Puppies are adorable. Who doesn’t love puppies? More importantly, who doesn’t love Great Dane puppies? Although, breeding a dog is a complicated process. Here is an explanation of your Great Dane’s heat cycle.
Every 1-1.5 years after their first year of life, female Great Danes go through a process referred to as “heat”. During this period, they can and will actively attempt to get pregnant. Male Great Danes become fertile after their first year of life until the end of their days.
When in heat, dogs can be very difficult to care for. How does one know what to look for?
When and How Long Great Danes Can Reproduce
Most Great Danes will experience their first heat cycle between the first 6-12 months of life. After this, they will go through this process every 12-18 months. Female dogs will repeat this cycle throughout their entire lives.
Although, during old age, it is not recommended they get pregnant. Pregnancy at old age, especially in Great Danes due to their size, can put their litter as well as themselves at risk of injury or even death.
The ideal age for a female Great Dane to breed is between the age of 2 and 7 during the estrus stage of their heat cycle. This varies based on the growth and overall health of the Dane.
A male Great Dane is able to reproduce for his whole life. It is best if a stud is 2 years old at least. The AKC and vets prefer it that way.
It is recommended by veterinarians to do a full health check of your Great Dane before allowing them to produce a litter of their own.
How Long the “Heat” Lasts for Dog Reproduction
Typically, dogs go through a process called “heat” twice per year in which they will actively try to have puppies of their own. Great Danes, in particular, will go through this cycle every 12-18 months.
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This cycle repeats throughout their adult life but is recommended to be avoided during old age.
A female could theoretically reproduce 2 times a year for 7 to 8 years, yielding many litters of puppies.
Even though this most will highly recommend against this breeding, it is possible because of the “heats” that female dogs go through.
What is a “heat?”
When people refer to a dog’s heat cycle, they are most likely referencing their dog’s proestrus or estrus stage, which lasts for about 10 days. This is the stage in which dogs will bleed from their vaginal area and actively seek out a mate.
Basically, it means that it is time to breed.
Although, the entire heat process actually lasts for an entire 10 weeks.
Stage 1- Proestrus
During this stage, Danes will have increased estrogen and proestrogen levels, preparing her for pregnancy. Her vulva, the outer portion of her reproductive tract, will appear swollen and red. She will also experience increased urination as well as bleeding.
Stage 2- Estrus
This is the stage most commonly referred to when a dog is in heat. During this 5-9 day period, her bleeding will slow and lighten to a pink hue, and eventually stop. She will actively seek a partner to mate with.
Stage 3- Diestrus
After the Estrus stage, your dog will be one of two things: pregnant or not pregnant. Throughout the diestrus stage, her body will prepare to feed milk to her litter. She may even secrete milk. During this stage, dogs will often experience false pregnancies and will act as if they were pregnant for several weeks.
Stage 4- Anestrus
This is the stage your dog remains in until her next cycle of proestrus begins. In this stage, her hormone levels will lower, and her reproductive system will remain somewhat dormant until her next cycle.
This whole cycle will go on and on, basically for the remainder of a female Great Danes life.
If Your Great Dane Gets Pregnant
If your dog is able to mate, this pregnancy should last about 55 – 66 days. The ideal amount of time and the average amount of gestation is 63 days.
In other words, this will be a 2-month long pregnancy if everything goes well. That seems like a piece of cake compared to human 9-month pregnancy.
Being able to tell if your Great Dane is pregnant can be difficult. Going to the vet is the best way to make sure, but you can usually tell if your dog is pregnant by yourself after 4 weeks. This is typically when this breed starts showing.
You can also gently touch your Danes stomach to see. It will be firmer than before.
After this 63 or so day period, your Great Dane should be ready to deliver her litter. A litter for a Great Dane will usually include 7 – 8 puppies.
If Your Great Dane Does Not Get Pregnant
If your Great Dane gets through her heat after days or months and is not pregnant, than it will be about another 5 – 6 months or so before she is in heat again. This varies between each dog.
Typically bigger dogs have there heats less frequently.
If this is a case, it could be a good thing. Rest in between births is important and so is waiting until your Great Dane is old enough. If you overbreed your dog, it could affect the amount of time your dog can reproduce.
Breeding Too Often Can Effect How Long Your Great Dane Will Reproduce For
Starting breeding too young or breeding too often with the same female can be detrimental to her health and cause her to be unable to reproduce for long.
Just imagine how tiring it must be to be pregnant all the time. It is so very hard on a woman’s body. The same goes for female dogs.
It can even be harder for dogs because they carry so many in their litter at a time.
We have talked about how often a female goes into heat. It is possible for her to get pregnant every time but it will take a giant toll on her body to sustain that many life forms, with nursing after and recovery.
Overbreeding can cause:
- Stillborn puppies
- Death of the mother
Breeding too young can cause some of the same effects too. A female should be bred at 2 and a male should be at least 2.
It’s kind of like a young 12-year-old girl getting pregnant when a female Great Dane is bred too early. It’s possible, but it doesn’t mean that it is safe or right.
Waiting until the age of 2 ensures that both dogs are healthy and mature enough to handle it.
A lot of health problems do not present themselves until adulthood, which is 2 years old for dogs. Since breeding should be done to better the gene pool of a dog, it is important to make sure the mom and dad of the puppies are in the best shape possible.
Things to Keep in Mind for Great Dane Reproduction
Once again, puppies are great! Everyone loves puppies, Great Dane puppies especially! During their heat cycle, much like female humans, these gentle giants will experience an abundance of emotions such as stress, lethargy, affection, and of course, arousal.
If you are hoping to breed your Great Dane, remember to consult a veterinarian before taking action.
After their first 6-12 months of life, their heat cycle will begin and they will need more care than normal. Veterinarians recommend breeding of Great Danes to occur between ages 2-7, with the ideal time to breed being during the estrus stage of heat.
During the first two stages of heat, remember to avoid other dogs when out and about in order to avoid any physical altercations.
Keep an eye out for any signs your dog is in heat. Always be sure to keep a schedule of her heat cycle so you’re not taken by surprise in the form of a red polka-dotted carpet or a new litter of puppies running around the house!
If you have a Great Dane and do not wish to breed her, keep her inside during her heat cycle and avoid bringing her to areas with other dogs. Consult with a veterinarian about spaying your Great Dane and whether this option is right for her and you.