Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of Brain Training for Dogs.
Are Spayed Dogs Still Attractive to Male Dogs?
You may have spent quite a good chunk of money to spay your dog, but she's still attracting males dogs. What gives? Isn't she supposed to no longer be interesting to male dogs? If this attraction started out of the blue, you are right to wonder.
An intact female dog is a dog who is capable of reproducing. She is intact by definition because she is still equipped with ovaries, oviducts, uterine horns, and the uterus. A female who is spayed has undergone a medical procedure known as an ovariohysterectomy (OHE). This surgery basically removes her capacity to reproduce. Since her reproductive organs are removed, the production of hormones such as as estrogen and progesterone is also halted. These are the hormones responsible for triggering the dog's heat cycle.
Most males are not particularly interested in females sexually until she gives signs of going into heat. Blessed with over 220 million olfactory receptors in their noses, a male dog's nose certainly "knows" when a female is in heat. Indeed, a female dog gives off very powerful pheromones which help advertise her availability. There are countless stories of male dogs capable of detecting the smell of females in heat from a distance. Many of these pheromones are released in the female dog's urine, which is why male dogs are so obsessed with smelling any places where intact female dogs have urinated.
So if your dog is spayed (and as such, not capable of going into heat), how can she be attracting males? Great question! There are some explanations for this that we will look at in the next paragraphs.
3 Reasons Your Spayed Dog Might Be Attracting Males
So things definitively are not adding up: your dog was spayed, her reproductive organs removed, and her capability to produce hormones associated with the heat cycle halted, so why is she attracting males out of the blue? First, it's important information to know if she attracts only one specific male or all males in general.
Let's look at three possible explanations.
1. Maybe the Pheromones Are Not Hers
Perhaps the pheromones are not your dog's. Indeed, if your dog was spayed correctly, she should never go into heat or act as if in heat. In this case, we're talking about some neighbor's dog in heat. Indeed, if you own a spayed female and now suddenly your male dog is obsessed with her, it could be there's a female dog in heat in heat somewhere in your neighborhood. This is what happened once to a client at the vet's office, her male suddenly was obsessed with her, and after obtaining a clean bill of health, she casually noticed one of her neighbor's dogs was in heat. Unable to gain access to the dog in heat, her male dog redirected his pent-up frustration towards the spayed female dog!
2. Perhaps Tissue Remnants Were Left Behind
If your dog is spayed and is now acting as if in heat and your male dog is interested, yes, you are right to be concerned. In some rare cases, a dog's spay may go wrong. In this case, it's likely that during the spay surgery, small parts of ovarian tissue were left behind. Left in the body, this tissue grows and then triggers the brain to produce the hormones associated with the heat cycle, explains veterinarian Janet Tobiassen Crosby. In this case, if the uterus was successfully removed, your dog technically cannot get pregnant, but if in doubt, go on route to your closest vet's office to have your dog checked out!
3. There May Be an Undiagnosed Medical Condition
So there are no female dogs in heat nearby, but male dogs have shown some definite interest in your dog. What else can be the problem? In some cases, medical conditions may cause your dog to smell a bit like a dog in heat. What medical conditions cause this? We're probably looking at a possible bladder infection, an infection of the cervix or vulva, or a case of vaginitis. In some cases, the anal sacs may be also to blame. All these conditions can sometimes make a female dog attractive to males. The reasons though aren't still entirely clear, explains veterinarian Mike Richards.
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.
Questions & Answers
Question: Even though my dog was spayed three years ago, she still releases the hormones meant for her to go into heat. I know this because our male dog humps the life out of her for about a week every six months. What can I do?
Answer: This is interesting. Have you by any chances also noticed any swelling or discharge during these times? Sometimes, when dogs are spayed, it can happen that the vet accidentally leaves some ovarian tissue behind. When this happens, dogs go still in heat when spayed and can even develop pyometra (it's called stump pyometra). I would talk to the vet who spayed her and ask and describe what you're seeing.
Question: When I got my dog the person that gave her to me told me that she was spayed, but my male Chihuahua is trying to make with her. What could be the reason?
Answer: There are several possibilities. 1) The person who provided you with this dog gave you wrong information 2) she is spayed but the vet accidentally left some ovarian tissue behind (quite rare), 3) she is spayed but there is another female in heat in your neighborhood and that is exciting him, or 4) she is emanating some smell due to some health issue.
Question: My spayed female cat is attracting male cats that have not yet been neutered. They typically do not mount her, but they constantly follow her around everywhere with their noses as close to her bottom as possible. What could be causing this?
Answer: Sometimes a piece of ovarian or uterine tissue is left behind during the spay surgery, and this may cause her to go into heat and attract males. Not saying this is the case, but it may be a possibility.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 15, 2020:
It could be some ovarian tissue was left behind. I would get a second opinion by another vet.
Teri underwood on June 03, 2020:
My uneutered male is always whinning and acting crazy around my female dog. My female was spayed around 9 weeks of age and when she was almost a year old she went into heat. I took her to the vet and they had messed they spay up and had to respay her. She is now 2 and our male is still acting like she is in heat but she is showing no signs if it. She does go and put her butt by him like teasing him and he goes nuts! What could be the problem? Could the vet have messed up twice on her spay and she isnt showing signs? She doesn't act like anythings wrong so I dont think shes sick. Please help us because our male is driving us CRAZY whinning all the time and wanting to hump her.
Wendy on February 29, 2020:
My son adopted a female dog from the pound 2 years ago they told us she was fixed spayed but she is always sticking her but in our male dog face and trying to mate with him and so forth we have an appointment to get his shots and to get him fix but now all the male dogs in the neighborhood are trying to get to her she is leaking a clear fluid we never seen this before.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 25, 2020:
And your Rottweiler is spayed correct? Was any testing done to confirm or rule out a possible ovarian remnant syndrome? Can it be there is some female dog in heat in your neighborhood?
Deborah Neilson on February 25, 2020:
My 11yrs old intact male dauschund is acting as if my neutered 2yrs old Rottweiler bitch is in season....He’s just not giving her any peace... no other male dogs are attracted to her... I’m really confused and not sure what to do... she’s been checked by vet for infections etc and is totally fine?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 02, 2019:
More than an extra ovary, I think what your vet is implying is that perhaps some ovarian tissue may have been left behind. An ultrasound can be used to visualize the ovarian tissue, if done while the dog is in heat. However, this may not always be accurate.
Kimt95 on May 29, 2019:
I got my Labrador Retriever (9 months old) desexed three months ago and the past seven days i have noticed that she is bleeding, has swelling of the nipples and vagina and has been attracting male dogs to my house. I have taken her into the vets this morning and they have told me that she may have an extra ovary laying around somewhere or she could have an infection. They have given me antibiotics to try and see if it stops. However I want to know if it’s possible for her to have an extra ovary and would the infection be causing her to show symptoms of heat? How can a vet know whether or not they have desexed her properly without putting her back under?
Theresa on December 15, 2018:
It would be interesting to hear back from some people who have found out the issue, but I guess they no longer google it when they no longer have the same issue.
My two intact male dogs are relentlessly bugging my spayed female and she's getting so fed up she's at the point of viciously attacking them every time they come near. She is smaller than them so is not injuring them so they just ignore the behaviour.
Alison on August 01, 2018:
Can a male dog still have sex with my dressed female pup
My Dog on November 13, 2017:
My Dog is Spayed but a other dog is mateing her is this going hurt her
Sue on November 03, 2017:
Why does my dog give of a strange smell one a month when she was spayed 6 months ago
Kimberly Drennan on October 31, 2017:
I have a 16 yr old boxer... she is definitely old and has been fixed since she was 3.... I have 2 3 yr old labs and are now driving her crazy by licking her and won’t leave her alone... what gives!! Why are they licking her all the time?
John on September 19, 2017:
I have a 8 mo spayed female and my fixed male is mounting on her and doing that stuff...?
Kelli Contreras on August 07, 2017:
Hi again! I am thr one who messaged you sbout my daughters lab terrier mix snd my Rat Terrier. I did not see you had messaged me back until now. So it had been several months since the dogs had been together. We are all now living together as of yesterday.
Well I dprnt snother sleepless night because he is so frustrated he can't get to her. I am going to have her checked. I need sleep! He won't even eat!
LadyNightmare on April 12, 2017:
Great information! My Pit Bull is about 18 years old now and my male dogs have been all over her! It started a few months ago, and although I have 3 other spayed females, the boys seen to only want to bother her! I will take her in for a check to see if she has an infection as she is quite old now.
Marc Bush on October 11, 2016:
I guess this has to be some of the reasons why my little male miniature York Shire terrier that is only right at a year old and has been all over my 7/8 year old.female buff colored.cocker spaniel. Thanks for the helpful info.....gladly appreciated
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 24, 2016:
Has your daughter's dog been checked for any medical condition? I am assuming she is spayed.
Kelli on August 22, 2016:
Thank you for this article. My daughters dog 18 month old black lab terrier mix comes to visit now and then. My dog Chico, 14 year old in tact male rat terrier goes absolutely crazy when she comes. She lived here when my daughter got her at 8 weeks old. She has been fixed. He just won't leave her alone! She sspent the night last night. He kept me awake all night wining because he couldn't get to her. Is he too old to get neutered? Thanks!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 13, 2016:
At least until the issue that's attracting him in the first place is resolved.
Derek on May 13, 2016:
Will my male dog eventually lose interest in her and stop trying to get at her?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 18, 2016:
The article above explains it. Fixed and spayed are the same thing.
Victoria Lawence on April 15, 2016:
What makes a male want a female that's been fixed
Reta on March 19, 2016:
In my case the male lives in my house also and for the last week he chases her constantly so we have to keep them separated most of the time.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 05, 2013:
It does happen every now and then, even though not that often. It often leaves owners puzzled and that's understandable! Sometimes though, the mystery is never really solved;)
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 05, 2013:
Thanks Storytellersus, I am happy to hear you like my writing style and found the article interesting, thanks for stopping by!
wetnosedogs from Alabama on May 05, 2013:
I have heard of this happening. Thanks for clearing this up. Now only if the male dogs would get their scents right!
Barbara from Stepping past clutter on May 05, 2013:
Interesting! I like your casual writing style as well...