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Benefits and Risks of Neutering Dogs

Adrienne is a certified dog trainer and former veterinarian assistant who partners with some of the best veterinarians worldwide.

Every dog owner should learn about the pros and cons of neutering so they make an informed decision and the right choice for their pup.

Every dog owner should learn about the pros and cons of neutering so they make an informed decision and the right choice for their pup.

Pros and Cons of Neutering

Dog owners, especially those that have a dog for the first time, may be reluctant to consider neutering their dog once he becomes sexually mature. The reason behind this reluctance may be tied to the still-popular concept that dogs become "fat and lazy" once they are altered. Some owners may simply fear that complications might arise if their dog goes "under."

When it comes to neutering male dogs, safety statistics are overall very encouraging. It is estimated that chances of death due to complications when going under anesthesia are very low. Overall, neutering is a very safe routine procedure with veterinarians often neutering and spaying an average of six to seven dogs per day.

Becoming "fat and lazy" is pretty much a myth. However, this can become true for dog owners that tend to overfeed their dogs and/or refrain from properly exercising their best friend. If a neutered dog is exercised and fed wisely, he will remain slim and be a perfect picture of health.

Health Benefits of Neutering Dogs

When it comes to evaluating the future health of a dog, neutering dogs comes with a good list of health benefits.

  • Lower testicular cancer risk. Since the testicles are removed, neutered dogs have an almost zero chance of suffering from testicular cancer.
  • Fewer prostate issues
  • Less likely to develop perianal tumors
  • Behavior issues related to hormones may improve significantly
  • Decreased tendency to roam in search of a soul mate or behave aggressively towards other competitive males. A female in estrus may be detected even miles away and an intact male will do what he can to reach her. He will charge and fight over her if there are competitors in the area. He may stray away for days and even turn down food.

It is important to point out that neutering is not a miracle cure. If your dog has significant behavior issues chances are high they will still be there once the testosterone is gone—especially if they are based on fear and have a history of rehearsal.

Health Risks of Neutering Dogs

While there are many benefits to neutering, but there are some risks, as well, and not many veterinarians will discuss this. While many of these health risks do not occur frequently, they still require attention.

  • Increased risk of osteosarcoma in large-breed dogs. Owners of large breed dogs may not be aware of a deadly form of bone cancer called osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma presents mainly in large-breed dogs, typically once middle-aged to seniority. The incidence of osteosarcoma increases if male dogs are neutered before one year of age. With this in mind, owners of large breed dogs should wait before neutering at the standard age of six months.
  • Higher incidence of hypothyroidism, senior cognitive disfunction, and hemangiosarcoma.
  • Possible increase in aggression? While many vets still recommend neutering to decrease aggression, there are some newer studies that suggest an increase in aggression in neutered dogs.
Make the right decision for your pup.

Make the right decision for your pup.

Other Benefits to Consider

When neutering a dog, owners do an enormous favor to the overwhelming pet population in shelters. Serious genetically inherited disorders, such as hip dysplasia or eye problems, can be abruptly halted. While some owners may not want to neuter their male because they want to experience the "miracle of birth" or because they believe their dog is handsome, they must be humble enough to realize that they are a far cry away from becoming a reputable breeder.

Breeding takes major effort and breeding studs need to be evaluated and certified to be genetically disease-free. Breeding a dog is overall an easy task but breeding responsibly is another story. Professional breeders spend enormous amounts of money and time and are popular in the show ring. They are highly responsible, willing to take back their puppies back should problems arise.

As seen neutering comes with many benefits and some risks to keep in mind. Large breed dogs prone to bone cancer should wait until one year old if possible. It is best to consult with a veterinarian with questions, concerns and advice on when to neuter a dog and possible complications.

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. It is not meant to substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, or formal and individualized advice from a veterinary medical professional. Animals exhibiting signs and symptoms of distress should be seen by a veterinarian immediately.

© 2009 Adrienne Farricelli

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Sheila Laurenz on March 13, 2013:

I was going to get my two american Eskimos nuterd on Monday but I have decided not to do it unless medically necessary I'm not takeing the risk I love my babies and don't want them in harms way there is to many fishy things about what goes on in that office and I just can't do it thanks for helping me make my decision I have been reading up on this for a month or two and I just can't put my babies at risk

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 21, 2013:

Geffer, you are not ruining my post. You are actually attesting that the surgery does come with risks as my title implies. I am very sorry for your loss, this shouldn't have happened. RIP, Shadow.

geffer on February 21, 2013:

Im not trying to ruin your post

My dog died after neuter surgery.never ever again will spayed a dog

Miss her . her name SHADOW ( Fila Brasileiro 3 years old)

Vet negligence .

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on July 11, 2012:

There are good things and bad. I do think despite the risks, we cannot underestimate its role to preventing the overpopulation problem. When you work for a shelter and see countless dogs put down every day, you start realizing how bad it is to allow dogs to reproduce irresponsibly. Tubal ligation and vasectomy are not popular unfortunately. I guess it is up to the vets to propagate them. I wrote this article when I used to work for vets so I was a bit biased from the way they pushed spay and neuter and its benefits. I wrote a more informative hub about neutering dogs backed up with research here:

BmD on July 11, 2012:

as you state in this post there are complications that arise form spay neuter, why the hell is the spay neuter still being promoted as a good thing when a percentage of large breeds are going to die a horribly painful death from Osteosarcoma. also desexing sure will do the over population a "favor" yeah sure, but so will tubal ligation and vasectomy and it removes nothing.

dang I have done so much reading on this subject and it's incredible how ignorant the DVM's are to the subject

simple mechanics are change the chemicals in a body and you change all other chemical reactions in the body

also I was told by a vet yes spay neuter does effect weight gain

and I have experienced so many problems with all the dogs I have owned in the past who were spayed or neutered

I recommend to people don't be so ignorant do research and only if it's an "absolute have to no other option" then go with the spay neuter or otherwise go with the alternative.

mary hermes on June 12, 2012:

I had my show quality rhodesian ridgeback fixed 2 weeks ago, after we decided not to show him, now he has bone cancer in the front shoulder/leg, he is 13 months old. He will have to be destroyed this weekend. We are so upset, that after reading a bunch of articles, it does say to wait on large breeds till they are 18 to 24 months of age. I am so mad the vet didn't even suggest this.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 28, 2012:

If he was neutered a few months ago, it may be the problems you are seeing are not related to the neuter. Has he been this way since he was neutered? please provide more details, I think your dog should see the vet at this point. Here is a helpful forum:

Beverly on April 27, 2012:

I had my Yorkie neutered afew months ago and he won't play or hardy get off the sofa...........can you tell me what I can do for him, anything would help...I am very worried about him .

Hank on October 22, 2011:

My dog is 10.5 months old and I had him neutered last week. I regret doing this to him. He has lost some of his spark, his confidence and after reading more on the Internet about the ling term health consequences , which my vet never mentioned I believe this was totally unnecessary to do to him.

Nigel's Dad on October 06, 2011:

Everyone should read this scholarly article called: Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay / Neuter in Dogs. It concludes that health risks of neutering male dogs are generally greater than any health benefits.

Nikki's Mom on September 30, 2011:

What you say is absolutely true about neutering and osteosarcoma. It might be added that: While males are more commonly affected than females, when neutered, both sexes become twice as susceptible compared to those who are intact. There is an entire site devoted to canine osteosarcoma from diagnosis to mainstream and alternative treatment

Andrea on September 29, 2011:

Our neutered dog was more aggressive than our un-neutered dog, so it's not a panacea to make an aggressive dog passive.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on November 03, 2010:

Benefits and risks are listed in my article.

A neuter consists of a surgery where the dog's testicles are removed. Because of this, the dog stops producing testosterone, a hormone known to also cause marking, roaming and other behaviors.

Vasectomy consists of tying off the '' vas deferens'', responsible for producing sperm. The dog can no longer impregnate a female but testosterone is still produced therefore behavioral issues may remain unsolved.

S on October 30, 2010:

Hello, My dog is of normal breed and around 1.2 years old. I want to get him neutered. Please tell me about the risks involved.

Please also tell what is the difference between Vasectomy and Neuterization?

Kim on May 30, 2010:

My darling 7 month old puppy died 3 days ago after the anaestheitc was given. I am heartbroken and finding it extremely difficult to come to terms with the loss.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on March 20, 2010:

I am very sorry for your lost. No money in this world can compensate the loss of a beloved pet. Xylazine is usually used as a pre-anesthetic, to sedate cats and dogs before the actual general anesthetic is given. As with any medication, sedative or anesthetic, there are always risks of side effects and unfortunately even death.

Your vet should have had you sign a form that you allow the procedure and that are aware of risks and possible death associated with the procedure and use of drugs. I have had clients sign this form on a daily basis working for a vet, had to sign it myself for my pets and also signed something very similar when my hubby went under for surgery.

The chances of death can be very slim, but they are always there. You may have never given consent to have them use xylazine but may have given consent unknowingly by signing the admission papers, which encompasses all the potential complications associated with surgery, anesthetics, etc.

I do not know if you can do anything legally, unless you can prove negligence on their part (like giving more xylazine than needed, or not monitoring the dog or intervening in a timely manner). If they did everything correctly and the dog simply had a reaction to the drug, this is part of the risks dogs are exposed to when going under.

The same risks are associate with vaccinating dogs. You often must sign a consent form that you accept the complications and even death deriving from allergic reactions. And they do happen.

Yet, one must wonder why they used xylazine when there are more advanced drugs ( my vets do not use this). They may perhaps have used it for many years with no problems making them assume it was safe. However, you are not alone, there are other pet owners that have lost their pet due to xylazine as well. I think you may help other pets by filling out an adverse reaction statement to the FDA if you can prove your dog'es death is attributed to the xylazine. Here is a link

I really understand your devastation. It really hurts when things like this happen and makes you question if pets are really in the right hands. Then add how the law handles pets and you are really into feeling frustrated. I am sorry things turned out this way. My deepest condolences.

Pat on March 18, 2010:

Correction SPELLING XYLAZINE labeled for Cattle & Horses.

Pat on March 18, 2010:

My dog died before any surgery was performed a necropsy showed he was a NORMAL healty dog. He was given Zylazine a drug that was labeled for Cattle & Horses. I was also charged and decieved because the clinic I went to was owned and operated by a rescue group. I gavve no informed consent to use such a drug and was never told of the risks. This drug carries a 43 higher risk factor for death. The veterinary boards defend the vets instead of the pets and their owners. They dismiss most valid cases. In court your beloved pet is considered Mere PROPERTY with NO REAL VALUE. Then why do the veterinarians want ir both ways, charge high fees for a pet that is in their own words and the Laws , ONLY PROPERTY WITH NO REAL VALUE? I am forever devastated. I will never ever spay or neuter or choose any elective surgery again. They are OVER VACCINATING OUR PETS ALSO. The vets aren't telling you everything Please ask questions before you ever go into any vets office, your pets life will depend on it. The drug manufacturer stated that this drug was not recommended for dogs or cats. The veterinarians in most cases do NOT report Adverse drug reactions and unless this is made manditory, more pets will die from drugs that are not safe. Please do your research. An informed pet owner is a a live happy pet.

Anna on January 29, 2010:

My little pomeranian passed away two days ago, but from the anesthetic that was given to him before his neuter surgery.

We miss him very much. He was only one year old.

We thought getting him neutered would calm him down, but were so devastated to get a call from the vet saying his heart stopped beating.

Adrienne Farricelli (author) on January 16, 2010:

Very sorry to hear about that. Something must have gone terribly wrong. Your vet must give you an explanation. An autopsy may be helpful. My deepest condolences.

Don on January 13, 2010:

im not trying to ruin your post i just need help. my dog just just died this morning from getting neutered. he was my first dog. i don't know what at all to do.

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