Well-being

Male Dog Neutering – A Sensitive Subject

Claire Dunling

Not a nice or an easy topic to discuss! Also, a topic laden with emotions and instincts. Still, dog neutering is a crucial decision for anyone who has a male dog as a pet.

First be assured that renowned animal charities like Guide Dogs for the Blind, Hearing Dogs for Deaf People, and Dogs for the Disabled always neuter their dogs. So you can be sure that they have debated at great length and with considerable input from the best veterinary advice. It simply is the right thing to do. Male dog castration has a huge number of health and behavioural benefits, such as tumours around the back passage (anal adenomata) and diseases of the prostate gland, and comes with few disadvantages. It is relatively inexpensive (at around £100) so it is an investment in your dog’s future well-being that will pay many dividends.

What are the behavioural advantages of neutering?

The two major advantages to behaviour are the removal of sexual urge and reduction in aggression. If a complete male dog gets a scent of a bitch in heat he will feel utterly compelled to find her. They’ll escape from ‘safe’ gardens, fail to heed commands and will start roaming (and inevitably getting lost). Complete dogs are can become more aggressive in the presence of other dogs, particularly males and there is the obvious risk of fighting and s they vie for dominance.

What are the medical benefits of neutering?

The huge health benefits of castration are that it utterly eliminates the chance of testicular tumours and slashes the chances of hormonal (testosterone) dependent diseases – such as tumours around the bum (anal adenomata). These are problems that will significantly impact on your dog’s health, so removing them from the equation is just common sense.

Once you've made up your mind call the vet and get your dog booked in!
John Campbell, Head Vet of Pet Drugs Online

What are the disadvantages of dog neutering?

The vast majority of “disadvantages” are based on rumour, myth or misinformation. The three key ones being that neutered dogs will become fat, characterless, and useless as a guard. Obesity is a problem for all pets, whole or neutered, across the board. Judicious feeding, sensible use of treats and good exercise will address this.

Typically once castrated dogs become gentler, but it does not fundamentally change their character. Neutered dogs lose neither their spirit nor their intelligence and are every bit as active as their ‘entire’ counterparts. So, they are just the same, with a few rough edges smoothed off.

And as for guard dogs, if they barked when the doorbell rang before the op they’ll do it afterwards. Besides dogs are pets, they are friends, companions and members of the family.

When should the operation be carried out?

Classical veterinary wisdom (long ago, back in the 1980’s) thought that the dog was best served reaching maturity before the procedure. 21st century studies have shown castration of the immature dog has no significant disadvantages and the technique is simpler – and henceforth even safer. It also stops any hormone driven behaviour (e.g. inter-dog aggression or roaming) becoming persistent learned behaviours. So many dogs are castrated at 6-7 months of age.

Is there any alternative to surgical male dog neutering?

There are chemical alternatives such as injections which last about 6 months. It does not have the permanent effects that follow surgical castration. Unless there are extenuating circumstances, just get it done surgically.

Are there any dangers associated with the operation?

Castration is a major but routine operation. It requires general anaesthetic so risks cannot be discounted entirely. Yet modern anaesthetics and surgical techniques mean this should not be a cause for concern.

And remember, younger animals are stronger and lower the operating time, both of which further reduces the risk.

What happens when I leave my dog for this procedure?

All dogs will have a thorough pre-op check, dosed with pre-med sedation and given painkillers to ease discomfort when they wake up. They are then anaesthetised and surgery is conducted via an incision just in front of their scrotum sac. Both testicles are removed.

Stitches are usually inserted in the skin incision. Most vets will use sutures that dissolve naturally, but some prefer to use stitches that have to be removed. The dog may need to wear a cone collar or a bodysuit for a few days to prevent them licking at site of the operation.

What happens in the days immediately afterwards?

The post-operative drill is the same as for any major surgery. Exercise has to be reduced for a few days, the area kept clean and dry. The vet may want to see the dog afterwards (and to remove the stitches if that is their preference) just to check on healing, but that’s essentially it.

This post is an opinion and should only be used as a guide. You should discuss any change to your pet’s care or lifestyle thoroughly with your vet before starting any program or treatment.

If in doubt contact your veterinary practice

And always keep your vet's phone number handy - just in case!