Dogs reach sexual maturity between six and 24 months, and like hooman females, dams have an oestrus cycle. This completes fully approximately twice a year, and there are four stages.
The first of these is proestrus, lasting an average of nine days. The sire is attracted to the dam, but she is non-receptive. She may be particularly clingy with her special hooman, and focused on cleaning herself whilst keeping her tail close. Her vulva will be swollen, with the presence of a bloody discharge. The second phase is estrus, again running for approximately nine days. This is the fertile period where the female is receptive to the male and her vulva is enlarged but softened. There is less blood, and the discharge is the colour of straw. Diestrus refers to the stage following estrus, where the dam is once again non-receptive. It is thought to last for two months on average, after which time the anestrus phase of four months occurs. This is the final period of the cycle; the vulva is not swollen, there is no discharge, and uterine repair takes place.
Gestation in canines is approximately 63 days from the date of ovulation, with females in their prime between the ages of one and seven years. Breeding is not recommended during the first oestrus cycle due to the strain of whelping on a dam that may not be fully mature, which may cause complications for both herself and her pups. It also takes a great deal of effort, finance, knowledge, and time to be a responsible breeder, so spaying is an excellent way of ensuring unwanted pregnancies do not occur. It is worth noting that mounting is not always indicative of sexual intent in dogs. This behaviour also signifies dominance or excitement, however if your furry friend humps to excess it could indicate irritation, or a problem with his prostate, so it is prudent to seek veterinary advice. ❤