Do you own a female vizsla and want to know more about the vizsla heat cycle? Is your vizsla behaving differently and you are unsure if her first season is approaching?
For first time female vizsla owners learning about their reproductive cycle can be a bit overwhelming. But it is important to know the signs of a vizsla in heat to prevent an unplanned pregnancy and provide the best care for your dog.
So in this guide we cover everything you need to know about a vizsla in season including when it starts, how long and how often they are in heat plus tips to manage your vizsla’s first heat cycle.
This article is based on research and personal experience as a Vizsla owner. I’m not a qualified dog trainer, Vet or dog behaviourist.
About The Female Vizsla Heat Cycle
The vizsla heat cycle refers to the reproductive cycle that occurs once a female vizsla dog reaches puberty and they become fertile.
There are 4 stages of the vizsla dog reproductive cycle:
- Proestrus: The first phase of a dog in heat, typically lasting 7-10 days (but can be longer). Symptoms include bloody discharge but the female is not yet receptive to the male dog, who will be showing interest.
- Estrus: Second phase of the heat cycle when the female is now most fertile and receptive to the male dog’s advances. Less blood in discharge. Stage typically lasts 5-10 days.
- Diestrus: Female no longer receptive to male. Bleeding stops and hormones gradually return to normal levels. Stage lasts 1-2 months.
- Anestrus: The time between Diestrus and the next Proestrus. Typically lasts 4-5 months for female vizslas.
So when dog owners talk about their dog in heat, they are generally referring to the first two phases of the entire heat cycle.
In the following sections we cover more detail about these phases and how to care for your vizsla in heat.
When Do Vizslas Go Into Heat?
Female vizslas will usually experience their first season (heat) sometime between the age of 9-18 months, and most commonly between 10-14 months old.
On rare occasions vizslas go into heat earlier or later than this age range. Some are even older than two years old at the time of their first season, but 10-14 months is the most common age for the cycle to begin.
Vizslas often go into heat at a similar age to their mother (the dam), so it is good to ask your breeder when you pick the puppy up.
Signs Of A Vizsla In Heat
The most direct signs that your vizsla is in heat include bloody discharge, a swollen vulva, behavioural changes and more frequent urination.
The most obvious sign your vizsla is in heat is bloody discharge. You may not notice it for a day or so as vizslas are pretty good at keeping themselves clean.
So you may actually notice the excessive cleaning of their vulva before you notice the bleeding.
The amount of bleeding does vary from dog to dog and how obsessively they lick themselves. But you will need to care for your pup and provide clean bedding each day once the bleeding starts.
For the first 7-10 days the discharge is quite bloody and red. In the second phase of the heat cycle, it changes to a lighter pink, clearer colored discharge. This change in the discharge indicates your dog is ready to mate.
The second major sign of a vizsla on heat is their swollen vulva. You may notice their vulva has enlarged a few days to a few weeks before they go into heat.
But when your vizsla is in heat, their vulva will be more swollen then normal and your dog is likely to be cleaning it incessantly.
The range of behavioural changes varies greatly from dog to dog when in heat. But it is common for their to be some change and some changes when in season include:
- Loss of appetite
- Increased appetite
- More clingy and needy than normal(!)
- Subdued and less bouncy
- Grumpy and whiny
- More aggressive and short tempered.
As your vizsla comes into season she may urinate more frequently. What she is actually doing is marking her scent.
Her wee is full of hormones that male dogs can smell from miles around. Marking is her way of signalling to male dogs that she is in heat.
Early First Season Signs
For first time female vizsla owners, there are also some early signs that your dog is going into heat before they actually start their cycle.
These signs may start to show 1-2 weeks before they go into heat.
So in addition to their age (and the age of their mother’s first heat), look out for these early signs that indicate your vizsla is approaching her first season:
- Enlarged nipples
- More interest in sniffing
- Increased marking
- A loss of appetite
- Swelling around the vulva
- Heightened interest from other dogs when walking
- Defensive aggression with other dogs
- Increased licking and cleaning of the vulva.
Note that the signs of a vizsla on heat will vary from dog to dog.
Some will display all the classic symptoms and others will show just a few (if any) before they go into heat.
How Long Are Vizslas In Heat?
The average time for a female vizsla to be in heat is 3 weeks. This covers the first two stages of the heat cycle – Proestrus and Estrus.
However because the exact start date is often missed and sperm can last for up to 5 days, it is recommended to keep your female vizsla away from other dogs for a full month (4 weeks) from the onset of their heat cycle.
Bleeding will typically stop after 3 weeks, but the physical signs of the heat cycle such as the swollen vulva, enlarged nipples and behaviour changes can last for several weeks after the Estrus phase of the heat cycle has ended.
How Often Do Vizslas Go Into Heat?
Once a female vizsla has completed her first season, they will typically go into heat every 6 – 7 months, or twice a year.
Note however that the first couple of heat cycles are often less regular than those experienced in older dogs.
What To Expect During A Vizsla Heat Cycle
Your vizsla’s first season can be a confusing time both for your dog and for you! Here’s what you can expect when your vizsla is in heat.
While vizslas are cuddly at the best of times, you may notice they are even more emotionally needy when in heat.
It isn’t uncommon for them to be clingy, restless, less tolerant and more grumpy and demanding than usual.
So they will need plenty of attention, calm reassurance and extra cuddles during those weeks.
If you normally run your dog off leash or take them for a play at the dog park you will need to change up your routine for a few weeks.
This could mean more games and exercise in your yard, teaching them new tricks, some scent work and onlead walks.
They are often a little more subdued anyway during their heat cycle, but it is hard to burn their energy like you normally would when they are in season.
The amount of bleeding does vary, but you should plan to do extra washing in those weeks.
If their dog bed doesn’t have a removable cover, you should consider swapping it out for some blankets and/or sheets while they have discharge to make cleaning up quicker and easier each day.
If your dog sleeps in your bed or spends a lot of time on your couch, the best no stress option is to buy vizsla season pants.
They are essentially doggy diapers with a removable pad and adjustable waist.
I like the Teamoy season pants as they have removable washable pads and an adjustable band to help get a good fit.
- FEMALE DOG DIAPERS With REMOVABLE PADS: Made of breathable, soft and good permeability mesh fabric…
- EXTRA-SAFE: The cloth dog diapers female with the elastic edges and tail hole will provide extra…
- ADJUSTABLE: The elastic dog belly bands with long Magic Tapes fasten strip to adjust the right size…
- SUPER-ABSORBENT DOG DIAPERS WRAPS: Heavy-duty, Soft and comfortable puppy diapers female is ideal…
- WASHABLE REUSABLE FEMALE DOGGIE DIAPERS: The dog period diapers is made of superior quality fabric…
The dog diapers are great to use when your dog is inside the house as it means no accidents on rugs, carpet or furniture.
If they sleep in a crate it is a good idea to take the diaper off at night and provide sheets and a blanket, so they can access their bits for cleaning!
Change these bedding sheets daily to keep their bed nice and clean.
Change To Routines
If you normally use a dog walker or send your dog to doggy daycare you will not be able to send your female vizsla when she is in heat (you wouldn’t want to either!).
So you may need to rethink how to keep your vizsla busy in those few weeks when she is on heat.
If you own other dogs it may also mean a change of routines for them too. Intact males need to be kept separated from your female for a few weeks both in the home and on walks.
It is not uncommon for your female vizsla in heat to get fussy with her food. If she is eating less than normal try offering different foods in different settings.
Perhaps try licky mats with treats like frozen peanut butter or yogurt. Add new toppings to their dry food like sardines or eggs.
Other dogs actually have an increase in appetite when in heat, so you may need to increase their food intake for a few weeks.
Male dogs for miles around will know your dog is in heat and when your female is in the Estrus phase she will be actively seeking them out too.
It isn’t uncommon for random dogs to appear at your front door, in your backyard or cross the street to say hello to your dog when she is in heat.
Mating can take anywhere from 5 minutes to 2 hours, so you don’t want to risk a pregnancy by not paying attention.
Ensure your yard is secure and keep an eye on your dog 24/7 to make sure they don’t escape or mate!
If you choose to take your dog out on lead for a walk you need to have them on a short leash and pay a lot of attention. Male dogs can become aggressive when trying to approach a female dog in heat.
Vizsla First Season Tips
If you are a first time female vizsla owner, below are some tips to help you manage a vizsla first heat cycle.
You don’t want your vizsla’s first season to catch you unprepared. So once your pup has reached 6 months it is a good idea to plan for it in advance.
- Buy two pairs of vizsla season pants or plenty of sanitary pads.
- Train your dog to accept wearing the pants in advance with some sessions wearing them with plenty of yummy treats as reward.
- If you own intact male dogs, have a plan for how you will keep them separated from your female dog. You may have a friend care for them or find a separate area in the home to contain them.
- Buy absorbent pads or protective sheets to place on lounges, beds and/or carpeted areas you want to keep free of blood stains.
- Have plenty of light colored towels, blankets or sheets on hand to use in their crate instead of their normal bedding.
- New toys and long lasting chews can help keep them entertained when they can’t get out as much to exercise.
Track The Dates
Once you notice the bleeding commence, take a note of the date so you can track the heat cycle over the three weeks.
It will help you pay attention to changes in the bleeding and also help you plan when you will need to be more vigilant when they are outside.
Change Your Walk Routine
It is possible to exercise your female vizsla when she is in heat but you will need to make changes to your normal routine to reduce the risk of unwanted attention from male dogs.
Even if your dog has excellent recall, biology will overrun any command once they are in heat.
So you should keep your vizsla onlead unless you are confident there are no other dogs in the area.
Mating can take as little as 5 minutes, so you don’t want to risk a dalliance with a male dog on a walk off lead.
If you live in a built up area, avoid dog parks and busy times for walking dogs.
Instead plan to walk your dog in the early morning or late evening. Be vigilant and change direction or your route to avoid encounters with other dogs.
In country areas you may be able to walk off leash if you have access to low traffic trails.
Don’t Leave Them Unattended In Your Yard
Once your female is fertile and interested in mating, you should not leave them unattended outside, even in your own backyard.
Male dogs will scale fences to reach a vizsla in heat and your female may even try to escape the yard to find a mating partner.
So for a week or so in the Estrus phase of the vizsla dog heat cycle, leash your dog every time you take them outside.
If you have a dog door installed in the house, you may need to keep it locked for a few weeks to prevent access.
If you work outside the home you may need to consider crating your dog and organising a friend or neighbour to pop in to take them out during the day.
Use Light Colored Towels In Their Crate
Vizslas are self cleaning dogs year round, but particularly when in heat. For this reason it can be difficult to tell when their bleeding and discharge has stopped.
So a good tip from experienced vizsla breeders to help you track the progress of their cycle is to place light colored towels or sheets in their crate or bed.
Once there is no more discharge on the sheets you can be confident the heat cycle is nearing the end.
Female Vizsla Care Post First Season
Once your female vizsla’s bleeding has ended, the third stage of their heat cycle is called Diestrus.
During this stage the dog is no longer in heat, but their hormone levels are still elevated for several weeks.
Their vulva may remain swollen and their nipples enlarged for a few weeks after the bleeding has stopped but their bodies gradually return to their pre-season state.
Some female vizslas will always have more enlarged nipples after their first season but they should return to their normal bouncy happy selves within a couple of weeks.
If their appetite was impacted during their season, you will notice the return of their normal appetite after their season has finished.
You may need to increase their food intake for a few weeks if they have lost weight.
Sometimes after a vizsla’s first heat they can develop what is called a Phantom Pregnancy.
Common symptoms of a false pregnancy include nesting, swelling of the mammary glands, adopting toys as substitute puppies and overly protective behavior.
Phantom pregnancy can occur because during the Diestrus phase, your dog’s hormones are still heightened to prepare them in the event they are pregnant.
At the end of this phase the hormones settle down but in some cases the elevated hormones can cause a phantom or false pregnancy where the dog behaves as if they are pregnant.
This often settles down within a few weeks as their hormones return to normal, but it can be distressing for your dog (and you!).
So if the pregnancy symptoms continue or you are worried your dog may be pregnant, you should visit your vet.
Vizsla Heat Cycle FAQS
Most Vets recommend waiting at least 2-3 months after a heat cycle has finished before spaying.
A normal season for female vizslas is 21 days long, with the most fertile stage (Estrus) making up 1 – 2 weeks of that time.
The only way to stop your vizsla’s heat cycle is to have her spayed.
More Vizsla Care Guides
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