How Long Does A Pitbull Stay In Heat?

How long does a Pitbull stay in heat? Since you’re looking for answers to this question, you’re either new to the whole heat cycle a dog goes through, or are worried that something is wrong with your Pitbull.

Dealing with your Pitbull’s heat cycle can be a real headache. If you want to breed her, you’ll need to supervise her extra well to ensure that she’s covered during the most fertile stage of her heat. 

How Long Does A Pitbull Stay In Heat

You’ll also want to ensure that the male isn’t some random passer-by. And with pheromones luring males from far and wide, and your female being as eager to breed as they are, you have your work cut out!

Worried That Your Pitbull’s Heat Is Abnormal?

The heat cycle is actually a process that lasts about six months on average, and your dog should only be fertile for about nine to ten days of that.

There are several weird things your Pitbull might do while she is going through her heat cycle and we’ll discuss those in finer detail when explaining the different stages of the heat cycle and how to care for a Pitbull on heat. 

However, if your dog seems to be experiencing pain, has a white discharge from her vulva, continues producing a discharge, bleeds for longer than 17 days, or seems to be bleeding heavily, you should consult a veterinarian. 

However, it’s pretty hard to know what’s normal or abnormal in your Pitbull’s heat if you don’t have a frame of reference for normal heat.

That’s what we’ll discuss next, along with other questions such as when to allow your dog to breed, and when and if you should consider spaying. 

The Pitbull Heat Cycle

Somewhere between six and eight months of age, and sometimes only at 12 months, your female Pitbull will reach puberty and enter her first heat cycle.

During this cycle, various hormonal changes will happen. The various stages of the heat cycle usually cover a period of about six months, but there can be some significant variations in this. 

Pitbulls Heat Is Abnormal

After each heat cycle ends, a new one begins. As we’ve mentioned, she’s only fertile for several days during each cycle. Some people think “heat” is just the fertile stage, but it’s really the whole female cycle your Pitbull repeatedly goes through. 

We can divide the heat cycle into four stages, each with its own unique characteristics. 

1. Proestrus

During this time, your Pitbull’s body is preparing itself to become fertile but isn’t fertile yet. You will have to be alert, however. Proestrus lasts between 4 and 20 days and it’s important you should keep tabs on your Pitbull to know just when Proestrus ends. 

As she prepares for estrus, the time when she will ovulate and become fertile, her vulva will become swollen and you’ll notice swelling of the teats too. She will also produce a reddish, bloody discharge. 

Since your female Pitbull is a “lady” and likes to stay clean, she’s likely to clean this away by licking. Because of this, color changes on the lower part of her tummy, with the skin appearing darker might be the first indicator of proestrus that you notice. 

All these physical changes will affect her state of mind too. She may seem subdued, or she might become anxious and clingy. You’ll also notice that she needs to pee more often and there might be a drop in her appetite.

Although she isn’t fertile yet, her body starts sending out scent signals to alert possible mates of her impending “availability.”

You might notice male dogs taking a special interest in her, but if they approach her, she will tuck her tail tightly over her vulva or sit down to signal that she’s not ready to mate yet. 

2. Estrus

After proestrus, your Pitbull female will progress to estrus, and the most fertile stage of her heat cycle. Instincts take over, and she might even go in search of a mate on her own. Your vigilance will be essential. 

The discharge from her vulva is no longer reddish, instead, it becomes pinkish-brown, and to signal her readiness to mate, she no longer tucks in her tail or sits down in the presence of males.

Instead, she carries her tail high or to the side and may even turn her back on male dogs as a form of encouragement. 

You can expect this stage of her heat to last between 4 and 15 days. 

3. Diestrus

Whether or not your Pitbull fell pregnant during estrus, she enters the next stage of the heat cycle, diestrus. If she is pregnant, she will  only resume her heat cycle after her puppies are born.

If she wasn’t covered by a male or the pregnancy did not “take,” she will enter the diestrus stage of her heat cycle and then enter the next phase. 

Diestrus lasts for about nine days on average, but can continue for up to 27 days. During this time, the discharge from her vulva stops, and the swollen vulva returns to normal.

However, she may still be attractive to males, even though she is no longer interested in mating. 

4. Anestrus

Your female Pitbull has returned to normal with no symptoms of heat. She’s likely to remain that way for about 90 days, and if you are planning to spay her, this is a good time to do so. 

After anestrus, the whole cycle begins again. As we noted, it usually takes about  6 months the Pitbull heat cycle. Smaller dogs are likely to have three heat cycles a year. But every dog is different, and your Pitbull could have a shorter or longer cycle. 

How Long Does A Pitbull Stay In Heat: The Bottom Line

When people talk about a dog being “in heat,” they’re often referring to both proestrus and estrus. That is, the time during which there is discharge and the vulva is swollen.

Your dog is theoretically only fertile during estrus, but if she were to allow a male to mate with her during proestrus, the sperm can live for long enough to fertilize her. 

The period during which your Pitbull is in proestrus and estrus and when there is bloody discharge spans about 17 days. If it takes several days longer, you should let a veterinarian check it out. 

Pitbulls Heat

Pitbull Heat Cycle: When Should You Breed Your Pitbull?

If you’ve decided to breed your Pitbull, there’s a lot of work in store for you.

It’s important to remember that even though she’s sexually mature enough to go into heat, she is still a puppy when she is in her first heat. If you allow her to get pregnant so early in her life, there’s a greater chance of complications. 

Most dog breeders and veterinarians recommend waiting for the third heat cycle to allow your Pitbull to be fully mature before she has to go through a pregnancy.

During each heat cycle, you will have to be very vigilant, especially about noticing when she is approaching estrus. Remember, her instincts will tell her to seek a mate, and now’s the time when your Pitbull female might try to escape and go in search of doggy romance. 

You’ll also be amazed at the lengths males will go to to get to her. The whole business can be something of a nuisance since this means not allowing her to go outside when she is unsupervised. 

When Should You Spay Your Pitbull?

If you’ve been waiting to spay your pitbull but have allowed her heat cycle to begin, you will have to wait for anestrus.

It’s theoretically possible to spay a female Pitbull in heat, but there’s a much greater risk of complications. As a result, waiting is the sensible thing to do. 

Not too long ago, the advice to people who wanted to spay their Pitbulls was that they should do so at about six months old, before the first proestrus.

Research showed that doing so reduced her chances of certain types of cancer, increasing her chances for a long life. 

However, new research has brought about controversy. In studies on dogs that were spayed at various ages, an increased incidence of joint problems was noticed among dogs who were spayed young.

This has led some experts to say that it’s better to allow a female dog to go through her first heat cycle without being spayed. 

This leaves you with several choices. Spay your Pitbull soon after the age of six months, or prepare yourself to care for a female Pitbull in heat. The alternative is to send her to boarding kennels, which isn’t really ideal, but will keep her safe. 

Chat to your veterinarian about when to spay your Pitbull to find out what’s best for her. Alternatively, stick to the six-month rule and hope for the best.

There are pros and cons for your dog in any approach, so doing what’s most convenient for you isn’t necessarily selfish. 

A final note on this: some people think it is “cruel” if they don’t allow their female Pitbull to have at least one litter of puppies. Your dog cannot miss what she has never experienced. 

Besides that, a female Pitbull in heat is far from being comfortable or particularly happy. It’s generally accepted that each litter of pups a dog bears shortens its average lifespan. It’s therefore not unkind to spay a female Pitbull who has never had puppies. 

How To Look After A Female Pitbull In Heat

There’s one more reason why you may be looking for information on the Pitbull heat cycle. Your Pitbull is in proestrus or estrus and you’re at a loss as to how to care for her. Make things easier for both of you by using these tips. 

Pitbulls Heat Cycle

Extra Attention And Comfort

During heat, female Pitbulls experience some anxiety due to hormonal changes. Your female Pitbull will sometimes seem extra clingy, and at other times, she may seem to prefer to be left alone.

Give her extra attention and distractions during clingy phases and respect her space when she seems to prefer that. 

Ask other family members, especially children, not to tease or bother you Pitbull. She is very susceptible to stress and may even bite. If she doesn’t seem eager to follow her usual exercise routine, let her rest.

Dealing With Discharge

Although your dog will likely clean herself up from time to time, discharge can be messy. Doggie diapers can help, but if she is trying to lick herself, remove the diaper and allow her to do so. 

Keep Her With You As Much As Possible

 Don’t let a female Pitbull in season be alone outdoors. She may escape, or an unwanted male may find his way to her. Keep her with you, and if you do plan to let her breed, supervise the pairing during the estrus stage of her heat. 

Talk To Your Veterinarian If You’re Worried

You can expect your dog to feel some discomfort during her season, and she will have grumpy stages. If she seems to be in pain and you’re worried, if she bleeds heavily or too long, or if the color of her discharge seems unusual, consult your veterinarian.

Final Words On The Pitbull Heat Cycle

Once your Pitbull has been through her first heat, her female cycle commences and will continue unless she is spayed. It’s best not to breed a Pitbull during her first two heat cycles, and breeding a dog at every heat cycle will harm her health and longevity

If you decide not to spay your Pitbull, you may find that her heat cycles are somewhat irregular, especially while she is young. Although the “every six months” guideline is a good starting point, don’t expect things to go like clockwork.

The only way to know when your female Pitbull is approaching estrus is to notice the symptoms of proestrus, and this may occur earlier or later than you would have expected. 

During proestrus and estrus, you should supervise your dog very closely and be sensitive to her needs. For most dog owners and their dogs, spaying really is the most convenient and comfortable solution.   


Hi there, my name is Blake and I have an American Bully named Rocky. I fell in love with the breed around ten years ago after seeing some of my friends adopt a Bully. I love the combination of the muscular physique and calm, loyal companionship that the American Bully breed has to offer. My enthusiasm for the breed has led me to train as a dog behavioralist and trainer. Over the last ten years, I have supported many households in raising their American Bully and maximizing the potential of the breed. I’m delighted to share my knowledge and expertise on this site.

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