10 Pros and Cons of Neutering Your Dog

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Neutering your dog or puppy is a very important health decision and should be decided on an individual basis.

As there are pros and cons to everything, we will look at both sides of the coin.

But first, what is neutering? Neutering is a much simpler surgery than a spay and is only performed on male pets.

The testicles of the male dog will be removed through an incision near the front of the scrotum.

5 Reasons Why You Should Neuter Your Dog

There are quite a few reasons why you should neuter your dog.

1. Offspring control

The last thing you would want from your dog is unwanted offspring and it can happen so quickly in season.

Breeding two dogs is very costly and needs a lot of time and energy. The bitch requires veterinary care during pregnancy, after giving birth and the puppies need a lot of attention.

The cost of neutering your male dog is way less than having to care for a litter. Also, the puppies will all need new homes and they have to be vaccinated.

Breeding should only be done by professional breeders with proper breeding programs and plans for socialization, health check-ups, and so on.

2. Prevent aggression

This is a reason for many owners to get their dog neutered.

Neutered male dogs tend to be less aggressive and less dominant and show less territorial aggression which could be important if you have other pets or children.

They also tend to get along better with other male dogs and if you would like to bring home an unspayed bitch, it will be mandatory to neuter your male dog.

However, neutering or spaying is not an instant fix to behavioral issues, as we’ll see below.

3. Prevent mounting and roaming

Every male dog’s hormones are strong and if there is a bitch in heat in their neighborhood, they will smell it from miles away and it can be very stressful for them.

Many male dogs tend to mount anything and everything and it can get really awkward in certain situations.

When you neuter your adult dog early on, it’s possible (although not completely certain) that this behavior will stop.

4. Prevent cancer

In this surgery, the testicles of the male dog will be removed, therefore there is no risk left for testicular cancer or tumors.

The actual treatment for diseases like prostate cancer is neutering.

Prostate diseases cannot be prevented but the risk after neutering is way lower which also minimizes the risk for infections.

5. Your dog won’t lose its masculinity

You may giggle about that one but this is quite a common excuse especially from worried male dog owners.

Neutering won’t make your puppy a wimp. That’s not how dogs think.

On one hand, people say it’s not natural to neuter a dog which is kinda right. But on the other hand, not reproducing and going through the cycles time again is also not what nature intended.

Neutering provides many benefits for your puppy and for the community if your dog is at risk of uncontrolled reproduction.

But there are a few things that could lead you to not consider neutering for your dog which I will cover here too.

5 Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Neuter Your Dog

Let’s dive into the health risks related to neutering your dog.

1. No solution for behavior issues

I have talked about how neutering may lead to less aggressive and dominant behavior.

But too many people think that it will magically solve all their dog’s behavior issues.

Neutering cannot completely erase testosterone from your dog and behavior mostly comes from training and genetics.

I have more on the behavioral side after neutering down below.

2. Increased risk of hypothyroidism

This disease is caused by the sudden loss of reproductive hormones in a canine body. Low thyroid levels can result in lethargy and weight gain or even obesity.

Although it can be treated by giving your dog certain supplements for the rest of his life, that’s not what dog owners strive for when they let their dogs get neutered.

3. Increased risk of joint issues

If your puppy is neutered at an early age it can develop joint issues and growth problems.

It can cause the leg bones to grow unevenly and may result in hip dysplasia or bone cancer.

Certain breeds like the Rottweiler or GSD are prone to joint issues, but no matter what breed you have, waiting until they’re fully grown is absolutely mandatory.

4. Increased risk for obesity

Neutering not only changes the dogs hormones but also the metabolism.

If you continue feeding your dog the same sort and amount of food after neutering, he could be at high risk of getting overweight and therefore developing joint diseases.

As many things on this list, this is different for all dogs though and needs to be judged on a case-by-case basis.

5. They could become more aggressive

I know that this completely contradicts everything that you have heard about neutering.

But studies have shown that neutering your dog can possibly lead to more aggression, food guarding, and fear, especially when it comes to leash reactivity.

Make sure to consult your vet about this topic because there is no one size fits all and it depends on your specific situation.

Not all vets are properly educated on this topic why it’s important to form your own opinion and check the research behind all arguments.

What Is The Best Age To Neuter a Male Dog?

If you have a good reason to neuter your dog, the general consensus is that the best age to neuter a small to medium-sized male dog is after they are at least 1 year old.

Large or giant dog breeds should be at least 2 years old.

Early neutering is usually considered neutering before physical maturity, which happens around 1 year of age for most dogs (although it can be up to 2 years for large and giant breeds).

Neutering a dog prior to this is associated with a variety of health problems.

Beyond waiting until your dog is at least a year old, the exact age that is best to neuter your dog may vary with your individual dog, including their size, breed, temperament, and health history.

There are still some reasons why people choose to neuter dogs early.

Rescues and shelters see the results of irresponsible dog owners and tend to neuter dogs before they are sent home in order to avoid the dog creating more puppies that come back to the shelter.

There are also some health concerns that would cause a dog to be better off neutered, including retained testicles.

If you’re a responsible dog owner and prevent your dog from contributing to accidental breedings, and your dog is otherwise healthy, it may be in their best interest to leave them intact.

Many of the risks that are mitigated with neutering, such as testicular cancer, don’t show up until later in life. However, having the procedure done too late (especially in females) is also associated with health risks.

When to Neuter a Large Breed

If you have a large or giant breed dog, you may especially want to consider waiting longer to neuter your dog.

Many of the problems associated with early neutering occur because hormones are removed before the dog is finished growing, and a large or giant breed dog may still be growing until 18-24 months of age.

It’s safest to wait to neuter a large breed dog until they are fully grown, at a minimum.

Fully grown is considered to be when the dog’s growth plates have closed, which takes longer the larger the dog.

The large breed of dog, Golden Retrievers, have been looked at in several studies on the effects of age and neutering.

Many Golden Retrievers are considered fully grown at about 1 year of age, so for the purposes of this study, early neutering was considered anything that happened before 1 year, and late neutering was anything after that.

In some cases, neutering at any age caused an increase in musculoskeletal health problems.

However, it was always the case that neutering before 1 year drastically increased the risk!

Effects of Neutering a Dog Too Early

Many of the effects of neutering a dog too early affect the musculoskeletal system.

In this study on Golden Retrievers, dogs that were neutered early had a much higher risk of many diseases than dogs that were left intact until after a year or dogs that were never neutered at all.

In particular, lymphosarcoma was found in almost 10 percent of male Golden Retrievers neutered before 1 year old. This is 3 times more than what was found in intact males.

Early neutered males were also diagnosed with hip dysplasia in about 10 percent of the group, which is double the rate for the intact males.

The study also found that some diseases, such as cranial cruciate ligament tears, were not present at all in intact males but were found in early neutered males (about 5 percent of the group).

While the Golden Retriever study only looked at one breed, other studies have found similar results.

In addition, there have been some studies that have shown a negative effect on the dog’s behavior if they are neutered early.

The testosterone present in intact males often helps dogs feel confident.

For shy and fearful dogs, removing the testosterone before they have finished going through their fear periods can lead to more fear-related behaviors in the future.

What To Expect After Neutering A Dog?

Immediately after neutering your dog, you’ll need to keep them calm and quiet as they recover from the surgery.

While your dog’s veterinarian will give you exact recovery instructions, the majority of dogs will need 10-14 days of limited activity to allow time for their stitches to heal.

It will also take some time for your dog’s body to get rid of the testosterone that was present when they were intact.

Because of this, you won’t see the full effect on any behavior due to the reduced testosterone levels for up to 6 weeks.

You will also still need to take care of making sure your dog doesn’t breed with any intact females during the 6 weeks after their neuter surgery because they can still remain fertile during this time.

Your dog’s metabolism will also often slow down. This means that while neutering doesn’t make your dog fat by itself, they may need fewer calories.

Do Male Dogs Change Their Behavior After Being Neutered?

Whether or not neutering changes your dog behavior depends on the age at which your dog was neutered as well as your individual dog.

For some dogs, they can be less obsessive about humping or searching for females.

While humping in dogs happens for many reasons, including stress and excitement, intact males are sometimes more persistent about it.

They also will have less of a reason to roam and search for intact females.

Not all dogs forget their desire to hump immediately after neutering, however. Since the presence of testosterone isn’t the only reason dogs hump, you may or may not see a reduction in this behavior.

Neutering before social maturity can lead to increased fears and anxieties in your dog.

If you have a dog prone to anxiety, it’s best to wait until they are mature to neuter them so they can establish a more stable temperament.

While it’s a common thought that neutering decreases the risk of aggression, it can also increase it in some cases.

A more important consideration if you are dealing with an aggression problem is to work with a qualified dog trainer, instead of relying on surgery to stop any problems.

Finally, you may see less urine marking in a neutered male. It’s not guaranteed that neutering will have any effect on urine marking, but it has been noted to decrease in neutered male dogs.

Danielle
In love with dogs, their behavior and psychology. I am writing on this blog since February 2019 to provide you with valuable information on everything dogs. When I am not working on my blog, I study research articles and enjoy the time with my beloved Rottweiler Amalia.

2 thoughts on “10 Pros and Cons of Neutering Your Dog”

  1. Help my standard poodle’s hormones (age 13 mo.) are so annoying. he has congestive heart failure so no surgery is possible. Also your article states his metabolism would slow down, probably not helpful to his heart. What can I do to chill him of this, other than distraction/exercise? ty wendy

    Reply
    • Hi Wendy, what you can do depends on the exact problem. If I understand correctly, you’ve planned to neuter your dog because he’s too active/overexcited and since that’s not an option, due to congestive heart failure, you’re seeking alternatives? (As mentioned neutering is not a behavior fix anyway and early neutering can be quite dangerous).

      If you’re dog needs activity, the only way to get him to calm down is by providing him with exercise.

      It’s normal for a 13mo dog to be active and you can introduce obedience training to get him to lay down on his place when it’s really inconvenient plus house manners in general (when to initiate play and when not to like bedtime for example).

      Mental exercise is a really big thing. If your dog like sniffing stuff, get him a snuffle mat or just scatter treats around the house and make it a game. Puzzle games are also great. Anything that tires out the mind, not only the body :).

      Cheers,
      Danielle

      Reply

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