Deciding whether to neuter or spay your dog is one of the most important decisions you'll face as a pet owner. Of course, it's essential to spay or neuter your animal to control the pet population – accidents do happen. With canines, these "accidents" typically result in around five or six puppies each time (but can be as many as 12).
Another supposed benefit of spaying and neutering dogs is the belief that this can influence their behavior, particularly their energy and temperament. How true is this? Let's take a closer look at whether spaying and neutering can calm a dog down, what behavioral changes can be expected post-surgery, the time frames for these changes, possible adverse reactions, and what this means for your dog's mating activities in the future.
Stop Googling - Ask a Real Vet
- Do Dogs Change After Being Spayed and Neutered
- When Does Neutering or Spaying Change Dog Behavior
- Why Is My Dog Worse After Being Neutered or Spayed
- Can a Neutered Dog Still Mate
- Final Thoughts
Do Dogs Change After Being Spayed and Neutered
Neutering (in males) and spaying (in females) are surgical procedures that remove a dog's reproductive organs. For males, the testicles are removed, while in females, the uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries are removed.
The hormonal impact on your pet from these surgeries can be significant, potentially affecting their behavior. In males, the drop in testosterone post-surgery can lead to lower aggression, less marking behavior (a decrease in territoriality), and less frequent roaming (due to the decreased drive to find a female to mate with).
In females, it's possible to see a reduction in mood swings and aggression often associated with heat cycles, as well as a decreased need to get out or wander.
That said, it’s important to mention that while hormonal changes can influence behavior, they do not fundamentally alter a dog’s personality or energy levels.
Aggression, territoriality, and other hormone-driven behaviors can sometimes result in emergencies. While we do not wish to think about these as pet parents, being prepared is crucial. Petcube offers an affordable alternative to traditional pet insurance in the form of an Emergency Fund.
For less than $1 a day, you have access to up to $3000 a year to cover any emergency veterinary care for up to six pets. Every cat and dog can be covered, regardless of age, breed, or medical history.
The cover also includes convenient 24/7 online vet help to ensure that any pet-related questions you may have are instantly and professionally answered. No more taking to Google, guessing and stressing. Just real-time answers by qualified veterinarians.
Follow the link and get an exclusive 27% discount for our blog readers.
When Does Neutering or Spaying Change Dog Behavior
Changes to your dog's behavior can vary from dog to dog. Some dogs will show changes as early as a few weeks post-surgery, while others might take a few months. It's also important to note that younger dogs are more likely to exhibit noticeable changes as they haven't fully developed the habits and behaviors influenced by their sex hormones.
Neutered males often show a reduction in aggressive tendencies and hyperactivity, especially those linked to territorial or mating instincts. For females, the end of the heat cycles post-spaying can lead to more stable behavior, lower anxiety, and restlessness often seen during these periods.
Why Is My Dog Worse After Being Neutered or Spayed
In some cases, dogs may exhibit worse behavior after being neutered or spayed. This can be due to various factors, including pain or discomfort post-surgery, anxiety after the vet visit, or a reaction to the anesthesia. It’s good to remember that if your dog’s behavior was not hormonally driven to start with, neutering or spaying is unlikely to address the problem.
An example of this would be a dog trained to be aggressive or one with anxiety issues that may not show a significant behavioral change post-surgery. In such cases, the root of the problem is not hormonal, so it is unlikely to be fixed by surgery. These issues are best addressed effectively using a combination of training and socialization.
Keeping an eye on your dog to look out for changes in their behavior and potential symptoms, or simply checking in because you miss them, is easier than ever. We know that life is busy and, sadly, you can't be with your fur kid every minute of every day, which is why the Petcube Cam is such an invaluable gadget for pet parents.
One small, well-placed camera can offer you a glimpse into what your dog is up to while you're not home. The camera allows you to check in remotely via your smartphone for crisp visuals and even night vision of your dog at home, and the two-way sound will enable you to even say hi and listen for barks or whining.
Can a Neutered Dog Still Mate
A common misconception is that neutered dogs cannot mate, and empathetic dog owners feel that they're denying their canines the enjoyment of mating by neutering their dogs. While neutering significantly reduces a dog's sexual drive and capability, it doesn't make it impossible for them to attempt mating. It just ensures that if they do, they won’t be creating any offspring.
If your dog is a ‘happy humper’, frantically mounting everything from furniture to guests and everything in between, sterilization can be a great option to reduce this. The reduced sexual drive accompanying neutering often leads to less mounting or mating behavior, but it isn't a guaranteed outcome for all dogs.
Does neutering calm a dog down?
Neutering is not guaranteed to calm a dog down, but it can reduce hormone-driven behaviors such as mounting and marking. If your dog's behavioral issues are not hormone-related, they are unlikely to be resolved purely by neutering.
How long after neutering a dog is the testosterone gone?
Neutering a male dog does not instantly remove the hormones from the dog’s system. It usually takes around six weeks for a male dog’s testosterone to leave the body, but it can also take longer.
Does neutering a dog help with dominance?
Neutering can sometimes reduce dominance aggression, but this issue is best addressed by pairing surgery with behavior modification and training for optimal results. Neutering alone may improve the situation, but it won't solve the problem entirely.
Read more: How To Be Your Dog's Alpha Leader?
Will neutering a dog stop marking behavior?
Marking behavior can be reduced by neutering, but it’s not a guaranteed outcome of the surgery. If your dog has been marking for a long time, the pattern may already be too established to fix quickly.
Does neutering or spaying cause weight gain in dogs?
Dogs may gain weight after being spayed or neutered due to decreased energy needs. To avoid this weight gain, keep an eye on their diet and prioritize daily exercise.
At what age should I spay or neuter my dog?
Vets typically recommend spaying or neutering dogs between six and nine months of age, but it can also be done for older dogs.
If marking or peeing behavior is problematic, the sooner you spay or neuter, the better before the habit takes hold and becomes too difficult to break.
Are there long-term benefits to spaying and neutering my dog?
In addition to helping to control the pet population and the behavioral benefits associated with spaying and neutering your dog, these procedures can also reduce the risk of certain cancers and diseases commonly associated with the reproductive system.
Neutering and spaying can influence a dog’s behavior, often leading to a calmer demeanor, particularly in behaviors linked to reproductive instincts. However, these procedures are not a catch-all solution for all behavioral issues. The impact varies from dog to dog, and combining these procedures with proper training and care is crucial.
Pet owners should consult their veterinarians to understand the full scope of how neutering or spaying can benefit their furry friends, both behaviorally and health-wise.
Was this article helpful?
Help us make our articles even better