An unspayed Poodle might act no different from a spayed one up until her first heat. And if you don’t know any better, you might confuse her frequent urination and vulva swelling for an infection. These, alongside blood-stained discharge, are just a few symptoms of your Poodle being in heat.
A Poodle’s first heat and cycle will happen around the age of 9 to 12 months. This is when your Poodle is fertile and ready to mate. After this, your Poodle’s size will determine the frequency of cycles. Poodle heat cycles happen in 4 phases, but the heat or estrus phase only lasts 4-15 days.
While this might sound confusing, you can easily observe your dog to notice these changes. However, knowing what the first heat and cycle will entail will help you better understand the changes taking place. I’ll discuss what this cycle means for your dog; when it happens, and the signs you’ll need to be aware of.
By the end of this post, you’ll know whether your Poodle is in heat, whether you have the toy, mini, or standard variety, what you should do to comfort her, what you can expect from her first heat, and how often you can anticipate the reproductive cycle to repeat.
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Poodle Heat Cycle
When your Poodle goes into heat for the first time, she can be considered fertile. That said, she’s not ready for pregnancy. I will go over the reasons for that later in the post.
After the first heat, the cycle becomes fairly predictable with a 6-month repetition. So, your Poodle will go into heat twice a year for the rest of her life.
While some age-related variations will occur during your dog’s life, a Poodle’s reproduction cycle, by and large, happens in four stages.
In the first 4-20 days of the heat cycle, your Poodle will be in her proestrus stage. It is usually the point where most dog owners become concerned regarding the health of their pets, especially when it happens for the first time. And you might understand why given that the following symptoms signify this stage:
- Frequent urination.
- Swollen vulva and teats.
- Bleeding, which may be more noticeable in some bitches than others.
- “Mood swings” whereby your Poodle may become more quiet or anxious.
- Attracting male dogs, but not necessarily ready to mate.
- A darkened lower abdomen.
- Tucking in the tail to cover her vulva and keep away the males.
Some dogs may also clean themselves as part of self-grooming, making it hard for you to notice any bleeding that might occur. It’s important to be vigilant during this stage to be aware of the changes happening.
Watch This Video To Learn All About Your Dog In Heat…
While proestrus is associated with being in heat, the actual “in heat” period is the estrus stage. This is when ovulation occurs, and your Poodle is at the peak of her fertility.
This stage can last between 4 and 15 days. Her instincts and readiness to mate are most obvious from her interest in male dogs. But even if male dogs are not around, you can pinpoint the estrus stage from the following characteristics:
- 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 sign your Poodle is getting ready to mate.
- Seeking out male dogs. If your dog has become more active and aggressive in seeking out other dogs, this could be a signal they are in the estrus phase.
The Diestrus stage is when your dog’s reproductive system rests after ovulating. It only happens if the dog does not get pregnant. In the absence of conception, your Poodle’s body relaxes and unwinds.
Diestrus in Poodles lasts around 60 days. Although your dog may still carry the scent of the heat period, her fertile window has closed at this point.
This is the final stage of your dog’s heat cycle and is the equivalent of the last week of December when everyone’s writing down new year’s resolutions. This phase of a Poodle’s heat cycle lasts much longer, though. Your Poodle will remain in an anestrus period for almost 90 days as her body gears up for the next cycle.
If you’re planning to neuter your Poodle, the anestrus period is considered the most opportune time to do so.
When Do Poodles Go Into Heat?
On average, Poodles go into heat when they’re around 9 months old. However, it’s typical for some larger standard Poodles to go into heat at 12 months. As such, most Poodles go into heat around 9-12 months. But since dog size affects their heat cycle, Poodles don’t have a uniform heat schedule.
- Toy Poodles might go into heat at the 5-month mark or even earlier.
- Miniature Poodles can go into heat when they are 6-months old.
- Standard Poodles can go into heat from 8 months to 12 months.
Poodles may also go into heat at a later age. Some dogs will even go into heat at 18 or 24 months. These variations are all within the norm, and it all depends on the individual dog.
If your dog is coming into heat, this doesn’t automatically imply that she is ready for breeding. In fact, experienced Poodle breeders know that it’s better to wait until the second heat, ideally the third. This gives them time to come fully into the cycle before breeding.
Indeed, 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.
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How Long Does a Poodle’s First Heat Last?
A Poodle’s first heat lasts between 4 to 15 days and corresponds to the estrus stage of the heat cycle. During these days, your Poodle is fertile and can get pregnant if she mates.
Note, however, that a female Poodle 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 first heat and consequent heat seasons last for 2-4 weeks. This is because many people consider the heat period to include both the proestrus and the estrus phases of the heat cycle.
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.
Signs Your Poodle Is In Heat
You’ll know when your Poodle is in heat by observing your dog for specific physical and behavioral signs, including:
- A swollen vulva and enlarged teats.
- A change in the color of discharge (pinkish instead of blood-stained).
- A tail set to the side (flagging).
- Frequent urination.
- A loss of appetite.
Your dog 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 readiness to mate.
In this period, if you have an intact Poodle and don’t intend to breed her, you should keep your pet on a leash during walks, as your furry friend will actively seek a sexual partner.
How To Care for a Poodle In Heat
Caring for a Poodle in heat requires extra love and attention. As a consequence of the physical and emotional changes your Poodle will undergo during the season, you’ll need to take special care of your dog.
Here are 7 things you should do to care for a Poodle in heat:
- Keep your dog occupied to distract her from the discomfort of the hormonal changes during the heat period. Playing games, offering treat-filled toys, or taking short walks can help keep your dog happy and calm.
- Keep your Poodle away from male dogs, both 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.
- Keep your Poodle from carpeted areas of the home, sofas, and bedding during the bleeding phase of the heat cycle. Alternatively, you can consider using dog diapers to stop the blood from staining floors and the bedding that your dog lies on. Choose something like the Simple Solution Disposable Dog Diapers from Amazon. These have a better fit due to the stretchable fabric that fits perfectly around your dog.
- If your Poodle 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 your dog may feel a bit low-energy and under the weather.
- Ensure your dog gets all the recommended nutrients in her meal during heat, including enough fresh drinking water. If your Poodle prefers 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 if just for a few meals.
- Keep the surrounding environment calm and free of extreme noise or disturbance. Your dog is sensitive to any form of stress during this period. Moreover, crowds and other animals might test her patience. It is better to keep her in an environment where she feels safe regardless of her mood.
- If your Poodle 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’s waterproof, machine washable, and has an auto power-off function for extra safety. Consult a vet if the uneasiness or pain doesn’t seem typical.
Your Poodle 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.
How Often Do Poodles Go Into Heat?
Standard Poodles go into heat twice a year, approximately every 6 months, which is typical of larger breeds. However, smaller Poodles, such as the toy or mini varieties, may go into heat 3-4 times a year.
There’s an approximate 6 months interval between heat cycles in Poodles. An average Poodle can be expected to go into heat twice a year for 14 days. Some Poodles’ heat cycle lasts 28 days.
The variation isn’t just in the number of days the cycle lasts but can also cover how frequently the dog goes into heat. This depends on your dog and her body clock. How often your Poodle goes into heat may vary and is contingent upon the following factors:
As mentioned, the size of your Poodle influences how often she goes into heat.
Small dogs mature significantly more quickly than larger breeds, on average. Similar to small dogs, large dogs will go into heat more frequently.
For instance, toy Poodles reach sexual maturity at 4-6 months of age and go into heat 3-4 times per year. However, standard Poodles only go through one or two heat cycles a year and may take 18-24 months to reach sexual maturity.
After a Poodle’s first heat cycle, subsequent heat cycles may be a little 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 Poodles 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 Poodles and other dogs after whelping.
A study on the effects of whelping on 375 dogs of various breeds found that they had a regular 6-month estrus interval under normal circumstances, but the interval was prolonged by an average of 64 days in those dogs who went into gestation.
Low protein and a poor diet can slow down your Poodle’s cycle. In extreme cases, the reproductive cycles might seem to stop. Vitamin deficiencies, alongside a lack of balanced nutrition, can be the cause of a slow heat cycle.
If you’re looking for more information on what to feed your Poodle, check out my seriously ridiculous guide, Best Diet For Poodles (Nutrition Every Poodle Needs).
Though seasonality is generally considered a non-factor in estrus frequency in dogs and other dogs, it is not an impossibility.
This seven-year study investigated the effect of season on reproductive parameters in 53 dogs of various breeds raised under tropical climatic conditions.
Scientists discovered that breeding dogs in the summer resulted in a low whelping rate. They found fewer estrus incidences in summer and, thus, fewer occurrences of fertility and conception.
Poodle Heat Cycle FAQs
Here are a few Poodle heat cycle facts to quell any concerns you may have since getting to grips with everything about your Poodle’s first heat and cycle can be overwhelming.
Depending on whether you have a tiny Poodle or a large one, her first heat cycle will likely occur at the 6-month or the 10-month mark, respectively. Of course, this is not set in stone, as the first heat can happen earlier or later.
What is set in stone, though, is that this signals the beginning of her sexual maturity. Once your Poodle has had her first heat, the heat cycles are repeated every 6 months for the rest of her life.
Now that you know the symptoms of the pre-heat and main heat stages, you will know how to take care of your Poodle when she is in this delicate stage. Moreover, you will know what to expect.
I’m sure you’ll be able to help your Poodle during the heat cycle by showing a little more love for the uncomfortable proestrus changes and keeping her from males during estrus if she’s intact and you don’t intend to breed her.