What’s it like to have an unfixed female dog?

Last Updated on 2021-05-03 by Admin

Annie in Heat
Annie in Heat

When I go for walks with Annie, I noticed that most dogs are fixed. And the majority of dogs are male. When I talk to dog owners that own a female dog, their dog got fixed as a puppy. Hardly any dog owner I know has had an unfixed female dog past two years old. That means many dog owners don’t know what it is like to have a whole female dog.

So I wanted to write an article about my experience with Annie on what it’s like to have an unfixed female dog.

Most of the time, it is like having any other dog. When they go in heat, that is when things change. Annie goes in heat about every eight months. With age, the symptoms seem to get more severe and last longer. That is my observation with Annie.

First Heat

My wife and I were just getting settled with Annie’s routine when Annie went in heat at around eight months old. First, I did not even know that she was getting in heat.

What I remember is that Annie started to smell absolutely lovely, so lovely in fact that I would go over to her and sniff. She did not smell like a dog smells. It was a more flowery and sweet smell.

I think that’s when my wife told me that Annie was getting in heat. I recall answering that she was to Young to be in heat. Then my wife showed me an article that Boxers go in heat between 6 and 12 months old. At that point, I had to calculate backwards. It did not seem that long ago that we got Annie. But Yes, Annie was eight months old.

Not knowing what to expect

I started researching female dogs and read all kinds of horror stories about male dogs following unfixed female dogs home. And then bark or howl in front of that home. I was a bit skeptical about what I read. Never the less, it is better to be informed. Surprises will come no matter what we do.

First indicators

How it started out with Annie was that she stared smelling really nice. Once I knew what happened, all I could think of was that I would go after Annie if I were a dog. She just smelled that nice. This nice scent was only noticeable by me the first time she was in heat.

Second indicator

During our walks Annie would start to pull a lot more towards other dogs. And when another dog was near, it was almost impossible to get her to go the way I wanted to go. She was razor focused on the other dog.

At home, at times she would move away from me when I am sitting on the floor beside her. She sometimes appeared depressed and had mood swings.

Third indicator

My wife noticed some light red spots on the floor. At that point, there was no question as to what was going on. And over time, there were more spots, and they were of a darker red.

Trying to put Pampers on

My wife had bought some dog pampers for Annie and tried to put them on her. That miserably failed. Annie is a fantastic dog, and she puts up with a lot that other dogs don’t. For example, we got Annie to wear rubber booties in the winter. We even could get her to wear booties that look more like shoes, and she was adapting to them. Annie has to wear a brace now for walking because of a torn ligament. She lets us put the brace on, and she patiently holds still till were done.

But trying to put o pampers got her aggressive in a way we never experienced before. So we left it at that. She was going through enough without being forced into something she did not want. So we just cleaned up after her as good as we could.

In full heat

When Annie was in full heat, she was super alert for other dogs. She started to hump male dogs she knew, or jump on them. Other dogs were always coming to smell her rear. Of course, Annie was more than willing most of the time, which made it hard to control her at times.

Luckily we knew many of the dog owners in the area, and the males were all fixed. Other female dogs were competition and got told off by vigorously barking.

I started going earlier in the morning for our walks to avoid some of the dogs we knew. Annie would sniff every inch along the fences and be very firmly pulling in the direction she wanted to go.

Fading Heat

After the main part of the cycle, she started to have a shine pregnancy. She would have milk droplets in her nipples. Here mammary glands were getting swollen as well. And they stayed that way for a long time.

She also started nesting, taking pillows and toys and have them surround her in the crate. Her moods were swinging from happy to depressed.

The first heat took from beginning to the end approximately eight weeks. Then Annie was back to her usual self.

After the first heat

We were glad to have experienced it for the first time. We were also pleased that things were back to normal. It was now safe again to let Annie run and play with other dogs. The first heat was not as bad as I expected. All went relatively well. And now I know what it’s like to have an unfixed female dog.

My wife and I had talked about when we were going to get Annie fixed. We both thought the experience we had was not all that bad. I started to think about possibly having some puppies. I was not too fond of the thought of Annie being the end of the line. She is just such and amazing dog.

More Heat Cycles

With each new heat cycle, the heat was more intense, including mood swings. Being in heat was hard on her, and circumstances in our life made it unpractical to have puppies.

Annie also got bigger and stronger over the years. She could be hard to manage when she wanted to go after another dog. And after Annie was four years old, we decided to get her fixed.

Obstacles Encountered owning a Whole female Dog

There are a couple of things that I had a hard time with before Annie got fixed.

  • Hard to find a doggy daycare. Daycare places want all dogs spayed or neutered.
  • You may have to go for walks with your dog at the time of day when not many other dog owners are out
  • You will hear from other dog owners that You should get Your dog fixed
  • Get blamed for another dog’s bad behaviour (even when Your dog is not in heat). You might be told Your dog smells funny to the other dog
  • Some dog owners of male dogs find it fun when their dog is trying to hump Your dog when in heat. And instead of pulling their dog back, they encourage the behaviour.
  • You will have Your hands full trying to keep Your dog away from other dogs

Personal and Smart Decision when To Get a Dog Fixed

We, on purpose, did not spay Annie when she was a puppy. My wife and I wanted to let Annie fully mature and develop. In Europe, it is common not to fix dogs. Here in North America, it seems to be an obsession to get dogs fixed as Young as possible. Every visit to the Veterinarian, we were asked when we are going to get Annie fixed. And we were reminded of the increased risk of cancer in unfixed dogs. I had to wonder, are they all so desperate for money?

What the latest study says about the age of getting a dog spayed or neutered

The latest research shows that our decision to wait is the right one. That many medium and large dog breeds have higher rates of cancer, obesity, joint issues and many other health-related problems when being spayed or neutered at a young age. That goes against the current trend and also against what most veterinarians and the SPCA recommends.

Comparison of Before and after Spaying

For the most part, Annie stayed the same. But a couple of things were very noticeable after Annie got spayed.


Before Spaying

Annie would eat her two meals a day and wait for her meals without whining. She only begged for food sometimes. She is waiting for her food till called. Annie was always a patient dog. Even around food.

After Spaying

She was always hungry. As soon as she smells food, she is there. And she has become a beggar. She starts to whine for food in the morning and evening. And in the afternoon, she is moaning an hour before her feeding time.

It was so bad that we started to reduce portions in the morning and evening. And began feeding here three times a day. It did make the situation better. But now we have to make sure to keep her weight in check.


Before Spaying

Annie was very stubborn. Behaves like a mule, totally resists at times to go the direction I wanted to go. And it would take me a while to have her come my way. And she is jerking the leash hard and try to go her way. That would then get me to give her some stern words and a yank on the leash to let here know that we go my way.

After Spaying

Annie was not so stubborn anymore. Now when she wants to go a particular direction during our walks, and I don’t. Then I Talk to her, and a little tug on the line will be enough for her to follow me


What’s it like to have an unfixed female dog? If my experience was any indication, having a whole female dog is not a bad experience. The critical part is always the dog, each dog is different.

Why are you getting or not getting Your dog fixed? That is a personal decision with the dogs health in mind. For females dogs, hormone fluctuation can be demanding on them. If there is never a chance for the female to have puppies, it makes sense to spay her. But only after the age that makes sense for that breed. See the study on what the right age is for Your breed. The study is long, But you can search by bread, and You get what You need. If You own a Boxer, I have an article written about this a while back.

On the other hand, if there is a chance to have puppies, then, of course, that would be the natural course. Provided You have the place and the financial means to support the litter. And You need a plan in place for what to do with all the puppies.


Study shines a spotlight on neutering https://animalwellnessmagazine.com/spaying-neutering-risks-large-breed-dogs/

Assisting Decision-Making on Age of Neutering for Mixed Breed Dogs of Five Weight Categories https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2020.00472/full

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