The most contentious debate in dog ownership is whether or not to neuter or spay your pup.
There are plenty of scientific facts and arguments for sterilization as well as against it, so understanding what happens if you do or don’t do it becomes very important!
Fixing a dog prevents unwanted pregnancy, can calm the dog down, stops weird sexual behavior, reduces marking, keeps female dogs cleaner, and stops prostate and ovarian cancers. The downsides include structure and joint issues, increased risk of other cancers, anxiety and fear, fur quality reduction, UTI or incontinence, and weight gain.
In this article, I will list the pros and cons of neutering and spaying so that you can make an informed decision for your dog.
Remember, there is no one-size-fits-all with decisions like that, and you may not experience the same benefits or detriments.
Ready? Let’s dive in.
There are some benefits to fixing your dog, primarily in peace of mind for the owner. Here are some of the pros:
The number one reason dogs get spayed and neutered is to prevent pregnancy. With your dog fixed, there is no possible way they can impregnate or become pregnant.
Overpopulation is a massive problem in the United States, as disclosed by animal shelters and rescue organizations. With over two million dogs produced yearly, not all of them are bred by responsible breeders (most are not), and not all end up in good homes (around 800k end up in animal shelters).
Spaying and neutering prevent unwanted puppies from entering the world and contributing to the population pool. Breeding should be reserved for responsible, ethical breeders looking to improve a specific breed.
Sexual hormones, especially in males, can make dogs hyperactive, aggressive, and antsy. If an unneutered male dog is around an unaltered female, he will go berserk!
Some indicators that your male dog is ready to mate would easily drive any dog owner crazy. Sterilizing can help keep your dog chill.
However, it will only solve sexual hormones-related aggressiveness, so don’t think it’ll be the ultimate easy solution for all aggressive behaviors your dog exhibits. You should consult a professional dog trainer to figure out whether your dog’s aggressiveness is due to sexual factors or not.
A female’s heat cycle includes some bleeding out of her feminine region. As such, not having a heat cycle from spaying can keep your female cleaner and more hygienic.
There is also less effort on your end as you don’t have to manage a heat cycle, no doggy diapers, no doggy panties, and no cleaning up of the home!
As mentioned in the section about dogs being calmer, male dogs especially exhibit some gross and bizarre behaviors related to obsessing with females.
Some of the behaviors include your male dog marking more often than before, licking a female’s pee in heat, starting drooling, or doing a behavior known as teeth chattering. In addition, both genders may obsessively mount or hump.
Neutering and spaying may stop these behaviors altogether.
Although prostate and ovarian cancers are at a lower percentage than in humans, it is still possible for them to get it.
These cancers are even more prevalent in breeds such as bulldogs, German shepherds, and more. By removing the testicles and ovaries, you completely eradicate the chance of your dog developing one of these aggressive cancers.
Neutering and spaying permanently alter your dog’s body, which isn’t without risks. Be aware of some of the downsides to making a good decision for your pup!
Early sterilization (before your dog has finished their growth and reached maturity) has been scientifically tied to several health implications. Some of these issues include:
If you choose to neuter or spay your dog, be sure to do so after the body has had the full time to reach maturity.
That is because the same hormones responsible for sex in a dog are also highly influential in proper growth in your puppy! By sterilizing at the correct age, you can decrease the risk of your dog developing the above complications.
Studies have linked spaying and neutering with dogs’ anxiety, phobias, and fear-aggression.
A study conducted by a slew of scientists pooling a large number of dogs found that dogs that were neutered tended to show more signs of aggression, anxiety, and phobias than unaltered dogs.
These behavioral changes don’t have to do with sexual urges or impulses but, on the contrary, have to do with a lack of sex hormones present in the system.
Both neutering and spaying will impact your dog’s coat quality and health, primarily in longer-haired dogs. Coats can either thin tremendously or become well overgrown more than they should.
This is because spaying and neutering remove hormones, and removing those hormones can impact the thyroid and endocrine system… which, in turn, affects your dog’s coat. If you value your dog’s fluffy aesthetic, this is something to think about.
For the same reason your dog’s coat can be impacted, so can their weight. Much like mucking with hormones in humans, altering them in dogs can cause weight gain. The body begins regulating weight differently (or stops completely) which can put on some pounds on your dog.
Incontinence or chronic urinary tract infections (UTI) issues can exist in spayed or neutered dogs (with female dog spays being the bigger culprit).
This can be attributed to a hormonal imbalance due to lacking sexual hormones or complications resulting from the surgery.
It’s important to have your dog evaluated by a veterinarian if any of these issues showcase, as options will be presented on how to mitigate these issues.
Whether you should or shouldn’t sterilize your dog is very dependent upon your personal beliefs and what kind of pet owner you are. It is possible to have a healthy and happy dog whatever your choice; just best to be informed!
Equally, if you are in the United States, there may be a legal requirement in your area, so if you choose not to spay or neuter, be sure to have the correct permissions or permits from your city (to ensure you don’t get in trouble). States or cities requiring spaying or neutering have permits you can apply to keep your dog intact.
If you are in Europe, many countries have made spaying and neutering illegal - so the decision has been taken from you; keep that in mind as well.
Because the animals are not sterilized there, you must accept the legal responsibility of ensuring your dog doesn’t breed without permission. There are strict consequences to dogs mating without the wonders holding a breeding license.
For those that want their dog sterilized but not lacking hormones, vasectomies for male dogs and ovary-sparing spays for female dogs are an option.