bestie may also be more aggressive to fellow females and exhibit extra interest in male dogs. Frequent licking of the genitals, agitation, and urine marking indicate a readiness to mate.

During this time, if you have an intact Pitbull and don’t intend to breed her, you should keep your pet on a leash during walks, as your furry friend will be actively seeking a sexual partner. 

How To Care for a Pitbull In Heat

Caring for a Pitbull in season requires extra love and attention. As a consequence of the physical and emotional changes your Pitbull will undergo during heat, you’ll need to take special care of your dog.

Here are some things you should do when caring for a Pitbull in heat:

  1. Keep your dog busy to distract her from the discomfort of hormonal changes during the heat period. Playing games, offering treat-filled toys, or taking short, frequent walks can help keep your dog happy and calm.
  2. Keep your Pittie away from male dogs at home and outdoors if you don’t intend to breed her. This entails keeping her on a leash during walks, not leaving her unattended in the backyard, and keeping her in a separate room in the home. 
  3. Keep your Pitbull from carpeted areas, bedding, and soft furnishings during the bleeding phase of the heat cycle. Alternatively, you can consider using dog diapers to stop the blood from staining carpets and your dog’s bedding. Choose the Simple Solution Disposable Dog Diapers from Amazon as they have a better fit due to the stretchable fabric which fits perfectly around your dog. If your Pittie is trying to lick her genitals while in a diaper, consider temporarily removing it to allow her to self-groom.
  4. If your Pitbull shows the need for extra rest, always allow this. It would be best if you also eased your dog’s exercise routine during the proestrus and estrus phases of the heat cycle, as she may feel a bit low-energy and under the weather.
  5. Ensure your dog gets all the recommended nutrients in her meals during heat, including enough fresh drinking water. If your Pittie prefers for a different meal from the usual, consider giving it to her to boost her appetite. However, you should consult your vet about changing your dog’s diet, even just for a few meals.
  6. Keep the surrounding environment calm and free of extreme noise or disturbance. Your dog is sensitive to any form of stress during this period.
  7. If your Pitbull shows extreme discomfort or signs of pain in the swollen vulva, use heating pads to give some relief. I like the RIOGOO Pet Heating Pad from Amazon as it has an auto power-off function for extra safety, is waterproof, and is machine washable. Stay vigilant if your dog shows any signs of aggression, and consult a vet if the uneasiness or pain doesn’t seem typical.

Your Pitbull may show unique characteristics and needs during heat. Be attentive and consult your vet about any unusual signs you do not know how to address.  

White and Brown Pitbull. How Often Do Pitbulls Go Into Heat?

How Often Do Pitbulls Go Into Heat?

Pitbulls go into heat twice a year, approximately every 6 months. Keep a calendar to know when your Pitbull’s next heat cycle is so you know when to expect the next one. If they miss a period, they could be pregnant or experiencing health issues.

The American Kennel Club (AKC) states most dogs go into heat every six months, and Pitbulls are no exception.

This may change depending on your dog and her body clock. How often your Pitbull goes into heat may vary and is contingent upon the following factors:


After a Pitbull’s first heat cycle, subsequent heat cycles may be a bit irregular initially but will become more consistent with time. If your dog is experiencing irregular cycles, you may want to talk to a vet to determine if this is normal or if there are underlying causes. 

Instead, older Pitbulls will have slowed cycles with fewer heat seasons. Despite this, your dog will still experience estrus her entire life and can still get pregnant despite the reduced estrus seasons.


As happens in humans, gestation delays menstrual periods and fertility seasons. Similarly, the interestrus interval, or the period between estrus seasons, is prolonged in dogs after whelping. 

A study of various dog breeds reported they had a regular 6-month estrus interval under normal circumstances, but the interval was prolonged in dogs who went into gestation.


Seasonality is generally considered a non-factor in estrus frequency in dogs, but it is not an impossibility. This study of different breeds found fewer estrus incidences in summer and consequently fewer occurrences of fertility and conception. 

Side note: If you plan to breed your Pitbull, you should wait until her second season, preferably her third, to allow her eggs to mature sufficiently.

Keep in mind that your dog won’t go into heat once spayed. If you’re thinking about spaying your Pitbull, proceed to the next section to learn some must-know tips.

When Should I Spay My Pitbull?

When Should I Spay My Pitbull?

There’s a huge difference of opinion as to exactly when you should spay your Pitbull. Some believe that spaying a Pitbull too early can cause severe health issues such as joint conditions, while others think that spaying them too late can lead to cancer, slow or delayed healing, and more.

Fortunately, you’re in the right place to find the perfect timeframe.

Pitbulls should be spayed within 6 months of age (or before their first heat cycle). Most vets advise neutering before their second cycle at the latest, although some breeds can be spayed or neutered much later. However, the later the surgery, the higher the chances of complications.

Let’s evaluate this a bit more.

  • You should spay a Pitbull before her first heat cycle. I recommend contacting your vet to know how your Pitbull will handle spaying. Nevertheless, most experts suggest they get spayed before their first period.
  • Most professionals recommend spaying no later than the second heat cycle. Once your dog is too old, she won’t be able to recover from the surgery as easily. Her body is used to going through heat and can relocate recourses to healing a wound much quicker when younger.
  • Your local vet might have weight requirements for your Pitbull to be spayed. Some vets suggest dogs should weigh a certain amount before surgery to handle the anesthesia much better. The requirements differ between dogs and vets, so it’s best to ask first.
  • Spay education. Pitbulls make up the largest number of dogs in US shelters resulting in hundreds of thousands being euthanized yearly. Pitbulls have been overpopulated as a result of excessive and unregulated breeding, and they’re also known to have large litter sizes. There are many organizations committed to the education on the benefits of spaying Pitties.

So, why all the differences in opinions? And what is the latest scientific advice?

The risk of joint problems like hip dysplasia and cancer varies based on the dog’s breed and neutering age. This latest study on the age of neutering found that when to neuter a dog is breed-specific.

The evaluation of 35 breeds found that delaying neutering until after 11 or 23 months of age may reduce the chance of developing joint problems and cancers in standard to giant-sized mixed breeds and several dog breeds.

But what about Pitbulls?

This evidence-backed research found that there was no noticeable increase in joint disorders or cancers with spaying dogs at various ages, whether spaying was done less than 6 months of age, between 6–11 months, 12-24 months, or 2–8 years, or even if the dog was left intact.

This meant those wishing to spay their Pitbull should decide on the appropriate age. In light of this latest evidence, I would always recommend consulting with your vet for an individualized opinion.

Pitbull Heat Cycle FAQs

Below there are a few Pitbull heat cycle facts to quell any concerns you may have since getting to grips with everything about your Pitties’ first heat and cycle can be daunting.

Final Thoughts

Your Pitbull’s first heat marks the onset of your dog’s sexual maturity. Once your Pitbull has had her first heat, the heat cycles are repeated every 6 months for the rest of her life.

Now that you’re familiarized with your Pitbulls’ heat cycle, you can be extra attentive and know what to expect. Like humans, Pitties can experience mood changes, rushes of hormones, discomfort, and other symptoms.

The best course of action is to be patient and kind with her throughout this phase, and if your Pitbull is intact and you don’t want to breed her, keep her away from male dogs during estrus.


  • Sharon Waddington

    Sharon Waddington is the founder of World of Dogz. With over 30 years of experience working with dogs, this former Police Officer has seen it all. But it’s her trusty German Shepherd, Willow, who steals the show as the inspiration behind this website. As Sharon’s constant companion Willow has played a pivotal role in shaping her passion for dogs. Find her on Linkedin!