Dog Breeding Cycle

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Understanding the dog breeding cycle is crucial if you plan on mating your dogs.

If you miscalculate the timing, then you will have missed the opportunity of having puppies, although you can always try again on your Golden Retriever’s next dog breeding cycle.

©Photo Courtesy of Carolyn Marsh
Dog breeding cycle. Golden Retriever puppies sleeping

Dogs breed during the female’s heat cycle.

Proestrus is the stage in which her heat cycle starts and is marked by the swelling of her vulva and the first signs of blood.

You need to mark on your calendar the first day that you notice bleeding.

Keep in mind that even though this is the first day that you actually see blood, it does not necessarily mean that this is the first day of her heat. You may have missed her start date by a day or even two. This is very important in the timing when breeding.

Proestrus usually lasts about a week.

©Photo Courtesy of Paul Skinner
Mating Dogs,   Two golden retrievers

The next stage of the dog breeding cycle is estrus.

This generally is during week two and is the most important stage if you are planning on breeding your Golden Retrievers.

You will notice that your Golden’s bleeding has lightened to an almost clear discharge.

Not only is she fertile during this time, but this is also when she will be receptive to males.

This is commonly referred to as standing heat, because it is during this stage that your Golden will stand still and allow a male to mount her.

Actually, she will usually initiate her willingness! Her flirting and playfulness towards the male will be quite apparent! She will also playfully back her hind end up to a male and flag.

Flagging is a certain way that a female dog holds her tail when she wants to breed. It is lifted up and cocked over in an odd position. You will never see her hold her tail in this position unless she is in heat.

Some experienced females will even flag when you pet them on their hind quarters!

©Photo Courtesy of Mike Kelly
Dog breeding. Golden Retriever's playing

The third stage of the dog breeding cycle is diestrus and this is when your Golden Retriever will stop allowing males to mount her.

The general rule of thumb is this. Week one, the female will not stand, and will not appreciate a male bothering her.

Week two of her cycle, is when the female is generally receptive to a male stud dog and will stand still and allow breeding.

Week three, she will not stand again, and can be aggressive towards any male that tries to mount her.

This is just a guideline, as each female is different. A more experienced female will, many times, stand earlier and longer than expected. But an inexperienced female may only stand for 2 or 3 days. You must be observant of her behavior if you plan to breed her.

I have a Golden Retriever that will stand as early as 5 days in her dog breeding cycle, and also stands until day 18 of her cycle.

©Photo Courtesy of
Amber Danese Grandfield

Dog breeding cycle. Golden Retriever wearing glasses

However, I have another female that will only stand for 2 days, 3 at the most.

Keep this in mind when breeding your dog, as each female is unique.

Breeding Golden Retrievers can be very rewarding, but can also be very frustrating if your timing is not correct.

For a dog, mating is done only to reproduce. Dogs do not mate just for the fun of it! Matter of fact, a female will get quite vicious if a male tries to mount her when she is not in heat.

When you see a dog mounting another dog that is not in heat, that is a display of dominance, rather than a desire to breed.

And if that is the young male’s intention, a female will quickly put a stop to it!




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Golden Retriever in a cowboy hat


Golden Retriever puppies in basket


Old Golden Retriever smiling