If you have a female Great Dane, you likely have many questions about when they will get their first heat and what to expect.
Whether you are looking to find an adequate time to spay them or are interested in breeding and understanding your Great Dane’s heat cycle, this article has everything you want to know.
The age at which Great Danes experience their first heat cycle can vary widely, with some dogs going into heat as early as 10 months and others not experiencing it until they are 24 months old.
It is important to note that all Great Danes are different and the timing of their heat cycles may vary. As a general rule, larger dogs tend to go into heat later than smaller dogs.
What Does “Going Into Heat” Mean In Great Danes?
So what does the phrase “going into heat” mean in our canine friends? Heat is just a term used to describe the period when a female dog is receptive to mating with male dogs, and is physically able to get pregnant.
A Great Dane in heat will release hormones and scents that male dogs will pick up on, allowing them to seek out the female and conceive puppies. While the heat cycle has four official stages, most are referring to the Estrus stage when saying a dog is in heat.
When Do Great Danes Get Their First Heat?
While most dogs go into heat around six-ten months of age, this is not always the case for Great Danes. Large breed dogs tend to go into heat much later than small breeds, with Great Danes usually having their first heat cycle at anywhere from 10 to 24 months of age.
Some Great Danes will certainly fall on the earlier end of the spectrum, but they tend to sexually mature later than their smaller canine friends.
Their window of experiencing their first heat cycle may be longer, but their cycles follow the same general guidelines.
Understanding The Heat Cycle In Great Danes
To better understand your Great Dane’s heat patterns, you should have a full understanding of the entire estrous cycle. A Great Dane’s heat cycles are separated into 4 categories, all of which have specific roles in canine reproduction.
Proestrus is the stage in the heat cycle that most Great Dane owners will see visible signs of heat. In this stage, the vulva will start to swell and will be accompanied by blood-tinged discharge. Other male dogs will likely be interested in pursuing her at this point, but your female pup will not yet be interested in mating. Proestrus often lasts 9-10 days.
Estrus is the stage in the Great Dane heat cycle that the female is most fertile. Your dog’s red-tinged discharge will begin to decrease, often fooling owners into thinking they are no longer in heat. This is not only inaccurate but is the only time in which your female dog will accept other males. Estrus often lasts 9-10 days.
Diestrus: (returning to normal)
Diestrus is the heat cycle stage in Great Danes where the hormonal changes begin to slow, meaning the female is no longer receptive to mating with the male. The vulva may still be slightly enlarged, but this should be the only lasting sign of heat that you notice. This stage will often last for about 2 months.
Anestrus: (resting stage)
Anestrus is the stage in Great Danes where the body is preparing for the next round of estrus but is no longer displaying signs of heat. There will be no swollen vulva, and the female will not be interested in males. This stage typically lasts for 4-5 months.
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Signs That Your Great Dane Is Going Into Heat
So how do you know when your Great Dane pup is going into heat for the first time? While the age in which they receive their first heat cycle may vary, the signs are typically the same.
Some of the most common signs of heat in Great Danes include:
- Swollen vulva
- Blood-tinged discharge
- Brown discharge
- Changes in behavior or mood
- Licking their vulva
- Holding their tail differently
- More receptive to male dogs
- Increase in urination
Do Great Danes Ever Stop Going Into Heat?
We know that female humans go through menopause later in life, so do female Great Danes experience this as well? You may be surprised to learn that not only do dogs not go through menopause, but their heat cycles never stop.
Female Great Danes that are not spayed will continue to have heat cycles throughout their entire lives, though the frequency in which they occur may vary. Young Great Danes may have 2 heat cycles a year on average, while senior Great Danes may only have 1.
It’s important to note that the more heat stages a Great Dane has, the higher their chance of developing a life-threatening condition called pyometra. Pyometra is a uterine infection that can develop in the weeks following the estrus phase, requiring life-saving surgery to remove the infected uterus.
This means that older Great Danes who still go into heat are more at risk of developing pyometra, meaning you will either need to closely monitor your older Great Dane or have them spayed to prevent complications.
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Caring For a Great Dane In Heat
Let’s run through some important tips that will help you best care for your Great Dane once she goes into heat.
1. Be ready for unusual mood changes
There’s going to be some unusual mood and temperament changes while she enters heat, throughout it and just after it.
While this can be quite concerning for owners, just know that these mood changes are completely normal. All you can do is be there for her when she wants extra support and give her space if that’s what she wants.
Let the family know that your GD might be “acting funny” for a little while, and just go with it. Her normal behavior will return.
2. Keep her area as clean as possible
With the discharge are blood, the 3 weeks while your Great Dane is in heat can be a little messy. It’s crucial to keep her area as clean as possible to reduce bacteria build-up.
Most owners opt to put down old bath towels, keep her segmented in the house, wash her bed every couple of days and even consider doggy diapers (although many great danes won’t tolerate these).
3. Always supervise her outside
It’s essential to supervise your Great Dane when outside for the entire time. During the proestrus stage, she will not want to mate, but her smell will attract male dogs from the entire neighborhood. Some may even try gaining access to your yard!
Once the estrus stage comes, it will be the other way around! Your GD will want to mate and could even take it upon her self to escape from your yard in order to find a partner. This has happened countless times so it’s imperative to keep her on the leash or supervised.
Some owners prefer not to walk their GD in public places for these three weeks. This is up to you, but if you decide to continue with your walks, you must go during quiet times, and keep her on the leash.
4. Anticipate appetite changes
It’s not uncommon for Great Danes to experience some appetite changes during heat. Of course, it’s always important to receive proper nutrition so it helps to be ready and anticipate shifts in appetite.
If you notice your GD going off her food, you’ll need to have some plans in action to make her food more appealing.
You could temporarily mix in a small amount of wet dog food to her kibble (makes it very nutritious and extremely tasty), add in meat broth over her kibble, or even a tablespoon of peanut butter (xylitol-free).
5. Consider making her a vet-appointment
Most of the time there are no complications with heat, but in some rare instances, there are a few known health issues that can develop just after.
There’s nothing wrong with contacting your vet and booking an appointment just after her heat to ensure her health.
When Is The Best Time To Spay A Great Dane?
Now that you understand when your Great Dane’s first heat cycle will begin, you may wonder when is the best time to spay your female Great Dane.
While opinions will vary based on which vet you speak to, most will agree that the best time frame is between 6-12 months of age.
There are often discussions on whether or not your Great Dane should be spayed before or after their first heat cycle, but it is entirely up to you and your veterinarian at the end of the day.
Once your veterinarian meets your growing Dane pup, they can make the best decision on a proper spay time.
Every female Great Dane will go into heat if they are not spayed, making it important to understand the estrous cycle as best as you can!
Be sure to review the information that we discussed above, and you can be better prepared for Dane’s first heat cycle.
Check out our other Great Dane articles!