The sexual maturity in dogs can be defined as "puberty" and goes often accompanied by behavioral changes. Achieve in direct comparison smaller dogs often reach sexual maturity much earlier than larger breeds.
Males become usually sexually mature between the sixth and eighth month of life. The sexual maturity by females tends to the 6th to 15th month of life. These are big changes for the dog as they go from a puppy to a adult dog.
Basically dogs are individuals and develop their sexual maturity differently.
The heat is a natural process in sexually mature females and lasts until old age. As already mentioned, the female's first heat does not have to be quite pronounced and typical.
The better we know about the heat of our females, the more stress-free this time can generally be twice a year.
The false pregnancy is not a disease but a hormonal emotional and physical change in the female. The fact that our females develop a false pregnancy after heat is due to their genetic make-up.
Looking back to the wolves and their pack life. The wolves live together in packs, in which there is a fixed hierarchy. Each position in a hierarchy is associated with rights but also duties in pack life. Only the she-wolf is allowed to have cubs. However, the young are cared for by the entire pack. Female wolves who do not have cubs take care of the offspring and also nurse them. The wolves produce milk by increasing the hormone prolactin. A pseudopregnant she-wolf - just like our bitches - shows the same hormone level as a pregnant she-wolf - or bitch - after 4-8 weeks of heat. Female wolves have a seasonal cycle in a pack, so it is ensured that when the cubs are born, the other female wolves can also act as nurses.
Even if our females no longer need this behavior, a false pregnancy can occur in all females. In fact, smaller dog breeds are more likely to be affected than large ones. A pseudopregnant female feels like a mother-to-be and shows typical emotional and physical changes. Thus, after 8-9 weeks after the heat - when a mated bitch would have her puppies - the bitches who are considered to be pregnant often carry toys, stuffed animals, etc. together as if these were replacement puppies. They exhibit nest-building behavior, mothering, guarding and protecting these surrogate pups.
The females are often restless or very affectionate, some tend to be aggressive. Some will not move from the nest and will even refuse to feed. In addition to these emotional changes, there are also physical ones. The mammary glands swell and milk production occurs, especially if the teats are licked often. With heavy milk production, there is a risk of engorgement or even mastitis.
On average, the pseudopregnancy lasts 2-3 weeks, up to 30 days.
To a certain extent, we can call pseudopregnancy normal. However, some females become so attached to their role as mothers that they and those around them suffer as a result. The best solution to reduce symptoms is distraction: walking often, exercising more, putting away toys. Feeling sorry or too much affection can increase the feelings of a mother. The female should be prevented from licking her teats so that she does not additionally stimulate milk production. Any manipulation, massage or expression of milk additionally stimulate milk production.
Most of the time, this goes away on its own after a few weeks, and the teat gets smaller again. It is best to reduce the amount of food for a few days so that the false pregnancy passes more quickly. However, if the female appears very apathetic, shows aggression or if the milk production increases too much, it is best to take her to the vet. He can help the female with homeopathic remedies and a prolactin inhibitor.
In the case of females who suffer too much from pseudopregnancy, you also have to think about castration. However, castration is not an immediate measure during a false pregnancy. When the ovaries are dehydrated, progesterone levels plummet in an instant. As a result, the prolactin level rises just as quickly - so immediate spaying leads to quite pronounced pseudopregnancy symptoms. Because the pseudo-pregnancy is not based on any hormonal malfunctions, in less pronounced cases one can wait until the physical and behavioral abnormalities go away on their own. The false pregnancy does not necessarily occur again in the next cycle. However, the symptoms are similarly strong after each heat.
Before resorting to neutering (be it not for medical reasons or because of unwanted reproduction stray dogs) it is important to analyze the dog as an individual - with its insecurities, with its social skills and factors influencing behavior.
You as the owner are asked to think about it before a neutering, with the involvement of your veterinarian, dog trainer but also your breeder. It is very important that you educate yourself about the purpose and purpose of sex hormones in dogs.
Neutering only brings about a positive change if that one dog, regardless of gender, has a real problem with sex hormones. A spaying does not make a dog "better" or "tolerable" - please do not expect a miracle from an operation or from the insertion of a hormone chip.
Early spaying or late spaying?
The timing of spaying a female is a subject that is often disputed.
Spaying before sexual maturity, i.e. before the first heat, is called an early spay.
Advantages: Reduced risk of mammary tumors, the sex drive does not arise at all, the female is spared heat and false pregnancy. Females that have been spayed early are often more playful and peaceful.
Disadvantages: the female does not develop a healthy gender identity, which can lead to problems with other dogs and behavioral problems in some females. The bitch's development will be stopped, she will not develop into a mature, adult bitch, both physically and mentally. Greater risk of urinary incontinence.
We call spaying after the first or second heat a late spay.
Advantages: the female fully develops into an adult dog, is more mature and has a healthy gender identity.
Disadvantages: who are only spayed after the second heat have a significantly higher risk of breast cancer. coat change occurs more often in late spayed females than in early spayed ones.