Neutering your dog brings a host of health and behavioural benefits, and is the only way to prevent unwanted pregnancies. Find out more about what’s involved.
What is neutering?
Neutering is the process of preventing dogs from reproducing. The simple, safe procedure is called castration in males and spaying in females.
Both operations are carried out under general anaesthetic and have minimal side effects.
Should I neuter my dog?
There are many health, behavioural and social reasons why neutering can be a good idea for both male and female dogs.
- Neutering your male dog significantly reduces the risk of prostate disease and testicular cancer.
- Castration can also have a positive effect on your dog’s behaviour by removing the main source of testosterone. This hormone can contribute to aggressive or undesirable behaviours, including scent-marking and mounting.
- Spaying your dog reduces the risk of developing breast cancer and prevents a fatal womb infection called pyometra.
- Female dogs come into season twice a year for three weeks at a time. This can be messy and often attracts a stream of hopeful male dogs looking to mate. Spaying your dog eliminates the issue as well as the threat of unwanted pregnancy, which can be risky and expensive.
- Many unneutered (or “intact”) dogs can experience a false pregnancy which can cause behavioural and medical problems.
Ultimately, the decision to neuter your dog is completely up to you and the needs of your dog. Although rare, any surgical procedure carries a degree of risk. Your vet will be happy to advise you on the best choice for your dog.
Types of neutering
In a standard castration procedure, the testicles are removed, which takes away the main source of the male hormone testosterone. This results in the male being unable to reproduce.
There are other alternatives to a traditional castration, including chemical castration (which uses medication to disrupt the production of testosterone) and a vasectomy (which leaves the testicles intact but removes the ability to reproduce). However, these aren’t common in dogs and aren’t recommended over the standard method.
The standard spay operation involves the complete removal of the ovaries and uterus, making her unable to become pregnant.
A laparoscopic, or keyhole, spay is a modern alternative to the traditional method and only removes the ovaries. This is a less invasive operation, requiring only a small incision and a shorter healing time. It also causes less pain than a standard procedure and minimises the risk of complications. Keyhole spays require specialist equipment and training and can be more expensive than the standard spay.
Usually, the best time to neuter your dog is while they’re a puppy. Dog’s reach sexual maturity around six to seven months old, but this can vary depending on their breed. To avoid unwanted pregnancy, it’s best to neuter them before they reach this age. Your vet will be able to recommend the best time to neuter your puppy based on their breed and individual needs.
Do dogs change after being neutered?
Although certain hormone-led behaviours may decrease, ie mounting, marking and aggression, your dog’s personality won’t change after neutering.
Neutering can be useful in calming dogs and aiding behavioural training. However, neutering alone isn’t a substitute for consistent, positive training and socialisation, particularly in puppies.
How long does it take to recover?
Dogs usually recover fairly quickly after they’ve been neutered. Pain-relief is given to help your dog feel as comfortable as possible, and most dogs are back on their feet within a few hours.
It typically takes less than 10 days for the wound to heal if it’s kept clean and your dog can’t lick it.