If your canine friend is a Belgian Malinois female, you must be interested in her heat cycle and everything related. Whether you want to breed your Malinois or want to keep your dog safe and comfortable during this important and sometimes stressful period, it’s good to know as much as possible.
Belgian Malinois usually goes into its first heat at 6 months of age and the heat cycle will repeat twice a year. The heat cycle usually lasts between 2 and 3 weeks while bleeding is present for about 9 days. Some heat cycle symptoms are easy to spot- swollen vulva, vaginal discharge, enlarged nipples, appetite changes, and excessive licking of private parts. Dogs do require special care during the heat period, keep your Belgian Malinois away from male dogs, allow her to rest as much as she wants, and cuddle her more than usual.
What Age Do Belgian Malinois Go In Heat?
Not all dogs are the same, even if they are of the same breed. In general female dogs go into heat for the first time when they turn 6 months but it can also happen later, at the age of 9-12 months.
Larger breeds usually go into heat for the first time later than smaller dogs and Malinois is considered a medium to large dog. Some giant breeds may go into heat for the first time when they turn 18 months or even 2 years.
How Often Does Belgian Malinois Go Into Heat?
Belgian Malinois dogs go into heat every 6 months, so generally 2 times a year. What is interesting is that once they go into heat for the first time, it never stops. Dogs ( including Belgian Malinois ) don’t experience menopause, like humans, they will continue going through a heat cycle periodically for the rest of their lives.
Of course, the heat cycle frequency depends on genetics, health status, and diet ( malnourished dogs don’t go into a heat cycle as often as twice a year).
How Long Do Belgian Malinois Bleed When In Heat?
Belgian Malinois may bleed for up to 10 days during the heat phase called Proestrus.
In the beginning, the discharge may be pale pink, later on, it will become deep red and then the color of the discharge lightens again. This coincides with the vulva being very swollen so this is the moment when the chances of getting pregnant are at the highest point for your Mal.
Even when the bleeding has stopped, your Mal might be in the heat for a couple of days more, so take precautions.
How Do I Know When Belgian Malinois is In Heat?
These are the most prominent signs that your Malinois is in the heat :
- Swollen vulva ( the vulva might swell up to three times its normal size). The swollen vulva is one of the first visible symptoms, which appears in the first stage of the heat cycle called Proestrus
- Nipples are clearly visible and appear darker in color.
- Vaginal discharge is characteristic of the Proestrus phase and can last up to 10 days.
- Excessive urination, as well as the development of marking behavior. Your Mal may urinate small amounts on various objects to mark the territory and invite males to approach. No matter if the dog is perfectly potty trained she is going to pee wherever she can. Luckily, this marking behavior doesn’t last forever, just a couple of days during the second stage called Estrus.
- Your Mal in the heat may feel tired and sleepy more than usual. This is typical for all heat stages.
- Some Mals in the heat may have appetite loss while others may have increased appetite, especially at the beginning of the heat cycle ( Proestrus stage). You may also notice that your dog is transforming into a super fussy eater. Food that she was happy to eat yesterday, refuses today…. but this phase also lasts for a week or so, no big deal, really.
- She licks her intimate area intensively (self-grooming)
- Your Mal will crave attention, seeking more of your company. Well, this depends on the period of the heat cycle. You might be surprised if your Mal becomes a real velcro dog. She may want to be with you, around you all the time. Pamper her with a belly and legs massage and she will really enjoy that. Then one day you may notice that your Mal girl prefers to be alone. She may start dragging her favorite toy wherever she goes but at the same time, she doesn’t like being around humans. Leave her alone then. This behavior vanishes quickly, and after a couple of days, everything returns to normal.
- She might show some nesting behavior, and starts collecting toys and food and putting them in some safe area. Let her do that.
- Increased moodiness is also characteristic of this period. Although your Mal becomes clingy during the heat cycle, she might start growling at some humans and also picking fights with other dogs. During the second phase ( Estrus stage) your Mal is receptive to males, during that phase she might become hostile towards female dogs. During this phase, Mals are almost never hostile towards humans except for not being interested in hanging around people. Dogs are a different story though. During her most fertile phase ( Estrus) your Mal can be so edgy, picking fights with other females. The best you can do is to walk her super early in the morning to reduce the chance of meeting other dogs.
What Can I Do To Help My Belgian Malinois When She is In Heat?
- Your Belgian Malinois Needs Extra Attention
Mals in heat may crave human attention. She can be especially cuddly during her heat cycle. Try to be gentle and kind when handling your pet.
Avoid high-pitched tones and yelling at your dog, especially if she makes a mess unintentionally. You need to send her a message that there is nothing wrong with her.
.Be patient and kind.
- Give Your Mal Peace, If She Wants It
Totally the opposite, some dogs prefer to isolate as much as possible during the heat cycle. Having a crate is super important these days, as the crate is something only hers, her own private cave, a place where your Mal girl can be alone if she wants to.
While some Mals like to stay isolated, others will be perfectly happy with a doggy bed in the corner of a busy room.
This means that your dog prefers to be in your vicinity but she would like to reduce interaction to a minimum. Respect that.
- Doggy Diapers
The vaginal discharge can make a mess and not just that. Dogs in heat may urinate more frequently so you get a picture of how your house can become messy unless you do something. Doggy diapers are the perfect solution.
They come in different sizes, styles, and prices. You will be able to find disposable ones but if you care more for the environment do purchase fabric washable diapers.
Some people are not willing to accept changing diapers for three weeks. In that case, it’s recommended to limit your dog to one room only, preferably with linoleum flooring which makes cleaning much easier.
Note that vaginal discharge doesn’t have a very pleasant smell. If you need to leave your dog for a couple of hours, do think twice about diapers, especially if you have a sensitive nose.
Dogs will lick themselves ( self-grooming) but they won’t clean floors, bedding, toys, etc. They will leave all that stuff to you. That’s why prepare some light-colored blankets which are easily washed and bleached (two even better)and use to cover a doggy bed. Instead of blankets, you can use disposable pee pads for the same purpose.
The main idea is to keep your home clean and tidy. If you use these items and change them frequently, you will succeed.
- Keep Your Belgian Malinois Away From Other Dogs
Being in heat means that a dog doesn’t behave as usual so you might consider keeping your Mal inside and far from other dogs, especially dog parks during her heat cycle. Of course, this doesn’t mean you shouldn’t walk your dog. Regular walks are a must and especially for the hyperactive breed like Belgian Malinois. Just always keep her on the leash.
The males are an obvious threat ( of course if you don’t want to breed your dog intentionally) and the problem is that they can smell the female in heat at very long distances ( cca 3 miles/ 5km ).
Other females are not the same kind of threat of course, but their interaction might be a challenge. Females in heat may act very hostile towards other female dogs, especially during the second phase ( Estrus stage ) when they become receptive to males.
- Keep Your Malinois Distracted
It’s natural that mating is the only thing your Malinois thinks about during the heat cycle. The hormonal change is so big that she cannot do anything about it. But you can try to distract her a little bit.
For example, you can offer her a new toy every few days or you too can play a new game more often.
- Visit A Vet
If you are a first-time owner or you are especially concerned, it will be a good idea to visit a vet. Even though the heat cycle in dogs is not unnatural, it’s normal to have tons of questions and possible concerns. The vet’s practice is the right place to find the answers.
- Appetite Loss During the Heat Cycle, What to Do About It?
Your Mal may experience appetite loss during the heat cycle. This is also the consequence of hormonal changes.
There is a massive increase in estrogen levels, along with other hormone changes( estradiol, progesterone, and others). All these changes heavily affect appetite.
What you need to do is to offer high-quality, appealing food. Since Mal will eat less during the heat cycle, she needs to eat highly nutritious food.
Should I Spay My Belgian Malinois?
Most of the vets agree that you should get your Mal spayed unless you want to breed her. When you should have your dog’s spaying surgery done is a different question. I have done some research and it seems that there is no 100% definite answer to this question. Some vets suggest that the best time is before Mal’s first heat (as young as 5 months), while others’ recommendation is to wait a little bit more ( and do it around 1st birthday) to avoid some health risks. I would say the best thing you can do is to ask your vet for a more personalized opinion.
If you decided to have the spaying procedure done before your Mal’s first heat but somehow missed the moment, It’s important to make sure it passes at least 6 weeks after the last day of your Mal’s heat cycle before you take her to the vet who will perform a spaying procedure.
Some people may raise the question of how wise it is to put your Mal through this procedure but science has proven many benefits of it.
For example, spaying procedures may significantly reduce the possibility of your dog getting ovarian or breast cancer. The sooner you get your Mal spayed, the less chance of cancer occurring.