Your Cocker Spaniel's First Season: What you Should Know

June 21, 2022

Have you just got a new female Cocker Spaniel puppy? Congratulations, it really is an exciting time.

If you have found this article I you must be starting to wonder when you should expect her to go into heat and you may have a few questions around it.

In this article we will be explaining everything you need to know about a Cocker Spaniel going into her first heat including when it happens, the stages and symptoms associated with it, all of the most common questions around it, and advice on how to handle it.

Let's get started!

When Does a Cocker Spaniel have Their First Season?

There is no exact time when a female Cocker Spaniel will have their first season but generally it is when they are between six and eight months old.

Like many things about your dog this can vary a lot. Some will be on the earlier side of this range while others will be late bloomers. No matter where your Cocker sits on this scale its all perfectly normal.

If your dog gets to one year old and has not gone into season you should speak with a vet.

It takes a couple of seasons for your Cocker Spaniels heat cycle to become consistent. Once she has had two or three seasons you will be able to have a good idea when they will go into one and be prepared for it.

How Often do Cocker Spaniels go into Season?

Most female Cocker Spaniels go into heat around one to two times per year. Some small dog breeds are even know to have three per year!

After your dog has been through their heat cycle a few times you will begin to know when to expect it. Having an idea when your Cocker will go into heat is really important. But we will go into this in more detail later.

How Long Does a Cocker Spaniel's Season Last?

Once they come into season a full heat cycle for a Cocker Spaniel lasts between 18 and 23 days. Roughly three weeks.

After this period bitches return back to their normal selves, unless they get pregnant.

There are a few signs you will need to watch out for to know if your female dog will have pups on the way.

Signs your Cocker Spaniel is in Season

There are many signs you can look out for to know that your Cocker Spaniel is pregnant. These behaviours/symptoms will change as your Cockers goes through the pregnancy.

For this reason rather than just listing a whole load of symptoms I'll break it down by stage of heat cycle and what happens if your female dog does become pregnant so you know what to look out for and when.

It is unlikely you see every one of these symptoms every time. There should be a few of them noticeably present though.

If you are planning to breed your Cocker Spaniel you will want to notice these symptoms. Conversely if you don't want to have unintended pups running around you will also want to keep on top of this to avoid accidental pregnancies.

The Heat Cycle

The first stage in a Cocker Spaniel's heat cycle is Proestrus. This is the one where symptoms will become apparent and you will be need to start taking notice to avoid any unplanned pregnancies. This is particularly important during that first season.

Look out for behavioural changes with mood swings like aggression towards males and being more clingy. Dogs in heat bleed too and have a swollen vulva these are the main physical signs. Some dogs bleed heavily during this stage some only a little. Each dog is individual.

The second step is the Estrus stage. This lasts around ten days You will know bitches have entered this stage as the bleeding has slowed and its turned to a clear liquid.

During this step your Cocker is fertile and ready to breed. You need to be very careful here as they are not ready to be bred until around 18 months old. It might be best to just keep any male dog away from her even if you think the dog is neutered. Better to just play this one saf

Accidents can happen when a Spaniel enters heat. That aggression to males turns into interest and she will seek their attention. Protect your pet!

Next is the Diestrus stage. If your Cocker is having puppies she will remain in this step for the duration, otherwise she is on her way back to normal.

The fourth step is Anestrus. This is her going back to normal until her second season.

Can I Breed my Cocker Spaniel in her First Season?

Physically, yes your female Cocker Spaniel could breed in her first heat cycles. But it is not advisable to breed your dog this until your Cocker is in their second or third season.

Their bodies have not fully developed yet. A Cocker Spaniels muscles, bones, and tendons have not finished growing until 12-18 months old. Having puppies will put extra stress on your pups body that will lead to long term health problems.

What Can I do if my Cocker Spaniel is Mated by Mistake?

If you have an unplanned pregnancy on your hands you should contact your vet straight away. This is particularly important if your Cocker Spaniel is in her first heat for the reasons outlined above.

Your vet can give your dog an injection which acts like a morning after pill. You do need to act quickly for the best chances that it can work. And there is no 100% guarantee it will work. You may end up with puppies on the way despite your best efforts.

The best approach to avoiding unwanted pregnancies is vigilance, preventing your dog from being in situations where she could be impregnated, and being able to recognise the symptoms of a dogs heat cycle starting.

Remember both male dogs and female dogs can be quite crafty when it comes to getting to each other while in season.

What is a Silent Season?

A silent season is when your dog goes into heat but the symptoms are so minor they can go unnoticed. It is usually caused by a hormonal imbalance or genetic disorders. It is most common early on in a dogs life around age one to three.

Keep in mind your Cocker can still become pregnant during a silent season.

Look out for the following signs of a silent season:

  • Dog's vulva is swollen.
  • Bleeding
  • Discharge

Speak with your vet if you believe you dog has had a silent season.

Can I Have My Cocker Spaniel Spayed Before Her First Season?

Yes, you can spay a female Cocker Spaniel before her first season. There area also advantages to this approach. This includes greatly reducing your dog's chances of getting a few major health complications down the line.

This includes mammary cancer which there is virtually no chance of if spayed before coming into season. If done after this rises to a 7% chance.

Many bitches are spayed a few months after their first season but as you see there are good reasons to do it before they come into heat. Look after your pet's health!


Hopefully this article has helped clear up when a female Cocker Spaniel will have her first season, the symptoms you should look out for and what you need to do.

After reading this article you will be well equipped to take good care of your dog throughout this process.

And do remember that you need to keep any and all male dogs away from a bitch in heat. Even if they are related. At different stages of the process she will react a bit differently with other dogs.

Of course, as with anything relating to your Cocker Spaniels health speak with your vet if your are unsure or looking for advice.

Finally, if your Cocker is pregnant good luck with the puppies on the way.

Allan  Noble
Hi, my name is Allan! I am the owner of Spaniel Advisor and I've got over seven years experience of owning Spaniels.  
I hope this article was helpful for you! 
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