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Tips for Handling a Great Dane Heat

Much like humans, you can expect female Great Danes to start having menstrual cycles as they mature. Many Great Dane owners wonder when these heats will begin and what they can expect. So, when do female Great Danes go into heat?

Female Great Danes experience their first heat between the age of 6 to 24 months, with the majority having their first heat around one year in age. A full heat cycle lasts for approximately 3 weeks and will occur every 12-18 months thereafter.

closeup of great dane face

What Is A “Heat”?

Heat is a term commonly used to refer to the estrus portion of a female dog’s reproductive cycle. During this period, a female dog can and will actively try to become pregnant.

Her body will produce pheromones and hormones that males dogs can smell from up to three miles away. So it can be difficult and it requires vigilance to prevent a female dog from becoming pregnant when she is in heat.

Unless you are planning to breed your dog, it is probably best to have her spayed.

How To Handle A Great Dane In Heat

The most important thing to remember is that your female Great Dane will be actively trying to mate. Both she and her potential suitors will do just about anything to get together.

This includes jumping tall fences, digging under enclosures, and chewing through doors to get to one another. Dogs have even been known to mate through fences and other obstacles.

Not much can stop a determined Great Dane, so you need to prepare an escape-proof area before your dog’s cycle begins.

It is best to limit the amount of time your dog is outside while she is in heat, and you should never leave her outside alone. It is absolutely essential that you keep her away from intact males in order to prevent pregnancy.

Dogs have no problem mating with close family members, so this includes her father, sons, uncles, etc. as well.

Baby gates and closed doors are not much of a challenge for Great Danes. So you may need to use crates to keep unaltered males and females separate.

You should also be cautious about walking her on a leash in open areas. Male dogs can and will attempt to mate with her while she is on a leash.

She may also attempt to run or break free of her leash if she senses a potential mate in the area. It is best to keep her in confined areas if at all possible, even while leashed.

If you are concerned that your Great Dane may have accidentally gotten pregnant, make sure to take a look at our guide that explains some of the common early signs and symptoms of pregnancy.

Exclusive Bonus: Download our free Great Dane heat checklist for a quick and easy reminder later. This will save you from trying to remember all these details down the road or find this page again. Plus – it’s nicely formatted so that you can print it!

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    Mess prevention!

    Some dogs bleed very little and are able to keep themselves clean, but many have a heavier flow that leaves a mess. Dog diapers are perfect for keeping blood off of your floors, walls, and furniture.

    Your dog may already be a bit grumpy while she is in heat, so it’s best to teach her to wear one early. Get her used to wearing it and comfortable with it before her first cycle begins.

    While disposable diapers might be tempting, it’s tough to find ones that are both large and flexible enough for a Great Dane. Washable female dog cloth diapers provide a much better fit, and even have precut holes for their tails!

    My Pick
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    They also have stretchy elastic straps that let you cinch it up just right so that your Dane is still able to comfortably move around.

    We found these to be a complete game-changer, and are the only option we plan on using for our Dane’s in the future! The large size fits most Great Danes, however, if yours is on the smaller side they may need the mediums. Refer to their sizing chart if you’re unsure which size to get.

    Still not convinced? Take a look at the two images of Gus below during her last heat. She’s wearing a disposable diaper in one, and a washable cloth diaper in the other.

    Which one do you think she looked more comfortable in? 😉

    A women’s menstrual pad can be used with the diaper as well if your dog bleeds heavily. Just keep an eye on her and make sure that she does not try to eat it.

    It is not uncommon for some dogs to have much heavier bleeding, but you should always ask your veterinarian if you have concerns. They will be able to determine if your dog’s cycle is abnormal and indicates a possible medical problem.

    For more information about caring for your Great Dane, make sure to take a look at my simple guide “The Great Dane Puppy Handbook“.

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    What Happens During Heat?

    The reproductive cycle as a whole is called oestrus. It includes four different stages marked by changes in hormone levels.

    Unless they are spayed, female dogs begin this cycle when they reach sexual maturity, and it repeats for the rest of their lives.

    It is important that you know what happens and what to look for when your dog is in heat.

    Phase 1 – Proestrus

    During the first stage, proestrus, your dog’s estrogen, and progesterone levels begin to rise as her body prepares for a possible pregnancy.

    Her vulva will likely appear swollen and red, and she will begin bleeding from her vaginal area. This bleeding will range from hardly noticeable to a steady flow, depending on the individual dog.

    Phase 2 – Estrus

    The second part of the cycle is the heat or estrus portion. Her bleeding will lessen and appear to be a light pink color. Eventually, the bleeding will stop and ovulation will occur.

    She will be highly fertile and actively trying to find a male dog to mate with. This is the part of the cycle that most people are referring to when they talk about a dog being in heat.

    Phase 3 – Diestrus

    Next is the diestrus phase, which your dog will experience whether she has become pregnant or not. Her uterine walls will thicken and her mammary glands will probably be enlarged in preparation for milk production and feeding.

    Some dogs experience false pregnancies during this time, and they might even begin to produce milk.

    Phase 4 – Anestrus

    The final period is called anestrus. This is the portion of the cycle that your dog is in the majority of the time.

    During this phase, hormone levels drop and your dog’s reproductive system essentially goes dormant. She will remain in anestrus until her next active estrus period begins.

    When Do Great Danes Get Their First Heat?

    Most dogs reach sexual maturity and experience their first heat at around six months of age. However, this varies greatly by breed and size.

    Toy breeds can reach puberty when they are just a few months old. Meanwhile, Great Danes and other giant breeds may not have their first heat until they are two years old!

    However, every dog is unique, and some Great Danes reach puberty before they are even a year old.

    Often, dogs show none of the usual symptoms during their first estrus cycle. This is sometimes referred to as a silent heat.

    Dogs are less likely to get pregnant during their first heat, so most breeders wait until the second or third cycle to begin breeding. However, it can still happen, so it is important to know the signs and be prepared for your dog’s first heat.

    This will help you to recognize its onset and take the necessary precautions to prevent pregnancy.

    Signs That Your Great Dane Is In Heat

    Sign #1 – Bleeding or licking

    The most obvious sign that your Great Dane is going into heat is vaginal bleeding. However, before she begins bleeding, you will likely notice some redness and swelling in her genital area.

    She will probably begin to lick her vulva more than usual as well. Many dogs become more protective of their genital areas during this time.

    SIGN #2 – Increased urination

    Increased urination is another sign of the onset of heat. Her urine at this time contains high levels of pheromones and hormones, so she may begin marking more often.

    This is her way of letting nearby males know that she will soon be fertile. Males can smell these markings from miles away, so you may begin to see more male dogs hanging out around your home.

    SIGN #3 – Personality changes

    The changes in hormone levels may result in temporary personality changes as well. If your dog is normally more independent or aloof, you may notice that she wants your touch and attention more than usual.

    She may also have less patience for other dogs and become a bit snippy. While this type of behavior certainly should not be encouraged, refrain from over correcting her given the hormonal state.

    The behavior is only temporary, and you don’t want to make her feel unsupported by her family.

    SIGN #4 – Nesting behaviors

    Many dogs display nesting behaviors and begin preparing a place for their puppies.

    Some even show increased attachment to toys and stuffed animals, caring for them as if they are puppies. This usually occurs during the diestrus phase, after ovulation.

    How Long Does A Great Dane Heat Last?

    Proestrus typically lasts for about 10 days, and the estrus period lasts anywhere from 5-9 days. The diestrus portion generally goes on for 6-10 weeks. There can be some overlap in the phases of the cycle.

    Your dog may still be showing proestrus symptoms around the time of ovulation. So, it is important to keep her away from un-neutered males for a full 21 days at the start of the cycle.

    This will help prevent any accidental pregnancies.

    How Often Does It Occur?

    While most dogs go into heat twice a year, Great Danes typically only experience estrus once every 12-18 months. Keep track of your dog’s cycle on a calendar, so that you are prepared and know when to begin looking for signs that it is starting.

    Some dogs have irregular cycles, and this is not usually a cause for concern. Your dog will repeat this cycle her entire life, as dogs do not go through the canine equivalent of menopause.

    Considerations For Spaying Around A Heat

    A Great Dane should never be spayed during the active stages of her cycle. This includes the proestrus and estrus periods, as well as the diestrus portion. Her elevated hormone levels during this time leave her at a higher risk of developing blood clots, which can be fatal.

    Unless it is an emergency medical situation, you should wait at least two months after she comes out of the heat.

    Smaller breeds can be usually spayed or neutered as early as three to six months of age. However, Great Danes should not be altered until they are at least one year old.

    Spaying or neutering too early can negatively affect their growth, and it is vital that their bodies develop correctly in order to support their large adult size.

    Many owners wait until their dog experiences her first heat before having her spayed. However, even if your dog matures early and begins her cycle before she is a year old, it is important to wait until the one year mark to spay her.

    TIP! In addition to their heat, there are many specific questions and topics that owners of Great Dane puppy’s need to be aware of. If you’re looking to find all of this information in a single simple guide, then you need to take a look at the Great Dane Puppy Handbook!

    37 thoughts on “Tips for Handling a Great Dane Heat”

    1. This information has really helped me understand my new dogs cycle. She is a rescue and is between 10 & 11 months old. I’ve always had smaller dogs therefore their cycle started much earlier, so thank you as this has been invaluable information xx

    2. Brilliant article we have had Dalmatians and now have a Dane. She is a lovely 2 yo mantle. Very similar heat cycle as Dalmatians. Thank you for an informed article.

    3. Great article. Very informative for us since we never had a Dane in heat. Was really interested in when to spay vs. proper development of the dog. I think a lot of Danes are spayed and neutered too early, i.e. at 6 months.

    4. How much swelling of the vulva is normal? Quinn is in the middle of her first heat and her vulva is supper swollen. We first noticed the heat almost 2 weeks ago when she began bleeding. For halloween my back patio was decorated as a bloody crime scene. The bleeding has almost stopped but her vulva is about the size of a large lime now and I am a bit worried.

      • Hey, this is my girls first heat shes 11 months old and I believe shes about 11 days in her cycle and her vulva is HUGE about the circumference of a soda can. It doesnt seem to be bugging her besides the obvious but if you find out if its an issue please let me know!

    5. Thanks for a very informative article. We have our first Dane and she is experiencing her first heat at almost 11 months old. This article answered my questions.

    6. My Negra is way to active for being a Great Dane. What are our expectations regarding her behavior? When will she calm down?

    7. My Dane is almost 10 months old and I can’t tell if she’s going through terrible twos or is getting ready to go into heat. There is definitely a difference at the dog park especially with males, maybe she’s giving off pheromones? Should I keep her home? She needs to run, and I have a pretty big yard, but nothing like the park. I’m concerned with walking her too, since she is pretty strong. If she decides to try to get to a male I won’t be able to stop her. I hate to sequester her for months. Thoughts?

    8. 1-I have on female great Dane with whit colour and black dots , she is completed 1yr recently and the hight is not increased as much so how I can make her hight can be grow .

      2- she is not came to heat also , so can u please give me some tips for getting her into heat fast

      • Are you trying to breed her or something? I do not mean to be rude, but it’s not a good idea to breed your dog if you do not know much about them and the breed. You can’t “make them grow” or “make them go into heat” when they are a year old. I would worry about a breeder who asks those questions.

    9. Hi there, my Dane Angel has just turned 4yrs old and she is going through her first ever heat. The poor girl is so sooky and its like she is scared as I don’t think she understands whats happening. Is there anyway I can help through this other than trying to reassure her.
      Any tips would be appreciated and is she on heat 21 days from the start of bleeding or from when I noticed her excessive licking.
      Thank you kingly
      Cindy and Angel

    10. Hello,
      I have a great Dane who will be 1 in almost exactly 1 month. Shes been in heat or started 11 days ago from when I noticed bleeding (may have started earlier but didnt notice) and we have washable diapers shes wears. I change her into a clean one twice a day and she only wears them inside and i let her run free in our large 9 ft fenced back yard to “air it out” but ive noticed she smells and her diaper almost like pee or something. I wash her vulva and that area twice a day with a wash cloth and gentle pup wash but after about an hr shes stinky again in another clean diaper. Is this normal and do you have any recommendations or anyone else experience this? She lets me clean her and isnt in any pain when I do so and doesnt not let me amd i haven’t noticed any weird signs of infection or anything that doesnt look not normal. Please let me know!!

    11. My greatdane x mastiff puppy is only 5 months old and might be going through her first heat cycle, is this too early?
      Should I be concerned?

    12. I have a question, I have a Harlequin female who almost 16 months old and has shown no signs of heat. I noticed on several comments that they where around 11 months old. I know that they say it can go up to 2 years before they experience first heat but that is on the far spectrum of the norm. When do most Danes typically go into heat?

      • My female Dane just got her first cycle at almost 9 months old. My friends Dane had her first heat at 1 year old. Just like humans, every dog will be different. I wouldn’t be concerned. You are actually lucky lol she may have had a silent heat, I had a husky that did that. If you notice her licking a lot or seeming to be marking when she urinates, I would watch for swelling and spotting. I was expecting my Dane to be a lot more messier than she is, she does a pretty good job of keeping herself clean and wears a good quality washable diaper in the house to keep the furniture clean.

        If she hits 2 years old and you don’t notice a heat, talk to your vet about it. I’m pretty sure she probably had a silent heat though.

    13. My great dane India had her 1 st heat at 7 months now she has it agin at 14 months. I know cause the bleeding is everywhere. I have found a room just for her and she constantly keeps her blanket under her.

        • Go to Petco. They have reusable diapers. I get the largest size they have for my girl. We lived in NE Houston (Humble area) until recently. Rosie is a rescue and now that she weighs enough and is completing a heat cycle we are going to have her spayed.

    14. I am dog sitting for my neighbor and Lola is definitely in heat! I googled your website and found it Very Helpful, Thank You!

    15. I found the article very informative – thank you. However, I would note, I ordered the washable diapers in the large size you recommended (“large size fits most Great Danes, however, if yours is on the smaller side they may need the mediums”) and I would caution that you may need larger. My Great Dane is 8 months old and the large barely fit her. I really had to pull to get the straps to reach the Velcro connection and while I got it on I feel it’s tighter than what would be comfortable for her. I’ll be ordering the XL if not the XXL. Can’t begin to imagine the M would work for a Dane.

    16. This article was very informative! I was so glad to see “Great Dane” specific information out here as they are so much bigger than other breeds and tend to be a little different.

      My Great Dane just went into her first heat at almost 9 months old. She has a hooded vulva which caused her to get frequent uti’s caused by bacteria getting caught in the folds. Her situation is pretty extreme and the vet says she may need a surgery done while she’s under for her spay to pull the skin tighter and remove the extra skin. I am hopeful that she will eventually grow into it as I was told she may do after a heat or two. With this first heat she’s in, her vulva is very large, I’m assuming larger than most due to her situation, so I am hopeful that nature will work itself out.

      One question that I do have…. is it common for a dog in heat to experience soft stools? She’s typically pretty solid, but she had a couple accidents in her diaper for first couple days of her heat. I was caught off guard because she is fully house trained but maybe it happened because she was uncomfortable? I found it to be out of the ordinary, I’m hoping that it’s normal. I’m gonna ask her vet on Monday but if anyone reading this has also experienced this, please let me know.


      • My Dane is now in heat for the first time at 9 months and also has a recessed vulva. Because of this I won’t put diapers on her. I am so worried about infection. I have everything covered and wash it daily. The tile, well it gets steamed cleaned and yes it’s a lot of work. Quin will probably have the extra flap removed when she is spayed as well. I have not noticed soft stools.

        My neutered, older male dane keeps trying to hump her. Fun times…..1 more week to go.

      • If you have a good vet who is experienced with the procedure, I highly recommend the vulvaplasty. We got our 4 year old(Lucy) as a rescue when she was two because her previous owners couldn’t deal with the UTIs anymore. She had already been spayed, but they didn’t address the hooded vulva. We tried to keep her clean with baby wipes for about six months, but finally agreed to have the surgery. IT HAS CHANGED EVERYTHING. She turned into a wonderful, happy, healthy dog immediately. Now, our 14 month old puppy(Ethel) is in her first heat. According to the vet, she is “borderline hooded”. We will wait as long as we can to have her spayed so we can deal with the hooded vulva, if necessary, during the same surgery. Also, if your dogs are active like ours are, ask about having her stomach tacked when she is spayed to reduce the chances of bloat.

    17. hiya from Scotland, i have a 7 month old blue and have found this really helpful. She is my 3rd dane but my 1st unspayed bitch . Thanks for the wonderful advise and good luck to everyone with the best dogs ever x

    18. My 1st Dane and literally on her 1st birthday she started swelling in her lady bits. That was on the 1st of August. Today marks a full week of bleeding. I’m confused about when she’ll want to mate. We have a male Morkie who is not fixed and he’s shown zero interest in her so far. Am I missing something or do we still have a long way to go until this is done? We also were using the washable diapers in XL and they rubbed her legs raw. Now she is very loose men’s boxers. Please help a very concerned fur momma!

    19. I have a almost 11 month old female Great Dane. She started her first heat 2 weeks ago. Tonight she has throw up twice but I believe she is stressed out because our bully pit has been chasing her around and I have been chasing him around trying to keep him away from her. Do u think that she is just stressed out and that is why she threw up it was her food that she threw up


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