How to Care For A Bulldog in Heat

Photo by David Manning on Unsplash

The word “Heat” or “Season” will be familiar to you, if you have an adorable female Frenchie. In this post, we will talk about “how to take care of French bulldog in heat”.

It could be that you are a new owner of a female Frenchie puppy and you are thinking ahead?

Or it could be that your gorgeous 7 month old Frenchie named Doris is starting to act strangely in ways that you have never noticed before?

Either way, this post could be an important one to read. 

If you have adorable female French bulldog puppy in your home you’ll experience she will go into heat from a certain age. Understanding your Frenchie’s heat cycle is necessary whether you plan to breed or not.

Raising a Frenchie pup is hard work. They are lots of fun but at the same time they require a lot of your time and attention. Heat season of Frenchie can be messy and disturbing too; particularly if you’ve not had a female dog before. 

If you’ve ever wondered how many times a year a French bulldog goes into heat, what the signs are, how long they bleed, and how long the heat cycle lasts, then this guide will be the perfect briefing for you. 

The knowledge about this topic will help you understand what happens to your female bulldog’s body, how you can successfully breed her or prevent her from getting pregnant.

How to care for a bulldog in heat?

During heat season, your frenchie need your attention more than the usual. Taking care for your female French bulldog when she is in heat, whether you want to breed or not is very important task.

 Your Frenchie undergoes different hormonal changes when she is in heat. Your Frenchie may feel a bit under the weather during her heat season and urinate more frequently than usual. She may also feel a bit moody or grumpy and get easily nervous. She may also start being noisy, clingy and restless. This can be annoying for you an owner. But do note that the behaviors your Frenchie is showing are only temporary and she will be back to the normal after the season. 

Firstly we will talk about tips on how to take care of your French bulldog when she is in heat, assuming you do not want her to breed. 

[1] Keep Her on a Leash

It is certainly for the first time, wise to keep your Frenchie on a leash during her heat cycle. When you take your Frenchie outdoors you should keep on a leash at all times, it helps to ensure that she won’t run off or wander across a nearby male dog. When your Frenchie goes into heat, she releases pheromones that smell attractive to male dogs. 

Aside from the potential unwanted pregnancy, leaving your female outdoors could spell trouble including: dogs jumping in or destroying your fences, male dogs fighting over your female, and more. Keeping a vigilant eye on your Frenchie when she’s out should eliminate these problems.

[2] Watch Her like a Hawk

Most events, public parks and doggie daycares do not allow entry to female dogs who are in season. The rule exists for a reason! The scent of female dogs who are in heat could distract male dogs from performing activities and cause them to flock around the dog-in-heat and even fight over her.

[3] Keeping Her Clean

During the first two weeks of your Frenchie’s heat, she will excrete bloody discharge. While your Bulldog will most likely clean herself down there, the smell of blood may still remain on her body. Wiping her with unscented wipes should help keep her clean. Do not forget to dry her folds after using wipes on her. 

You may also use doggie nappies to avoid getting blood stains on your bed, the floor, or her beddings and in case a male dog gets near enough to hump on her. If you choose not to put one on her, make sure her bed comes with a washable covering. [1]

[4] Keep Exercising Her

Being in heat is not an excuse for your Bulldog to skip exercise. You can get your Bulldog to exercise on a treadmill to keep her in shape. However, if you do not have a treadmill and you prefer taking your French bulldog out for a walk, make sure she’s leashed at all times.

[5] Segregate Her

Keep your female Bulldog in one room when at home – especially if you have intact males. Keeping her confined in one room lessens the amount of area you have to clean up every now and then. The ideal room should have concrete or tiled floor.  You may choose to confine her using Baby/Safety gates instead of closing the door so she does not feel alone.

[6] Lots of Pee

Female dogs tend to urinate frequently during their heat. If your Frenchie has a designated pee/potty area inside your house than this shouldn’t be a problem. If she doesn’t, it’s a nice idea to keep her in a special room which can be cleaned easily. You may also let her out in the yard but never let her go out alone as male dogs may come into your yard to try and have intercourse with her. 

[7] Training during heat

Most female Frenchies are also more distracted during their heat cycle– so training can be frustrating for both parties during that time. This does not mean that your dog suddenly can’t do anything, but it is not the time to start with new difficult things.

At What Age Can They Be Spayed? 

You can therefore plan on spaying your French bulldog between six and nine months of age, before they go into their first heat cycle. This is helpful because their risk of mammary cancer increases after their first and subsequent heat cycles. 

How to Breed French Bulldogs?

If you are planning to breed your Frenchie you should consider these important points to become successful breeder.

  • To breed French bulldog puppies, you need to choose frenchie that have a sound health history, and who have characteristics you would like to pass onto puppies. 
  • You should track your bitch’s ovulation cycle. Typically, a bitch will start ovulating about 5 days into her cycle, once she has started spotting. You’ll notice a bit of blood and irritability to indicate the beginning of her fertile period. 
  • When you have confirmation that your bitch is ovulating, place her in the same room as your stud. 
  • It’s best to put one hand on the female’s collar and the other under her ribcage to help steady her while the male mounts her. 
  • Make sure to supervise the mating session closely to prevent any aggressive outbursts. [2]

What are the difficulties in breeding French Bulldogs?

Natural breeding of French bulldogs is very difficult due to their genetics. Artificial insemination is commonly performed to breed Frenchies because of their potential health issues. It’s also a safe and convenient method of breeding dogs: you don’t have to worry about two dogs not getting along and fighting, and you don’t have to worry about transporting a dog, which can be hazardous to their health. 

Most French Bulldogs will also be delivered via Cesarean section (see how much C-sections for Frenchies cost) because their moms cannot undergo natural birth. The puppies have a wide head, and most mothers have narrow hips, which can make natural delivery very dangerous.

You can request veterinarian assistance with artificially inseminating your bitch, rather than actually mating the two dogs. This method can be much easier on the female, so it is often the method of choice for expert breeder. 

How long is a Frenchie on “heat” for?

When a your Frenchie comes into heat, this means the body is starting to prepare itself for breeding and the likeliness of getting pregnant and giving birth. The dog’s heat cycle or estrus cycle has four stages: proestrus, estrus, diestrus, and anestrus. The first three are the ones referred to as active heat. 

The heat cycle lasts about 18 to 21 days, but your Frenchie is only fertile for a few days during this period.

What are the stages of the heat cycle?

First stage (Proestrus)

The first stage your Frenchie experience in heat is proestrus. This is a kind of preparation for the fertile period. The female dog’s vulva swells and she loses blood. She is not fertile in this period and she does not want to mate yet. The female dog smells good for males and most of them will already be interested. This phase can last from a few days to two weeks

Second stage (Estrus: Fertile phase)

During this period ovulation takes place and your Frenchie is fertile. The most likely time for females to be bred is when their vaginal discharge turns watery. The sperm can live in the reproductive tract for up to a week though, so your female can actually get pregnant during just about any time in estrus. This period lasts four to fifteen days.

Third stage (Diestrus)

After that, the diestrus phase starts where her body returns to normal and she is no longer receptive to male French Bulldogs. This period lasts around 2 months. If the female is pregnant, the cycle will last right about 63 days. 

Fourth stage (Anestrus)

Anestrus is another long period in the cycle. It is considered a period of inactivity between estrus phases and lasts for 2 to 3 months before proestrus begins again. [3]

What are the signs that the Frenchie is in heat?

When your Frenchie is in heat, her behavior and the dogs around her changes . She will smell attractive to males, but other female dogs can also become curious. How visible the heat varies from one Frenchie to the next – one may be very clean and immediately washes and licks away every drop of blood while others can be a bit more noticeable. So pay attention if your Frenchie or other dogs start behaving ‘strangely’.

Frenchie shows both physical and behavioral changes during the heat season.

Physical Changes during Heat

One of the most noticeable series of physical changes is her vulva swelling and becoming larger and more turgid, as well as a bloody discharge coming from her vulva. At the same time, she may urinate more frequently than usual, which is a signal to other dogs that she’s in heat.

Behavioural Changes during Heat

Behaviorally, your Frenchie may see agitated or even nervous. Whilst this puppy is still young, she could start showing signs of heat soon with bleeding and behavioral changes. She may start to mount other dogs or even your leg, or she may allow herself to be mounted. Eventually in her heat cycle, she’ll become receptive to males. 

One French bulldog heat cycle sign is known as “flagging,” where she raises her rear towards the male dog and moves her tail to one side. By the middle of her heat cycle, she will start to show interest in males and may even begin courting them, which lasts until close to the end of the heat cycle.

Heat symptoms to watch for

  • Swollen nipples and breasts
  • Behavioral Changes
  • Swollen vulva
  • Male dogs taking interest
  • Raising of Rump or Tail Flagging
  • Bloody discharge from the vulva [4]

How often are Frenchies in heat?

The frequency of heat cycles in French bulldogs varies per dog. Most come into heat every six months. Some dogs sometimes have “extra” seasons in between – like only 3 months after her last heat, although these extra seasons are not always fertile.

Ovarian activity and the likeliness of your French bulldog to conceive begin to decline after she turns 6 years-old. Most dogs stop conceiving at around 10 years-old. [5]

When do they first go on heat?

Dogs usually start going into “heat” or “season” when they reach 6 to 24-months old, depending on their breed and size. Bulldogs often start going into heat between 6 and 8 months of age. French Bulldogs reach sexual maturity between 6 and 9 months of age, which is when the female will generally have her first heat cycle. 

Some will then start to cycle every 6 months if left un-spayed, while others may take 1 to 2 years to develop a regular cycle and will cycle irregularly until that time. [6]

Why spay a French Bulldog?

Spaying is basically a surgical procedure wherein the ovaries of a female animal are removed. If you are aiming for your French Bulldog not to have unwanted puppies, this is highly recommended.

Aside from population control and making your Frenchie docile, there are numerous benefits that come with spaying. According to scientific studies, this procedure helps lower the likelihood of your dog developing uterine or ovarian cancer, as well as breast tumors, later in her life, especially if you have her spayed early enough. It also aids in getting rid of your pet’s mood swings and annoying habits like being aggressive or stubborn.

Furthermore, a spayed ‘bitch’ will no longer bleed during her menstrual cycle. She won’t be in ‘heat’ anymore and won’t go looking for a mate. In other words, this particular procedure makes it so much easier for you to handle your French Bulldog and improve her quality of life.

Why not spay a French Bulldog?

Although spaying is beneficial in general, it also comes with some potential side effects just like any surgical procedure. It is possible for your French Bulldog to develop complications due to anesthetic reaction. She may become more susceptible to infections too, particularly right after the operation.

Experts say that about 5 to 20 percent of spayed female dogs will most likely suffer from urinary incontinence, which is a condition wherein a pet has poor sphincter control; hence it will be hard for her to hold her pee. They also say that overweight canines have higher chances of developing this medical condition than those that have a normal weight.

Other possible effects of spaying include weight gain, as well as increased risk of developing hip dysplasia, hypothyroidism, and cranial crucial ligament rupture. Your pet may not also reach her adult size and could experience adverse effects on her metabolism and appetite. But all of these things can be addressed through medical treatment, proper diet, and exercise.

How might a season change for a French Bulldog as they grow older?

If it is your first time owning a female Frenchie, you should be aware that she will get into heat anytime between 6 to 12 months of age. There are also some dogs that enter this stage up to 14 months, but this is very rare. When your furry friend is in heat, you can expect some behavioral changes. She may become aggressive or clingy. She may want to be petted more at this stage.

French bulldogs usually get into heat twice a year, but some of them go through an extra cycle, which is fine. As your bitch gets older, though, she might miss a season occasionally. But take note that Frenchies stay fertile all their lives. They do not have a menopausal stage like human beings. With this in mind, your dog can get pregnant at any age.

Furthermore, as bitches get old, they may go into a ‘silent season’, in which they won’t show any external or behavioral signs that they are actually in heat. But like what we have said above, this doesn’t mean that they couldn’t get pregnant.

How long does a French bulldog bleed while in heat?

The most visible signs that a dog is in heat is the swelling in her vulva and a slight bloody discharge. This period is called proestrus. The bleeding may last 7 to 10 days, and it is important that you pay attention to your pet as this can be messy.

This stage prepares your female Frenchie for pregnancy, and males will be attracted to her but she won’t be willing to mate. In fact, she would try to protect herself by tail tucking, lowering her body, or simply sitting down to prevent male dogs from smelling or approaching her.

Aside from vaginal bleeding and swelling in her vulva, your dog may start displaying changes in her behavior. She could be more affectionate this time. Or, in some cases, she could be grumpier. She will either eat more or eat less while going through this stage.What are the best ways to manage or clear up this bleeding?

Like what we have said, the bleeding could be a real mess, especially if your French bulldog likes to roam around your house. There may be blood everywhere. So, as a pet owner, you should be well-prepared for this stage and it is important that you know how to cope up. This is the time for you to fit your pooch with a diaper or suspender. Doing this should help keep your home and furniture clean.

In general, dogs that are in heat would try to clean themselves up, but it is inevitable for blood to be sprayed all over if they shake their body. Therefore, you should keep a mop and a bucket of water handy so you can easily clean up. You can also put a towel down for her, particularly if you allow her to sit on your couch.

How much bleeding will there be?

The bleeding differs from one female dog to another. In some smaller breeds, the bleeding may not even be noticeable at all. But take note that some bitches may bleed so much that it can actually leave traces of blood to wherever she goes. This is why it is essential that you pay close attention to your dog during this stage. If there is too much bloody discharge, it is highly recommended that you have your dog wear a diaper.

At the early part of the cycle, the blood may appear to be bright red and thick. But as the days go by, it will turn pinkish-red in color. She’ll tend to urinate more frequently as well.

Can a French bulldog be in heat and not bleed?

Yes, it is very much possible.

The signs of being in heat may vary depending on the breed, size, as well as age. While some female French bulldogs tend to bleed heavily when they are in the proestrus period, some may experience minimal bleeding. Some bitches may not even bleed at all, which is called ‘silent heat’. They ovulate but the signs are not there. But keep in mind that even if they do not exhibit the signs, they can still conceive. So if you are planning on breeding your Frenchie, it is not a good idea to rely on the presence of bloody discharge alone. You should also observe the other symptoms like aggressiveness, swollen vulva, etc.

How will I know when my Frenchie has finished her season?

If your female Frenchie is receptive to mating, then you know that she is in heat. This happens twice a year, or may even have an extra season. Each cycle lasts up to 21 to 28 days. The length of time that the season lasts may depend on the breed, age, and size.

A season starts with the so-called proestrus stage, followed by the estrus period, wherein your bitch is ready to reproduce. The final stage is known as diestrus. At this time, your French bulldog will no longer be interested in mating. The bleeding would have stopped and the vulva would have gone back to its normal size at this point. This is the time that marks the end of her season.

Remember that a season is not yet finished as soon as your dog stops bleeding. She will remain in heat for another week or so.

How can I calm my French Bulldog when she is in season?

Like female human beings, bitches go through massive hormonal changes while they are in heat. Some symptoms may be visible while others are not. These changes could also affect your dog physically or mentally. She might experience stress, anxiety, and fatigue. She may also display aggressiveness.

To calm your French bulldog down when she is in her season, you should offer extra attention. You might need to pet her more than usual, and make her feel that she is taken care of. You can also engage her in more physical activities to help her sleep better. If you notice that her walks tend to aggravate her, shorten her exercise period. You can keep her indoors too, depending on how she is behaving while she is in heat. It is advisable that you give her interactive toys too to help her mentally. And, most importantly, try to create a calm atmosphere at home. This should help her big time.