Benefits and Risks of Neutering Dogs

Updated on April 26, 2017
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Adrienne is a former veterinary hospital assistant, certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."

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 the anesthesia are very low. Neutering, is overall a very safe routine procedure with veterinarians often neutering and spaying an average of 6-7 dogs per day.

Becoming "fat and lazy" is pretty much a myth. However, this can become true for dog owners that tend to over feed 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

When it comes to evaluating the future health of a dog, neutering dogs comes with a good list of health benefits. Since testicles are removed, neutered dogs will have significantly brought to an almost perfect zero their chances of suffering from testicular cancer. They also may have less prostate issues, may be less likely to develop perianal tumors and their behavior issues related to hormones may improve significantly.

Psychologically and behavior -wise neutered dogs will have a decreased tendency of roaming in search of a soul mate or being aggressive 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 competitiors 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

With many benefits, however, truth is, not many veterinarians will reveal the chances of health risks associated with having a dog neutered. While some of these health risks may not occur in all dogs or that often, they still require attention, because they in effect do exist.

Owners of large breed dogs may not be aware of a deadly form of bone cancer called Osteosarcoma. Osteosarcoma presents in mostly large breed dogs, typically once middle aged to seniority. The incidence of Osteosarcoma increases if male dogs are neutered before 1 year of age. With this in mind, owners of large breed dogs should wait before neutering at the standard age of 6 months. Other possible risks are a higher incidence of hypothryroidism, senior cognitive disfunction and hemangiosarcoma.

While many vets still recommend neutering to decrease aggression, interestingly, there are newer studies showing an increase in aggression in neutered dogs.

Other Benfits to Consider

When neutering a dog, owners do an enormous favor to the over whelming pet population in shelters. Not only, by neutering, major flaws such as genetically inherited disorders such as hip displasia or eye problems are abruptle 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 over all 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 1 year old if possible. It is best to consult with a veterinararian with questions, concerns and advice on when to neuter a dog and possible complications.

Questions & Answers

    © 2009 Adrienne Janet Farricelli


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      • profile image

        Sheila Laurenz 5 years ago

        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

      • alexadry profile image

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

        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.

      • profile image

        geffer 5 years ago

        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 .

      • alexadry profile image

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 5 years ago from USA

        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:

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        BmD 5 years ago

        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.

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        mary hermes 5 years ago

        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.

      • alexadry profile image

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 6 years ago from USA

        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:

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        Beverly 6 years ago

        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 .

      • profile image

        Hank 6 years ago

        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.

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        Nigel's Dad 6 years ago

        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.

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        Nikki's Mom 6 years ago

        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

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        Andrea 6 years ago

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

      • alexadry profile image

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 7 years ago from USA

        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.

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        7 years ago

        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?

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        Kim 7 years ago

        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.

      • alexadry profile image

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 years ago from USA

        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.

      • profile image

        Pat 8 years ago

        Correction SPELLING XYLAZINE labeled for Cattle & Horses.

      • profile image

        Pat 8 years ago

        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.

      • profile image

        Anna 8 years ago

        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.

      • alexadry profile image

        Adrienne Janet Farricelli 8 years ago from USA

        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.

      • profile image

        Don 8 years ago

        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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