To Spay or Not to Spay

To Spay or not to Spay

This has been an ongoing debate for as long as I can remember. Everyone has an opinion. The major debate on whether to spay or neuter your dog and the health risks and benefits involved. Another major point that is not touched on as often is how spaying and neutering effects behavior.

If you talk to rescues or shelters the number one answer on spaying and neutering your pet is “yes”. This comes from the attempt to lower pet over-population. The majority of people who adopt dogs from shelters or rescues are looking for companion dogs. Some dogs that are adopted from these institutions will become working dogs but most dogs will end up pets.

Then we have breeders. Hopefully the goal of a good breeder is the better the standard of a breed. Breeding should not be a money-making venture and if you are a good breeder, you will soon find out that the time and trouble involved in producing high quality puppies is not for profit.

There are many health risks and advantages to spaying and neutering your dog. Instead of focusing on these points, consider the other advantages. It’s not always just to keep your dog from producing.



Not all male dogs are aggressive when intact. However if they have a tenancy for aggression to either humans or other animals, neutering may greatly reduce this behavior if preformed in a timely manner. Depending on the level of aggression and the age the dog is neutered, it is possible to see a great change in a male dog’s temperament within a few short months of being neutered. Depending on the dogs home environment and what you expect from your dog, training is also a valuable tool to ensure all the benefits of neutering.


It is also true that a neutered dog will not “stray” or “pine” for females in heat. It can be very difficult to contain a dog within a confined area if he knows there is a female in heat. You may have read that a male dog can smell a female as far as three miles. This is not true in all breeds. Of course a Beagle who is a scent hound will be able to detect a female in heat from a much greater distance than a Boxer. However we are talking about miles in either case. Until you experience your male being lured by a female in heat you will not know what to expect. All dogs act differently. Some dogs can merely be separated by rooms, others may need to be tranquilized and confined to crates.

Urinary marking

Testosterone causes a dog to be more interested in marking territories. Neutering will not completely solve this problem but will reduce his desire. If your dog has already set a pattern of marking his yard and home you may need the assistance of a trainer to correct this behavior even after neutering.

Inappropriate mounting

Mounting is a complex behavior. Not only can it be sexual behavior, it can also be an attempt to exhibit social dominance or even just playfulness. Neutering will only reduce the behavior if sexually motivated.

Social aggression

Other males can detect when you dog is intact sensing high testosterone levels. This can make your intact dog a target for aggression and harassment from other males. Neutering can greatly reduce this problem.


Issues while the female is in heat:

Being in estrus or “in heat” can cause moodiness, erratic behavior and possibly an urge to get out of the house or yard. Some females will even show signs of pain similar to cramping. A female that is typically non-aggressive can show severe signs of aggression. This can be a serious problem if the female lives with other females.

Other females will exhibit the opposite behavior, becoming far more loving and very dependant while in heat.


Another issue is blood staining. A non-spayed female will commonly go in to heat twice a year. At what age they have their first heat depends not only on age and breed, but also the individual dog. Many people think if they put panties on a female it will not only keep their floors clean but also prevent accidental breeding. This is not true.

A safe time line to follow for females in heat is 21 days. 7 days coming in, 7 days in and 7 days going out. Again it depends on the breed and the individual female.

Take in to consideration as pointed out in the beginning of this post that there are health risks involved in spaying and neutering your dog. However, spaying and neutering has allowed many dogs to co-exist in happy homes where it otherwise would not have been possible.

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8 Responses to “To Spay or Not to Spay”

  1. Mary N Says:
    December 6th, 2010 at 11:30 pm

    There are also negatives to spaying/neutering, especially doing it before the dog/bitch is mature. Funny how no one ever mentions those so that owners can make an educated decision.

  2. admin Says:
    December 7th, 2010 at 5:09 am

    I did mention there are health risks to spaying and neutering twice I believe, however this posts concentrates on the behavioral side.

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