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Dr. Carla
Dr. Carla, Veterinarian
Category: Dog
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Experience:  20 years in clinical pet practice; interests in behavior, alternative medicine
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how long does a yorkies first heat cycle last

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Submitted: 9 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Dr. Carla replied 9 years ago.
Toy breeds, such as Yorkies, sometimes display a little different heat cycles than larger breeds, especially during the very first heat period, which is often "different" in many dogs than the subsequent heats. What that generally means is that the first heat period is not as noticeable or full-blown as subsequent adult-dog heats. The first heat, for that reason, is sometimes referred to as a "silent heat" and you might miss the signs entirely!
    A female dog's first heat usually occurs at about 6 months of age in smaller breeds (large breeds closer to 8-9 months old.) Therefore, if the Yorkie is about a year old and you are seeing typical signs of heat (swollen vulva, slight spotting of blood, etc.), she probably had her first heat months ago and it was a silent heat!
    The normal heat period lasts a total of about 3 weeks, although the dog can only get pregnant for approximately a one-week period in the middle. 4-9 days "coming in" to heat, where the vulva becomes noticeably enlarged to 2-3x normal size and there is spotting of blood. Because Yorkies are tiny they don't shed much blood, and due to the dog's tendency to lick and clean herself a lot during heat, you might not actually see blood drops on the floor. During this early phase the bitch (sorry about that but you know that is the proper term!) will attract male dogs but will object to them trying to mate with her.
   For the next 4-9 days the vulva remains swollen and due to hormone levels, the bitch will "change her mind" and allow males to approach and mate with her. This is obviously when pregnancy can occur.
   Then it takes about another 4-9 days for things to go back to normal ---vulvar swelling disappears and hormone levels normalize. The dog stays in this state for approx. another 6 months and then goes into heat again.
   Never breed a dog on the first heat (at 6-9 months.) That would be like a 13-year-old girl getting pregnant. Wait until at least the second heat when the dog is more grown up. Yorkies will usually have only 1-3 puppies at a time. After she's had a litter, never breed on the very next heat. Allow time for full recovery and to get her system strong again before going through the enormous physiologic drain of pregnancy.
   If you are avoiding having her get pregnant, I recommend strict confinement and supervision for a full 3 weeks from when you first notice signs of heat. Don't let her out into the yard unattended, even if it's fenced. You'd be amazed how horny male dogs will come out of the woodwork and do anything to get to her, including scaling fences or digging under them. Because of the variation and overlap of the three phases of heat described above, you can't be absolutely sure when she could get pregnant.

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