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Yorkshire Terrier First Heat & Cycle: What to Expect & When

Yorkshire Terriers are small and adorable dogs that make great companions for many pet owners. However, if you are a new owner of a Yorkshire Terrier, you may be unsure about what to expect regarding their first heat (estrus) and cycle. Understanding the timing and changes during this period can help you provide proper care and attention to your furry friend.

Yorkshire Terriers typically have their first heat cycle around 6 months of age. However, they can go into heat from age 4 months. After this, your dog will go into heat around every 6 months, but some will cycle thrice per year. The average length of the estrus stage is 10-14 days, although this may vary.

This article will discuss the Yorkshire Terrier’s first heat and cycle, including the age at which it typically occurs, the signs and symptoms to look out for, and how to care for your dog during this time.

Whether you are a new or experienced owner, this information can help you better understand your Yorkshire Terrier’s reproductive health and well-being.

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Yorkshire Terrier first heat

Yorkshire Terrier First Heat

Yorkshire Terriers are a small breed of dog known for their spunky personalities and loyalty to their owners.

As the founder of an animal shelter where I’ve both fostered and adopted many dog breeds, including Yorkshire Terriers, I know firsthand how important it is to understand your pet’s reproductive health. 

A heat cycle, or estrus, is a natural part of a female dog’s reproductive system. During this time, a female dog is fertile and can become pregnant. 

For Yorkshire Terriers, the first heat cycle usually occurs around 6 months of age, although it can vary. Small breeds, in particular, can have their first heat from as young as 4 months old, whereas large and giant breeds could be 12 months old or longer before experiencing their first heat.

As a dog owner, it’s essential to understand what a heat cycle means for your pet, as during this time, your dog may experience changes in behavior and physical appearance, such as a swollen vulva and discharge.

You must also keep your Yorkie away from intact males during her heat cycle to avoid unwanted pregnancy.

Yorkshire Terrier

Stages of the Yorkie’s Heat Cycle

Here is a tabled view of a Yorkie’s heat cycle. You should be aware that the duration of each stage can vary from dog to dog and may be influenced by factors such as age, health, and environment.

Proestrus9 days on averageThe appearance of a bloody discharge from the vulva characterizes the first stage of estrus. She may also have swollen teats and urinate more frequently. During this stage, the female is uninterested in mating and may exhibit irritability or aggression.
Estrus9 days on averageThis is the stage during which the female is receptive to mating. The bloody discharge may become lighter in color or disappear altogether. The female may exhibit more friendly and affectionate behavior and may actively seek out a male.
Diestrus60 days on averageIf the female does not become pregnant, she will enter diestrus, during which her reproductive system returns to its normal state. She may still exhibit some signs of pregnancy, such as nesting behavior or lactation. Her body will rest in preparation for the next heat season.
Anestrus4-5 months on averageThis is the period of sexual inactivity between estrus cycles. The female’s reproductive system is dormant, and she will not exhibit any signs of estrus. If you’re planning to neuter your Yorkie, the anestrus period is considered the most opportune time to do so.
Stages of Yorkshire Terrier Heat Cycle

When Do Yorkies Go Into Heat?

Generally, Yorkies go into heat around 6 months of age, but there can be some variation, and some pups go into season much earlier and some much later. These variations are all within the norm, and it all depends on the individual dog.

If your Yorkie is coming into heat, it doesn’t imply they’re ready to breed. In fact, experienced breeders know that it’s better to wait until the second heat, preferably the third.

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. 

Typically, the heat cycle lasts between two to three weeks, and during this time, your Yorkie’s vulva will become swollen, and it may produce some discharge. 

I recommend investing in dog diapers to prepare for the first heat, as your Yorkie will experience some discharge during the cycle. 

Your Yorkie will continue to go into heat all her life, although the time between estrus will increase as she ages unless she has been spayed. 

As a responsible pet owner, it’s crucial to consult with your vet about spaying options to help prevent unwanted breeding and potential health issues later on.

How Long Does a Yorkie’s First Heat Last?

Typically, a Yorkie’s first heat cycle lasts two to three weeks and corresponds to the estrus stage of the heat cycle. During these days, your Yorkie is fertile and can get pregnant if she mates. However, this can vary depending on the individual dog and other factors such as stress, age, environmental factors, and overall health.

Note, however, that a female Yorkie can become pregnant if she mates 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. 

How Do You Know When Your Yorkie is in Heat?

A Yorkie in heat looking at its bowl of food due to loss of appetite.
A Yorkie with inappetence during its heat cycle

Are you uncertain about how to tell when your dog is in heat? There are several physical changes to look out for that can indicate your Yorkie is in heat. 

Note: It’s imperative to keep your dog away from intact males during this time to avoid unwanted breeding.

  • One of the most noticeable changes is a swollen vulva. This swelling can range in size and may be accompanied by some discharge. Your dog may also groom herself more than usual to clean this area.
  • Another way to tell if your Yorkie is in heat is through their behavior. During the heat cycle, your dog may be more vocal and attention-seeking than usual. 
  • She may act differently towards other dogs and become more protective of her space. Some dogs may even experience mood swings or increased anxiety.
  • In addition to these behavioral changes, your Yorkie’s appetite may also be affected. Some dogs may eat less during their heat cycle, while others may eat more. 
  • You may also notice a change in your Yorkie’s scent during the heat cycle. This is due to the pheromones they release to attract male dogs. 

If you’d like a better understanding of it, here’s a video:

How to Tell if your Yorkie is in Heat?

How to Care for a Yorkshire Terrier in Heat

Caring for your Yorkshire Terrier during its heat cycle requires extra attention and care. This may mean investing in a more comfortable bed or creating a cozy space for your dog to rest and relax.

One of the most important things to remember is that your dog may experience changes in behavior and require more attention and affection. 

They may want to be petted and cuddled more often to feel safe and comfortable during this time. Check out this article for insight on Effective Ways to Calm a Dog In Heat.

In addition to changes in behavior, your dog may experience physical changes, such as a swollen vulva and discharge. The good news is they won’t be in any pain during estrus.

However, you should keep your dog clean and comfortable by providing her with dog diapers to stop the blood from staining the bedding that your dog lies on. Keep her hair trimmed to prevent matting and tangles, and offer a soothing bath.

If your Yorkie shows extreme discomfort 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.

Keeping your dog away from intact males during their heat cycle is crucial to prevent unwanted breeding. This means constant supervision and separating her from other male dogs in the house.

You should regularly clean and wash any bedding or blankets your dog uses and use air fresheners or candles to mask the scent. You may also want to invest in special dog shampoos designed to reduce the scent of dogs in heat.

It’s also important to be extra cautious when taking your dog on walks, as the scent of her discharge can attract male dogs.

Yorkie In Bed Under Covers

How Often Do Yorkies Go Into Heat?

Yorkies go into heat two or three times a year. This is typical of small dog breeds, as large dogs may go into heat twice a year, and the largest breeds, only once a year. 

Variations are typical and are contingent upon the following factors:

  • Age. After a Yorkshire Terriers’ first heat cycle, subsequent heat cycles may be irregular initially but will become more consistent with time. Instead, older Yorkies 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.
  • Conception. As happens in humans, gestation delays menstrual periods and fertility seasons. Similarly, the interestrus interval, or the period between estrus seasons, is prolonged in Yorkshire Terriers and other dogs after whelping. 
  • Seasons. Though seasonality is generally considered a non-factor in estrus frequency in Yorkies and other dogs, it is not an impossibility. This study found fewer estrus incidences in summer and, consequently, fewer occurrences of fertility and conception, although more research is needed. 
Yorkie Running


How Do I Know When My Yorkie’s Heat Cycle Is Over?

The heat cycle of a Yorkie lasts for about 3 weeks. You’ll know it’s over when the bleeding stops and the vulva returns to its normal size. However, waiting a few more days before allowing any breeding or contact with male dogs is best.

Does a Yorkie In Heat Require A Special Food Regime? 

A Yorkie in heat doesn’t require a special food regime but may experience appetite loss. Nonetheless, you should provide your dog with a nutritious and balanced diet to help support their health during this time. Offer tastier, smaller, more frequent meals, and avoid high-calorie treats.

Can I Bathe My Yorkshire Terrier During Their Heat Cycle?

Yes, you can bathe your Yorkshire Terrier during her heat cycle. Use lukewarm water and mild shampoo, and avoid getting water inside their ears or near the vulva. Dry them thoroughly and keep them warm after the bath.

Can I Still Groom My Yorkie During Their Heat Cycle?

You can still groom your Yorkshire Terrier during their heat cycle, but it’s essential to be gentle and avoid causing any discomfort or irritation around the vulva area. Also, avoid trimming or grooming the hair around the genital area to prevent irritation or infection.

How Do I Know When My Yorkshire Terrier Is Ready To Breed?

A Yorkshire Terrier is typically ready to breed after her third heat cycle to ensure her reproductive system is fully matured and to reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy. Breeding can occur when she displays signs of heat, such as a swollen vulva and discharge, and she shows an interest in the male.

To determine if your Yorkie is ready to breed, consult a vet who can evaluate your dog’s physical and reproductive health. They may perform tests to determine if your dog is ovulating or to check for any underlying health issues affecting their breeding ability.

You should only breed healthy dogs without genetic or hereditary health conditions.

How Do I Prevent My Yorkshire Terrier From Mating During Heat Cycle?

To prevent a Yorkshire Terrier from mating during her heat cycle, keep them indoors or in a controlled environment, avoid contact with male dogs, and use a dog diaper or a sanitary pad. Spaying is also an option to prevent future heat cycles.

Yorkshire Terrier Sitting

Do Yorkshire Terrier In Heat Require More Playtime?

Yorkshire Terriers in heat may experience mood swings and changes in behavior, including increased or decreased activity levels. Offer playtime if your Yorkie is willing, but avoid overexertion and ensure they have plenty of rest.

How Often Should You Walk a Yorkshire Terrier In Heat?

Yorkshire Terriers in heat should be walked regularly, but avoid overexertion and keep walks short and close to home. Aim for two to three short walks per day and ensure they have plenty of rest in between.

Final Thoughts

Your Yorkshire Terrier’s first heat marks the onset of your dog’s sexual maturity. This happens around six months but can be earlier or later in some dogs.

Once your Yorkie has had her first heat, the cycles are repeated 2-3 times per year for the rest of her life.

I hope the article has taught you everything you need to know about caring for your Yorkie during the heat cycle, especially 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. 


  • Sowmya Sankaran

    Sowmya Sankaran is crazy about dogs, rabbits and birds! An avid rescuer and rehabilitator of dogs and other animals, she runs the Life With Equality Charitable Trust, an animal shelter in Chennai, India. She is also the founder of Petsmond, a pet website, in which she shares her experiences in raising different creatures and paying attention to intricate aspects of their health. Find her on Linkedin!