First of all, I would like to start this article by saying that, just like in humans, sexuality and the biological aspect of their reproductive organs are completely natural in dogs, and I perceive this topic without any adolescent jokes and as very important when living with a dog.
In general, I would think of this topic as the sex education for dogs similar to that for humans, which we probably all experienced in high school. The difference will be that we cannot explain it directly to dogs, so we humans must know it better.
Dogs have a much more natural relationship with their private parts than we humans do. Primarily, I would say that it is so, because they do not have the capacity to think about it more than the fact that they have the reproductive organs and that they must keep them healthy and clean, whereas we humans often deal with the shape and how the partner perceives it and how they change with age and whether they are sized according to the standard, etc. We can skip this whole thing with dogs, because only 2 important criteria apply there - they are/aren’t there and they work/don't work. In the following paragraphs, we will divide the aspects and issues according to gender, but I would recommend reading the topic in its entirety, even about the gender that you don't currently have at home, not only because it is good to know how the other option works, but also because you know, sometimes you will want a change and get a female instead of a male and the extra knowledge will come in handy right away.
Female dogs, like all females, have pulled the short end of the stick in many ways. Cohabitation with them involves, in case you don't want to castrate right away, somewhat regular estrous cycles (also known as heat) and reproductive organs in many ways more susceptible than those of males. An advantage, but also a disadvantage, can be that their reproductive organs are mostly internal - if something is wrong, one must be able to notice the few signs of illness/injury, because it is harder to notice the problem with the naked eye. Female reproductive organs are - the vulva, which is the small thing between the legs that we can see. the vulva continues inside as the vagina to the cervix, which guards the uterus. Unlike humans, uterus does not function as the primary place of foetal development; it is small, and the puppies, in case of conception, develop in its two horns, which are long, wide enough, and each ends with a fallopian tube and an ovary. This is one of the reasons why a female dog has the capacity to carry and give birth to more offspring at once than a human.
Part of the sexual characteristics of a female are also two strips of milk glands that stretch along both sides of the abdomen and partly on the chest up to the last pair of teats - the female should have 10 of them. However, there is quite the anarchy in the number among females and there may be females that have only 8, sometimes 9, sometimes two teams are joined together, sometimes they are missing, sometimes they are stunted and undeveloped, there are many combinations. However, these cosmetic defects do not harm the health of the female in any way, it can only be a minor strategic disadvantage in the event that the female gives birth to more puppies than she has functional teats.
Above I mentioned the estrous cycle, i.e. heat. First of all, it should be noted that the estrous cycle is not the same as our human menstrual cycle. You can eventually figure this out by yourself when you compare that women ovulate and bleed in half cycles, or that bleeding and ovulation are opposite each other within one cycle (approx.), whereas in female dogs everything happens at once. Not only is the estrous cycle less frequent than the menstrual cycle, but the spotting period occurs simultaneously with ovulation. Some species of wildlife that have estrous cycles do not bleed. Estrous cycles, unlike menstrual cycles, are not followed by menopause after some time, and usually last until the end of the female's life. In wild animals, estrous cycles are accompanied by a period of heat in their male counterparts.
During the estrous cycle, hormonal changes occur in the female body, as well as in girls and women. We can observe this in female dogs by the fact that they can be more hostile towards other female dogs (because they are hormonally preparing for conception and thus perceive other females as a threat to their status and offspring), while within their own pack they can appear cuddlier and more submissive. The first heat is often a shock for the female - she doesn't know what's going on, and she usually bleeds more in the first few cycles which can add to the confusion. Fortunately, the intensity of the bleeding moderates over time not only within the given cycle, but also with each subsequent heat. Females may appear tired, apathetic, almost frail at first, as they will be more persistent in seeking support from the rest of the pack, but this sentiment will eventually leave them and be replaced by a desire to seal the cycle with some handsome male. The degree of this desire varies among females. Some may have, let's say, a normal interest only during direct ovulation, other females are down to fuck even a few weeks before and after heat. Especially during the period of ovulation, the female must be under direct supervision or very well secured, because the hormones in her body will force her to overcome insurmountable obstacles in order to get to a male, and the hormones in the air, which she will scatter around by urinating more often, will encourage males in the surrounding area and a few km around the place of residence, to meet the female with the same effort on their part.
The frequency of cycles during the year is a biological mystery, especially in case of CSW females. Usually, the golden rule is that females inherit these mannerisms from their mother, but realistically you can't rely on that. There are females that come into heat regularly, there are females that come into heat very irregularly, some do it once a year, others every six months, some may even have breaks between cycles as long as multiple years. At the same time, not every cycle is directly communicated to the world. Some females heat shamelessly, others hide their heat, or stop it for a fair while, and then it is hard to estimate when they will start again and whether they will even finish it. These practices have been getting on the nerves of breeders for years.
Several factors play a role in how, when and if a bitch will come into heat. In general, any changes in life can cause changes in the cycle (e.g. change of residence, change in the pack such as a new addition/death of a pack member), presence of another dominant female, presence of a male, unfavourable conditions, psychological discomfort, etc. Personally, I think that sometimes they just don’t want to deal with it and so they skip a heat or two.
Females usually become sexually mature after 7 months. Some only in a year, others in 10 months, it is individual. Once the heat starts, be prepared for a large amount of blood to begin with, which the female probably won't be able to clean up after herself. This skill will improve over time, it will also help, as I wrote above, that around 3-4. heat the blood level decreases significantly even at the beginning. At the beginning of the cycle, the blood has a dark red to brown colour, which gradually lightens. At the time of ovulation, the female's vulva will visibly enlarge and will take on a dark red hue due to frequent licking in the meantime, and the female's butt will look like a Japanese flag - between the two white/light cheeks there will be a red target that will be seen from everywhere. The blood will also become completely lighter and the discharge will decrease, many females during ovulation already have a very small amount of discharge with the colour of light red blood, which you don't even have to notice.
Ovulation can also be recognized by the fact that the female will so-called offer herself. These offers for sex are often accompanied by ears pressed tightly to the head and a suggestive stance with the tail wrapped around the body, in order to possibly oblige the dog as best as possible. At that moment you have to remember that the female's brain does not have the space to function normally. Her undercarriage is in absolute control of the brain, she thinks of nothing but the fact that she must have offspring in 2 months. She will hand out invitations to mate left and right depending on availability - my Thyra flirted like this even with the leg of the table, but it is not unusual for females to cling more to men during this period, to whom they will go more often to get cuddled with ulterior motives, which is what Gira does, for example. In a pack of several females, mutual mating may occur in the absence of a male. This is not a manifestation of your female's sexual orientation; she is not a lesbian! It is only hormones and instincts that control her during this period and there is nothing to be ashamed of.
As with humans, females within a pack can synchronize their cycles; they can wait for each other, if the inferior female starts heat earlier, she can stop and wait for the dominant female to start and resume herself later, or she starts to show signs of coming into heat, but she will keep them much longer to wait for the other female etc.
If the female does not get fertilized, many factors can trigger a so-called false pregnancy. The female's biological processes, which are otherwise started by sexual intercourse, are triggered and she feels that she is expecting puppies. Usually, the symptoms of FP appear within about two months after heat - the female starts to be depressed again, her teats may swell and she begins to produce colostrum (first milk), pulls her favourite toys into her bed, whines, wants more food, because she gives all the nutrients to the milk.
It is important that you keep the bitch in this state for as short a time as possible. Not only because the unused milk can become inflamed and cause mastitis, which is very painful, but also because the uterus can become inflamed and the entire reproductive system is strained unnecessarily for basically nothing. General advice in such a case is to reduce the female's food intake to the bare minimum, remove all toys and objects that she might consider offspring, and increase physical/mental activity so that she is tired and has no capacity to think about non-existent puppies. If medically necessary (e.g. if her milk production is too high), FP can be suppressed and terminated hormonally by oral administration of a solution prescribed by a veterinarian that blocks the hormones that cause the FP.
Starting from the outside, females can develop small tumours along the mammary glands as they age. Whether to remove the mammary glands or not usually depends on how aggressive the tumours are and how quickly they increase in size, or whether they just appear and remain at a relatively constant size that does not restrict the female in any way. This procedure usually leaves the female with two long incisions on either side of the belly and chest to remove all the tissue at risk.
In any case, the uterus and ovaries are most risky. In both cases, it is advisable for the older female, even if she has been without problems all her life, not to let her lie in the cold so that these organs do not catch cold. In general, it is advised to pay attention to them even during heat and not to let a female in heat too often into waters that do not appear to be completely clean. A pyometra, inflammation of the uterus, could occur.
Pyometra is the sword of Damocles over every female's head. Its causes can be diverse, from catching a cold, FP, to old age... It doesn't choose size, breed, or age and can occur to any female. Treatment can lead in two directions - the fastest and safest path is to remove the source of the infection for good surgically, i.e. by removing the uterus and ovaries, which we could call complete castration. If surgery is risky for the female for any reason, you can try to treat the inflammation with antibiotics. But the process is considerably longer and even more nerve-wracking, because its outcome is not so certain, and even if it was successful this time, there is a higher risk that the pyometra will soon return again. In the case of unsuccessful treatment or late detection, pyometra is fatal.
You will probably already perceive that something is wrong with the female by her behaviour - the female will be apathetic, won't drink or eat, and she will have a foul-smelling discharge from the vulva, either mixed with blood or already greenish. If the inflammation is in a more advanced stage, her belly can visibly enlarge, as the inflammation fills both corners of the uterus, which can increase it many times over in size. In the event that you observe such drastic changes on the female without an obvious external cause, try to check the vulva and the discharge from it. Healthy discharge is odourless and often you don't even notice it, because the female manages to clean it a few times a day herself.
If you do not plan to use the female in breeding, one of the options to avoid unpleasant cycles and the possible threat of not only inflammation of the uterus, but also cancer, is castration. Different sources recommend different ideal ages when it is best to spay a female. From a physiological point of view, however, I perceive it as, in any case, removing the source of hormones that the female needs for proper development, so I would not rush castration without a serious health reason. I think that waiting until the 3rd year is ideal, because the female will be mature not only physically, but also mentally. Scientific studies, on the other hand, support castration after the first heat, because with each subsequent heat, the percentage of success in preventing the development of cancer decreases.
Neutering before heat can cause the female to get "stuck" mentally and physically at that age. Early neutered dogs generally tend to be leaner, they will not will not properly bulk up as it happens during physical maturity.
In any case, castration means a dramatic intervention in the female and one of the side effects is the slowing down of the metabolism, so the owner of a castrated female must very carefully control the intake of nutrients. Because she can get very fat very quickly, and the getting rid of it process can be a real pain.
Another approach, which I chose in the case of Thyra, for example, is that as long as the female does not have a problem with FPs, heats regularly and without complications, I will not let a healthy female be cut for no reason. I left the castration until a later age (6-8 years, depending on condition), when the female wouldn't have to have a problem with the procedure because of prevention, but she will live out all her youth and most of her adult life with hormones as she supposed to. In her case, the castration was done just in time, because after Gira giving birth, Thyra started having a problem with FPs (she was preparing milk in case Gira needed help again) and during the castration, the vet already noticed that her uterus was about to get inflamed in less than a month.
It is very difficult to determine when is the right moment. Some people advise before the first heat, others after it, some wait a few years, some until advanced adulthood... There is no uniform formula for this. The purpose of this article is to at least bring all the pros and cons to their knowledge, and the decision must eventually be made by each owner, not only according to them, but also according to the state of health of their female, whose health in this case should come first.
Most of the male dog's genitals, like all other males, are external. Along the centre of the dog's abdomen runs the penis, hidden in the foreskin, which is furred on the outside. A few centimetres from the tip of the penis, there are two bulbous glands, which the owner of the male can notice mainly during puberty, when the dog starts to be excited (not only sexually) by more sensations, including really high-quality belly scratching. In such cases, the glands enlarge and fill with blood, which can cause a bit of discomfort to the dog. The testicles sit in the dog's scrotum between the hind legs; it is natural that they are not evenly side by side, but one is higher than the other. It is for the reason that it fits better in the narrow space between the limbs and there is no danger of injuring one against the other by friction. The testicles are proportionately large to the rest of the body and descend into the scrotum at 4 weeks of life at the earliest, some a little later. A dog's foreskin becomes relatively densely furred early on, the testicles are rather bare in young dogs and only become furred with sexual maturity. A little-known fact is that dogs also have a small bone in their penis.
A dog's penis resembles moist lipstick in various shades of pink when it is outside of the foreskin. The health of the penis can best be recognized by the colour of the mucous membrane, which can significantly affect eventual fertility. If its colour inside the foreskin is more reddish to red/purple, there has probably been an infection or mechanical damage (e.g. a bite).
Excreting smegma is part of living with a male. Smegma is a thick white-yellow liquid with a usually unpleasant, but not downright nasty, odour that dogs begin to produce during and after puberty. It is a combination of oils and dead cells that serves as a lubricant not only during copulation, but also when the penis is lodged in the foreskin.
Unlike females, males do not experience a recurring estrous cycle, but they will be affected by it one way or another. During puberty, males begin to release smegma and produce semen, and raging hormones can cause the owner to enjoy the newly acquired skills with all their glory. Dogs with more raging hormones can react by ejaculating to the slightest stimuli and can then drip for tens of minutes to hours. However, this is usually a short period, after which the dog will hormonally balance again and there is no risk of further pollution of the home. However, the sensitivity and tendency to get excited by a lot of stimuli can easily last for a few years before the testosterone calms down and the dog really matures.
The disadvantage of the male is that while the female has one cycle of her own, however regular or irregular, the male is susceptible to the cycles of all the females in the vicinity. It's easier that most females are generally in heat at roughly the same times (spring/autumn), but of course it's not set in stone and there are also females that come into heat outside of these usual times. The male perceives it all. The reaction to a puppy-wanting female in the vicinity can be refusal of food, constant howling/whining without an obvious cause, increased activity of the genitals, trying to run away to an unknown love in the distance. Especially for dogs that are very vocal, having a female in heat around them can be a problem - while with the owner they can limit themselves to whining, when alone they can start a prolonged howl, to which an ovulating female can respond with her howl in the distance. Especially dogs living in the city have to build up a certain immunity very quickly, because it is quite possible that there is always someone in heat around them.
Some dogs refine their tastes as they grow older and will only be really interested in females during the period of active ovulation, others may remain romantically inclined for a longer period of time and pursue a female at any time during the cycle.
Without much ado. As soon as the male becomes sexually mature, which the owner recognises very well, but an estimate could be approx. between the 7th month and the 1st year, he begins to produce sperm, which is very valuable material if the owner plans to provide the dog for mating in the future.
By default, the dog gets to use his crown jewels for real maybe 3-4 times in his life? If fate allows. And then there is no surprise when around 7-8 years of age he is allowed to mate and has nothing left to shoot. In this regard, I write what I got from conversations I had with Vojta from the Vlcak Sanctuary in Adamov. He says that in order to extend the fertile period (because the male is not as physically limited in fertility as the female), the owner can „help out“ their dog a few times a month. Among other things, it is possible to reduce the overall symptoms of puberty this way, despite prolonging the process a little. By „helping out“ I mean that you manually relieve the dog. I understand that this approach may seem perverse to some people, but as I wrote above, I do not see it as something that a person should do for their won pleasure, but rather for the dog’s health and psychological well-being. This method also solves situations where the dog refuses food for a long time because there is a bitch in the vicinity, howls constantly, loses weight and in general it can be seen that he is really struggling. It is important to prepare for the fact that nothing will be solved the first time. The action needs to be performed several times a day for several days in a row to see improvement.
This practice is also used with show animals, as not all exhibitors are considerate enough and can enter the ring with a female in heat, although this is mostly prohibited (most of them had their entrances paid before the female started the heat and from a financial point of view, I understand that they don't want to lose that money). Therefore, if you are planning to show and you see that your dog has caught the trail and that he is so distracted that it will most likely spoil his performance in the ring, you can try to relieve the pressure in his head.
From a human point of view, I understand that it can be offensive to people, and I'm more or less not saying anything against either one or the other. I am writing this mainly because it is a real possibility to solve some acute and long-term situations and I think it is fair that the owners should know about it. However, I must point out that this is not exactly a standard topic of conversation, and not every dog owner may be sympathetic to it, so use this information accordingly.
The crown jewels of males are sensitive precisely because they are all on the outside covered with just skin and a little fur. The most common problems can be various abrasions, insect bites or unwanted bites during play, which the dog can subsequently lick into a rather unpleasant wound.
If there is a problem inside the foreskin, we can observe a change in the colour and smell of smegma. Smegma is naturally excreted and with normal production, the dog is able to clean itself often enough so that smegma does not drip everywhere. Males in puberty, or with inflammation inside the foreskin, may have increased smegma production and drops may appear on the floor and furniture. A sign that something is not right is in most cases a cluster of semi-dried smegma at the outlet from the foreskin, usually of a deep yellow to greenish colour. There can be many reasons to this phenomenon - from hormones, to the consequences of a bite, or a foreign body inside the foreskin that can cause inflammation. This inflammation can remain unnoticed for a long time, but it will most likely limit the dog's fertility. Therefore, it is recommended to teach males not only to touch their testicles, but also to pull back the foreskin and check the penis inside. In case of inflammation, it is possible to wash the inside of the foreskin with a small syringe and lukewarm water or chamomile tea.
Some dogs may have an erection problem during puberty. The dog gets excited, the penis comes out of the foreskin, the bulbous glands block it and the penis remains outside. Nothing special happens, but the owner should make sure that it doesn't happen too often and doesn't last more than a few tens of minutes. If this is a more frequent phenomenon, the problem may be in the narrow foreskin, which strangles the penis when it is extended and threatens to limit the circulatory system. If the male has his penis out longer and the penis starts to change colour, seek immediate veterinary attention. Until then, try not to stimulate the dog anymore, so ideally don't stroke him and, in the best case, try to keep him occupied so that he doesn’t keep licking the penis, which not only relieves him, but unfortunately also makes it worse > he gets more excited and the longer the penis will be out from the foreskin.
As you can see, at the end of the day it is probably not a question of whether cohabitation is easier with a female or a male, because each one has their own thing. Rather, it's a matter of telling ourselves which option is more tolerable for us, and there's nothing wrong with having our own preference. The observation that there is a bit more written about females than males is probably correct, because I have lived with females all my life and I’d only learned about male dog problems after I started breeding and living with Yukon. This article is checked by several sources with veterinary education to prevent the spread of false or incomplete information. However, do not take it as a full-fledged substitute for a veterinarian, and in case of a problem, seek help from them first.