When you have recently adopted a female German Shorthaired Pointer puppy you might start to worry as soon as she is a few months old. When does a GSP go into heat, how long does it take, and what can you do to make this process as easy on her and yourself as possible?
When Does a German Shorthaired Pointer Go Into Heat?
German Shorthaired Pointer Female puppies will enter into heat between the ages of 5 to 14 months old. Generally speaking, the smaller the size, the earlier they will go into their first cycle. On average, the heat cycle in your GSP will last for approximately 3 weeks, with the second week being when ovulation takes place making her the most fertile.
Once a dog comes into season, she will go into heat, or estrus, about every six months. It often takes a few cycles for this to be regular, though. As a dog ages, the time between her cycles will get longer, but unless she is spayed at some point she will experience heat for her whole life. While this period comes with a few changes in her behavior, along with the typical bloody discharge, when you know what to expect and do your best to keep her away from male mates, this time does not have to be too difficult for either you or her.
What Happens When A GSP Is In Heat?
When in heat, a female dog is receptive to mating, which will be apparent in various physical and behavioral differences. She has a swollen vulva and bleeds for a period of anything between 12 and 21 days. You will also notice her peeing more often than usual. When it comes to her behavior, most dogs will display a greater nervousness and alertness during heat, some dog owners say that their GSP even acts hyperactive.
At the beginning of heat, your dog experiences an increase in estrogen levels, then a sharp decrease, and lastly, her ovaries release eggs. As soon as the discharge of blood decreases, usually in the middle or towards the end of her period of being in heat, your dog will start flagging by raising her rear towards male dogs and deflecting her tail to one side.
This shows males that she is now receptive to mating. At the beginning of the cycle, she might not yet be receptive to male dogs, but since males nevertheless sense that she is in heat you need to still be careful whenever she interacts with other dogs. Even though most female dogs only actively seek out mates in the middle of their cycle, when they are at the peak of their fertility, they can nevertheless get pregnant during the whole time they are in heat.
Most dogs are easily distracted when they are in heat, because they have quite simply other things in mind than listening to your commands. Therefore, you will find that even a usually well-behaved and obedient GSP might ignore you during this time when her hormones come out on top. When you work your GSP as a hunting dog it makes sense to take a break when she is in heat.
It is necessary to always keep an eye on her and ideally hold her on a leash whenever she is not in your house or enclosed yard or garden. Males will notice that she is in heat, and when it comes to the point that a male clings to her with his legs, even a strong dog owner will struggle to wrestle the two of them apart. At the end of the three-week period, a lot of GSP shed their coat.
How Do I Care for a GSP in Heat?
You do not have to clean her since she does that herself, but you might like to put on doggie diapers while she is inside the house to avoid a mess. Some people prefer using panty liners in boxer briefs with a hole for the tail cut out instead of doggie diapers. It might take a bit of experimenting for you to find out what is both most comfortable for your GSP and what stays on best.
A GSP will usually get used to her diapers when running around and playing but when she wants to get comfortable and nap she might rip them off and even chew up the pads, so it is best to take the diapers off when she wants to lie down in her crate and to let her sleep on very old blankets during that time.
Should I Get My GSP Spayed?
This, of course, depends on whether you want to breed or not. In both cases, though, it is important that your GSP is at the right age for either spaying or breeding.
She should be spayed only when she is at least 18 months or older, because then her body is mature. This means that she will have already undergone at least her first heat cycle. Your vet will be able to tell you whether your dog is mature enough to be spayed yet. Removing the ovaries too early stops the production of certain hormones that are necessary for bone growth, among other things. Spaying a dog before she is mature can lead to problems like joint issues, incontinence, or aggression issues.
When you decide to use your female GSP for breeding she should be close to the age of two. She should not breed in her first or even second heat cycle. After this point her body is mature enough and she can grow offspring while not still growing herself.
When you have known her for two years, you will also likely be aware of any potential physical or behavioral difficulties you are going to keep an eye on when training and socializing her litter. Your vet will perform genetic testing so that you are aware of any potential inherited diseases. A veterinarian can also tell you if your dog is physically ready for breeding.
Hopefully this was helpful in letting you know that your GSP puppy will enter into their heat cycle at an age between 5 and 14 months old. With this information you can be better prepared to make her feel more comfortable and either avoid or help with breeding as well.