• Raychel Hill BSc (Hons)

Neutering a male dog. Pros & Cons


Following on from so called ‘dominance’ I had a client who came to me for some neutering advice after a dog sitter related their dog’s behaviour to male dominance and advised that the dog was neutered.

Unfortunately there is a strong myth surrounding canine behaviour of dominance- this is purely a myth with no scientific evidence and there is mounting scientific evidence against this idea of dominance. Click Here to read more about dog dominance



Pros

With neutering a male dog there is of course the benefit of population control which is a very important benefit with considering how many dogs are in shelters, in need of a forever home. If you decide not to neuter your male dog you will need to focus more time into achieving a solid recall as a female can be smelt from a long way away.

Also there is the added benefit that a neutered male dog has a significantly reduced risk of testicular cancer. Approximately 7% of entire dogs develop a testicular tumour, however without the testes- a tumour cannot grow there. If your dog’s testes have not dropped, the retained testicle(s) is 14X more likely to develop a tumour.

It also has the potential to reduce the risk of prostate disorders and prevent the development of testosterone related behaviours such as urinary marking. However if the behaviour is already occurring castration will not cure the behaviour and in some cases it is anxiety driven. If your dog is “marking” please consider potential causes before considering neutering your dog.

  • Is he nervous or stressed?

  • Is he completely house trained? (A puppy is not considered house trained until at least 8 months of age)

  • Does he have a urinary tract infection?

Cons

However, because testosterone underpins confidence in male, having a significant intervention into a major bodily system that undermines the basis of confidence can be reasonably said to be unhelpful. So whilst considering neutering your male dog it is essential to assess their confidence and whether they are nervous. Many undesirable behaviours such as urine marking, humping, aggression and barking can also be due anxiety and in this case it is wise to put off neutering and work with your dog to increase their confident generally and at a later date you may feel it necessary to neuter or to try a Suprelorin implant.

Also as neutering is changing your dog’s hormone balance, as well as the potential to increase nervousness and fear based aggression it also can triple the risk of obesity due to the change in metabolism. Testosterone also has been found to offer some protection against hemangosarcoma (an aggressive, malignant tumour of blood vessel cells) and increase the risk of developing hypothyroidism and a geriatric cognitive impairment later on in life as the reproductive hormones are thought to help protect the brain.

Early neutering

Unfortunately neutering your puppy before it has fully grown can have a negative effect on his development. Your dog's reproductive hormones help his bones and joints develop properly. If you remove those hormones too early, they don't have enough time to complete their valuable work.

  • Early neutering causes the leg bones to grow unevenly. This leaves your dog more vulnerable to hip dysplasia and torn ligaments.

  • Early neutering makes a dog four times as likely to get bone cancer, a deadly cancer that mostly occurs in large and giant dogs.

Therefore it is very important that you do only consider neutering once your dog is fully grown and a well balanced adult dog.

As neutering is a personal decision, here is some further links to neutering articles and effects on behaviour to help you make your decision:

APBC Neutering Male Dogs

APBC Summary of Castration Risks and Benefits

Why the decision to neuter has become more complicated

Behavioural Risks with Neutering Males

Long Term Effects of Neutering Dogs

Correlation of neuter status and expression of heritable disorders

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