When Do Golden Retrievers Go Into Heat?

By John Martin - May 3, 2022

Golden Retriever resting in a field

Did you just get a Golden Retriever puppy? Is she a girl? If yes, you might be wondering when she’s going to go into heat and how long it can last. It is an important stage of their lives and they need to be taken care of properly.

Let’s take a look at everything you need to know about the heat cycles of Golden Retrievers.

When Does a Golden Retriever Go into Heat?

If you happen to be raising a puppy for the first time, you might not be familiar with all the terminology. “Heat” is that period in the biological cycle of female dogs when they are ready to mate and bear puppies.

The cycle keeps repeating unless you spay your dog. There are several signs that indicate the beginning and end of the heat cycle, you’ll definitely notice when your furry friend is in heat.

Golden Retriever puppies will go into heat for the first time when they are around 10 to 14 months old. This largely depends on the size of your dog, as bigger dogs go into heat a lot earlier than smaller dogs.

Also, sometimes when a Golden Retriever puppy is with older female dogs who are in heat, she may go into heat earlier than usual. This is normal and nothing to worry about.

Usually, female dogs experience a heat cycle once in 6 months. This is the average, cycle length can vary a lot from breed to breed. Golden Retrievers experience heat once every 9-10 months.

The time period of the cycle is not very stable at first. It can fluctuate for the first 2-3 heats. Eventually, it stabilizes and the dog will follow a consistent heat cycle for the rest of her life.

You should be keeping track of her heat cycles without fail. This way, you’ll notice if there are any “accidents” and you can prepare for her cycle in advance. You will also know when to keep her away from male dogs.

Also Read: Can Golden Retrievers Tolerate Cold Weather?

How Long Does a Golden Retriever Stay in Heat?

The length of the heat varies from dog to dog. Typically, the length of a heat is somewhere between 2-4 weeks.

Golden Retrievers in particular can get pregnant for the entire duration of their heat, so you need to keep track of it from beginning to end.

If you let your female Golden Retriever play with male dogs when her heat hasn’t ended yet, she might accidentally get pregnant.

The clearest sign of your dog ending her heat is the absence of any bleeding or discharge. The dog’s vulva will go back to normal and she will seem a lot more relaxed.

You need to track the beginning and end of her heat to know how long your dog’s cycle lasts. Once you have a clear idea, you’ll know how many days are left for her heat cycle to end when the cycle starts.

Female dogs have heat cycles all their lives. When they get older, their cycles get less frequent but don’t stop. So if you have decided not to spay your Golden, you will need to keep an eye on her cycles for her entire life.

Signs of Being in Heat

There are several signs that a female Golden Retriever is experiencing heat. You don’t want her to get pregnant every time when she goes into heat, so you’ll need to keep her away from male dogs during this time.

Here are all the explicit signs of a female dog being in heat:

Discharge and Bleeding

The discharge and bleeding are the first sign that a pet owner notices when their dog goes into heat. The color and consistency of the bleeding differ from dog to dog and can also vary during different times in the heat cycle.

As we’ve mentioned, the time period of the heat depends on the dog. You will get familiar with your dog’s cycle as time passes. When the bleeding stops, it is a pretty good indication that the heat has come to an end.

Swollen Vulva

Dogs also experience hormonal changes during their heat cycles. This causes their vulvas to swell up to 3 or 4 times the usual size. You don’t need to worry about it because it is normal during heat and isn’t painful.


If you thought that only male dogs try to mount or hump things, think again. Female dogs will also try to hump other dogs, objects around the house or your legs. It is because of the hormone changes in her body. Female dogs will also let male dogs mount them during this period, which is why you need to keep them apart. The behavior usually stops at the end of the heat, unless it is usual for your dog to behave that way.

Excessive Licking

With all the discharge and bleeding, your dog might feel the need to clean herself more than usual. She might be licking herself a lot during this period. This is also a normal part of being in heat. Golden Retrievers will typically clean themselves very well, so you won’t need to run after them all day. If you find that your pooch isn’t doing a very good job of keeping herself clean, you can buy doggy diapers to keep her and your house clean.

Change in Behavior

There is a definite change in behavior during this period. You might see your dog become more affectionate, clingy, nervous or irritable. It is also common to have a reduced appetite during the first few days. Dogs also tend to pace around or whine out of frustration. Some dogs also get aggressive during heat. If it happens with your dog, you need to correct this behavior before it becomes a habit for her.

Frequent Urination

Biologically, dogs go into heat to reproduce. They want all the dogs around them to know that they are ready to mate, so they urinate a lot more frequently to get the attention of male dogs. So if your pooch has accidents around the house during this time or keeps asking to be le out, don’t be annoyed with her. It will stop once the heat ends.

Attention From Male Dogs

Dogs give off pheromones when they are ready to mate. Male dogs are attracted to them from miles away and will track them down. When your dog goes into heat make sure you always accompany her outdoors. Male dogs tend to be very determined once they sense that your dog is ready to mate, so they will try very hard to get to her.

Also Read: Why Does My Golden Retriever Sleep So Much?

Stages of the Heat Cycle

There are 4 stages in the heat cycle of a dog. Knowing about them helps you understand what to expect. This is what happens during every stage of a Golden Retriever’s heat cycle:


The heat cycle begins with proestrus. It is usually about 7-10 days and you see all the classic signs of the heat during this period—bleeding, swelling in the vulva, etc.


The ovaries start releasing eggs at this point in the cycle. Your dog will feel ready to mate and will seek out male dogs incessantly. This lasts anywhere between 5 to 14 days. The length of this period of the cycle depends on the dog.

You need to be very watchful of her at this time. She will ask to go outside a lot and her discharge will start to lighten.


Dogs are not fertile anymore when they begin diestrus. It begins around 24 days from the start of the heat and lasts 2 to 3 months.

Even if the time has passed, you shouldn’t leave your dog around other dogs until she stops bleeding. If she’s bleeding, she is still giving off pheromones and male dogs will try to mate with her.


Anestrus is that period of the cycle when your dog is not in heat. Again, the time period varies between dogs. It can be anything from 2 months to 5 months.

It typically stays on the longer side for Golden Retrievers. When anestrus ends, the cycle starts over and your dog will go into heat.

How to Care for a Golden Retriever in Heat

Your furry friend needs a little more TLC when she’s in heat. This can be a difficult time for her, so you need to make sure she feels safe and happy.

Don’t let her stay outside alone at all. Male dogs will break into your yard to mate with her no matter how high your fence is. Keep her indoors with you or accompany her outside.

Get doggy diapers to keep her tidy and comfortable. Avoid public places like pet stores or dog parks. This is not a good time for socializing, so it is best to keep her home.

Some dogs get very active during heat while others just want to lie down. Observe what your dog needs and keep her comfortable.

If you feel confused or worried about something your dog does while in heat, you should have a chat with the vet to see if everything is okay with her. The vet might also have some advice for you that will make this period a lot smoother for you and your pet.

Also Read: Are Golden Retrievers Good Hunting Dogs?

Parting Thoughts

Going into heat is a very natural part of a female dog’s life. There’s nothing to be worried about. You will get more used to it once you go through a few cycles and soon you will know exactly how to handle your dog during this time.

Once it ends, you don’t have to worry about it for a few months. Spaying your dog will put an end to the cycle and she won’t go into heat anymore. If you don’t plan on having more puppies, you should definitely consider spaying your dog.