Should I neuter my dog? Why? When?

Why you should never neuter your dog?

In this column, we will answer the question most often asked by our customers:

 Why should I neuter my dog?

In Canada, our shelters are full of dogs and cats abandoned for various reasons: overcrowding, unplanned litter, behavioral problems… So these are all problems for which sterilization provides a lasting solution.

Should I neuter my dog? Why? When?
Should I neuter my dog? Why? When?

You should also know that sterilization prevents the development of certain infections, certain cancers, and also that of other problems that can affect the health and well-being of your dog.

 So can you tell me at what age should I have my dog ​​neutered?

The answer is not simple, and veterinarians cannot yet say what suits each breed, each size, and each type of dog. And we must also take into account the lifestyle of the dog as well as that of its owner.

On the other hand, while it is clear that no one answer would suit all dogs, veterinarians generally agree that dogs from shelters should all be sterilized before adoption. Studies show that approximately 50% of unspayed adopted dogs will remain unspayed with their new owners. This situation exposes these dogs to behavioral problems and the development of certain diseases. Worse, these dogs risk being used for the production of new puppies, which brings us back to the serious problem of overpopulation.

Female dogs

female dogs should preferably be sterilized before their first heat. However, in some cases, it may be appropriate to allow sufficient time for the optimal development of the animal’s musculoskeletal system before proceeding with sterilization. The first heat can occur as early as 5 months of age for small breeds of dogs while for large breeds the first heat can occur later, i.e. around 8 to 10 months or more.

If you already have an unspayed puppy in your home, your veterinarian may recommend that you postpone the spay to a later time. This wait is particularly recommended for certain large breeds, in particular the Golden Retriever or the Rottweiler.


What are the advantages of sterilization at an early age (before the age of 6 months)?


Male dogs: the benefits of castration at a young age

  • Less expensive surgery (the cost of sterilization depends on your dog’s weight)
  • Reduction of undesirable behaviors such as aggression between males, marking, and wandering (searching for a sexual partner)
  • Reduced incidence of intra- and post-surgical complications, such as scrotal hematomas and self-inflicted trauma at the site of surgery
  • Faster and less painful recovery
  • Reduction or elimination of prostate problems such as infections and hyperplasia
  • Reduction or elimination of testicular cancer, perianal tumors, and perineal hernias


Bitches: The benefits of neutering at an early age

  • Less expensive surgery (the cost of sterilization depends on your dog’s weight)
  • Elimination of inconveniences related to the heat cycle (oestrus)
  • Reduced incidence of intra- and post-surgical complications such as bleeding and self-inflicted trauma at the site of surgery
  • Faster and less painful post-operative recovery.
  • Reduction in the incidence of mammary cancers, especially if the female dog is spayed before the first estrus
  • Prevention of uterine infections, ovarian cysts and tumors, uterine tumors, and vaginal hyperplasia


What are the disadvantages of sterilization at a young age? Are there any disadvantages to sterilization at any age?

What needs to be considered are the higher incidences of certain orthopedic and medical conditions. Here they are :

 Large Breed Dogs: Orthopedic Considerations

Recent studies indicate that certain orthopedic conditions may be more common in large breeds such as the Rottweiler and Golden Retriever when dogs of these breeds are neutered at an early age.

The dog spayed at a young age will be taller (higher on the legs) than its parents and its non-neutered siblings. This is because the growth plates of the long bones and the pelvis close up to 4 months later in the absence of the hormones testosterone or estrogen. This larger size affects the knee and hip angles, as well as movement dynamics in large, active dogs. Consequently, there will be a higher frequency of injuries to the knee (stretching and rupture of the anterior cruciate ligament), and the hips (dysplasia), in the sterilized dog. Knee cruciate ligament injuries are most common in medium and large-breed dogs, but can sometimes affect small breeds as well.

Neutered and intact Rottweilers

Neutered and intact Rottweilers all have a very high incidence of bone tumors (osteosarcomas). Regardless of neutered age, a recent study demonstrated an incidence of osteosarcoma in 1 in 6 neutered Rottweilers, compared to 1 in 8 unneutered Rottweilers.

Depending on the size, breed, and lifestyle of your dog, your veterinarian may therefore advise you to wait until the age of 10-12 months before having your large breed dog sterilized, either, for these breeds, around the age of puberty.


It is important to note that these orthopedic conditions, and many others as well, are common in dogs. So even if you don’t have your dog spayed, he won’t be immune to either of these conditions.

It is also important to weigh things up by considering the risk posed by these orthopedic conditions as presented above, versus the benefits of sterilization at an early age.

 For all dog breeds: 

Prostate cancer appears to have a higher incidence in neutered dogs, but the overall incidence of prostate cancer is comparatively low, affecting around 1 in 300 male dogs.

In the female dog, hormonal urinary incontinence consists of a relaxation of the sphincters of the urethra, letting a small quantity of urine flow out when the bladder is too full. This usually happens when the female dog is asleep. This problem occurs in a very small percentage of spayed female dogs over time, and can even occur up to 10 years after spay. So, in this case, it is not the age at which she was sterilized that is in question. However, this problem is easily managed with medication.


So should I neuter my dog?

Yes! Veterinary practices and recommendations promoting sterilization have reduced rates of euthanasia, abandonment, and overcrowding in our shelters. In addition and above all, sterilized dogs live longer and healthier.


What is the best age to have my dog ​​neutered?

In summary and conclusion, we say that it is impossible to issue a recommendation that would be perfectly suitable for all dogs. Thus, to determine the most appropriate age for your animal, it is necessary to weigh up, on the one hand, the known risk factors and, on the other, the benefits of sterilization which take into account its breed, gender, height, and lifestyle.

What do you think?

Written by Amma

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