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Note on Breeding
Heat Cycle

Note on Breeding
Responsible pet owners will want to have their females spayed after they pass six months of age. Successful breeding requires a great deal of knowledge. Among the many reasons to avoid the possibility of your pet's pregnancy, the possibility of having the puppies end up in need of rescue will make most pet owners want to avoid the situation entirely. The following information might be useful if you are waiting to have your pet spayed for a medical reason and her heat comes first.

Heat Cycle
Dog owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, by Carlson & Giffin, states, "The heat period usually comes every six to eight months. However, some bitches go into heat every four months and others only once a year."

Some females don't bleed during their heat cycle, although this is rare. Some keep themselves so clean by licking themselves that you would never know if they had bled or not. When they're out of heat is when they turn around and snap at the males.

In the book, Westies from Head to Tail by Ruth Faherty, she says that "Your bitch may have her first season at seven months of age or older. Her second season may also occur at a longer interval than six months. However, because she could be on a six-month cycle, it is best to begin checking her then."

The males sniffing her is a good sign that she is maturing -- the boys often do this for a week or two before my girls actually come into heat. No need to worry about separating them until you actually see some discharge. You can just check her bedding each day for a reddish discharge, or you can wipe her with a tissue when she comes in from urinating. Sometimes the discharge comes first. Sometimes the vulva swells up a day or so before the discharge starts. Most Westies that I've had have been bred on the 11th to 15th day of their heat. You can tell when they are ready to breed. The girl will "flag" her tail -- hold it up in an arc and swing it to the side -- especially if you scratch her back right in front of her tail. The swelling of the vulva will go down, and the discharge will lose a lot of its color. (It will change from bright red to a light pink). We have noticed that this year for some reason, the girls are staying in standing heat (the breeding portion of the cycle -- so named because they will stand for the male) for close to 10 days instead of the usual 5. So, just make sure she is totally out of heat before putting her back with the boys. You may also notice that she "grows up and settles down" with this first heat.

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