I need education about having an intact female B. I have never cared for an intact animal and have no idea about this. My girl was born early January this year. When might I expect her first heat? For how long? Is there anything I need to do other than keep male dogs away?? Is an annual estrus cycle typical or are there "surprise" heats? Anything I might not have thought to ask or even consider as this is outside anything I would have experience with given my lifelong history of shelter animals where owning intact animals is forbidden.
All pups are different ! Some will have their first season at 7 - 8 months, some will wait a full year. Signs to watch for, because they are so clean you sometimes don't notice the early discharge, cleaning herself much more frequently, slight bulbous swelling at the back and a change in attitude, more clingy.
The discharge will start dark red, turn to pale straw colour and revert to dark red. Be careful around the boys the whole time but the danger period is when it goes pale. That is when she is actually ovulating. Some bitches have a 'window' during which they could be successfully mated of 4 or 5 days. Some, as I learned from experience, only 4 or 5 hours !
Because they only (normally) have only one season a year, it can be of longer overall duration than 3 weeks. Up to a month is acceptable, I have had a bitch go 35 days.
It is nothing to worry about at all, the bitch will keep herself immaculately clean. You may need to put a towel under her while she is asleep to save the furniture but that is all.
Yes, keeping her away from the boys is paramount but that is not difficult !
Our first basenji puppy was born 10 Nov 2017, we brought her home 8 Jan 2018, and she began her first heat cycle—the heaviest bleeding lasted 2ish days—around 1 April 2018, so she was not yet 5 months old when it happened for her.
Our contract with the breeder stipulated we have her spayed at 6 months (I know, I know Sally; we got our second B from a different breeder and he is intact with no plans to change that), so it was kind of unfortunate that she had to deal with it. It seemed to really bother her and ran away if a drop of blood fell on the ground while she was walking, although there was such a small amount of blood that I wasn't 100% sure it was estrus. Her rear end became engorged, almost to the point of obscenity, and I kept her away from other dogs, as 1) no puppies for my too-young girl, and 2) she went from super-playful to permanently annoyed, then back to super-playful once it was all over. The engorgement lasted a month or more, but everything went back to normal eventually.
So: it's definitely an experience for your girl, but considering the fact that I wasn't sure she'd been in heat at all until after her 6-month surgery and her vet confirmed that she had recently gone through a cycle, it's really not going to be as bad as you think it might be. I don't have much to offer for your questions about long-term things (other than intact males are comparatively easy to deal with, in my experience), but the actual season really isn't a big deal.
Thanks, as always, for the info. The challenge for me will be covering stuff while she's sleeping as she sleeps many places. The xpen is easy but she can't live there. I guess I can buy covers for all our couches and chairs. Maybe she won't sleep in my bed with me during this time. Better start getting her used to sleeping in her crate again.
I think @Zande has more or less covered things. Not sure about the clingy part. We had a female who, the first time she went into heat, carried on and on and on. So much so that we started singing the Annie Lennox song "I Need A Man".
Generally a female will be in the estrus period for 1-21 days (or longer). This is when she'll have red blood cells in the reproductive path. She will be most fertile 4-6 days after the surge in the luteinizing hormone signals the eggs to drop, which might be 7-10 days after you see the first signs. Without testing there isn't any way to know when the luteinizing surge occurs.
I also think the some protection for the furniture would be a good idea. We didn't find disposal diapers useful for several reasons but have used Simple Solution Washable diapers with Wee-Wee Disposable Diaper Liners to good effect. Have never had a problem with staining on the furniture. She will most definitely want to clean herself so you'll want to give her an opportunity to do that when she's somewhere that minor issues won't be a big deal -- before or after walks, when she's in a rooms on her blanket, in her crate, etc.
Finally, male dogs seem to pay more attention to pee areas than to the actual area of the female dog responsible for the peeing. Consequently if you are worried about male dogs take your girl out for her to pee -- and she'll need to pee more. Actually I'd recommend this even if you aren't worried about male dogs.
Overall it's not a big deal so don't stress too much about it. It's easier than a bad case of diarrhea for sure.
@beth314 You don't need to go to any expense. An old towel is perfectly OK and she may not even leak much. This is a case of taking things easy and just relaxing.
@DonC said We had a female who, the first time she went into heat, carried on and on and on. So much so that we started singing the Annie Lennox song "I Need A Man".
We had one who screamed for a man from about Day 4 into her season. Not only that, but she wouldn't eat. She went on and on, discharging paler and paler, and in the end I took her to one of our own line (line breeding on Donner) - not really expecting anything. It was probably Day 22 or so.
Result was four beautiful puppies, two tris and two reds and they all lived to be well over 14 - our own Trouble making 16.5. We had to keep a tri bitch !
But - the power of a good man - she starting eating normally and stopped screaming from the moment I got her home after the mating. She really had been screaming for a man !