The reproductive stage when a female Great Dane is fertile and ready to mate is commonly referred to as being in heat or estrus. So how often do Great Danes go in heat?
Female Great Danes go into heat every 12 to 18-months. The cycle is not frequent compared to small breed dogs which go into heat 3-4 times a year. During the cycle, their body increases in estrogen thereafter a sudden decrease which is followed by the release of eggs from the ovaries.
A female Great Dane continues to go into the heat cycle throughout her life. As a Great Dane owner, it is important to recognize the start of the heat cycle to better care for them as well as prevent breeding.
A Great Dane’s heat cycle is a period that which a female Great Dane goes through a series of hormonal changes which prepare her for reproduction.
The start of the first heat marks the beginning of reproductive maturity and the cycle repeats every 12-18 months for the rest of her life.
During a female Great Danes heat cycle, they experience four phases as her body changes. These phases are:
This is the start of the heat period of a female and it is where her body starts to prepare to mate. Signs of this stage include:
- Swollen external reproductive organs
- Blood-tinged vaginal discharge
- Excessive licking of her genital area
- Clingy behavior
- Tucking her tail
- Aggression towards male dogs
The Estrus phase is the main mating phase where a female is in heat meaning they are ready to mate.
A Great Dane in heat is receptive to males and this occurs when her vaginal discharge decreases. This is when the discharge changes color to a pink/ brownish or straw color.
In this phase she:
- Urinates frequently leaving marks indicating to males that she is ready to mate
- Aggressively seeks male dogs
- Approaches males with her tail on her side (flagged tail)
- Aggressive to other female dogs
After the Estrus phase, a female dog’s body either returns to normal or develops into pregnancy if she successfully mated.
Her discharge stops completely and her genital areas return to their normal size. Her fertile window has closed at this stage.
This is the last phase of the heat cycle where a female’s body is completely normal and with no signs of sexual behavior or hormonal changes taking place.
It is the period of inactivity where her body gets ready for her next cycle which is again expected in another 12-18 months.
Signs of A Female Great Dane in Heat
The heat cycle presents changes in a female Great Dane which are observed in various phases of the cycle.
So how can you tell if your Great Dane is in heat?
When you are trying to identify a Great Dane in heat, look out for the following signs:
Swelling of the reproductive organs
One of the first signs of a female Great Dane in heat is the swelling of the external reproductive organs.
The reproductive organs become red and swollen which indicates she has started the heat cycle.
Paying more attention to her reproductive organs
Following the swelling of the eternal reproductive organs, a female Great Dane will have an increased interest and attention to this area. She will be sniffing and licking it a lot more than usual.
Blood spotted vaginal discharge will be produced. Some Great Danes have a heavy discharge while some have minimal discharge.
To prevent your home from being soiled by the discharge, I recommend getting a dog diaper that they can wear.
The diapers that are best suited for a Great Danes size are the Wegreego Reusable dog diapers. They are washable diapers available in different sizes as well as having an allowance for your dog’s tail.
There are disposable diapers but most of them do not come in the size of a Great Dane.
During the heat cycle, a female Great Dane will constantly urinate. This is normal during this time.
The urine contains pheromones which are hormones that give a scent to male dogs signaling that she is in heat and ready to mate.
When a female Great Dane is in heat, you will notice a change in her behavior and she will want to mate when the vaginal discharge decreases.
She will be more distracted and nervous than usual and will try to get pregnant at any cost.
She will also be more receptive to male Great Danes by courting them, initiating the mating position by raising her behind towards them, or moving her tail on one side which is known as “flagging”, to enable mating.
To prevent breeding during this time, walk her on a leash when outside your home where she may meet male suitors and also keep her contained in your house or backyard to prevent access to male dogs.
A Great Dane in heat will also have clingy behavior towards its owners.
This behavior is temporary and she returns to her normal self after her heat cycle ends.
Great Dane behavior in heat: What to expect
Great Dane First Heat: When should I expect my Great Dane’s first heat?
A Great Dane’s first heat starts between the age of 6 to 24 months of age. This time depends on an individual dog’s body chemistry, genetics, overall health, age, size, and height, however, the majority have their first heat at one year of age.
After the first heat, the cycle repeats every 12 – 18 months for the rest of their lives.
How long does a Great Dane stay in heat?
A Great Dane stays in heat for 2 to 4 weeks. The heat cycle is considered to begin following the first signs of swelling of the external reproductive organs, her attention to this area, and the appearance of a discharge.
The cycle ends when the discharge completely stops and the reproductive organ resumes its usual size.
A Great Dane’s first heat also lasts for 2-4 weeks.
Recommended Reading: The best Great Dane ear cropping styles
How to care for a Great Dane In Heat
If your Great Dane is going through her heat cycle, it is best to be well prepared on how to care for her to keep her comfortable.
The following are the different ways you can do this:
Allow her to have extra rest during her cycle. A female Great Dane needs energy as she goes through the motions of the whole cycle.
Therefore allow her to have enough rest by easing her activities such as her exercise routine by taking shorter walks.
Do not let her off her leash during walks to prevent her from running off to a male dog that she may encounter.
Keep your dog comfortable by keeping her environment calm and away from noise or other triggers of stress.
This helps to keep her calm, happy and it also distracts her from the discomfort of her hormonal changes
Keep her from your furniture or carpeted areas during the bleeding phase to prevent her from creating a mess on the surfaces. Dog diapers are essential during this time.
If she needs to lick herself while in a diaper, remove it temporarily to allow this natural process.
Feed her well with plenty of drinking water to keep her healthy and to have energy from her food sources.
Isolate her in your home or backyard away from male dogs. Supervisor her when in the backyard because she will have the drive to look for a mate and might try to escape to achieve this.
Consult with your veterinarian if you notice any signs of illness. Female Great Danes may develop a bacterial infection from the remains of their thickened uterus after their cycle.
This uterine infection is also known as pyometra is life-threatening therefore ensure to observe your dog for signs of illness which include:
- Excessive drinking of water
- Excessive urination
- Loss of appetite
- Production of thick discharge from her genitals
- Abdominal pain
After her heat cycle plan to have her spayed. If your intent is not to breed your dog, this is the next step to consider so that she will not reproduce.
At what age should a female Great Dane be spayed?
A female Great Dane should be spayed when they are at least one year old and after they have experienced their first heat cycle.
Having them spayed at this time prevents the occurrence of developmental issues and also prevents the formation of blood clots due to an increase in hormone level during and around the heat cycle.
They are therefore spayed at least two months after their heat cycle and when they are at least one year old.
When a female Great Dane matures sexually, they go through a cycle where they are ready for mating which is commonly known as being in heat.
This is a stage you will notice both behavioral and physical changes that will confirm they are in a heat cycle.
As a Great Dane owner, being aware of these signs helps you to be more prepared in terms of their care as well as prevent breeding.
Also, talk to your vet about spaying a female Great Dane and neutering your Great Dane male dog and when to do it.
I hope this article gave you an insight into how often Great Danes go in heat and what you can do to care for them during their cycle.
If you liked this article you may also like to learn more from the below resources on Great Danes.