Castrating a dog – or, in the case of a bitch spaying – is a recommended course of action. It’s a simple operation in both cases: for the dog, it’s the removal of the testes, and for the bitch it is the removal of the ovaries and uterus. These procedures are performed regularly and are standard, so they are safe. What’s the purpose of neutering?
For the male dog, it can help with some very annoying habits, such as marking his territory or excess aggression. For the female, it is about preventing her from breeding, and also precluding a number of ailments that can also come about if not neutered. So, it’s a good thing, and it should be done, but the question is this: at what age?
There are various opinions, but for the male dog it is generally safe to say he should be castrated between the ages of four and nine months old. For the bitch, the recommendation is before her first heat, which can come at around five months of age. It’s worth consulting your vet about the particular breed you have, if you want to be sure.
So, now you know that you need to get your dog neutered, let’s have a more detailed look at why it should be done, and the pros and cons of doing so.
Why You Should Neuter Your Dog
There are many reasons why neutering your dog or bitch is a good idea, so let’s talk about a few of them.
First, consider the health benefits: spaying your bitch means she suffers less chance of various illnesses – including cancer – that can come about via the ovaries and uterus. Likewise, castrating your dog eliminates the chances of testicular cancer, which is a real problem with some dogs. So, you are giving your dog a longer, healthier and more enjoyable life.
Then there’s the breeding element: you need to plan if you want puppies from your dogs, so an unexpected litter is not a good thing. Also, you then have to get rid of the puppies, and this can mean sending them to shelters. It’s a sad fact that many thousands of dogs end up being put to sleep as homes cannot be found for them, so you don’t want to be adding to that number.
As we have mentioned, a castrated dog will be a better behaved dog, but there is more to this than meets the eye. A dog that is not castrated will, quite naturally, be on the hunt for a mate. Dogs are resourceful and will try and get out of your garden if they can, perhaps by digging holes or burrowing under fences, or even jumping a wall. This is not only a problem if he does find a bitch to mate with, but also if the dog ends up n unfamiliar territory, gets scared, and perhaps runs into traffic.
The above, coupled with the reduction in possible aggression and stopping the dog from marking, are good reasons to follow the instructions and have your dog neutered, but what about those horror stories you read that tell you why you should not neuter your dog? Most are myths, so let’s get them out of the way!
Myths about Neutering
You may well have read that neutering your dog will make it lazy, and therefore it will become overweight. This is not true in the slightest. Neutering does not change the dog’s behaviour beyond the mentioned reduced aggression and eagerness to find a mate; he – or she – will still enjoy playing and exercise as much as before.
It’s also possible you’ve been told you’re having your dog or bitch ‘done’ too early. This is also something to be cautious of. A bitch can come into heat at a very young age – remember, dogs do not live as long as humans so they mature a lot earlier – so she needs to be neutered as soon as is possible to prevent her breeding.
Some people put off the procedure as they don’t want to put their dog through the pain. It’s a very simple operation, one that is carried out by routine, and that has a very quick recovery time. The minor discomfort your dog will feel for a couple of days after will be all that they suffer.
Now, you may decide that there is money to be made by breeding your dog. We recommend that you take a trip to a local shelter and see just how many unwanted dogs there are; they far outnumber the homes that are waiting for them. If you do want to breed, make sure you understand what is involved – it is simply not fair to have your dog bear a litter for the sake of it.
In short, neutering is a good thing; it helps the dog enjoy life more thoroughly and with fewer health problems, and it means you can enjoy your time with your beloved pet with fewer worries. Have a chat to your vet now, and take all the advice you can on when you should have your pet neutered – it makes sense.