Understanding your Bulldog’s heat cycle is necessary whether you plan to breed or not. The knowledge about this topic will help you understand what happens to your female Bulldog’s body, how you can successfully breed her or prevent her from getting pregnant.
As your female Bulldog matures into an adult, she will go into estrus or heat. This is the time your Bulldog’s vulva gets swollen and produces a bloody discharge. Dogs usually start going into “heat” or “season” when they reach 6 to 24-months old, depending on their breed and size. Bulldogs often start going into heat between 6 and 8 months of age.
Frequency of Dog Heat Cycles
The frequency of heat cycles in dogs varies per dog. Most come into heat every six months. Some dogs sometimes have “extra” seasons in between – like only 3 months after her last heat, although these extra seasons are not always fertile.
Ovarian activity and the likeliness of your Bulldog to conceive begin to decline after she turns 6 years-old. Most dogs stop conceiving at around 10 years-old.
Signs of Heat in Dogs
Hormonal changes will cause obvious changes in your Bulldog’s body that will indicate she’s in heat. Here are some signs your Bulldog is in heat.
Swollen nipples and breasts
Your Bulldog’s nipples and breasts may swell a bit when she is in season. But, do note that swollen teats are also a sign of Pyometra and false pregnancy.
Your female Bulldog may have behavioral changes when her season starts. She may start being more affectionate and touchy. Your Bulldog may want to be petted more often than usual.
When your Bulldog comes into heat, her vulva will start swelling. The swollen vulva varies in size in different dogs. Some dogs’ vulvas do not even swell, while some swell up as big as a golf ball.
Male dogs taking interest
When your Bulldog goes into heat, she will constantly release pheromones which will attract male dogs in your neighborhood. Males can even smell the change in your female Bulldog’s hormones even before she comes into full heat. This means male dogs could flock around your female and even get in your property to attempt to mate with her. If you have a male dog in your home, he may become restless and try to mate with your female.
Raising of Rump or Tail Flagging
When your female Bulldog comes into heat and is ready for mating, she will let male dogs smell and lick her vulva. She will raise her rump and hold her tail up to let males investigate her vulva. Your Bulldog may even wag her tail from side to side to let the makes catch her scent.
Bloody discharge from the vulva
Perhaps this is the most obvious sign that your Bulldog is in heat. Your Bulldog will excrete a pinkish red-colored discharge from her vulva during the first week of her heat. The discharge then becomes tannish in color during the fertile period before changing back to the reddish color as the discharge and heat period gradually stops. Do note that some dogs like keeping themselves clean by licking their genitals so bloody discharge can be a bit hard to spot on some females.
Stages of Heat Cycle in Dogs
When a dog comes into heat, this means the body is starting to prepare itself for breeding and the likeliness of getting pregnant and giving birth. The dog’s heat cycle or estrus cycle has four stages: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus.
The first three stages – the proestrus, the estrus, and diestrus – are the ones referred to as active heat – the time when an intact female dog’s body is ready or getting ready for breeding. This lasts for 18 to 21 days.
Proestrus – During this stage, your Bulldog’s body is preparing itself for pregnancy. Your Bulldog will show signs of heat but will not be receptive to the advances of any male dog. Her vulva will gradually swell and excrete pinkish to reddish discharge. This stage usually lasts for about 9 days, but it can range from 3 to 17 days in length. The estrogen level of your Bulldog starts rising a month before proestrus then peaks and drops during the end this stage.
Estrus – In this stage, your Bulldog’s estrogen levels decline while her progesterone levels rise. Your Bulldog will start ovulating at this stage – meaning her ovaries will start releasing eggs. This is the time when your Bulldog becomes fertile. Like proestrus, estrus lasts for 9 days. This is the time when your Bulldog becomes receptive of a male dog’s attempt to mate with her.
Diestrus – Diestrus lasts about two months. This is the final stage of the active part of your Bulldog’s heat cycle. While her progesterone levels are still high, she will stop being accommodating male’s attempts to mate with her. Male dogs will also start to lose interest in your Bulldog. Discharge may still be present during the diestrus, but it will gradually stop. Your Bulldog’s vulva will also return to its normal size. This stage usually lasts about 60 days.
If your Bulldog happens to become pregnant during estrus, the diestrus stage will last until she gives whelps or gives birth to puppies, which is about 60 to 63 days after the puppies were conceived.
Anestrus – The anestrus is the fourth and final stage of a dog’s heat cycle. This is considered the resting stage, meaning there is little to no ovarian activity. The anestrus is the time between the end of diestrus and the time your Bulldog comes into heat again. The length of this stage varies, but more commonly lasts between 130 to 150 days.
Since there is no ovarian activity, there is no visible change in the body. The vulva remains in its normal size and has no discharge. During this stage, the female’s body rests to allow the uterus to prepare for the next possible pregnancy.