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This one is for the girls…..and maybe the boys!

 As I sit here working desperately hard on procrastination all I can hear its tippy tappy tippy tappy.


My brown short legged one is running around the room presenting her lovely bottom to any who pay attention.  Her tail highlighting the direction of where she wants the attention. I can't get pictures as she has blurred in every single one! But here's one when the weather was better!


The fluffy black and white one (collie) is also reciprocating.


My boys are hiding, one wedged in behind me.  Jazz for those who have met him, as you know is not a little guy…..he is not an easy one to budge when he doesn’t want to….but the two, three, no four other girls who are currently in season are keen to reciprocate.   


Over the next few days this dance will progress to 5 way humpathons as others come into season, creating more tippy tappies, mating dances, licking and generally very annoying behaviours…..between the girls!


Fudge may well join in, and my dobermann will also join in the dance…..oh….there she goes, she’s already started the playbowing! Predictable much!


It is fascinating to watch if it wasn’t so annoying.


What am I talking about?


Seasons!


Like humans, the dogs seem to sync too. Its great as it only means certain covers come out once but gosh the shenanigans!  My boys are neutered, but some neutered males still show an interest and thus are separated from these girls to prevent them getting stressed out or joining in.  Remember a neutered male can still tie, they just can’t produce babies! Roo loves the ladies.He parades around like he still has his crown jewels and resembles a peacock when trying to show off!


All the articles I see, talking about the mechanics of a season, but they don’t really talk about what you actually watch and experience.  This leads to many owners becoming quite distressed and worried about the behaviours they are showing.


Zella hasn’t had her first yet, but when she does I will try and catch it all to share with you. The first season is often the hardest.


What is a season?

A female will have her season usually from the age of 6 months, I have seen as young as 5 months.  More commonly in mine the first was around 9-10 months.  It does vary.

Usually they have them every 6 months, but again I’ve one who comes in every nine months and one every 12 months. I’ve known some every 18 months too.

Unlike humans, it is not a period or menstrual cycle, it is the opposite.  They are fertile when they come into season and will attract the boys. When we have a period, it is when we are least fertile.


Changes before a season?


Frequently in the weeks preceding a season you may see their personality change.  Especially if its their first.

They often look their most beautiful.  You may comment how sleek they look and shiny. Like wild animals, they always look their best to attract a mate, dogs are no different here. 


You may find they get a bit grumpy or more reactive that previously or incredibly affection and clingy.  Often the first season coincides with a fear stage so you may see them being more sensitive than normal.


Physical changes?

You may notice a speck of blood or more, if its their first it can take a minute for them to work out they need to clean themselves. 


Please don’t use nappies or similar as they will never learn to be clean!

If you are worried about furniture, waterproof mattress covers are ideal under a blanket or even just puppy pads.  During this time they are more susceptible to infection and pads could potentially introduce bacteria. For dogs the wrong type of bacteria is a big problem.  Pyometra is the biggest concern around entire females.


The nappies will 100% not prevent a male making target! Be warned! Nor will a baby gate.  As many will say….where there is a willy, there is a way!


I remember a few years ago on one of the social media groups seeing a dachshund (on cctv) climb multiple fences to get to a large breed female in season….do the deed and then clamber back home!!.  They didn’t know until she was scanned!!  They watched back the cctv and watched the escapades then! It did give us all a chuckle, but highlighted the lengths a dog will go to!


There is so much available on the in’s and outs of seasons, so that’s just a brief outline.  Please research it if you have a female.  Here’s a link to Dachshund Health UK talking about seasons: The bitch's cycle | dachshund-health-uk (dachshundhealth.org.uk)

 


The girls are as bad as the boys.

People always talk about the boys humping and marking.  But it is rarely mentioned that the girls do the same with or without a season.  In both sexes humping is usually a way to help dissipate excess energy.  It is just a dog behaviour, just one we aren’t mad on. 


During a season they will probably swell up like a big ugly grape. Some girls get to walnut size (I’m talking daxies, my dobie is more like a plum!)


The tail starts waving around when they are becoming fertile.  It is almost like a big arrow, pointing the way!  You may find as you stroke them down their back the tail suddenly starts curling to one side or another.


You may find they ‘present’ themselves to another animal inviting them to hop aboard– they aren’t fussy!  You may find they present and give what I called the ‘pelvic thrust.’  If you’ve seen it, you’ll know exactly what I mean.  Its one of those, I really shouldn’t look but you can’t help moments!


Here's a pic of Jazz flirting with Piper during the Summer. She's not impressed, see that glint of white in the eye. (She bounces away next and I did separate him at this point to prevent any drama!)


Slurp, slurp.  This bit drives me nuts!

The licking and self cleaning sounds will most definitely drive you bonkers, they do me. If you have multiples they become very amorous and affectionate to other, even if neutered, even if they are the same sex, even if they are IVDD warriors!  I will save you the antics of Fudge and Piper…..you really wouldn’t think it possible for a paralysed old IVDD numpty to try to hop onto a dobermann!  But he gives it a good shot! He makes it half way up her leg, balanced precariously on his bottom!


Anyway, blegh…the licking- It is annoying, it is gross but it is natural.  As they mature you will find you barely notice they’re in season.  My collie, I only know from the swelling and behaviour, some of the daxies its more the behaviour of the others that has me checking.

Other forms of…..entertainment!


I have sat here and watched a 5 high dachshund humpathon with absolute fascination as to how they all managed to balance without falling off.


I have watched my large breeds reverse into the sofa to allow one of the daxies the height advantage to climb on. The girls are just as bad as the boys when they are fertile!

I have watched the beautiful flirting of the female trying to entice someone…..anyone to satisfy her need to mate!


Friction?

You may find your girl torments the boys, she might stand and posture and the minute they show any interest they start snapping at them, or let off a silly little screech and snap, this is normal. She will only stand properly if she is ready.  Hopefully before you reach this point, you have made the decision to separate them, as it really isn’t fair on them and can lead to the poor boy getting rather frustrated and overwhelmed!


You may find some friction between the girls, especially a few weeks prior, a bit of muttering and irritation, try to diffuse this outright, and address arousal in other areas as on some occasions this can escalate to the more complex issues of rivalry. IF you do separate them, please be cautious with reintroductions.


Oh the boys, the poor lads!

If you have boys and a girl in season, please consider the boys.  This can be incredibly stressful for them.  Many will cry, bark, desperately try to get to the female. And some can go off their food for days.  Asking family to have them is the easiest option all around.  But if it isn’t I split them from the start. The smell is worst in the second week, but the scent builds and asking them to cope with that is really hard on them.  Some bitches can become fertile very early on too, and you don’t want to take a risk.  Divide and conquer.


Accidents happen?

Yes, sometimes accidents happen. I’ve had it where a rescue german shepherd scaled a 10 foot fence, shot past me leaving me with a handful of tail hair in my hand as he leapt another fence to get to my Wolfie girl.  He was on and tied before I could blink!  But with the number of dachshunds in rescue currently please do not take that risk.  Pairing dogs should be done with huge consideration to health and temperament.  If you suspect a mating has happened, you can get a couple of injections from the vet.  They are pricey so it is an emergency option.  I am not anti breeder.  I have bred in the past.  I have experienced the best and the worst from breeding.  The bad, is bad, so trust me, leave it to the people who know what they are doing.  Will I breed again? I don’t know, but I am certainly not planning on it.  It is far too exhausting and emotionally battering. 

 

Silent seasons and split seasons.

A silent season is essentially asymptomatic.  They barely show any signs.  This is why its important to write it down on the calendar.   The behaviour of other dogs, specifically males will be the big flag.

A split heat is common in the first heat due to developing hormones.  They may start a season and appear to stop early before the fertile stage.

 

A normal season lasts about 21 days.  I have known females have extended seasons.

 

Enter the phantom zone....no thats superman....phantom stage!

About 8 weeks later they enter the phantom stage. This time is when they would have had puppies had they mated.  They have no reason not to think they are having puppies and some bitches may nest, get a bit cranky, steal soft items and carry them to their bed.  They may get protective over them.


The general advice for phantom pregnancies is to remove articles that encourage the behaviours.  Personally, and I am going against the grain here, I just let them get on with it.


This is only based on my personal experience, most of my girls have wonderful phantoms. So, I have to be clear – most advice is to remove things they are nesting with, I am not sure on where the evidence supporting this advice comes from and I'd be interested to see it. However, I have only seen girls get more distressed when you prevent them exhibiting natural nesting behaviours. I have found by letting it run its course they are far more relaxed and they seem to just come out of it without distress.   If they have excessive amounts of milk, go and ask your vets for some medication to help this. I have seen females (not mine) get mastitis from a phantom so please do not wait it out if they are full of milk! For more information on phantoms please visit: https://www.dachshundhealth.org.uk/welcome/phantom-pregnancy-key-facts-for-dachshund-owners.


Should you walk them when they are in season?

This is quite a controversial topic.  A male is believed to be able to smell a female in heat up to 10 miles away.  No matter how strong their recall……the need to mate may override their training.

Your female will attract males from across the park and lead to a pretty stressful walk.

If you are blessed to be surrounded by fields and quite low traffic walks, you’ll probably be ok, but in a busy city I’d probably give it a miss.  You could consider hiring a freedom field one evening? That way there is time for the scent to diffuse to prevent the other dogs using the field being exposed.

Personally I avoid areas where there are other dogs, if I can’t I stick to the garden and training to tire them out.

 

Pyometra - please note my advice DOES NOT replace veterinary advice!


The biggest worry with seasons. I cannot talk about seasons without mentioning pyometra.  It is a reproductive disorder most common over 8 years old. Sometimes in younger females with abnormalities they may be predisposed.  Traditionally a spay was the main approach however over the last 10 years alternative therapies are proposed.  Personally I would spay. I have had 1 female many years ago with signs of a closed pyo. It is not a risk I will take, although now they can diagnose much more easily through an ultrasound scan.


The signs of an open pyo infection are more obvious as you will most likely see the discharge from the infection.  A closed pyo infection is harder to spot.


You may notice discharge,increased drinking, vomiting or nausea, increased urination, bloated and/or painful abdomen, fever, letharyy, anorexia, generally not themselves, more licking than usual. 


It is usually seen around the 4- 8 week mark after a season.


For both they are an emergency situation.  It can be diagnosed through a quick ultrasound scan and needs treating promptly.  Without treatment, it will lead to sepsis and the infection is fatal!


It is interesting to note Dachshunds have been shown to be low risk for pyometra in historical studies (Egenvall et al, 2001).


According to the data risks of pyometra in dachshunds is significantly less than the risks of IVDD which is why the advice for neutering after 2 years stands. Many vets who are up to date on dachshund research advise this. Obviously, if there is a medical reason to spay, certainly in the case of pyo, I wouldn’t hesitate. 



A note on vets.

Vets are under immense pressure to know everything! They are expected to retain a HUGE amount of information - and they do. But trying to recall all that information on the spot in a brief consultation is...challenging.


They have to specialise in all breeds and many species and be able to make recommendations on the knowledge they have.  We do not make it easy for them!


They simply may not be aware of the recent research ongoing in dachshunds.  Please signpost them to the academic, peer reviewed data to help raise awareness. I have found veterinary professionals very appreciative of the breed specific updates I send to them. Dachshund Health UK - Should I spay or neuter my Dachshund? (google.com) (links to the research are included in the link). 


Most vets across all breeds are now recommending postponing neutering until they are older, following British Veterinary Association discussions.  Neutering is no longer a blanket recommendation, and should be based on the dog in front of them. 


 

 

 For a balanced read on neutering, please refer to my previous blog: https://www.perfectlypolitedachshunds.com/post/lets-talk-neutering


I hope this blog helps those of you with girls understand a bit more about the behaviours they show when they come into season. Remember if you have any worries PLEASE consult with your vet!



References

 

A. Egenvall, R. Hagman, B. Bonnet, A Hedhammar, P. Olsson, A.S. Lagerstedt

Breed risk of pyometra in insured dogs in Sweden

J Vet Intern Med, 15 (2001), pp. 530-538

 

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