The Chihuahua Heat Cycle: Breeding Considerations and Risks

Breeding chihuahuas should be left to the pros
Breeding chihuahuas should be left to the pros | Source

While it is generally easy to determine when an average dog is in heat, Chihuahua owners may face some extra challenges due to this breed's almost obsessive cleanliness. This means that some Chihuahua dog owners may actually miss their Chihuahua's first heat cycle simply because Chihuahuas are fastidiously clean and will lick away any proof of being in heat, explains Caroline Coile, author of The Chihuahua Handbook.

But when do Chihuahuas go into heat exactly? The time they go into heat really varies from one Chihuahua to another. Most likely, however, the first heat will occur any time between the age of six and eight months as average. There are always exceptions, and a Chihuahua going into heat at five months or at one year old, is not unheard of. However, being a small breed makes Chihuahuas go into heat much earlier when compared to much larger dog breeds.

Signs Your Chihuahua is in Heat

Now that you know when Chihuahuas go into heat, you may be wondering how to recognize the signs suggesting it. The Chihuahua's heat cycle duration averages 21 days and includes the proestrus, estrus and diestrus. The anestrus is basically a mostly inactive rest period. The cycle therefore can be divided into four precise stages, each equipped with distinct features listed below.

  • Proestrus

This phase lasts anywhere between four and nine days. During this time, your Chihuahua's reproductive tissues may appear puffier than normal. The most evident sign is vaginal bleeding, however, as mentioned earlier, you may barely notice this if you own an overly clean Chihuahua that will lick away any evidence. Male dogs will be quite interested in your Chihuahua, but she will not allow them to mate as of yet.

  • Estrus

This phase lasts anywhere between four and thirteen days. The bloody discharge observed in the previous stage will fade out and be replaced by a pink or straw colored discharge. During this phase, your Chihuahua is officially in ''standing heat'' which means she will stand still with the tail pulled to the side, allowing the male to mount. This is the phase when she is at the peak of her fertility.

  • Diestrus

Also known as metestrus, this phase basically concludes the active part of heat cycle and lasts from 60 to 90 days. Your Chihuahua will no longer be interested in males, even tough some males may initially still stick around. If your Chihuahua is pregnant, this phase lasts until the birth of puppies, 63 days or so later. If your Chihuahua is not pregnant, diestrus may last two to three months, and during this time dogs may experience a false pregnancy.

  • Anestrus

Anestrus is simply the phase during which the reproductive organs get to rest. It typically lasts between two and three months. While this sounds much like an inactive quiet time, in reality, your Chihuahua's pituitary glands and ovaries are getting ready for the next proestrus phase, several months ahead. Consider that Chihuahuas go in heat once every five to eight months generally, so this means your Chihuahua may likely go in heat twice a year.

Learning when Chihuahuas go into heat is fundamental for any average dog owner or prospective breeder. If you are a dog owner, you must secure your Chihuahua and keep her safely away from intact males. If you are planning on breeding your Chihuahua, you must determine the best time to breed in order to heighten the chances of pregnancy. However, it is imperative to see first if you have what it takes to be a reputable Chihuahua breeder after reading the important considerations pertaining breeding Chihuahuas.

Dog Owner Guide: How to Care for a Chihuahua in Heat

Upon recognizing the signs of heat, you must do what you can to protect your Chihuahua from the attention of males if you are not planning on breeding. If you are still having a hard time deciphering the potential signs of heat, rest assured, the behavior of intact male dogs will let you know. Do not be surprised if male dogs will show up on your door step. According to the American Kennel Club, a male dog is capable of detecting the scent of a dog in estrus up to five miles away!

As a responsible dog owner, you must do as much as you can to keep your Chihuahua away from males. Avoid the dog park, and if you must take her out, have her leashed at all times. Never underestimate the persistence and determination of intact male dogs: they can be quite creative and use astute planning to dig under or even climb over a fence to get to her. Also, watch the door: even though escaping has never crossed your Chihuahua's mind, when in heat, roaming is quite more than a mere possibility.

Preventing your Chihuahua from urinating all over the place will also keep males at bay, since females urinate quite frequently during their heat cycle simply to leave ''calling cards'' denoting their availability. The urination may not be isolated to the indoors, in fact, some female dogs will have no problem urinating in the home. And just in case you were wondering about how to protect your furniture and carpet from that bloody discharge, you can invest in a pair of britches, special panties for dogs in heat.

If all the above sounds like too much work, consider spaying your Chihuahua. Spaying is behaviorally and medically beneficial for your dog in many ways and will solve once and for all, the problem of preventing unwanted puppies, reducing the enormous burden of the pet over population problem. The ASPCA claims that millions of healthy dogs and cats are put to death each year in the United States just because there are not enough homes for them.

Dog Breeder Guide: Tips and Risk Factors in Breeding Chihuahuas

When do chihuahuas go into heat? The answer to this question is particularly important if you are planning to breed your Chihuahua, therefore you must do your homework well to heighten the chances of getting her pregnant. Whether you are planning to breed her naturally, or resort to artificial insemination, you need to figure out the days she is most fertile.

In natural breedings, male dogs simply know when the right time is, and females will stand for them. Generally, this happens between the 8th and the 15th day of heat counting from the day your Chihuahua started bleeding, explains veterinarian Margareth V. Root Kustritz with the University of Minnesota . There are really no guarantees that mating in these days will result in puppies, however, breeders have found that allowing breeding every other day starting from the 7th day of heat up until the female allows it, heightens the chances of success.

If you are artificially inseminating and need to figure out the most fertile days, your veterinarian may help by assessing cells collected from a vaginal swab or by measuring the levels of progesterone in the blood. Ideally, the artificial insemination should be performed twice, two and four days after ovulation, further explains Margareth V. Root Kustritz.

Regardless, of how you intend to mate your dog, breeding is a serious choice, especially when it comes to a breed such as a Chihuahua which has a far more risky pregnancy compared to other larger breeds, explains Marli Medinnus, a professional breeder of AKC Longcoat Chihuahuas in San Jose' California.

Chihuahuas should never be bred on their first heat. They are too young and giving birth may lead to complications. They should be bred instead for the first time during their second or third heat, and before turning three years old. Your Chihuahua should also have the right conformation with a wide pelvic area and a good tuck up in order to heighten the chances of carrying and delivering the pups safely.

Breeding is something that requires a lot of expertise with a good knowledge about genetics and ultimate goals about improving the breed in mind. Costs must also be evaluated, since Chihuahuas are prone to requiring Cesarean sections, not to mention expenses associated with testing breeding stock for heritable defects and genetic diseases. Shots, x-rays, puppy shots and other unexpected medical treatments are more expenses that must be added to the list. But there is much more than that. If this sounds like a lot of work, your best bet is to spay your Chihuahua and allow her to live her life to the fullest since breeding can also considerably shorten her expected life span.

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Comments 6 comments

dominga Camacho 17 months ago

How can I take care of my male dog on heat

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alexadry 17 months ago from USA Author

Male dogs so not go in heat, only females do. So if your male dog is acting odd it could be there's a female dog in heat somewhere nearby that he is responding to.

Ruben Garcia 7 months ago

Hello, i came home a few hours ago and noticed my female chihuahua was bleeding. I decided to separate her from my other chihuahua (a male). She is going to be 7 months and this is her first heat cycle. Is it safer to keep her separated from him ? If so, for how long?

Michelle 6 months ago

Very important not to let her get pregnant in her first season which lasts usually 3 week

Joedii 3 months ago

Our chihuahua is on heat at 9mos when i get her the they said she already once and this her 2nd heat. Its is okay now to breed her?

Debbie 4 weeks ago

My dog is 14 yrs old and has been in heat for 2 months why and what can I do she is to old to have baby's and I don't think she would make it through surgery to get her fixed

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    Adrienne Janet Farricelli (alexadry)1,687 Followers
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    Adrienne Farricelli is a former veterinary hospital assistant and now a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of dog books.

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