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Maturity in Females

Bitches come in heat approximately every seven months. Most Newfoundlands reach sexual maturity between six months and 12 months. The bitch’s cycle is non-seasonal; meaning it is usually not influenced by the time of the year. It is divided into the following stages

1.      The bitch will have a swollen vulva and pink/bloody discharge. Males will be attracted to her but she will not accept them. Usually lasts 5-9 days.

2.      The bitch will still have a swollen vulva, but the discharge changes from bloody to clear. The bitch will accept the male. Usually lasts about 9 days.

3.      May have phantom pregnancies or may get pyometra. During the 8 weeks after start of heat.

4.      “Normal”


You should keep the bitch away from males three weeks from the start of the heat.


Pyometra is a result of hormonal and structural changes in the uterus lining. This can happen at any age, whether she has bred or not. The main risk period for a female is for eight weeks after her peak standing heat has ended.  Normally during this period, the cervix, which was open during her heat, begins to close, and the inner lining begins to adapt back to normal. Under these circumstances, bacteria that have migrated from the vagina into the uterus find the environment favorable to growth, especially since progesterone also causes mucus secretion, closes the cervix (preventing uterine drainage), and decreases uterine contractility. The condition of the cervix is a major factor in the severity of the condition.
The most obvious symptom of open pyometra is a discharge from the vulva in a bitch that has recently been in heat. Symptoms of may include vomiting, loss of appetite, depression, and increased drinking and urinating. Fever is seen in less than a third of bitches with pyometra. Consult with your veterinarian immediately if you think your bitch may have this!


Phantom pregnancy: A phantom (false) pregnancy is when a bitch is not pregnant but shows signs of pregnancy, lactation, nursing and nesting. Phantom pregnancies are not uncommon.

An intact female dog will experience changes in their reproductive hormones during their season. Individual dogs vary in the length of time between seasons, and this is to some extent inherited from the mother.
Phantom pregnancy is commonly thought to be a natural phenomenon, dating from the days of when dogs lived in packs. All bitches in the pack would come into season together even though only the alpha (dominant) bitch would mate. The alpha female’s pups would be cared for and suckled by the rest of the females in the pack. Bitches who have whelped may in fact be more likely to have phantom pregnancies. You should remove all the toys and have a period of more intense physical training
and exercise directly after the heat to prevent phantom pregnancies.

Sterilization: If you wish to sterilize you bitch, you should consult your veterinarian. It is common for Newfoundland females to develop a very thick coat that does not shed normally after sterilization due to hormonal changes. You should not sterilize before 18 months.


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