Neutering your Dog: The Pros and Cons

There is a lot of confusion about whether neutering is a good idea or not. Even our trusted vets can’t seem to agree. So, here are my pro’s and con’s to neutering your dog. Hopefully, you can make your own mind up as to whether it is right for your dog!

Pros of Neutering

There are many potential benefits to neutering your dog. Some of the most common benefits include:

  • Reduced risk of certain types of cancer and infections. Neutering can help to reduce the risk of certain types of sex related cancers and infections, such as testicular cancer in males and mammary cancer and uterine infections in females. It also massively cuts down the risk of phantom pregnancies in females.
  • Reduced aggression. Neutering can help to reduce aggression in both male and female dogs as it reduces the levels of hormones associated with aggression.
  • Reduced roaming. Neutering can dramatically reduce the urge to roam and escape in male dogs. With reduced sex hormones, dogs are far less interested in females that are in heat.
  • Reduced marking behavior. Neutering can help to reduce the urge to mark territory in both male and female dogs. This can be especially important if you have a dog that is prone to spraying urine around the house.
  • No unplanned pregnancies. Neutering is the most effective way to prevent unwanted pregnancies in dogs. The world has too many puppies as it is, plus pregnancy and motherhood is particularly stressful for a first time mum.
  • Dogs Live Longer. According to a study of 40,000 dogs; males live 13.8% longer, and females 26.3% longer than their entire counterparts.
Recovery time is important when considering the pros and cons of neutering your dog:

Myth Busted – Neutering calms down hyper dogs

Not true! Neutering only affects behaviour that is driven by sex hormones such as confidence and aggression.

Cons of Neutering

There are also some potential risks associated with neutering your dog. Some of the most common risks include:

  • Increased risk of obesity. Neutering can lead to an increased risk of obesity in dogs. This is because neutering can cause a decrease in metabolism. Of course, you could amend your dogs diet to compensate.
  • Behaviour may not change. If you are only neutering for behavioural reasons, it’s important to know that not all dogs are affected by the change in hormones. If you are hoping to reduce aggression in a male dog, you might consider trying chemical castration first.
  • Incontinence. Incontinence is a rare but possible side effect of neutering in female dogs. This is because the surgery can damage the nerves that control urination. This risk can be dramatically reduced by early neutering.
  • Other surgical risks. As with any surgery, there are some risks associated with neutering, such as infection and bleeding. These risks are usually very small, but it is important to be aware of them before making a decision about whether or not to neuter your dog.
  • Recovery time. With standard neutering there is a recovery period of around 10-14 days where you’ll need to take extra care of your dog to prevent further injury. This might include stopping walks, and extra supervision. Having keyhole surgery could almost eliminate the need fora lot of this.
  • Increased anxiety. Sex hormones are connected to confidence levels. Whilst confident dogs may not be noticeably affected, dogs that struggle with anxiety might get worse.

Myth – Female dogs should have a season before neutering.

Not true, although some vets still advise this, the RVC recommend doing it before the first season.

When is the right time?

In behavioural terms, I think the best time to neuter is just as the dog turns 6 months of age. Dogs go through a fear stage between 6-8 months and 14-18 months of age. So, this can be a bad time to do it. If you can’t do it before this phase, then it’s best to wait until the phase has fully passed.

The Royal Veterinary College advises that neutering is more effective if dog has not yet had a season. They also recommend that doing it at 6 months of age virtually eliminates the risk of uterine incontinence in females, and offers better risk reduction of sex infections and cancers.

Making the Decision

The decision of whether or not to neuter your dog is a really personal one. There are plenty of pros and cons to consider. What’s right for you and your dog may not be right for another. And a lot will depend on your own reasons for neutering. My advice is to take your time and do plenty of research.


Are you struggling with your dogs behaviour?

It may not be necessary to neuter your dog. Private Dog Behaviour Consultations are currently available in the greater Dundee area and beyond, or via zoom when further afield.

If you are looking for help solving your dogs behaviour and training problems, then please get in touch!

Caroline
Caroline

I have more than 15 years experience solving all kinds of canine behaviour problems, at home and in rescue. A bad experience with a old fashioned dog trainer inspired me to learn more about dog behaviour, and it is because of him, that I wall never use harsh methods when training and rehabilitating dogs.

I work privately with clients in Dundee and the surrounding area with dogs of all ages, breeds and issues including anxiety, aggression and hyperactivity.

In 2009 I was proud to publish a book about dog behaviour and training. How to be the Perfect Pack Leader (by Caroline Jenkins) remains popular today and a follow up is expected very shortly.

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