Brittany Spaniels are an extremely popular dog breed among families, and especially hunters—bird hunters in particular. However, when Brittanys go into heat, they may experience slight behavioral changes. Therefore, you must know when your Brittany goes into heat.
Brittanys will usually go into heat when they reach sexual maturity, at 5 to 6 months of age. However, it’s essential to remember that every dog is different. Your pet can go into heat as early as 4 months or may take a few extra months before experiencing her first heat.
The rest of this article will look at how to identify if your Brittany is in heat and how to deal with her during her heat cycle. It will also look at when to breed or spay your Brittany and the advantages of spaying your dog.
Signs Your Brittany Is in Heat
If you’ve never had a Brittany before, it’s natural to wonder whether you’ll be able to identify when she is in heat. Some signs you should watch out for include:
- Aggressive behavior
- Frequent urination
- Swollen vulva and excessive licking of the genital area
- Discharge from the vulva that is either bloody or is the same color as straw
- Mounting behavior and other signs of receptiveness to male dogs
- Agitation, nervousness, or nesting behavior
- Change in regular tail position, especially deflecting the tail to one side. This position is known as ‘flagging’ and indicates a receptiveness to sexual contact.
On average, female dogs go into heat twice a year, with heats separated by 6 months. However, it should be noted that, like with the onset of their first heat, this cycle differs from dog to dog.
Additionally, it is more likely that very young (and very old) dogs will have irregular cycles, so it’s a good idea to keep track of your pet’s heats for the year or so after her first heat.
In general, your Brittany’s heat will last approximately 3 weeks. You’ll be able to tell that her heat is over when she has stopped bleeding from her vulva. She will be receptive to sexual contact at any point during her heat.
However, if you’re looking to breed your pet, you may want to ask your vet to perform either vaginal cytology or a serum progesterone test to determine the best time to do so.
How To Handle a Brittany in Heat
If your Brittany is in heat, you’ll need to be careful how you handle her to ensure the heat cycle is as smooth as possible. Some tips you should consider are:
- Don’t let your pet outside unsupervised. If there are any unneutered male dogs in the area, there’s a good chance that they will attempt to breed her.
- Don’t let your dog off-leash. While your Brittany may be well-behaved otherwise, the hormonal changes experienced during heat can make her ignore her behavioral skills. She may run away to look for a male to mate with her.
- Keep an eye on her behavior. If you notice unusual behavior such as excessive thirst, decreased appetite, lethargy, and other similar symptoms, contact your veterinarian as soon as possible. These symptoms are a sign of uterine infection, which can be life-threatening if not treated immediately.
- Ensure she is microchipped and her ID tags are up-to-date. If your Brittany does slip off-leash and runs off, having up-to-date contact information will make it easier for you to be reunited with her.
You’ll will also need to consider what type of diapers to get for your Spaniel while they are in heat. I recommend getting washable diapers so you can reuse them and not spend extra money on disposable diapers. Take a look at these diapers, which are available on Amazon.com
Unless you are planning on breeding your Brittany, you should also consider getting her spayed. If you plan to breed her, you should wait until she has experienced a few heats first.
Ideally, you shouldn’t attempt to breed her before her third heat, which can occur anywhere between 18 and 24 months of age.
If you aren’t planning on breeding your dog, you should spay your pet as soon as possible. In general, you can sterilize your Brittany as early as 5 months of age before she experiences her first heat.
However, it’s always recommended to consult your vet for a personalized examination of your dog, after which they will be able to recommend the right time for spaying her.
Why You Should Spay Your Brittany
There are several advantages to spaying your Brittany:
- Your dog will stop getting into heat. As mentioned above, signs of heat include increased urination and vulvar discharge, which can be a problem for you to deal with. By spaying your pet, you won’t have to worry about these issues anymore.
- It will eliminate the strong odor that comes along with Brittany in heat.
- It can extend your dog’s lifespan. A spayed Brittany can live between 1 and 3 years longer, on average.
- It can prevent behavioral problems, such as aggression and a desire to roam during heats.
- You don’t have to monitor your pet during heats to fend off male dogs attempting to mate with your Brittany.
- Your pet is at a lower risk of developing serious illnesses like mammary gland tumors, uterine infections (pyometra), ovarian and uterine cancer, and more.
Additionally, spaying helps reduce canine overpopulation. There are more dogs than there is a demand for pets, and overpopulation means some shelters have to euthanize older animals to open up more space for younger dogs.
Unless you plan to raise puppies, it’s always best to spay her to reduce the risk of further unwanted animals.
Your Brittany will first go into heat at the age of approximately 6 months, and experience heats throughout her life unless spayed.
While navigating your pet’s first heat can be challenging—especially if you’ve never had a dog before—you’ll soon become better at recognizing the signs of an oncoming heat.
However, consider spaying your Brittany if you don’t plan to breed her. While you will get better at handling her heats, spaying will reduce the added challenges you will face during this period.
Additionally, spaying also helps increase your dog’s lifespan and prevents your dog from developing cancers or tumors.
- American Kennel Club: 8 Things To Know About the High-Energy Brittany
- American Kennel Club: When Do Dogs Go Into Heat?
- The Spruce Pets: 7 Signs Your Dog Is in Heat
- VCA: Estrus and Mating in Dogs
- Tailster: When Should I Spay or Neuter My Brittany?
- Dogtime: Spaying Your Female Dog: What You Need To Know
- North Shore Animal League America: Benefits of Spaying or Neutering Pets