The Boykin Spaniel was, until fairly recently, one of South Carolina’s best kept secrets. This medium sized Spaniel with its rich brown coat was originally bred to hunt duck and wild turkey in the swamplands of South Carolina. Affectionately nicknamed the Swamp Poodle, since the breed was recognized by the American Kennel Association in 2009, its loveable personality has made it a popular choice for families. With the breed only recently becoming more widely known there is still much for the new Boykin owner to learn about their pet.
A Boykin Spaniel will on average go into heat every 6 months or roughly twice a year. As with any breed, each Boykin is an individual and it’s important to monitor your dog to work out their estrus (heat) cycle. If you have any concerns regarding the frequency of estrus, always consult your vet.
Understanding what to expect when your Boykin Spaniel is on heat, how to best assist them, when best to breed with them and whether or not to spay them are all important factors a Boykin owner should know.
When Do Boykin Spaniels Go Into Heat?
Unlike some species of animals, dogs do not go into heat based on seasons, sunlight or temperature. Your Boykin pup is likely to have her first estrus at around 6 months, although it can occur as young as 4 months. When they are very young, their cycle may not be regular. It can take up to 18 months for their cycles to mature into regularity. At this point you can then expect your Boykin to go into heat every 6 months or twice a year.
How Do I Know My Boykin Spaniel Is In Heat?
There are some clear signs you can look out for to determine whether or not you Boykin Spaniel is on heat.
- Swollen vulva
- Bleeding/ straw-colored discharge
- Presenting rear to male dogs (flagging)
- Excessive licking of genital area
- Altered behavior – anxious, aggressive, grumpy
- Urinating more often
- Altered tail position
How Long Will My Boykin Spaniel Be In Heat?
You can expect your Boykin Spaniel to remain in heat for 2-4 weeks. You’ll know that she has come to the end of her heat cycle when the bleeding and/or discharge stops and her vulva returns to its normal size.
What Are The Different Stages Of The Canine Heat Cycle?
To truly understand what it looks like when your Boykin Spaniel is on heat and when her cycle has come to an end it is worthwhile to examine the different stages of the canine heat cycle. There are four different stages namely proestrus, estrus, diestrus and anaestrus
The first stage, proestrus, is the preparation to mate. In this phase you are likely to see the swollen vulva and blood-tinged discharge. It’s also common for your dog to lick her genitals excessively and hold her tail close to her body. In terms of behavior you may find she is aggressive towards male dogs, but also fairly needy towards you.
The second stage is estrus, which is seen as the mating phase. During this phase your female dog will start urinating more frequently, indicating through scent that she is ready to breed. The vaginal discharge will have less blood at this point and become more of a straw-colored discharge. She will now be more receptive to male dogs and will actively flag them with her rear and tail (little flirt), but she may become aggressive towards other female dogs.
The third stage is dietrus which would be the phase where she either becomes pregnant or goes back to normal. Her vulva will return to its normal size and the discharge will come to an end.
The final stage is anaestrus which is an inactive phase where no signs of heat are present.
How Do I Look After My Boykin Spaniel When She Is In Heat?
The heat cycle for both you and your pup can be a messy and stressful time, and this is especially true for the first time she goes on heat and is confused as to what is happening. There are however ways to make the heat process easier for both of you.
Using Diapers When Your Boykin Spaniel Is In Heat
Bleeding is one of the most common signs of your dog being in heat, but is also the messiest part of their cycle. Often the blood can land up on undesirable places like white couches or Persian rugs. To prevent this many owners choose to purchase doggy diapers. You may also need to consider suspenders or a body suit to stop the diaper just slipping right off your Boykin’s butt.
Keeping Your Boykin Spaniel Comfortable When She Is In Heat
When your Boykin Spaniel is in heat you may find she is clingier than usual, so be sure to take time to give her plenty of extra cuddles. Dogs are emotional beings and their heat cycle is a confusing time, so doting on her with plenty of affection will mean your dog has a more comfortable and less stressful estrus.
You should provide your Boykin with a special blanket or bed for her cycle. Not only will this help her in feeling she has a safe and secure zone, but will also help contain the mess. A snuggly toy can also assist in making her to feel secure.
If your pup does happen to get blood or discharge in your house be sure not to shout or discipline her about it. Unfortunately she has no control over it and scolding her will only make her more stressed in her already uncomfortable state.
Be sure to monitor that your Boykin is eating and drinking well during her cycle. She may not feel like it, but it will be important for her to keep her strength and health during this time.
Also remember that the heat cycle increases your pup’s need to urinate so to avoid any accidents be sure to schedule regular bathroom breaks.
How To Avoid Unwanted Pregnancy When Your Boykin Spaniel Is In Heat
When in heat, female dogs release powerful hormones that male dogs can smell from far away. For this reason it is really important to keep your female dog safe if you do not want her to fall pregnant.
Always monitor her during bathroom breaks and don’t allow her in the yard by herself. You’ll be surprised how determined male dogs can be to get to mate with her. Also be sure to separate her from any of your own unneutered male dogs.
The same applies for when out walking. Don’t walk her off leash when she is on heat. With her hormones racing around she is unlikely to obey any commands from you while she frantically seeks a mate. Male dogs can also become quite aggressive when a female dog is on heat, so be vigilant when walking her to avoid any disasters.
Be aware of the fact that during the estrus phase of her cycle, when she is no longer bleeding very much, she is actually at her most fertile. Don’t be fooled by the easing up of the bleeding, she is still very much in heat and able to fall pregnant.
When Can I Breed With My Boykin Spaniel?
You may perhaps actually wish to breed with your Boykin Spaniel and in this case you should wait until she has experienced at least two estrus cycles. Her first cycle is likely to be what is referred to as a ‘silent’ cycle with no clinical signs of estrus and is therefore generally not successful in terms of breeding. A pup of 6 months is also not fully matured and having a litter at such a young age can be detrimental to her health.
It is considered incredibly cruel to breed with a dog more than once a year and is also a health concern to do so. Make sure your Boykin baby is only having a litter at most once a year if you want to breed with her.
What Can I Do To Stop My Boykin Spaniel From Going Into Heat?
Unlike humans, dogs will have their estrus cycles their entire lives. That’s a whole lot of diapers. If you don’t want to breed with your Boykin Spaniel, then the only way to stop her from going into heat is to have her spayed. Apart from avoiding the mess of heat and unwanted litters, spaying your Boykin can actually improve her health. Spaying is proven to reduce the risk of breast cancer and uterine infections.
Going into heat for your Boykin Spaniel can result in a number of headaches for you between the mess and trying to keep her away from those predator male dogs. It’s a lengthy process that happens twice a year and it’s not particular comfortable for either yourself or your Boykin. If you are not wishing to breed with your Spaniel the kindest thing you can do for the both of you is have her spayed.