When an adult Dachshund is not spayed, she will have regular heat cycles each year.
If you’re a new Dachshund parent who’s never experienced a dog in heat before, it can be confusing to determine exactly when your dog is in heat.
Thankfully, you’ve come to the right place!
You may be wondering what to expect during your dog’s heat how to tell they’re having one. We cover a lot of information for you in this guide.
What Does it Mean When a Dog Goes Into Heat?
When your Dachshund is in heat, she is in a stage of her reproductive cycle. This essentially means that your dog is ready to breed.
There are several symptoms of a dog in heat.
Your Dachshund may not experience all of these, or they may not be obvious to detect, but they will likely experience most of them.
Your dog may have several or all symptoms below when they’re in heat.
- Your Dachshund’s vulva will look swollen
- There will be vaginal bloody discharge
- Your pup may urinate more frequently
- There may be changes in your Dachshund’s behavior
- There may be “Flagging” of the tail when she’s ready to breed
- She may become aggressive toward other females, or vice versa
- Male dogs may become aggressive around her in an attempt to mate
- She may experience a loss of appetite
How Often Does a Dachshund Have a Heat Cycle?
Your Dachshund will have her heat cycle twice a year and it will last about a month – 21 to 28 days to be exact.
Every dog is different, but Dachshunds will have their first heat sooner than a large breed dog would.
It’s normal for a Dachshund to have her first heat cycle anywhere from six months to one year old.
A Dachshund typically experiences their first heat cycle before 12 months old and the whole process will last 3-4 weeks.
Stages of a Dog’s Heat Cycle
There are three stages in a dog’s heat cycle.
During the first stage of your Dachshund’s heat cycle, her vulva will swell and look larger than normal.
Your pup may urinate more often, and there will be a bloody vaginal discharge.
She may become clingy during this stage, and hold her tail close to her body as a sign that she’s uninterested in breeding.
You should pay attention to all of your dog’s signs during the first stage.
This stage is when your Dachshund is ready to breed.
Her vaginal discharge will turn from bloody to a brownish or clear discharge.
She may also start “flagging” her tail, which means she’s moving it back and forth.
This is a sign that your Dachshund is trying to attract a mate. Her hormones are fluctuating, causing changes in behavior.
Now is the time to consult your veterinarian if you want to breed your dog.
Talk to your vet right away during this phase if you want to breed your dog.
During this second stage, your Dachshund will be giving off pheromones that male dogs will be able to pick up on miles away.
It’s absolutely imperative that you keep your dog secure, as male dogs may become aggressive in an attempt to get to her.
Other female dogs may also display aggression toward your dog.
Your Dachshund, as sweet as she may be, may become aggressive during this stage.
Third and final stage:
The last stage of your Dachshund’s heat cycle is called diestrus.
During this stage, your pup will no longer be interested in breeding.
Vaginal discharge will cease, and her vulva will go back to its normal size.
Your Dachshund may also show signs of “false pregnancy” during this time, and after the entire heat cycle ends. She may think she is pregnant, even though she’s not.
Your dog may think they’re pregnant when they’re not due to false pregnancy.
What is a False Pregnancy?
After your Dachshund completes her full heat cycle, she may exhibit symptoms of a “false pregnancy.”
If this happens to your dog, her brain is telling her body that she is pregnant, even though she’s not.
Symptoms of false pregnancy, or pseudo-pregnancy, can include:
- Lethargy or very low energy
- Low appetite
- Periodic vomiting
- Swollen breasts
- Mammary gland secretions
According to Dr. Ernie Ward, DVM, “Mild cases of false pregnancy do not require treatment since the symptoms will subside in approximately 14-21 days.
If the dog appears physically ill or the behavioral changes are severe enough to cause concern, [visit your veterinarian].”
How to Manage Your Dachshund’s Heat
There are several things to keep in mind when your Dachshund is in heat.
You can help manage your Dachshund’s heat by paying attention to their symptoms.
Here are some of the important ones:
- You’ll likely need to keep your Dachshund away from other dogs when she’s in heat. Female on female aggression is common, but it’s most important to ensure that males (especially intact ones) cannot get to her. Don’t leave your Dachshund in the yard unattended, and make sure she cannot escape. Most dog parks prohibit female dogs in heat from visiting but it’s a poor idea to try and take yours regardless.
- Since there will be vaginal discharge when your Dachshund is in heat, you may want to consider dog period diapers. My favorites are the Vet’s Best Comfort Fit Female Disposable Dog Diapers (this is an affiliate link so I get a small commission if you make a purchase). Diapers can help keep the mess contained rather than on your floors and furniture. Keep in mind though that diapers may not always be the best choice because it may be hard to find diapers that fit properly, stay on, and your Dachshund won’t be able to clean herself while wearing them.
- If you opt not to use diapers, you can use old blankets to cover your bed and furniture to protect them from your Dachshund’s vaginal discharge. That way it’s easy to clean up after your girl and your good blankets and furniture won’t get ruined.
- If your Dachshund has lost her appetite, try adding some pumpkin, cheese or baby food to her meals. These will help entice her to eat.
- Beware: There is a fatal condition that can occur during a dog’s heat called pyometra. This is when the uterus becomes infected. There will be a puss-like discharge from the vulva, and you’ll need to rush your Dachshund to the vet immediately. This is an emergency situation that can ultimately lead to death so always be on the lookout for signs and symptoms of pyometra.
As you can see, it’s important to keep a close eye on your Dachshund when she’s in heat for many reasons.
Some people find a female dog’s heat cycle to be a stressful and turbulent time in the household.
Many people definitely do not want to deal with the stress, and needed lifestyle changes, of a female dog in heat.
They also may also not like having to keep their dog in the house for an entire month twice a year or the extra precautions needed if venturing out into public with a female dog that is in heat.
How to Prevent a Dachshund From Going Into Heat
The only way to eliminate a female dog’s heat cycles is to get them spayed.
Spaying a dog involves removing a female dogs uterus and ovaries*, thus eliminating heat cycles altogether.
*Note, there is a procedure called OSS (Ovary Sparing Spay), which takes away the ability to reproduce but leaves one or both ovaries intact. There are several benefits to your female Dachshund retaining their natural hormones but your dog will still have normal heat cycles so it doesn’t eliminate that complication.
New science recommends keeping your female dog intact until their bone plates are closed and they are mostly done growing.
It allows them to reap the benefits of the hormones they were born with and can help them be healthier throughout their lifetime.
For small dogs like Dachshunds, the best time to get your female dog spayed is around 12 months old.
For small dogs, it’s suggested they are not spayed until around 1 year.
This means that you will likely experience at least one heat with your female Dachshund before they are spayed.
Your Dachshund will inevitably have heat cycles unless she is spayed.
While a swollen vulva and discharge are the most obvious symptoms, there are several other signs to consider.
Your dog’s safety and health is a priority, so make sure to consult your veterinarian with specific questions and concerns related to your furry friend’s heat cycle.
About the Author: Through her 17 years of owning and caring for Dachshunds, and almost 10 years researching and writing about them, JW has become a respected expert in the Dachshund community. Read more about her here.