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How Long Do Labradors Stay in Heat?

Chocolate labrador retriever sniffing a newborn puppy

Labradors can stay in heat for three to four weeks. This means that a female lab is ready to mate. When a female lab is ready to mate, her hormones will be in high gear. She will be more affectionate than usual, which can be confusing for you and your dog if you’ve never seen it before. It’s important to distinguish between the normal behavior of your pet and the signals that are telling her she’s ready to breed again. If you’re concerned about whether or not your lab is ready to have another litter, you should consult with a veterinarian right away.

Knowing this heat cycle is important. The knowledge helps you protect your female Lab from unwanted litters and keeps you from having the problem of finding a home for the new pups.

If you are not sure about the heat cycle for female labs, just continue to read our article. It has the information you want to know about so you can have less stress when it comes to your pet.

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How Do I Know When My Lab Has Started Heat?

There are several signs that will tip you off as to the condition your female Lab is in. Here are those signs:

  1. Swollen vulva- this can get to 3 times its normal size
  2. Nipples change- they become very visible and may change to a darker color
  3. Vaginal discharge- this may look pale pink normally, then it will change to a dark red and after that return to the pale color once again.
  4. She may be very sleepy, lacks energy, and urinates a lot
  5. Her appetite may change- it can go in either direction, eating less or eating more.
  6. She licks her intimate parts more frequently
  7. She will crave attention and want more of your company
  8. Your lab will begin nesting behavior
  9. Your Lab will be moodier

All are good signs, but they may not all express themselves each time. Also, you may see a bunch of male dogs from the neighborhood parked outside of your gate waiting for your female to come outside.

How Do I Know When My Lab is Out of Heat?

Black lab sitting outdoors in grass looking up at the camera

There are not as many signs for this stage of your female Lab’s life. The best way to tell when your pet is out of heat is the absence of all the ‘in heat’ signs. Her appetite should return to normal, she is not moody, she stops licking, and won’t want your attention so much anymore.

Plus, she will lose all interest in male dogs. That is a good thing. You may notice that the male dogs have disappeared from your property once your female is out of heat.

If you are still not sure, you can scratch her hind quarters. If she flags her tail (pointing it straight up) or pushes back on your hand, then she is still in heat. Also, if she still shows an interest in mating, then she is still in heat.

In other words, when your female Lab returns to normal behavior then she should be out of heat. She will be your dog again and not looking for a male dog to mate with.

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How Often Do Labs Go into Heat?

Calendar laying diagonal across a peach colored background

There is a short variety of times when your female Lab goes into heat. All of the instances are very normal so do not be alarmed if she goes into heat less or more than 2 times a year.

Usually, female Labs go into heat twice a year. But depending on their length of cycle, they can go into heat 3 times a year or just once. Also, as your female loses eggs, her cycles should come further apart.

Dogs are born with all the eggs they will ever have and as they get older, those eggs tend to lose effectiveness and die off.

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What is Split Heat?

Young yellow lab on a leash leading it's human down a brick sidewalk

This is a normal event that does not happen often in the life of your female Lab. It should only occur once or twice throughout their lifetime. When it happens to your pet, don’t panic as this is normal.

Split heat is where your female starts a heat cycle and stops. The stoppage can range from a couple of days to 3months. Then it will return again and complete the cycle.

If your dog is young, this is about the time to expect split heat.

Some Final Words

Chocolate lab sitting next to a woman wearing blue scrubs with a stethoscope around her neck

It is best for you and your female Lab if you learn all about their heat cycle and how to keep from getting unwanted litter. There are other health issues to watch out for as well, so feel free to talk to your vet to make sure your pup stays happy and healthy.

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Please note: We are not veterinarians and you use our advice at your own discretion. We always recommend that you consult your veterinarian whenever you have health-related conditions your furbaby is facing. With that in mind, as pet parents ourselves, we wish nothing but the best for your pet and their healthy and happy lives.