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Dr. Deb
Dr. Deb, Veterinarian
Category: Dog Training
Satisfied Customers: 10141
Experience:  I have been a breeder and owner of dogs for over 40 years.
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Our male Rhodesian breeding a female of same breed

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Our male Rhodesian is being paired with a female of same breed and she is almost in Estrus- he is not overly motivated, but does sniff , drool and today started licking her in the right place. Is he just waiting for her to be ready? (He is 4 ,she is 2yrs. both  have been vet cleared for breeding)

Hello, I'm Dr. Deb and I'll do my best to help you today.

I have a few questions to ask about this situation, if you don't mind:

1. What do you mean when you say she's almost in estrus?
2. Are you timing her with vaginal smears or progesterone testing?
3. Has she been bred before?
4. Has the male been bred before?

There may be a slight delay after I receive your answers since I have to type up a response to you. Thanks for your patience. Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

good evening, she began to bleed 7 days ago. From what were told she should be transitioning into estrus from pro estrus and her blood is getting more watery. No, we have not done vaginal smears or prog. testing. the female's owners do have an on call vet who has advised that she is likely ready because of the behavior she exhibits ( flirting, getting under him etc., but we haven't seen "flagging" ) Neither dog has been bred before. we have been advised to keep them together for the next few days continuously so she will be coming to stay with us starting tomorrow.We have gotten to know her quite well by now ) .

Our question is being asked because we are hoping our male is exhibiting the right mating behaviors at this stage- he is a very lovely ,calm and even tempered dog, and he seems to be checking her out and then after a few sniffs and licks, walks away, like he doesn't think she is ready. On the other hand, the owners of the female are quite eager for results, and I would rather give them the opportunity to find another male if ours is not showing the correct signs! He is a high pedigreed dog with an impressive lineage so I don't know why he would have issues, but , this is his first time (ours too!) Just looking for some outside non biased thoughts! thanks for your time..


Thanks so much for the detailed information; this is very helpful.

If your girl is, indeed, in proestrus, then his behavior is entirely normal.
He's showing some interest but not too much which is consistent with this phase of her heat cycle.

Without the testing that I mentioned, you can't entirely know for sure where she is in her cycle, but the average dog is in proestrus for about 9 days.
In terms of timing a female dog's cycle, you can't necessarily rely on the color or amount or consistency of her discharge because there's such a great deal of variability between females.
You can't even rely on some of her behavior (flirting, flagging, etc) although females ready to be bred will allow the male to mount them...this is generally a reliable indicator that she's in estrus. There's nothing wrong with this but if the female doesn't become pregnant this time around, then it may be something to consider for future breedings.

I agree that it's a good thing to leave them together at this time.

If the owner of the female dog really wants to maximize the likelihood of her becoming pregnant, then ovulation timing should be done. However, I do understand that many breeders just put the dogs together at prescribed times and let nature take it's course, so to speak. Many dogs obviously become pregnant this way...and I'm assuming that this is probably what will be done in this case.

I hope this helps and good luck as things progress:) Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
We will suggest to the females owners then to see about the ovulation test. Thanks for that. In th meantime will his cool actions for now increase to the intensity of interest needed when the time is right? Is that usually what will happen to dogs that dont display a very aggressive interest at this stage?
Hate to sound anxious, just want to have a handle on what to expect, and to be able to relax knowing everything is following the normal course of events.
No apologies necessary:)

Yes, his interest should increase once she goes into estrus; however, he may or may not try to mount her once she transitions into this phase.
Some male dogs will start to go through the motions but never get the deed done until a female has ovulated. It's almost as if he's saving his sperm for the "right" time. Other dogs totally ignore the female until she's ovulated. And, others act crazy as soon as females are in proestrus....there's such a great deal of variability in behavior at this time.

Another advantage of ovulation timing will be if he has doesn't penetrate her which could happen for any number of reasons...low libido, inexperience, she hasn't ovulated yet, etc.
If that should happen, then he can be collected and she could be artificially inseminated.

I know there's a tendency to blame the male at times, but the female obviously plays a role too. Knowing where she is in her cycle will be critical in this respect.
I'm sorry to keep harping on this, but pregnancy rates have dramatically increased since testing has improved. It's not a guarantee, of course, but the odds go way up if it's done.

Dr. Deb and other Dog Training Specialists are ready to help you


Thank you for the rating; it's greatly appreciated.

I also wanted to wish you the best with your breeding.

I hope you'll keep me posted as things progress.

Even though you've rated, we can still continue to communicate at no additional charge to you. I can also send you a follow up email in a few days to which you can respond when you have the time to do so.

Kindly ignore the request for additional information. Regards, Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

thanks so much! I do have one question more at the moment.. as Nina is coming to stay here with us,is it best to leave them together 24/7, or should I separate them at night when they sleep? I ask because our boy , Zeke, is used to sleeping in his own dog bed in our bedroom, and he may get more rest and be more fresh every day ,to get on with the deed! they get along really well, but I don't want them to get bored with each other either. so where they sleep and how much they are together, does this matter?


There's actually not a right or wrong way and everyone approaches this differently.
Some breeders will only put the male and female together on those days they plan to breed; others will let them stay together the entire time. I've actually done it both ways myself.

Once she moves into estrus and/or ovulates and if you separate them, you may find that your boy turns into a nutcase trying to be with her. Sometimes the stress of keeping the male away from the female isn't worth it but you can see how it goes.
Trust me when I say, they won't get bored with each other if you decide to leave them together:) Deb
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

hi again - I have another question for you! now our boy is very eager and has tried to mount her several times, with an erection, and she just snaps at him,yelps, and wont stay still. Even though she is constantly flirting,crawling under him and going back for more! is it because she is just inexperienced? should she be held to remain calm and in place? If she is still not ready ,(it is day 12 since her first bleed) the last thing I would want is for her to be "forced", but I have read that sometimes you can "encourage" things along , by holding her head in place to keep her still.. what would you say? Her owner is coming by today to try and soothe her, but I want to be sure she is ready.. and no, the progesterone test was not done ..:(

thanks for your help if you get this.


This behavior from both the male and female is not unusual especially if she hasn't ovulated yet. Most females will stand when they are ready to be bred.

It may help to have the female's owners around but I wouldn't hold her in place. If she's not ready, then you could become injured if he trys to enter her.

As I think you can see, the problem is not knowing where she is in her cycle. She's most likely in the early phases of estrus but hasn't ovulated yet.
It sounds like she's getting close but just not quite there yet.

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

thanks so much, It really is helpful to have my concerns answered. Now, this afternoon, he is showing no interest in her at all! this morning he was all over her! We have separated them for a couple of hours now to see whether absence makes the heart grow fonder... but i f as you say she hasn't ovulated yet, then we may have a few more days to go !

will keep you posted, but it is good to know she shouldn't be held to stand. I didn't feel right about that anyway.

thanks again..

Glad I can help:)

I usually try not to overly interpret dog's behavior during this time since it can vary so much but I know it's hard!

Hopefully, they'll tie before too long but if nothing else, this is a good learning experience.

I'll look forward to updates when you have the chance. Deb
I'm just following up on our conversation about the planned breeding. How are things going between them? Deb
Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi, thanks for checking . Things are moving slowly.. We think she is on day12 of her cycle, but she is not standing for our male.. He is very interested, seems to be doing everything he cn to get her to accept him but she nips at him and turns away when he attempts.. Think perhaps she has not enterered estrus? She is not flagging yet either. So we are being patient and hope she will be ready soon! Is it normal for her to still be in pro estrus this late into the cycle? Also have not seenany discharge at all. She is aggressive with him though and climbs on him and nips and play bites him all over his head! We have separated them for sleeping at night so they will be rested!
I asked the owners of the female to see about getting the Progesterone check done, but not sure they will.
Will let you know progress!
Thanks !
This is disappointing, isn't it?
It sounds like she's still not ready yet if she's not allowing him to mount.

I wouldn't put too much stock in whether or not she "flags"; while most dogs will, not all of them do.

This is a little long for proestrus for the average dog; the length of time from the onset of proestrus to the time of first breeding is usually 6-11 days. But, as I've mentioned before, there are variations between females which would be considered normal.

So, at this point, there's really not much more that you can do. At least your male is trying to do his part:)

I'll look forward to continued updates and will hope that she accepts him soon. Deb
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Hi Dr. Deb- well, we have taken Nina home to her family for tonight , as the interaction today (of a courting nature) dwindled to nil. They still play and "box" but Zeke, (our boy) wasn't even sniffing her anymore or trying to get close to her. So we thought maybe a little break for them, and then we will get together the next two days for a short period each time to see if she is more ready, (day 14 and 15 ) and can entice him again . I think I mentioned that she is quite a snippy and dominant girl so, I hope she hasn't just put him off!

I also wonder, but hate to think !, if for some reason she isn't "accepting" him? he is the only game in town that she is being put with , and he has demonstrated a clear dominance /desire.

Finally, these two have had several hours a day on their own- no people around - I actually wonder if maybe she just wouldn't " stand " in front of us, but perhaps they have done the deed and they have just moved on? is this possible behaviour after the act has been done? They have been together for the last 6 days straight!

yes, this has been a real learning experience ! Smile


I hate to keep repeating myself but without testing, we really have no idea what her hormones are doing or where she is in her cycle.

She could be completely out by now. She may never have ovulated for any number of reasons. She could be experiencing a "split heat" which means that she goes through the motions of a normal heat cycle but doesn't ovulate. In these cases, she'll come back into heat in about 2 months and will then ovulate. This is a problem often seen in young females and can be normal.

Her dominant nature may have something to do with her not wanting to stand for him but usually the male is so intimidated that he doesn't even try. That's not the case with Zeke. Usually hormones predominant in cases like this but not always.

Sometimes the male will have performance anxiety and will not tie with people around but he didn't seem to be shy about trying to mate with her. She wouldn't mate with him which probably had nothing to do with an audience.

Could they have already tied? That's always possible, of course.

Dogs typically continue to mate until the female has moved out of estrus; it's not related to whether they actually tied or not. They don't move on, in other words.

There's not much more that you can do at this point if Nina's owners won't stage her cycle:( Deb
Customer: replied 3 years ago.

Thanks so much, your feedback has been been consistently sound and so helpful! I agree that We need to take a more scientific path, so we don't have al this uncertainty.
Again, really appreciated all your help, and willingness to stay the course!
Will just see what happens next time , and now have a much better overall picture of the process.
You may hear again from me in a few months, is that okay?

Take care, Patti

Glad to be able to help but sorry that it may not have worked out as planned. But you never know.....she could still be pregnant since I've seen stranger things happen:)
All it takes is one time!!!

I'd love to hear back from you at any time. If you post a new question, just put "forCustomeronly" at the beginning of the sentence. I'm on my computer some part of every day so I'll get back to you as soon as I can.

At least Zeke behaved as he should have in these circumstances which I know you were worried about.

Take care and better luck next time as they say:) Deb

Customer: replied 3 years ago.

For Vet Deb Only


Hi, Just wanted you to know, We now have 6 beautiful healthy puppies born on January 29th!! you were absolutely right about the former Split Heat, as 2 months later Nina went into full heat and it was the most easy natural thing we ever saw! They got right to it!

You were so very helpful in the first phases , and taught us alot, so we didn't give up. Thank you so much!! Patti

I can't tell you how delighted I am for you and Nina:) And, I'm more than appreciative that you took the time to send me an update about this situation.

What wonderful news:) Deb

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