To Neuter or Not to Neuter: Dogs

Some people think that neutering will make their male dog fat. Is there any truth to this? What are the real benefits or risks?

Spaying refers to surgically altering a female dogs reproductive cycle, making her unable to have puppies. It is commonly done around six months of age, but may be done earlier or later, depending on a veterinarians preferences. Even elderly dogs can be spayed.
Neutering refers to the removal of the testicles in a male dog, to end their reproductive ability. It is commonly done to male dogs when they are between six and ten months of age, but can be done to older animals as well.

This article is written in reference to neutering male dogs.

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Reasons To Neuter Your Dog

  1. Neutering reduces, or stops, a dogs unwanted spraying, or marking of territory with their urine.
  2. Neutered dogs tend to wander less, as an intact male dog can smell a female in heat from miles away. In most areas an owner may be subject to a fine if their dog is out of their yard. A roaming dog is more at risk of being hurt or killed by traffic, or other dogs.
  3. Removes the chance of the dog developing testicular cancer, and reduces the chances of a dog developing prostate problems.
  4. Reduces some negative social behaviors, such as leg humping.
  5. Particularly in dogs, neutering reduces aggressive behavior, towards people, and other dogs.
  6. May result in a friendlier, more obedient, and less aloof, dog.
  7. A dog who is not breeding, will not catch any of the canine sexually transmitted diseases.
  8. In some areas that require licensing of dogs, the fees are often lower if the dog is neutered.
  9. Neutered dogs have longer lifespans.
  10. Reduces the tendency for a male dogs to get into fights, these fights often result in infections or spreading disease.
  11. The dog will not contribute to the large number of unwanted puppies.
  12. Neutered dogs are far more likely to find homes if for some reason you have to give it up, than would an unfixed male.

Reasons Not to Neuter Your Dog

  1. There is a very small risk of complication, or death during surgery, usually due to reaction to the anesthetic. Veterinarians can test pets for allergies prior to surgery.
  2. A purebred, registered dog, who is an excellent example of the breed, and has attended shows to prove such, may be a good dog for breeding purposes. If you are intent on breeding your dog, he should definitely attend dog shows to prove his quality.

Some people claim that neutering a dog makes it fat or lazy. In fact dogs settle down more at about the same age they get fixed at, so other than to eliminate wandering, neutering has not made the dog lazy. As far as a dog getting fat, this is generally more the result of poor food, one with lots of fillers, or gravies, rather than from the neutering.

All in all the benefits and reasons for neutering a male dog outweigh the reasons against it. People do not realize the contributions one dog can make to the population. In one year an intact male may father many litters with an average of four to ten pups each, smaller breeds tending to have fewer pups. If there are enough females around, he could father hundreds of pups in a year. If all of these pups find homes, and only half get fixed, then in the second year, it is possible that the dog population, has increased by several hundred animals. One must remember that every pup born which finds a home, takes a home away from another puppy, who will not be so lucky. In the United States alone, the number of pups euthanized every year numbers is in the millions.

If a person has a male and female dog, and can only afford to fix one of them, is is far more important that they spay the female. If a person cannot afford to get a pet altered, they should not get a pet or can select to start with one that was already fixed. Ultimately the number one thing a pet owner can do is be responsible, yes, your dog is undoubtedly wonderful, handsome beyond a doubt, and would have cute pups, but there are already millions of puppies waiting for homes.

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User Comments
  1. Ruby Hawk

    On July 12, 2008 at 10:29 pm

    A lot of good information pro and con to help you decide to neuter or not.

  2. MJ

    On April 6, 2009 at 3:11 pm

    I hope people do their research and read several more articles on neutering than just this very simplistic one. Any operation has its risks along with the benefits and neutering is not an exception. Many serious health risks have been identified in neutered male and female dogs as well as detrimental behavioural changes. Many of the behavioural problems owners do have with intact dogs are in reality, training problems. As an example,Veterinary research proves that neutered males have higher incidences of prostate cancer. Many prostate problems are reduced by neutering but, sadly, prostate cancer is not one of them. Prostate cancer is actually 4 times more likely in a neutered male than in an intact male. Here are some research articles to check out if you want to educate yourself on this topic.

    Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay / Neuter in Dogs
    Laura J. Sanborn, M.S.
    May 14, 2007
    Determining the optimal age for gonadectomy of dogs and cats,
    Margaret V. Root Kustritz, dvm, phd, dact

    You can find others as well, if you care to do your research. As a caveat, there is no doubt that the owner of an intact animal has a much greater responsibility to prevent an unwanted litter. Both articles will urge the reader to consider all points carefully and make up their own mind as to the decision that is best for them and their pet. P.S. I was not allowed to post the URLs to those articles but you should be able to search for them by title or author

  3. dgirl

    On September 29, 2012 at 1:45 am

    Here is a study done by Rutgers University, devoid of emotional crap that is never supported by hard evidence. I have a 2 yr old intact labradoodle who is calm minded, does not wander, does not mark, has beautiful musculature and does not go wild for the ladies, meaning, he isn’t trying to run away and go doggie stylin’ after every b*th he sees.

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