How to Care for Rottweilers in Heat: The Ultimate Guide


female Rottweiler

The most common reason to keep your Rottweiler intact or to delay sterilization is so you can breed her.

When a Rottweiler female is in heat, you cannot go on as usual; there are certain things you need to do to ensure her safety and comfort.

When your Rottweiler is in heat, you can help to relieve the associated stress by giving her extra love and plenty of entertainment. Keep her mostly indoors, but if you do go out, keep her on a lead. You will also want to protect your furniture and floors from the discharge. Lastly, be sure to take her to the vet for her for regular check-ups.

In this article, our goal is to equip you with as much information on a Rottweiler’s heat cycle as an owner would need to know, including how best to care for her when she is in heat.

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What Does It Mean For A Rottweiler To Be In Heat?

When a female Rottweiler is in heat, it means that she is physiologically ready to breed.

During these intervals (she is not permanently in heat), the female Rottweiler is behaviorally receptive if a male approaches her in order to mate.

Her ovaries release eggs that are prepared for fertilization, her uterus is ready to host the fertilized eggs, and her body is primed to facilitate the growth and development of a litter of puppies

Other terms for a dog being in heat include being in estrus (some countries spell it oestrus) or in season.

Some people even call it a doggy period because it is comparable to a human female’s menstruation.

The Rottweiler Estrus Cycle

A female Rottweiler is always in an estrus cycle, but she is not always in heat.

This may seem confusing, but it makes much more sense when you know that there are actually four different phases in the canine estrus cycle and that the cycle repeats throughout the intact female’s reproductively viable life.

The four phases are:

  1. Proestrus
  2. Estrus
  3. Diestrus
  4. Anestrus

First, let’s look at the hormonal control of the estrus cycle.

Hormonal Control Of A Rottweiler’s Estrus Cycle

Where The Hormones Come From

The hormones involved in controlling a Rottweiler’s estrus cycle are produced and secreted in three places: the hypothalamus, pituitary gland, and ovaries. The hypothalamus and pituitary gland are two different regions of the brain.

The hypothalamus produces and secretes gonadotrophin-releasing hormone (GnRH).

The pituitary gland produces and secretes follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH).

The ovaries produce and secrete estrogen and progesterone.

Collectively, these glands are part of the endocrine system. For a better understanding of canine endocrine glands and the endocrine system in general, be sure to read the excellent article linked below”

The Endocrine Glands in the Dog: From the Cell to Hormone

The above linked article is a bit technical, but it is useful in understanding just how your dog’s endocrine glands work.

What The Hormones Do

GnRH is the initiating hormone, although the stimulus that triggers its release from the hypothalamus is still a bit of a mystery.

But we do know what GnRH does. It acts on the pituitary gland, stimulating FSH production and secretion and LH production.

As the name suggests, FSH causes the ovarian follicles to develop, but it also serves another vital role. FSH acts on the Rottweiler’s ovaries to stimulate the production and release of estrogen.

Estrogen is responsible for most of the physical and behavioral changes displayed by a female Rottweiler who is in heat.

A surge of LH is secreted from the pituitary gland when the blood estrogen levels drop, and it triggers ovulation (the release of eggs from the follicles).

Progesterone contributes to the build-up of the lining in the uterus, which makes it ready to receive fertilized eggs.

Now, we need to look at what happens internally, externally, and behaviorally during each of the four phases of the estrus cycle.

Obviously, you won’t be able to see the internal changes, but it is good to know what is happening inside the Rottweiler’s body—it makes you an informed and, therefore, a more responsible owner.

The external and behavioral changes are how you can tell what phase of the estrus cycle a female is in.

This is vital because intact female Rottweilers have to be monitored carefully to prevent unintentional mating, undesirable pregnancies, and the associated risks.

The Proestrus Phase Of A Rottweiler’s Estrus Cycle

The average duration of the proestrus phase is nine days. But in some individual dogs, it can be as short as three days or as long as three weeks.

What Happens Internally During Proestrus?

Internally, proestrus is marked by rising blood levels of FSH and estrogen.

In response to the increased FSH, the ovarian follicles develop, getting ready to release eggs. The rising estrogen levels cause LH secretion to be suppressed.

LH is still being produced in response to GnRH, but it is stored in the pituitary gland until estrogen levels drop.

Estrogen levels peak at the end of proestrus, triggering what is called a negative feedback loop.

A negative feedback loop is when a certain concentration of a hormone, in this case, estrogen, stops the production of more of that hormone.

The estrogen negative feedback loop involves inhibiting the production and secretion of FSH, so it cannot signal the ovaries to make more estrogen.

What Happens Externally During Proestrus?

Externally, you will see the Rottweiler’s body respond to the rising estrogen levels.

You will notice that the Rottweiler’s vulva starts to swell (estrogen causes water retention) and expels a bloody mucus discharge.

Throughout proestrus, the vaginal discharge becomes thinner and less bloody. Then towards the end of proestrus, the vulvar swelling and discharge often subside completely.

What Happens Behaviorally During Proestrus?

During proestrus, a female Rottweiler might show some interest in a male, especially towards the end of this phase. However, she will not allow any mounting or mating.

The Rottweiler female may also be seen licking her vulva more frequently as the swelling and discharge can become uncomfortable.

Why Does Proestrus Sound So Much Like A Dog In Heat?

If you have ever heard anything about what a female dog is like when she is in heat, then you have probably at least heard about the vaginal discharge and licking.

But if these are not actually symptoms of estrus, then why are the external and behavioral changes associated with proestrus so often listed as signs that a dog is in heat?

Well, this is one of those things that, while technically incorrect, is more useful than the technically accurate version.

Classifying being ‘in heat’ in this way is actually the best thing to do as the owner of an intact female Rottweiler, and there are two reasons why.

Firstly, the external signs of the true estrus phase are not always as visible as the proestrus signs. Secondly, a dog can move very quickly from proestrus to estrus.

So, treating a dog as being in heat during proestrus and estrus, you are better able to track her cycle and keep her from becoming accidentally pregnant.

Furthermore, during both proestrus and estrus, male dogs will be interested in the female. 

The Estrus Phase Of A Rottweiler’s Estrus Cycle

Estrus is the phase when a Rottweiler is physiologically in heat, so this is when mating will occur if permitted, and puppies will most likely be conceived if the Rottweiler does mate.

The average estrus phase duration is also nine days, with a range of three days to three weeks.

The difference in duration is determined more by individuality than breed.

What Happens Internally During Estrus?

The estrogen negative feedback loop that is initiated at the end of proestrus means that the start of estrus is marked by a significant drop in the blood levels of estrogen.

Estrogen no longer suppresses the release of LH from the pituitary gland, so the blood levels of LH spike around 24 to 48 hours into estrus. As LH reaches the ovaries, it triggers ovulation (the release of eggs).

LH is no longer being produced because of a separate negative feedback loop involving suppression of GnRH, so LH levels quickly fall again.

Progesterone levels start to rise, and this is what stimulates the build-up of the uterus lining in preparation for receiving fertilized eggs.   

What Happens Externally During Estrus?

During estrus, a Rottweiler’s vulva will appear wrinkled as the drop in estrogen causes water loss from the cells of the vulva. 

What Happens Behaviorally During Estrus?

During estrus, a female Rottweiler will start to urinate more often, although the quantities may be smaller.

This urine will contain more pheromones and hormones than usual, because it is designed to attract males.

When the female Rottweiler is around a male dog, she will probably also exhibit something called flagging.

This is when a female dog stands still with her back legs slightly apart, and her tail lifted up and to the side, exposing her vulva.

If a male dog attempts to mount and mate with her during estrus, she will allow it.

If there is no male dog around, then the female may show signs of being restless or even wanting to escape and roam in order to find a mate.

The Diestrus Phase Of A Rottweiler’s Estrus Cycle

female Rottweiler

Diestrus is also sometimes called metestrus or the luteal period, and when a female Rottweiler enters this phase, she is officially no longer in heat.

The following information refers to a female Rottweiler who is not impregnated during estrus. If pregnancy occurs, this portion of the cycle is altered.

Diestrus is much longer than proestrus and estrus, lasting approximately 60 days.

What Happens Internally During Diestrus?

Internally, the first 15 to 30 days of diestrus are marked by increasing levels of progesterone.

After this, progesterone will begin to decrease again, and the lining of the uterus is broken down.

What Happens Externally During Diestrus?

During diestrus, the vulva should look normal once again, neither turgid nor wrinkled.

The female Rottweiler’s mammary glands can swell during diestrus as a result of the elevated progesterone. So, if the dog’s teats swell up, this does not mean that she is pregnant.

This swelling should go down after progesterone peaks at 15 to 30 days into diestrus. If it does not, then the Rottweiler is likely pregnant.

What Happens Behaviorally During Diestrus?

During diestrus, the female Rottweiler will once again reject any advances made by a male dog, and her behavior should return to normal—whatever that looks like for each dog.

The Anestrus Phase Of A Rottweiler’s Estrus Cycle

Anestrus is the longest phase of the estrus cycle, lasting between 90 and 150 days.

It occurs after diestrus and also after pregnancy.

What Happens Internally During Anestrus?

During anestrus, the most significant thing that is happening internally is the repair of the lining of the uterus.

If this does not occur properly, it will affect fertility by reducing the ability of the uterus to sustain a pregnancy during the next cycle.

At the end of anestrus, the levels of GnRH, FSH, and LH start to rise, leading to proestrus again.

What Happens Externally During Anestrus?

Externally, everything will look normal for the Rottweiler.

There will be no swelling of the vulva or the mammary glands (unless the Rottweiler has given birth and is nursing a litter).

What Happens Behaviorally During Anestrus?

As with diestrus, the Rottweiler female will behave normally and show no sexual interest in male dogs.

Summary Of The Signs That A Rottweiler Is In Heat

As mentioned previously, you can take the external and behavioral changes of proestrus and estrus to indicate that a female Rottweiler is in heat.

  • Initially, she will have a swollen vulva.
  • There will also be a vaginal discharge (thick and bloody at first, but becoming thinner and clearer).
  • She will show interest in male dogs.
  • She will adopt a flagging behavior around male dogs.
  • She will lick her vulva more frequently.
  • She will urinate more frequently.
  • She may become restless or try to escape.

When Will A Rottweiler Have Her First Estrus Cycle

A female dog enters her first estrus cycle when her body is technically mature and strong enough to sustain a pregnancy.

The average starting age is six months, but there are breed variations.

For small breed dogs, who reach their full size within a few months, the estrus cycle will start at an earlier age.

A Rottweiler, however, is a very large dog whose body requires more time to develop and become strong enough to sustain pregnancy and cope with the extra weight.

So, a Rottweiler female will generally only enter her first estrus cycle when she is around 18 months to two years old.

You do have to watch her, though. If she goes into estrus early, she might not actually be ready for pregnancy.

So, in this case, even if you intend to breed her, you may choose to wait until her second season.

Additionally, you do not want her to enter her first estrus cycle when you are away from home and unable to monitor her access to other dogs.

Frequency Of Estrus In A Rottweiler

While a human female’s cycle only lasts four weeks, an average Rottweiler estrus cycle can last between six months to one year.

Six months to one year is not only the average cycle frequency, but it also represents the frequency exhibited by a female Rottweiler in the prime of her reproductive life.

What we mean by this is that at the start and the end of a Rottweiler’s reproductive life, her cycles can become irregular—just like in humans.

Estrus Frequency In Young Rottweilers

Young female Rottweilers who have just started their estrus cycling may have irregular cycle frequencies while their hormones settle down into a normal rhythm.

She may have one season and then only go into her second season 18 months later. Or she may have two seasons closer together (although this is less likely in such a large breed of dog).

As she ages, the Rottweiler’s cycle frequency should settle into a predictable rhythm, but until it does, you will have to stay on your toes.

Estrus Frequency In Older Rottweilers

Additionally, as a Rottweiler reaches the end of her reproductive life, then her estrus cycle frequency can become irregular again as her hormone levels start to change.

Then you will have to be super vigilant because you do not want your senior Rottweiler falling pregnant.

She may also have fewer cycles because, like other female mammals, Rottweilers are born with a certain number of eggs, and once these eggs have all been released, the Rottweiler cannot have puppies anymore, and her body adjusts.

Duration Of Heat In A Rottweiler

Here, we will, once again, classify heat as including both the proestrus and estrus phases of the cycle.

So, a Rottweiler can be in heat for an average of 18 days. This is a long time, especially when you consider how a Rottweiler in heat needs to be cared for.

Caring For A Rottweiler In Heat: Provide Emotional Support

Rottweiler and heart concept

Some dogs will take every season in their stride, right from the start. Others might find them rather distressing, even if they have been coming into heat for a few years.

However, this all depends on the individual dog.  

Either way, your Rottweiler will be quite hormonal when she is in heat and will require extra patience and love.

Rottweilers are natural protectors, but like most dogs, when they are not feeling great, they can turn to their owners for comfort and protection.

She may act strangely, trying to escape, mounting objects or other pets, urinating where she shouldn’t, whining or barking, etc.

While these behaviors may become frustrating, you can’t yell at her or punish her because she is just acting according to the dictates of mother nature.

If you struggle with messes, especially messes involving bodily fluids, you need to make a conscious effort not to push your Rottweiler away or treat her differently just because she has a vaginal discharge.

You don’t have to invite her onto your sofa and bed with you, but instead of stopping your cuddle times, join her on the floor or take her outside for snuggles.

Caring For A Rottweiler In Heat: Keep Her Safely Locked Up

Intact male dogs will actively seek out your female if they can smell her. If they find her, they may try to jump your fence or push through your gates to get to her.

She will also be seeking a mate during this time, so she might try pushing through the fence herself or rushing at the external house door whenever you open it.

Ultimately, when your girl is in heat, you have to be her bodyguard/prison warden.

You might find, depending on the nature of your property boundary, you will have to keep her inside the house when she is on heat, taking her outside for frequent toilet breaks.

If you have an intact male, you have to be even more careful. The two dogs have to be kept separate.

You cannot keep either dog locked outside all the time, so you will have to keep your female Rottweiler locked in a room and take her out for supervised toilet breaks only when the male dog is locked up.

You also have to be super vigilant about keeping interleading doors closed and telling all guests about this rule.

Even if you have another female, an in-heat Rottweiler can become aggressive towards her and vice versa, especially if your other female is also intact.

Caring For A Rottweiler In Heat: Keep Her On A Lead

If you absolutely have to take your female Rottweiler out for exercise (if you have no yard or a very small yard), then you have to keep her on a lead at all times.

You should definitely avoid the dog parks and peak dog-walking times.

Quite frankly, you should also keep your Rottweiler on a leash when she is in your own yard for her toilet breaks and designated exercise sessions.

Why?

Well, unless your property is surrounded by a solid brick wall, you will likely have an audience of very interested neighborhood and stray dogs all trying to get a look at your great-smelling Rottweiler.

These males will also try everything in their power to get into your yard—jumping, digging, climbing, bulldozing, etc. And your girl will happily let them mate with her if they do get inside.

Keeping her on a leash is just wiser.

Caring For A Rottweiler In Heat: Entertain Her

All the extra hormones and urges are going to make your Rottweiler quite antsy or restless while she is in heat.

She’s also going to become fixated on finding a mate.

Thus, you need to distract and entertain her. You should also give her extra exercise if possible.

Play all her favorite games, do some positive reinforcement-based training, etc.

However, don’t be disheartened if she loses interest quickly, she will be really preoccupied. Simply try a new game again in a little while.

Caring For A Rottweiler In Heat: Protect Your Floors And Furniture

This is one of the ‘harsh reality’ parts of owning an unsterilized Rottweiler female. You will have to deal with some pretty gross but perfectly normal vaginal discharge.

The amount of vaginal discharge produced during proestrus can vary between individual dogs. Some are able to control it by cleaning themselves, while others will not.

If your Rottweiler has a heavy discharge during proestrus, then you might have to take steps to stop your furniture and carpets from getting stained.

Use Doggy Diapers

The first option is to get your Rottweiler some period pants—both disposable and washable options are available.

These are like doggy diapers, and they fit over your Rottweilers back end and catch the discharge before it can drip onto the floor and furniture.

You do not want to have the discharge sitting against your Rottweiler’s sensitive skin, so you will need to change the doggy diaper frequently, especially if she has a heavy discharge.

Please remember that doggy diapers are not going to stop a determined male, so don’t think that your female is safe because something is covering her back end.

If you aren’t too keen to wrestle your Rottweiler into a diaper multiple times a day, or if your Rottweiler finds it uncomfortable or upsetting, then rather try one of the other options.

We recommend these diapers from Wegreeco. Being reusable, they are the environmentally friendly choice.

Provide Her With An In-Heat Room

If you plan to keep your Rottweiler female intact, you will probably have to invest in some standard protective equipment to haul out every six months to a year.

The best way to utilize this option is to have a designated room in the house where you will shut your Rottweiler up while she is in heat.

This sounds cruel, but she’s so distracted, she’s not going to be too worried about it.

Buy some protective plastic or canvas sheets for any material-covered furniture in your chosen room.

Ideally, the room should not be carpeted (tile, linoleum, and even hardwood floors are much easier to clean).

However, if you have no choice, then buy a big plastic sheet to lay over your carpet for the 18 or so days that your Rottweiler is in heat.

You must still provide your Rottweiler with a bed or blanket that she can sleep on and you can easily wash. Also, give her plenty of water and toys.

A word of caution: it is in your best interests to clean this room a few times a day. You do not want to be dealing with masses of slimy and bloody mucous all at once.

Additionally, it can develop a smell that will build up in the room.

Utilize Her Safety Crate

If your Rottweiler is crate trained—and only if she is crate trained—you can put her in this for an hour or so.

This can give you a break from changing diapers or allow you a chance to thoroughly clean the in-heat room without worrying about what your Rottweiler is getting up to.

Again, do not place your Rottweiler in a crate during this time if she is not crate trained. Doing so will stress her out immensely and may even be injurious to her health.

Caring For A Rottweiler In Heat: Take Her To The Veterinarian

It’s a really good idea to take your Rottweiler to see her veterinarian when she begins her first estrus cycle.

This way, you can get her properly checked out, confirm that everything is normal, and ask any questions that you may still have after reading this article.

Is There A Male Rottweiler Equivalent To The Female’s Estrus Cycle?

Male Rottweilers do not have estrus cycles, nor do they have anything equivalent.

When a male Rottweiler reaches sexual maturity, he is ready to mate whenever he comes across a female in heat.

This is because the pheromones that she emits while in heat are what triggers the relevant hormone release in the male.

Interestingly, canine male sexual behavior is also regulated by GnRH, FSH, and LH. However, FSH and LH act on the testes, and the testes secrete testosterone instead of estrogen.

Signs That A Male Rottweiler Can Sense A Female In Heat

If your gentle boy suddenly starts to act a little wild or naughty, it may be because he can sense an in-heat female is nearby.

If it’s your intact female, then you should be prepared for it.

But sometimes, it’s the neighbor’s dog, a random dog at the park (although a responsible owner will not be taking their female to the park if she is in heat), or even a stray female that has wandered into your street.

So, what will happen when your male Rottweiler senses an in-heat female?

  • He will start behaving restlessly, trying to find a way to escape.
  • He will start to urine mark around the property and even inside the house.
  • He may become aggressive towards other dogs or pets.
  • He may go off his food (he has one goal in mind).
  • He might start mounting or humping objects.

Caring For Your Male Rottweiler When A Female Is In Heat

Now, if it is your intact female driving your male Rottweiler nuts, then that’s one thing. You have accepted the consequences of having two intact dogs of opposite sexes living in your home, and you are prepared.

However, if it’s not your female, it seems really unfair that you now have to deal with a sexually frustrated dog, but it’s just one of those things.

Put Distance Between Your Male And The In-Heat Female

If someone has brought their in-heat female outside, then you should leave the area as soon as you realize that your Rottweiler has noticed the female.

If it’s your Rottweiler female, then, as discussed previously, keep them in different rooms of the house.

If this is still not enough and your Rottweiler male is getting more and more upset, instead of letting him suffer for almost three weeks, try taking him to stay with a family member.

There are also places where you can temporarily board your Rottweiler, but this should be a last resort because Rottweilers do not like to be away from their owners.

Keep Him Distracted

One of the most effective methods is going to be distraction. Keep your Rottweiler male entertained with games, toys, training, extra exercise (preferably heading away from the in-heat female), etc.

Consider Sterilization

You can consider neutering your Rottweiler male. If you are looking for the honest pros and cons of this, then you can read this article (link).

If you do not want to neuter your Rottweiler, then there are other things that you can do.

Final Thoughts

Taking care of a Rottweiler in heat requires more time and work than you would think, especially if you have other dogs in the house.

But it’s not impossible, and it does not have to be a twice-yearly or yearly nightmare period (pardon the pun!).

And the same applies to your male Rottweiler if he is regularly exposed to the temptation of an in-heat female.  

With preparation, diligence, and all the love you have for your Rottweiler girl and boy, you can get through this time with as little stress, as little mess, and as few unplanned puppies as possible!

Hunter Reed

I've owned and trained German Shepherds and a variety of other large and medium breed dogs for over 20 years now - Labradors, Rottweilers, Dobermans, Pit Bull Terriers - just to name a few. Myself, along with my team of highly experienced canine professionals, strive to bring you the best and most useful information to help you raise your dog the right way. Read my story here.

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