Should I Neuter/Spay My Dog?

Should I neuter/spay my dog? This was a question I recently asked myself during my usual evening walk with my dog, Timmy.

I had seen various dog parents talk about the topic in a local dog owners’ forum and became interested. As a new pooch parent, I scheduled a consultation with a dog veterinarian near me.

Read on to discover what I learned about neutering/spaying a dog

What is Neutering/Spaying a Dog

Neutering is the removal of a male dog’s reproductive system. This procedure sterilizes your dog, leaving the animal unable to reproduce.

However, while your dog may undergo neutering, it may still have breeding instincts. The behavior may also cease depending on the animal’s age and other factors, but you can rest assured that it cannot reproduce.

black shepherd standing
a black shepherd dog standing

Spaying is the removal or altering of a female dog’s reproductive system. When your dog is spayed, the specialists remove her ovaries (ovariectomy) or the whole reproductive system (ovariohysterectomy).

This procedure eliminates your pet’s heat cycle and typically leaves her unable to reproduce. As mentioned before, the process does not guarantee the elimination of the animal’s breeding instincts.

Many pet owners and dog specialists have had different views on spaying and neutering pets. Some even attribute the procedure to negative consequences down the road. However, it is up to you as the pooch owner to decide if your furry friend deserves to be neutered or spayed.

Why Neuter/Spay a Dog

According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), 6.3 million pets enter animal shelters annually. Dogs account for 3.1 million; 65% of the animals get adopted, and 13% fail to secure homes and get euthanized.

Spaying and neutering play a significant role in limiting the number of animals entering shelters. This is because when you neuter or spay your pet, you eliminate the chances of having unwanted litter.

Moreover, the American Veterinary Medical Foundation (AVMF) says these medical procedures cut behavioral and health problems. For example, neutered and spayed animals have higher chances of reduced aggression and roaming since their mating instinct is inactive.

Furthermore, as the procedures involve the removal of the animal’s reproductive cells, the pet is more likely to avoid health problems. These health problems include pyometra, testicular, and mammary cancer.

When to Neuter/Spay a Dog

a dog staring up at its owner
dog staring at her owner

For years, veterinarians have followed the principle of spaying or neutering puppies at six months. However, this has changed because eight weeks old puppies can also be successfully neutered or spayed.

The decision to neuter or spay your dog depends on factors like;

  • Breed
  • Medical history
  • Potential medical problems

You can spay or neuter small dog breeds from six to nine months. On the other hand, the ideal age to neuter or spay large dog breeds is 12 to 18 months, according to the American Kennel Club (AKC).

One instance that warrants spaying or neutering your pets is when you buy or adopt dogs of the opposite gender. In such a case, you must spay the female before she reaches her first heat cycle to avoid behavioral issues around the house.

The best approach to spaying or neutering your dog is to consult a veterinarian near you because the procedure is unique to each animal. Moreover, you can do this during your routine vet visits if you lack time to connect with the specialist.

Check out this YouTube video from You Vet Online on the best age to neuter or spay a dog.

Pros and Cons of Neutering/Spaying a Dog

Before opting to neuter or spaying your furry friend, you want to understand the pros and cons of this medical procedure. Moreover, it is a significant decision that both of you will live with on your entire pet ownership journey.

Pros of Spaying or Neutering a Dog

  1. Reduces Overpopulation

As mentioned, millions of animals enter shelters annually, highlighting the significant overpopulation issue. However, spaying and neutering your pet can help reduce unwanted pets in these shelters.

You also minimize the risk of your dog impregnating other pets or getting pregnant. This helps reduce the financial obligation of raising a litter of puppies.

  1. Healthier Pets

As your pooch ages, they are likely to get reproductive diseases. Moreover, some of these ailments are fatal if not detected early hence the need to look for prevention.

Pet spaying or neutering involves the removal of reproductive cells prone to infections later in life. With these cells out of the way, you can rest assured your pet remains healthy until old age.

  1. Promotes Good Behavior

Have you ever seen a dog misbehaving in public? Misbehaviors can be acts like humping and aggressiveness toward people or other pets.

You eliminate such behaviors when you spay or neuter your dog. And you can be sure that your pet will behave when dropped off at the daycare.

Cons of Spaying or Neutering a Dog

  1. Induces Permanent Sterility

Spaying or neutering a dog is a permanent medical procedure. So before doing it, ensure that you make the best decision for both of you.

Moreover, note that while you do not want puppies now, you may want them in the future. However, your pet will be sterile and unable to reproduce.

  1. Post-Surgery Complications

While these medical procedures are safe, it does not warrant that your dog won’t experience complications like anxiety afterward. For example, you may note that your pet is experiencing pain, but the good news is that your vet issues medication to curb the pain.

Other complications that may arise after the surgery include hip dysplasia, cruciate ligament rupture, and incontinence. So observing your pet for any signs of distress is recommendable.


  1. Is it okay to neuter a one-year-old dog?

It is safe to neuter a one-year-old dog. Moreover, that is the age range most vets recommend, but you can consult your dog specialist for clarification.

  1. Why do people avoid spaying their dogs?

The decision to neuter or spay one’s dog depends on the owner. While one pet parent may view the procedure better for their dog, another may not.

  1. Should I spay before or after the first heat?

Medically, you should spay your dog before its first heat because the surgery is easy at that stage. Moreover, if spayed before its first heat cycle starts, your pet has a lower chance of developing mammary cancer.


The question of whether you should neuter your dog usually strikes a pet owner at one point in their pet ownership journey. It can be challenging to make this decision seeing that it is not reversible.

This is why you need to know all the facts to help you make an informed decision. With the above spaying and neutering guide, you can now decide if the procedure is right for your pet.


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