How often do female dogs go into heat?

How often dogs go into heat, varies from a dog to dog. Often there are some patterns in cycling frequency, but exceptions are not rare.

How often dogs go in to heat? Do they work like a clock?
Many dogs go in the heat with a predictable frequency, as if they were on a clock. Photo by Dmitry Kalinovsky

Sometimes those exceptions are abnormalities, but sometimes, it’s just how it goes.

Most dogs go into heat twice a year

Most common cycling frequency for female dogs is every five to nine months or twice a year, on average. Besides, the cycling is independent on seasonal variation, unlike it is for cats, for example.

There is no such thing as “spring madness” for dogs because they cycle on a pattern independent on each other. You may have heard that female dogs from the same household can synchronize their heat cycles. However, it does not have much proof and, most likely, is just a myth.

While most healthy female dogs will go in heat predictably twice a year, not always it happens so.

For example, some dogs, by default, go in heat once a year. For instance, Basenji dog breed goes in heat only once a year. Younger dogs can go in heat less frequently.

Often, quite the contrary occurs, and many dogs go in heat more often than twice a year. Three times a year is quite common and is considered normal.

What if your dog goes in heat at an unusual rate?

Some dogs go into heat even four times a year. The latter is already excessive, and you may face several problems if you intend to breed your dog. For example, not all of these heats a dog can become pregnant. The dog shows the signs of the heat, but their body can’t carry on with the implantation. Most likely, it is so because the dog’s body did not have enough time to recover from the previous heat.

Also, there are several more abnormalities, like split heat, when the female dog starts her heat cycle, but suddenly stops, and begins in several weeks again. This may lead to the impression that the dog goes in heat every month.

One more thing to know is that sometimes heat can go by without any apparent symptoms. It is called a silent heat, and, if between two regular heats is one silent, the owner may observe that the dog goes in heat less often than expected.

Female dogs may have irregular cycles

While there should be no worries having some irregularities in the heat cycle, they may also point to health problems underlying. Consider mentioning it to your veterinarian during the next regular check-up visit. Especially if your dog had regular cycles, and suddenly something happened differently.

Find more information in our series about dogs in heat.