If you own a beautiful female cocker spaniel then you’ve likely got a lot of questions about their heat cycle.
From when their first season will come, the signs to know, what to expect, how to help, and even pregnancy faqs…
In this article I’m going to simplify everything to remove any worries or doubts you might have. I’ll be using the terms “heat” and “season” interchangeably.
Cocker spaniels typically get their first heat/season around 6-8 months old. However, timing varies for every spaniel, which means for some, it may be a little earlier or later than this.
When Do Cocker Spaniels Go Into Their First Heat?
It varies slightly with all cocker spaniels, but 6-8 months seems to be the most common time they experience their first heat.
After putting this question to as many spaniel owners as we could contact, we had some saying 5 months, and others saying 10 months. And that’s still perfectly normal.
One thing we would say though is that if your cocker spaniel still hasn’t entered into heat (come into season) after 10 months, it’s worth a precautionary vet check-up just to make sure everything is okay.
How Long Are Cocker Spaniels In Heat For?
The complete heat cycles in cocker spaniels last around 18-23 days (3 weeks more or less).
I know it can be a daunting time and seem like forever before your spaniel returns to her normal self, but rest assured it’ll get easier every time.
Within these 18-21 days your cocker spaniel will go through various different stages within the overall heat cycle. I’ll explain this further below.
Psst. A word on Spaniel training! Brain Training For Dogs could be the best training approach we’ve seen for all spaniels. Results show improvement in obedience and behavior quicker than we thought possible! It’s seriously worth checking out.
How Often Do Cocker Spaniels Go Into Heat?
On average, cocker spaniels go into heat every 6-7 months.
However, a consistent frequency doesn’t usually happen until she’s had at least two or three heat cycles.
So until that moment, it may be hard to predict the next one.
After her cycles regulate, you’ll be able to predict fairly accurately when subsequent heat cycles will be.
First Signs of Heat/Season
So how do you know when your cocker spaniel will go into heat?
Thankfully, we don’t need any crystal balls! Just a little observation will be enough.
The following signs indicate that your cocker spaniel is entering the first stage of her heat cycle:
- Change of mood and behavior
- Change of appetite and sleeping habits
- Swelling of the Vulva
- Blood spots or discharge
- Tail tucking
- Paying extra attention to her genitals
- Aggression towards male dogs
Important note: Not all of these signs may happen!
Some may be exaggerated and some signs may not happen at all. This is why it’s best to know all of them and keep an eye out for any.
For one reason or another, many owners are particularly worried about blood spots.
You may get lucky and have very minimal blood spots to deal with, and for others, it could be quite a bit. There’s no way of knowing before so it’s something to be prepared for.
The Puppy Mag Favorites
Trending article: Why do cocker spaniels have their tails docked! The real answer
Stages of Your Cocker Spaniel’s Heat Cycle
There are four stages to every heat cycle your cocker spaniel will have. Each stage means something different and there are various signs that come with each. Let’s explain them below.
The first 6-8 days is known as Proestrus. During this stage, she will not be fertile or want anything to do with males! That’s crucial to remember as I will explain later.
This is considered the preparation stage.
Signs of Proestrus:
- Change in behavior, temperament, appetite
- Blood spots or discharge
- Swelling Vuvla
- Tail tucking
- Aggressive towards male dogs
- Paying extra attention to genitals
The second 6-8 days is called Estrus. This is the most notable stage of the heat cycle as your cocker spaniel will be fertile and ready to mate.
At this point she would accept most intact males should they come near her. She may show more aggression towards female dogs too.
Signs of Estrus:
- Discharge or blood spots become very watery (meaning fertile)
- Tail being held to the side presenting the Vulva
- Flirtatious behavior with male dogs
- Aggressive behavior towards female dogs
- Increased urination
- Mood swings
The last 6-8 days is known as Diestrus and is when your spaniel’s body slowly returns to normal if she has not been impregnated.
However, If she has successfully mated, her body will remain in Diestrus for the 60-70 day pregnancy.
Signs of Diestrus:
- Vulva returns to regular size
- Behavior stabalizes
- Blood spots or discharge come to a stop
Anestrus is the resting phase and is what your cocker spaniel remains in until her next heat cycle comes and she enters Proestrus again.
Nothing happens in this stage.
- Proestrus: first 6-8 days (non-fertile)
- Estrus: Second 6-8 days (fertile)
- Diestrus: Third 6-8 days (returning to normal)
- Anestrus: Resting stage until next heat cycle
Popular article: When do cocker spaniels stop growing & reach full size?
How Do Cocker Spaniels Handle Being In Heat?
One of the most common questions surrounding is the topic is a simple one… “What changes should I expect?” Let’s cover this below.
One of the most significant things owners mention is a change in behavior and temperament.
From unexplained mood swings to excessive affection or disobedience, many things can happen during heat. The only thing we can do is be ready and accepting of these changes.
If we aren’t prepared for them, it can come as quite a shock. But just remind yourself that these weird changes are only temporary and won’t last. More stable behavior is on the horizon.
It’s worth mentioning this to all members of the family. If some aren’t aware of these natural changes it can be quite a concern to witness an unusually distant and grouchy spaniel when they are typically bouncy and playful.
Interactions with other dogs
This is an important one. Interactions with other dogs become quite complicated when a female is in season.
When your spaniel enters the very first stage her body will produce a lot of hormones and give off a strong scent to other dogs… This attracts the males, despite her not being ready to mate. Any interaction from a male dog will likely end up in a fight, sometimes with devasting consequences.
As she enters Estrus and becomes fertile, she herself may actively try seeking a partner, which could mean running off from you on walks or even escaping from your own yard… We’ve heard it all before!
Due to these reasons, many owners prefer to exercise their spaniel at home during the entire heat cycle, just to be safe.
Owners go as far as keeping her on the leash when in their own yard. This, of course, depends on how escape-proof your yard is.
Whatever you decide, remember that it’s best to avoid interactions with dogs during her heat cycle. In one way or another, things could get ugly.
It’s possible that your spaniel experiences fluctuations in her appetite. With this in mind, it helps to be prepared in case this happens.
To make food more appealing without actually changing it, we can some low salt meat broth (chicken or beef) to the kibble. This makes it wet, easier to eat, and boosts the flavor to irresistible levels.
Just be sure not to overdo it otherwise an upset stomach could be the result.
Additionally, we must point out that food refusal is a sign of many underlying health issues so it’s worth keeping this in mind.
If something doesn’t seem right and you notice additional symptoms like vomiting, nausea, or dizziness, then it’s important to seek help from your vet.
In order not to ruin expensive carpets, rugs, and your couch, it’s a good idea to lay down as many old towels as you can get your hands on.
Many owners confine their spaniel to a few rooms of the house, instead of letting them roam anywhere. This will at least keep the mess down to only a few smaller areas.
With blood spots, it’s best to clean them as they fall. For this, we typically use dog-friendly disinfectants to quickly wipe the area.
It’s also important to frequently wash her bed. This could get quite messy over the coming weeks, so it’s advised to wash it every other day to prevent bacteria from building.
While it can be frustrating, there’s nothing we can really do to prevent this mess. So we have to just go with the flow!
There are such things as doggy diapers (yes really), and if your spaniel accepts wearing one, that could be a game-changer. But we have to be honest, most of the time, dogs will not enjoy wearing these and will rip them off shortly after.
What else can we do to help?
Ultimately, as long as the above is covered, there isn’t much more we can do.
If you remain calm and understanding when her mood swings come, give her support when she wants it, and provide her a safe daily routine (away from other dogs), she will handle heat just fine.
It helps to remember that this is a natural process, and it’s something we can’t interfere with too much. In a little over 3 weeks, your cocker spaniel will already be back to normal, much calmer, sensible, and more mature.
Should a Cocker Spaniel Be Spayed Before Her First Heat Cycle?
The subject of spaying (and neutering) dogs is often contentious and frequently discussed. A common question that emerges is WHEN is the most suitable time to perform the procedure. And truthfully, this question doesn’t have a one-size-fits-all answer…
While some veterinarians and breeders advocate spaying your Cocker Spaniel before her first heat cycle, there are many who advise caution against this approach.
Certain research suggests a correlation between early spaying and an increased risk of obesity and orthopedic disorders such as hip dysplasia, which Cocker Spaniels are already predisposed to.
Conversely, spaying is recommended to prolong lifespan and reduce the risk of other health complications such as mammary tumors and pyometra in the future.
From a nonprofessional perspective, if you’re considering spaying, it could be undertaken before her first heat cycle, BUT it’s important not to proceed excessively early.
As Cocker Spaniels usually don’t come into heat until they’re between 6 to 9 months old, it would be advisable to wait until she’s around this age before spaying.
This permits her body to grow further and produce adequate hormones prior to the procedure.
Conversely, some owners prefer to spay after she has gone through one or two heat cycles, which allows her body to mature fully and naturally before the spaying procedure. Some believe this path results in a more balanced, better-adjusted female.
It’s best to consult with your veterinarian and get an extensive health check before making a decision about spaying.
Cocker Spaniel Pregnancy FAQs
Let’s run through some of the frequently asked questions on breeding. Each question will have a short and concise answer.
When can cocker spaniel get pregnant?
Cocker spaniels can get pregnant from their very first heat cycle, which could be as young as 6 months old. This, however, is not the recommended time that a cocker spaniel be bred.
How long are cocker spaniels pregnant?
Cocker spaniels are usually pregnant between 60-70 days, with 63 days being the most common duration. This is according to data from the AKC.
What age can cocker spaniels be bred?
While it’s possible to breed from their first heat cycle, it is not recommended. It’s safer to wait until she has had 2 or 3 heat cycle before breeding her. This allows her to mature before putting her under the stress of pregnancy.
How many puppies do cocker spaniels have?
Cocker spaniels usually have between 5-12 puppies in a litter. Yep, this is quite a drastic range, and you never know what you’ll get. Breeding spaniels can result in quite the surprise!
Thank you for reading! Back to more Spaniel articles