A Poodle’s Heat Cycle: What Every Owner Should Know


Over the last few years, poodle breeding has grown in popularity in the United States. Their good looks and playful demeanor make poodles excellent family dogs. However, the best time, and only time, to breed your poodle is when she’s in heat. So when do poodles go into heat? What are the signs of my dog’s heat cycle?

Poodles initially go into heat around the age of ten to twelve months but can begin as early as six months of age. Poodles tend to enter heat one to four times a year depending on the size of the dog. Signs of dogs in heat include bloody discharge, loss of appetite, a swollen vulva, and frequent urination.

But that’s not all. Poodles come in three different sizes, which affects their heat cycle and helps determine when your dog is ready to mate. Read on to learn everything you need to know about your pup’s heat cycle.

When Do Poodles Go Into Heat?

On average, female poodles experience their first heat cycle between ten to twelve months of age. However, your dog’s first heat can vary considerably, ranging anywhere from six to eighteen months. Factors such as a poodle’s size, diet, and stress level can all influence the timing of your dog’s first heat.

Factors Affecting Heat Frequency in Poodles

While many things may influence when your poodle will enter heat for the first time, recognizing these main influencers will help you better plan for this pivotal event in your young puppy’s life:

1. A Poodle’s Size

Like many other dog breeds, poodles come in three different sizes:

  • Toy
  • Minature
  • Standard

As a rule of thumb, small poodles, like other small dogs, tend to reach sexual maturity faster than average-sized poodles. A poodle’s size can even affect how many cycles she will have each year. 

This table shows how a poodle’s size affects the average age of sexual maturity:

Age of Sexual MaturityPoodle Size
Toy Poodles4 to 6 Months10 Inches or Smaller
Miniature Poodles10 Months15 Inches
Standard Poodles12-18 Months15 Inches and Larger

Here are the three common poodle types and the time they take to reach sexual maturity:

  • Toy poodles: These dogs stand around 10 inches or smaller. Toy poodles tend to go into heat quickly and may be capable of breeding anywhere between 4 and 6 months of age. They can also go into heat two to four times a year, depending on how the length of their cycles.
  • Miniature poodles: Standing 15 inches or lower, these poodles may take around 10 months to go into their first heat. They will go into heat an average of two to three times every year.
  • Standard poodles: These large poodles stand over 15 inches and can take 12-18 months to go into their first heat. Standard poodles average only one to two heat cycles each year.

2. The Quality of the Diet

Not only is nutrition important in the overall health of your poodle, but it can also play a crucial role in determining the length of her cycle. Providing a well-balanced, healthy diet will help your poodle keep a regular menstrual cycle and could, at times, even accelerate the process.

I feed my dog a healthy diet with Pet Plate. Pet Plate is a premium dog food subscription service that provides freshly cooked and pre-portioned meals completely customized for your dog. I really love the fact that Pet Plate delivers the highest quality meals to my door without me ever having to think about it! Check out Pet Plate here to find more information and see if Pet Plate is right for you and your pet.

3. Stress Factors

You should strive to eliminate any stressors in your dog’s environment to keep her in great mental condition. Stressful factors such as restricting movement or keeping your dog in a cage for long periods of time could cause unnecessary angst and delay the menstrual cycle. 

To rectify this, you should take your dog on regular walks, allowing her ample time to play. Let her mingle with other dogs unless, of course, your poodle’s heat cycle has begun. The four stages of the heat cycle will be discussed later in this article.

(Sources: All poodle Info, Kings Forest Kennel, Daily Puppy, Revival Animal Health)

How Often Do Poodles Go into Heat?

Your poodle may take as little as six months to go into heat, and on average, this process will last three weeks. However, It’s common for a cycle to be delayed as a result of the poodle’s size, environmental stress, or poor diet.

A poodle’s size is the key factor for determining the number of heat cycles she will experience each year. While standard poodles average two cycles per year, toy poodles may have as many as four. While each dog is different, generally, the smaller the poodle, the more frequent her heat cycles will occur.

This table shows the average annual heat cycle frequency for each poodle type:

Poodle Annual Heat Cycle Frequency
Toy Poodles2-4 Heat Cycles Per Year
Miniature Poodles2-3 Heat Cycles Per Year
Standard Poodles1-2 Heat Cycles Per Year

While it’s tempting to breed your poodle when it goes into the first heat within six months, it’s always best to allow up to two years to give her enough time to mature physically and mentally. 

Note: If you are planning to breed your poodle, be sure to wait until after the first ten days, as this is when poodles are the most fertile. 

What Are the Signs of a Poodle in Heat?

Poodles will show signs that they’re in heat. These signs are usually physical and often result in slight changes in behavior.

recognizing these behavioral and physical cues will help you plan for your poodle’s cycle or prepare her for breeding. However, some of these cues can get confusing, especially for inexperienced dog owners.

Some conditions can seem to escalate, especially in toy poodles, such as heavy bleeding or aggression, both of which can resemble more severe health conditions. By understanding the signs of your poodle’s heat cycle, you’ll avoid unnecessary visits to the vet.

Signs of a poodle in heat include:

1. Bloody Discharge from Vulva

Bloody discharge is one of the most visible, and easy to interpret signs of a dog in heat. This thick mucus-like discharge will at first appear a bloody red and signify your dog has begun its cycle. However, depending on the dog, this discharge might appear dark-brown in color.

2. Loss of Appetite

It’s normal for dogs to lose their appetite when in heat. They become disinterested in food and most prefer to keep to themselves or get clingy.

If a loss of appetite continues for long without periods seeing the other signs discussed below, you might need to take her to a vet for a checkup.

3. Swollen Vulva

Your poodle’s vulva will appear swollen during the first few days while in heat. It’s actually among the first signs you will notice. The vulva will return to average size within 21 days. However, you shouldn’t confuse this sign with vaginal hyperplasia, a health condition signified by red or dark pink tissues protruding from the vulva. 

4. Frequent Urination

Dogs love to relieve themselves, and they usually don’t have a schedule for this. However, this behavior will be heightened when they’re in heat. When your poodle’s cycle has arrived, you will notice her taking frequent trips to her favorite spot to relieve herself. This will eventually stop once this heat phase passes. 

Urination also sends a signal to male dogs indicating that she’s in heat and is ready to mate.

5. Receptive to Male Dogs

Female poodles will become receptive and show interest to male dogs when they’re in heat. Male dogs will quickly be aware of these changes and will pursue the female relentlessly. 

6. Change in Tail Position

Change in tail position is most noticeable in the first stage of heat. Your poodle will hold the tail close to their body and act as if they don’t want to mate. It’s usually a confusing stage for dogs as hormones are flooding through their bodies.

However, this behavior changes as dogs approach the second stage and begin being receptive to male dogs. Your female poodle will wag her tail to the side in the presence of a male, indicating the willingness to breed. 

7. Excessive Genital Licking

Poodles like to keep clean and will lick their bodies often. To signal that they are in heat, they will start licking their genitals excessively. The licking is an attempt to clean the vaginal discharge they experience at the beginning of the cycle. Trying to stop them would be a fruitless effort as it comes naturally to them.

8. Aggression and Agitation

Hormones can have a drastic effect on your poodle’s mood. When in heat, female dogs often experience a change in attitude and become aggressive and agitated easily. Poodles can appear a bit defensive and get provoked by the slightest actions by you or other dogs. Your dog may not be as playful as usual, and she may try to maintain her distance. for a while 

I wrote this article called 10 reasons for aggressive Poodles and how to correct them. Read how to identify the cause of your dog’s aggression and learn how to seek the proper help for your poodle.

(Sources: The Spruce Pets, Love to Know, Tractive)

The Four Stages of a Poodle’s Heat Cycle

Like any other dog, poodles go through similar stages when they’re in heat. You’ll notice a change in their behavior or attitude by either being too clingy or being distant. A poodle’s body will go through noticeable changes as well, as your dog prepares for heat.

The entire heat cycle lasts between 2 to 4 weeks, and its end will be signaled by their vulva returning back to normal. It’s important to note that the entire cycle is divided into four stages, with each stage lasting anywhere between 7 and 10 days.

The Four Stages of a Poodles Heat Cycle include:

1. Pre-estrus (The First Stage)

Pre-estrus can begin anywhere between 4 and 6 months and lasts between 7 and 10 days. For poodles experiencing their first heat, this stage can be confusing, and they may react by being silent, reserved, or a bit aggressive. poodles can also urinate frequently and lose their appetites. 

In pre-estrus, thick bloody vulva discharge will be visible. However, some poodles clean up well after themselves, making this not as noticeable. Their vulva becomes swollen and will grow in size.

Females are usually not fertile during pre-estrus and will walk with their tails tucked between their legs to show they’re not ready to mate. 

A key sign your poodle has entered the pre-estrus stage is when she begins attracting male dogs. Also, she may be clingy and stick to your side most of the time. It’s common for your female poodle to repel any sexual advances made by male dogs during pre-estrus.

2. Estrus (The Second Stage)

Estrus lasts around nine days, and your dog will begin to experience behavioral changes due to hormone changes. These changes will make your female dog receptive to male dogs.

The first and the obvious sign of estrus is the discharge becoming thin and watery. The vulva will subside, and your dog will start to wag her tail on the side, a technique known as “flagging.” She will use her tail to signal to male dogs that she’s fertile and ready to mate. 

Chances of pregnancy are high during estrus should fertilization take place.

If you plan to breed your poodle, now is the best time. However, if you don’t want any puppies, it’s best to keep your poodle isolated from any male dogs in the area. 

NOTE: A condition known as pyometra, which is the infection of the uterus, may, in rare cases, occur after the estrus stage. One major sign of this condition is the puss-like discharge from the vulva. The condition is severe and life-threatening, and you should seek out your vet immediately if suspected. 

3. Post-estrus or Di-Estrus (Third Stage)

In the post-estrus stage, the physical changes in her body, such as a swollen vulva and virginal discharge, will disappear. However, the internal changes will keep taking place with certain hormones still produced. Post-estrus will last for about twelve days. 

Progesterone, a hormone produced by the corpora lutea, will still be released whether your dog was impregnated or not. This hormone is known to encourage the implantation and growth of the fetus in the uterus. However, if fertilization doesn’t occur, the corpora lutea will take anywhere between 9 and 12 weeks to return to normal. 

As progesterone levels decrease, female dogs produce the hormone prolactin. Prolactin is responsible for milk formation. 

4. Anoestrus (Forth Stage)

Known as the resting stage, Anoestrus occurs last, when the fluctuating sexual hormones are reset back to normal. This stage lasts for months and will only disappear at the onset of the second heat season. 

Keep in mind that young poodles going through their first heat season will likely remain silent and not show all the normal signs of being in heat.

These four heat stages are accompanied by many changes, both behavioral and physical. Mood swings are not uncommon and can make your poodle unpredictable. Be observant of the changes and adjust accordingly.

(Sources: East Central Veterinary Hospital, The Spruce Pets, Love to Know)

Note: When breeding Poodles, a female should always be larger than the male. In this case, it’s not okay health-wise to breed a female Toy Poodle with a male Standard Poodle, as it will pose delivery complications to the Toy Poodle. On the other hand, you can breed a female Standard Poodle with a male Miniature Poodle without having any pregnancy or delivery complications

How Long Do Poodles Bleed While in Heat?

It might be difficult to notice bleeding in your poodle if she is great at cleaning after herself. Even so, it’s easy to see blood spots on her bed, carpet, or furniture. To help her stay clean while still protecting your home from stubborn stains, it’s best to purchase dog diapers while your dog is in heat.

Bleeding in poodles occurs in the pre-estrus stage of the heat cycle. While this stage can last up to twelve days, your dog’s bleeding will usually take anywhere between seven to ten days to complete. Often, this discharge will be heavier in the first few days and contain high levels of blood.

However, the amount of discharge will diminish as your dog approaches the last days of her heat. During this time, the discharge will become lighter in color as the amount of blood in the discharge reduces. Sometimes this discharge will be mucus-like with clear fluids that will eventually go away after a day or two. 

Know that your poodle might not mate during this time, and they may show aggression towards any approaching male dog.

(Sources: Cuteness, The Nest)

Tips to Help Your Poodle During Her Heat Cycle

Experiencing changes bought on by your poodle’s heat cycle can temporarily affect how your dog interacts with you. However, there are steps and actions you can take to help your poodle get through this phase of her life a little easier.

These tips help to encourage a safe and hygienic environment for your poodle. 

1. Keep Her on a Leash

Poodles in heat emit breeding pheromones even if they’re not fertile and ready to breed. Male dogs can sniff these pheromones from miles away, which strongly encourages them to seek out the female. Until your poodle is fertile and ready to mate, keep your poodle on a leash while outside so she feels less harassment and agitation by the male dogs’ constant persistence. 

2. Learn to Deal with the Bleeding

Blood discharge can leave stains on your carpet and couches, and furniture. You can take preemptive measures to deal with this bleeding problem, such as:

  • Install baby gates. These gates will restrict the movements of your poodle and keep blood contained in easy-to-clean areas. I recommend the Carlson Extra Wide Walk Through Pet Gate found on Amazon here.
  • Make her wear dog diapers. Diapers will contain her discharge while still allowing freedom to move around the house.

3. Regular Exercises will Help

Taking walks for a few minutes every day during the first week of her heat cycle will help relieve stress caused by the new hormones in her blood. Remember to keep her on a leash for the entire walk, while monitoring for the presence of male dogs.  However, if she is showing signs of aggression and agitation, it’s best to let her be and encourage anyone around the house to give them their space. 

4. Give Her Lots of Water

Most poodles will lose their appetite when in heat, however, you will notice your poodle drinking a lot of water. Don’t be alarmed when this happens, as it’s perfectly normal. Just make sure to refill her bowl frequently. 

(Sources: Figo Pet Insurance, Dr. Marty Pets)

Conclusion

Like any other dog, poodles go through phases when they’re in heat. Toy poodles can be in heat twice or even thrice in a year. Miniature poodles can be in heat once or twice a year, while standard poodles can take a year to get in heat. 

Regardless of size, poodles will experience physical and emotional changes during the heat cycle. Watch out for the estrus stage, as this is when they’re fertile and ready to mate. Make sure you take proper measures to keep your poodle safe and healthy when in heat as well. 

Brent Hartman

I'm Brent Hartman. I've been a dog lover my entire life and have owned many animals over the years. When my black lab Angus passed away, I was looking for another friend to share my life with. As a result of my research, I've come to love poodles and wanted to share some of what I've learned with you. Whether you're looking to adopt a poodle, or already own one, I created Poodle report to be the ultimate guide to help you find the answers you need.

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