See See came in heat on my birthday, and will peak on Christmas Day, and be fertile through New Year’s Day. So my house is absolutely nuts. Good thing I didn’t make any big plans. With three intact males, this is a difficult situation! I do not have a kennel setup. I have always said that if I start thinking of building a kennel, then I have too many dogs.
A couple of months ago, my neighbor, Jon, fenced in a piece of side yard for me for the purpose of separating See See from her two brothers Winston and Clyde, and her Uncle Johnny. Hopefully this will cut down on some of the angst during her heat cycle. Notice how she still appears to be very much a juvenile because she has not developed secondary sex characteristics yet.
As See See matures with each influx of hormones during heat cycles, her head will broaden slightly, her chest will drop and round out, her hips will widen, and her fur will frame her face more. These are the secondary sex characteristics of female GSDs. (The dogs you hear barking that she turns to look at are her brothers in the back yard. )
Clyde, the lighter male, is starting to develop secondary sex characteristics. His head is starting to broaden, and his head will be much larger that a female’s of the same size, with a wider backskull. He us going to be a larger dog than Winston, probably with more prominent male characteristics. Right now, his ears seem to be too close together, while Winston’s look spaced apart. Winston is almost 3 years old, and Clyde is 10 months.
Many of the secondary sex characteristics of males are similar to females’, just more prominent. For example, males have a heavier ruff, called a mane, and generally have a bulkier chest. On the other hand. A male’s hips do not widen, but remain narrow, making the chest look even larger.
If dogs are spayed or neutered before their hormones are active, these secondary sex characteristics do not develop. Often, it is difficult to tell the difference (without looking underneath!) between a male and female. In the show ring, a feminine bitch and a masculine male are sought after, because the look is unmistakable. These features are not important to everyone. More important, as I mentioned in a previous post, early spaying and neutering contributes to the likelihood of poor bone development most notably in GSDs, but NOT in all breeds.
Of my two adult males, Johnny is the more masculine looking one. I think Clyde will look more like Johnny when he matures.