Dog owners are sometimes confused over what age to neuter their dog. Well-intentioned friends and family offer suggestions, but how do you know what’s right?
Veterinarians won’t perform the surgery before 8 weeks of age. Realistically, it’s a complicated topic with opinions on both ends of the spectrum.
Ultimately, you want a healthy dog who has a long, happy life. This information is general in scope; the decision on what age to spay or neuter your dog isn’t a one-size-fits-all solution.
WHY SHOULD I HAVE MY DOG NEUTERED ANYWAY?
Dogs are regularly euthanized in America. They’re victims of over-population and irresponsible owners. Dogs are abandoned for any number of reasons, and unless they find permanent homes, their outcome is dire.
This video is related to having cats neutered but it was hilarious and I thought…balls are balls.
— Deplorable GTW (@amadmavworld) May 2, 2015
MY DOG IS ALREADY OVER A YEAR OLD, ISN’T IT TOO LATE TO HAVE HIM NEUTERED?
Actually, you’re right on time!
Veterinarians suggest allowing a larger breed dog to fully mature before neutering because:
- Large-breed dogs (Golden Retrievers, etc.) neutered before 6 months of age have shown to be three times more likely to tear their ACL (anterior cruciate ligament).
- Some dogs are twice as likely to develop hip dysplasia if neutered before 1 year of age.
- Dogs neutered too early with experience a substantial decline in testosterone, which comes from the testicles. Lack of testosterone could lead to obesity and abnormal skeletal development.
Recent studies highlight a limited breed selection, with the focus primarily on Golden Retrievers. Your veterinarian will help with the decision based on your dog’s breed, sex, and size.
KEEP HIM OUT OF THE HEN HOUSE!
Waiting a year to have your dog neutered means keeping him away from female dogs in heat. His behaviour will change and it will be harder to keep him inside.
The urge to roam is intense and normal barriers to freedom might not be enough. A pit bull in my neighbourhood was determined to escape his well-secured den when my female lab was in heat. He creatively found a way out and ended up in front of my living room window with his nose pushed against the glass.
You have to be confident about keeping your dog away from temptation. If you’re not, you might want to have him neutered earlier. Veterinarians would rather perform the surgery early than not at all.
WHAT HAPPENS IF I HAVE MY DOG NEUTERED BEFORE 6 MONTHS OF AGE?
The risks of having your dog neutered early include:
- the interruption of the thyroid hormones (T3 and T4), resulting in hypothyroidism (a slowing down of the dog’s system) or hyperthyroidism (speeding up of your dog’s system).
- the cessation of testosterone (made in the testicles) which results in abnormal growth development. This abnormal growth development causes structural problems in the bones, causing injuries like ACL tears, hip dysplasia, and obesity.
REMEMBER: Having your dog neutered a little earlier than recommended is still a better alternative than not at all.
- Are less aggressive
- Have fewer health problems
ARE THERE SERIOUS RISKS TO HAVING MY DOG NEUTERED?
Most veterinarians would say that the benefits of having your dog neutered far outweigh the risks. Studies show that waiting until your male dog reaches full maturity is best for the dog; however, it puts increased responsibility on the owner.
CAN I WAIT UNTIL I CAN AFFORD IT?
There are humane societies and other non-profit organizations who will help low-income families cover the costs of spaying or neutering.
If you live in Canada:
Contact the Canadian Federation of Humane Societies (CFHS). This organization represents humane societies across Canada.
The Canadian Federation of Humane Societies provides a list of clinics/shelters across the country that provide assistance in the spaying and neutering of pets. For a comprehensive report on strays who’ve been sheltered in Canada, you can also read their latest statistics.
If you live in the United States:
Contact the Humane Society of the United States. This organization works to protect animals nation-wide and operates through donations. They, too, can help you find low-cost clinics to spay or neuter your dog.
If you live in the United Kingdom:
Contact the Humane Society International organization. This non-profit organization will help you find affordable surgery. Interested in statistics? Check out the website for tons of information.
Your veterinarian is the best source of information and he/she will be able to advise you most appropriately. You obviously care about your dog, otherwise you wouldn’t be reading this. Help the global effort to reduce the overpopulation of pets and make an appointment now to have your dog neutered.
Thank you for taking the time to learn more about neutering your dog! Why not take a second to share this with friends and family with pets of their own?
The following infographic was supplied by the visual content gallery community of Visually.