The Facts About Spaying & Neutering

Whether or not to have a dog spayed (removing the ovaries and uterus) or neutered (removing the testicles) is an important decision you must make with the help of your veterinarian and the collective advice of other animal care professionals.

There are many different opinions when it comes to spaying and neutering, and some people are hesitant to do so for fear their dog will put on weight, the dog’s personality will change or he/she will develop behavioral issues as a result. Some veterinarians say that neutering before the dog is 6 months of age should be avoided because of growth problems, while others state that early neutering will have little effect on the dog’s growth.

Why Should You Spay/Neuter Your Dog?

  • Whatever confusion there is about when and if to neuter, there is no dispute that neutering is the most significant way to reduce pet overpopulation in areas where people are unable/unwilling to contain their dogs. Millions of dogs are euthanized every year around the world because there are not enough homes to accommodate them.
  • Neutering a male dog will eliminate the risk of testicular cancer and lower the chance of prostate disease and rectal tumors.
  • Neutered male dogs are less likely to roam, scent mark, mount or hump other dogs. They tend to be less reactive, are more able to listen and are less sexually competitive with other males.
  • Spaying a female eliminates the risk of pyometra (a potentially fatal infection of the uterus), uterine cancer and may reduce the risk of mammary tumors in later life, though this theory is under dispute.
  • A female will have no heat cycles and consequently less mood changes associated with going into heat.
  • Spaying or neutering dogs that are already showing aggressive tendencies might not help reduce these tendencies and might cause the behavior to increase, so behavioral therapy is needed along with neutering to ensure that the aggressive behavior is addressed appropriately.
  • If you are a responsible guardian and keep your dog contained, leashed or under control when off leash, there is less chance that your dog will add to the pet population problem and therefore spaying and neutering might not be the best option for you.  There is mounting evidence that spaying and neutering pups at a very early age, before puberty, can cause growth/health problems in later life due to the lack of sex hormones in the body.
  • If you are unable to contain your dog, you should consider having your dog spayed or neutered.

Spay/Neuter Myths Debunked

  • Myth #1:  My dog will get fat after being sterilized.
    False! Spaying and neutering might have an effect on your dog’s metabolism but if you monitor your dog’s food intake, do not feed scraps from the table, and give him plenty of exercise, your sterilized dog will stay fit and trim.
  • Myth #2:  My dog came from champion bloodlines and my breeder says it's my responsibility to breed him.
    Your dog might help create a beautiful litter, but most responsible breeders require that their puppies are altered before a certain age. If your dog was responsible for a litter of puppies, and none of the puppies in that litter were altered, your dog could be responsible for the birth of 200 puppies in just one year. Talk about adding to the pet overpopulation problem!
  • Myth #3:  My dog needs to experience being a mother.
    Motherhood is physically and mentally draining on a female dog. Every litter counts: evidence shows that female dogs spayed before their first heat cycle are healthier than those that are not, though this is also now in dispute. In general, if your dog tends to roam and you are unable to contain him or her, it is a sensible idea to spay or neuter your dog unless he/she does confirmation (is used for showing) or you are a responsible breeder.
  • Myth #4:  This is the best chance for my kids to witness the miracle of life.
    Often the miracle of life is not as wonderful as you might imagine. Especially in large litters, there is often a stillborn or a puppy that dies soon after birth. The so-called miracle could be quite  traumatic for a child. If you want teach your children responsibility and help care for pets in need, consider becoming a foster parent for your local rescue group.
  • Myth #5:  My dog will lose his manhood.
    The concept of 'manhood' is entirely a human one. Dogs are not able to conceptualize sexuality or sexual identity. Neutering your male dog will not make him any less ‘manly.’


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5 thoughts on “Spay/Neuter

  1. The Animal Scientist

    These are great points for average dog owners, except the most recent peer reviewed studies show the opposite results. Premature spay/neuter may cause behavioral issues and cancer. See the article below. The key is to do research on your own and discuss the pros/cons with your vet. Having an intact dog is a huge responsibility (and it is not for everyone), but we need to take responsibility for our pets and what we do to them. #bringingscienceback

  2. Jennipher Cunningham

    Animal Scientist - I really disagree with this 'study'. Where is the control? The dogs all live different lives and eat different foods...there are so many veritables it is a joke. This study with the Vizsla and the other done with the Golden Retrievers just seem to me to be the breed groups trying to pass the buck to the owners and blaming them for instances of Hip Dysplasia and cancers. Are the blood lines used in these studies taken into account? If what that are claiming is true then the same numbers should be seen in shelter pups, which are altered at a super young age to insure owners have altered pets and a attempt to keep the pet population low. But the fact is for generations we have been spaying and neutering mutts nearly as soon as they can take the surgery (the shelter I worked at for years did it as soon as a pup was 5 pounds!), yet the instances of these cancers and joint issues in mutts in still remarkably less then in the pure breed dog strains. I just want to stress the need to have a keen eye for these types of studies, I am having lots of people not only quoting these studies but breeders are even now requiring people to keep their dogs intact for the first 18 months in blind faith of these studies, the end result? Lots of fish out of water pet owners with dogs having behavioral issues directly link to hitting puberty - trust me I get the calls! The average pet owner is not aware of the norm behaviors they may encounter whilst waiting for some magic age to get their pet altered. The average owner is going to think something is wrong with the dog and dump it at the shelter. The other concern is accidental breeding that has and will happen with these, once again unaware owners.
    IN THE END - The touted risks these studies try to pin to spay/neutering is not worth the real risk of destroying all our hard work in getting the average pet owner to alter their pets.

  3. lunarlander

    I wish alternatives to spaying and neutering were more promoted to the public as well. Not everyone can afford to get a dog altered, and not all areas have low-cost or free clinics. I think in addition to spaying/neutering; we should also be focusing on educating people on recognizing the signs that their dog or cat are in heat and when it actually ends (not just when the bleeding stops), and how to prevent litters in other ways. Belly bands, 100% supervision, no off-leash time, keep them indoors, etc. Not only that, but making them realize how much impact just one litter of kittens or puppies can have, and that for every new kitten or puppy it means that a shelter pet has that much less of a chance.

  4. Smith2895

    I had a rescue dog from a shelter which was dumped at the shelter because "He became aggressive AFTER he was neutered...

    And he is not the only one....... neutering an animal who is fearful or nervous will make it worse!

    And I am not even talking about all other problems early neutering can cause... you NEED hormones to mature in animals the same as in humans...... just think about it what would happen if you removed the hormones from 10 years old kids (or younger)... Don't even try to tell me that it is healthy and has no side effects.

    In some European countries you are not even allowed to neuter or spay unless for medical reason and those are the countries who got the least problems with over populations and filled up shelters... now wonder why that is.....
    Instead of endangering dog's health by blanked early neutering the law for breeding should change...... get rid of puppy farms and you will have no dog over population!!
    It is not the accidental litters that are filling the shelters, but people who breed on purpose.

  5. Janet Wright

    That being said, you don't know what else was happening in that dog's world when he became aggressive. The issues with not spaying or neutering are based upon the human experience of "I cannot manage my intact dog correctly." I know of one owner who could and always did manage her intact bitch correctly, Her dogs have never reproduced, but this is not typical. I know of several intact dogs who have been killed in search of the bitch in heat 10 miles away. An intact bitch can be easily fence bred by several males. While I agree with you on the puppy farms who are filling our shelters, until the USDA changes canine classification from livestock to companion animal, these mills have federal protection.

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