When Do Golden Retrievers Go Into Heat?


When do golden retrievers go into heat? What signs to look out for when golden retrievers are going into heat? If you’re asking yourself this question, you’re not alone. Read more to discover when these giant breed dogs go into heat and about a female dog’s cycle.

Many dog owners do not know when their golden retriever will go into heat, which can lead to unpleasant surprises. This blog post will discuss when golden retrievers go into heat and the signs you need to monitor. We’ll also provide tips on preparing for your dog’s upcoming heat cycle!

Golden retrievers typically go into heat when they are between 6 and 12 months old, and some dogs may start as late as 14 months. The average length of a golden retriever’s heat cycle is three weeks, but it can range from 2 to 4 weeks, and you can expect this to recur every six months. This process is known as the estrus cycle, which refers to the changes in your female golden retriever’s behavior sexually and physically. 

During the golden retriever heat cycle, you’ll notice significant changes in your puppy, which can help you better understand this stage and how to track it.

1. Swollen Vulva

The first sign that your golden retriever is going into heat is a swollen vulva, followed by a bloody discharge from the vulva, lasting for two to three weeks. You can provide comfort for your pet with a doggy diaper during this cycle, which you can purchase from a pet store or veterinarian. 

During this time, your dog may be more restless than usual and want to spend more time away from home. If you notice a white vaginal discharge, this may be a sign of infection and should be brought to your veterinarian’s attention.

2. Tail Tuck

The second sign that your golden retriever is going into heat is when they tuck their tail. One reason this occurs is their instinct not to be mated with when they are not yet ready. 

Only during this part of the cycle can a dog get pregnant, and they may react or display certain behaviors such as crouching or rolling over onto their back. These actions occur daily in other large breed dogs, including the German Shepherd, Labrador Retriever, and Great Dane.  

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3. Nesting Behavior

Nesting behavior is the third sign that your pooch may be going into heat, and this instinctual behavior is meant to prepare a safe and comfortable place for their future litter. You’ll notice this activity is common with all large breed dogs, including moderate-sized breeds and small dogs that are unspayed. In addition to moving bedding, blankets, and other items of comfort, you may see your puppy move or play with toys and bring other items into a “nest” or bed to a favorable location during the estrus stage.

4. Frequent urination

If you notice your dog urinates more often, this is another sign of hormonal changes associated with going into heat. While every individual dog is different, most golden retrievers pee in various locations around your home, usually outside, though some puppies may urinate in corners or hidden areas, which requires careful monitoring. 

This occurs when hormones and pheromones are released during this part of your dog’s cycle, and they urinate in various spots to mark their territory, which signals to other mates that they are available.

Pet owners need to note where their dog leaves their scent, as this will attract unneutered male dogs and may lead to unwanted mating. If you have a male dog, always keep them on a leash to prevent them from searching for female golden retrievers. You can also keep male and female dogs in separate crates, especially when they reach sexual maturity and are more likely to mate. 

You will also need to be extra vigilant when taking your golden retriever for walks during this time, as they may be more likely to try and escape for mating purposes when they sense another dog is nearby.

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5. Flagging

Flagging is another common sign you may notice during a golden retriever’s heat cycle. This occurs when your dog wags their tail, which is a way to get another dog’s attention or flirting, especially when they do this enthusiastically. 

Another action you may notice when your golden retriever flags their tail is they may lift it higher than usual when they approach another golden retriever puppy or dog to show they are ready to mate. 

6. Over-Friendly Behavior and Anxiousness

Golden retrievers are typically outgoing, friendly dogs, though, during their regular cycles, this behavior may increase to become more excited or anxious. This over-friendly behavior may seem unusual initially, though you’ll notice it accompanies your dog’s heat cycle, especially if you have an unspayed female dog. 

It’s essential to establish that this exaggerated behavior is associated with estrus, as this is normal. However, if you notice a sudden change in your pet’s actions or demeanor outside of the regular cycle, this may be a sign of anxiety or a reaction to other changes in your home. 

Female golden retrievers may become more physically active during this over-friendliness, which may include rolling around on the floor, rubbing against furniture, or rubbing against a pet owner’s leg. 


Golden retrievers are great family dogs that display high intelligence and loyalty and enjoy playtime and socializing. Recognizing the signs of your dog’s cycle allows you to prepare for the symptoms of estrus, including changes in behavior, bloody discharge, frequent urination, or leaving a scent around your property. 

Suppose you notice these behaviors occur outside of your dog’s regular cycle. In that case, contacting your veterinarian is essential to ensure it’s not a symptom of a severe illness or condition, such as mammary cancer or an infection. 

Generally, your dog’s heat cycle is easily avoidable if you choose to spay or neuter your puppy or plan ahead to accommodate your pet during regular cycles.

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