Unless you have your female Frenchie spayed, she will go into heat. It can be messy and worrying 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 primer for you.
So, how often do French Bulldogs go into heat? French Bulldogs tend to go into heat twice per year, roughly every 6 months. Some will go into heat more than twice each year, but that is unlikely. The overall heat cycle lasts for several weeks and is a time period when she’s receptive to breeding.
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.
The French Bulldog heat cycle
How long does a French bulldog bleed in heat? The start of the heat cycle is a period known as proestrus, which lasts for 4 to 20 days and is characterized by a vaginal discharge and males being attracted to the female, but the female is unwilling to mate. It can be a long process.
The next period is estrus, which lasts for 5 to 13 days. This is when the female can get pregnant. The vulva is swollen, the vaginal discharge becomes yellowish and watery in color, and mating occurs.
Diestrus is the period after estrus or mating and lasts for 60 to 90 days. If the female is pregnant, the cycle will last right about 63 days.
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.
How long does a French bulldog stay in heat?
The heat or estrus cycle generally lasts for three weeks, although some pets will have a shorter, roughly 2-week cycle and some last for a month. The first sign is when the vulva begins to swell, and the cycle ends when bleeding has ceased.
Mounting behaviors can occur any time during the heat cycle, with many females seeking males later in their cycle.
While bleeding occurs before a female tends to be able to be bred, males are often attracted to the female by the start of proestrus.
The most likely time for females to be bred are 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.
French Bulldog heat cycle signs to look out for
Signs that your Frenchie is entering estrus includes both physical and behavioral changes. One of the most noticeable series of changes is her vulva swelling and becoming larger and more turgid, as well as a blood-tinged discharge coming from her vulva.
At the same time, she may urinate more frequently than usual, which is a way to mark and signal to other dogs that she’s in heat.
Behaviorally, your Frenchie may see distracted or even nervous.
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
Can spayed Frenchies still go into heat and bleed?
By spaying your Frenchie you should stop them going into heat.
However, if you find that you are still seeing heat cycle symptoms even after spaying, you should get in touch with your vets as they can diagnose the problem in one of two ways:
- Vaginal cytology: they will take a swab and check for estrogen.
- Ultrasound: there could still be some ovarian tissue left over.
French Bulldog heat diapers
If you are concerned about the mess that will be made due to the length of time your Frenchie will bleed during heat, then you can buy special diapers (nappies for UK readers). As Frenchies don’t have tails, the best ones are diapers without the tail hole.
You can see which French Bulldog heat diapers we recommend over in our Frenchie gear section. Click here to see the best diapers.
When to spay your French Bulldog
If you’re not going to breed your French Bulldog, you should definitely plan to spay her. It can be difficult to decide when to spay your Frenchie, such as before or after their first heat cycle.
My advice is to not leave it too late but also don’t do it too early. The problem with spaying your dog too early is that it can take longer for their growth plates to close, which can lead to joint abnormalities and other problems.
The good news is, like other smaller breed dogs, the French Bulldog finishes growing rather early as compared to a large breed dog such as a Great Dane.
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.
Ideally, you’ll have your pup spayed when they are not in heat, as this time period is associated with greater risks of surgery, understandable given that the blood vessels are more engorged and there is a higher likelihood of the tissues tearing.
This increases your dog’s risk of bleeding.
Spaying your French Bulldog if you’re not planning on breeding her is helpful in minimizing the risk of other health issues. A major problem that un-spayed females can develop is a pyometra, which is an infection that develops within the uterus and is almost completely associated with pets that have not been spayed or haven’t been spayed properly.
This infection can be life-threatening and must usually be treated with antibiotics and surgery.
Health risks in French Bulldogs
Frenchies come with health risks. This is why I am a huge advocate of spaying and trying to avoid pregnancies. If you’ve come here to find out how many times a year a French bulldog goes into heat, it could be because you are planning on breeding.
If you are, there’s a lot you need to know and some decisions to be made.
Many French Bulldogs suffer from brachycephalic airway obstructive syndrome or brachycephalic airway syndrome, which can affect how they breathe and make it harder for them to be bred.
The first part of brachycephalic airway syndrome is stenotic nares. With this, the nostrils are too small and constricted, so your dog cannot get enough air through its nose. Many will snore or mouth breathe in order to get enough air. Surgery may be required to widen the nostrils.
Handy Hint: Surgery to prevent snoring isn’t the only solution. There are some other anti-snoring remedies we use with our own Frenchie.
Another component of brachycephalic airway syndrome is an elongated soft palate, where there is more tissue on the roof of the mouth than a normal dog has, causing it to obstruct the windpipe. This problem is almost impossible to diagnose in an awake dog, and surgery must often be done to trim the excess tissue away.
Dogs with brachycephalic airway syndrome can also have a hypoplastic or very narrow trachea or windpipe. With this, they have trouble getting enough airflow into the lungs. This can be difficult to diagnose in an awake dog without X-rays (also known as radiographs), and surgery is not often done due to the complexity of the procedure.
The final part of brachycephalic airway syndrome is everted laryngeal saccules, where tissue in the larynx becomes inflamed and enlarged, eventually moving out of place.
This problem is usually secondary to the dog’s labored breathing, and the saccules can block airflow into the lungs. Steroids might be used to try and reduce inflammation, but many cases require surgery to correct the issue.
Because they are a dwarf breed, many Frenchies are prone to joint abnormalities, such as hip dysplasia and hemivertebrae. These are genetic deformities that can lead to chronic pain, difficulty walking, and also make it hard for these dogs to breed with each other.
Your Frenchie should be evaluated by a veterinarian before you considering breeding them to ensure that they do not have one of these health issues, which could be genetic and be passed down to future generations.
Whilst I am the proud owner of a Frenchie, I do appreciate the ethical questions that health issues raise, particularly when we see just how many health problems they can suffer from (over 30 believe it or not!).
My wife and I have said that if we had been more informed before we bought our puppy, we might have felt differently.
If you do own a female Frenchie going into a heat cycle, please do get her spayed.
Once your French Bulldog enters her heat cycle, she will be at risk of getting pregnant. I’ve put together a list of signs to look out for if you think yours is.
Breeding French Bulldogs
Breeding French Bulldogs is very difficult due to their genetics. Artificial insemination is commonly performed to breed French Bulldogs 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.
Because French Bulldogs have an oversized head and narrow hips, they can have trouble successfully copulating. While a tie is not required for breeding to occur, males can have trouble maintaining this position because of their body formation.
French Bulldogs can also have issues with their respiratory system that makes it hard for them to breathe and therefore breed (here’s how many times a year you should breed them), including a narrow trachea and stenotic or small nares.
Most French Bulldogs will also be delivered via Cesarean section (see how much C-sections for Frenchies cost) because their dam cannot undergo natural birth. The puppies have a wide head, and most mothers have narrow hips, which can make natural delivery very dangerous.
Did you know? Frenchies will be pregnant for between 58 and 68 days. Click here to see what you can expect should yours get pregnant.
Planned C-sections are not without risk though, and anesthesia can affect the puppies and make it hard for mom to breathe while she’s already in a compromised state.
If you’re planning to breed Frenchies, make sure you work with your veterinarian to plan to safest course of action for your bulldog pups.
We’ve recently had a female French Bulldog come over for a playdate with our own Frenchie, Claude. She hasn’t been spayed yet and there’s every chance she will start showing signs of going into heat very soon.
When your Frenchie is in heat, it can be quite unpleasant. You will find your dog could behave differently, will bleed, and possibly have personality changes. How long a French Bulldog bleeds in heat will be the first sign that you should really take action if you aren’t planning on breeding.