So you’ve finally bought a puppy and is considering having him fixed as you’ve heard that neutering a large male dog will not only help calm him down but also aid him in his training?
So, when to neuter a dog large breed? The best age to neuter a large dog breed is as late as you can but wait until the dog is one year old, as you don’t want to put your dog at risk of any complications.
Let’s take a look at why that is the best age to neuter or spay a large dog.
How Do You Neuter or Spay a Large Dog?
First of all, we need to understand the difference and meaning of the terms spay and neuter. Neuter means to remove testicles of a male dog through a surgical procedure, so that they cannot reproduce. On the other hand, spay means to perform a surgical procedure on a female dog.
The surgical procedure of female dogs is more complicated as compared to the procedure of male dogs where only his testicles are removed. For female dogs, a vet has to remove her fallopian tubes, ovaries, and uterus as well.
By removing male dog’s testicles, it’s natural instinct to breed or hump does not go away.
My friend had a male dog, which was neutered while he was still very young. He does not breed any other female dog, however, he would definitely try to mount her, if around.
That’s what made me think that maybe it is not correct when we used to think about the pros and cons of when to neuter a large dog breed.
Challenging the Past
In this discussion, you will realize that my answers will be contradicting many answers that you’d normally hear each time this topic was brought up in the past. That’s because normally people stick to older explanations instead of looking into new research and information.
Thus, as newer studies and researches by veterinarians are unfolding, it’s proving that old information and explanations are not correct. Now, there is an updated best age to neuter a large dog breed.
Having said this, lets first take a look at old information about fixing the dogs, before we begin explaining the new study about spaying or neutering dogs.
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Since a long time now, there are mainly four reasons as to why people feel the need to neuter their dogs, and these are as follows:
- Birth Control
- Behavior issues, especially in male dogs
- Other health concerns
Although there are many other reasons that certain people continue to believe, however, they are all just myths and tricks.
In recent times, there have been many changes with regard to taking care of a dog, and that means everything related to health concerns and dog training.
Typical Reasons to Spay or Neuter Your Dog
There is a number of reasons why a dog should be neutered or spayed. However, people mention these reasons commonly but do not consider them to be true.
Below we will discuss what can be achieved by neutering a dog, and what cannot be achieved.
Of the four common reasons mentioned above to neuter or spay dogs, only two of them are genuine.
- Birth Control
Some time ago I came across an advertisement that said:
“Puppies for sale. ½ German Shepherd and ½ tricky neighborhood stray”
If one thing you want to avoid is, to make your otherwise healthy and fully trained female dog get pregnant and having to deal with all the difficulties that come with being pregnant.
There may be no instant health issues with being pregnant, even then you would not want your dog to get pregnant without any planning as it may ruin the hunting season for you.
Letting your female dog come into the season have very few positives about it.
In the coming weeks, it is going to be impossible for you to take your female dog out without worrying about other male dogs.
Furthermore, vaginal discharge during pregnancy is going to stain your furniture and carpet.
Although you can always opt for diapers, however, I never enjoyed changing nappies when my kids were young, and I certainly do not want to repeat the same with my dogs.
Prevent Diseases and Cancer
You successfully prevent problems like uterine infections or even breast tumors in female dogs if they are spayed.
Similarly, neutering male dogs also prevent issues like testicular cancer and also improves the chances of your dog’s prostate problem.
Service dogs are used by very few people, even then if your female dog gets pregnant, then she will not be able to perform her duties, which include comfort people with depression or anxiety or guiding blind people, that she is supposed to do, for a long time.
We have different kinds of service dogs. For certain people, all other problems become minute with just this single problem. A service dog should be able to always perform its duties without any hindrances or interruptions.
You can face a lot of worries by bringing your female dog out into the heat.
Breeders try to neuter or spay dogs in order to eradicate traits that are not desirable, like anxiety from their houses.
Also, there are some cases where animals develop diseases that can be life-threatening should also be ‘fixed’ so that the disease is not passed on to their next generation.
These are some instances where breeders prevent the dog’s ability to reproduce and preserve the sanctity of the breed.
Other Random Reasons
If the above-mentioned reasons do not convince you enough to neuter your male dogs and spay your female dogs, then below is a list of some other reasons. Pets.WebMD.com recommends below reasons to neuter your large Dog:
- Female dogs tend to live longer because if they do develop breast cancer, 50% of these dogs do not survive the disease.
- Saves you from unwanted litters
- Female dogs, which are spayed do not go into the heat
- Male dogs tend to roam around the streets in search of a passionate partner
- It is more cost-effective to ‘fix’ your dog than to raise a litter.
- Last but not the least, neutering and spaying dogs also prevents overpopulation of dogs and issues with regard to stray animals.
The main reason for me to include only 6 points out of 10, is because the remaining 4 reasons are outdated and incorrect.
Reasons Not to Neuter a Large Dog
If someone posts on social media about taking your dog to the vet because it is going to stop your dog from humping things, you shouldn’t believe it. Or if someone asks you to get it ‘fixed’ to deal with behavior issues, even then you shouldn’t take your dog to the vet.
These are all old wives’ tales, which people have come up with overtime in order to manipulate other people to get their animals a neutered.
As per a recent study, the evidence shows that a neutered dog is more likely to have behavioral issues as compared to a dog who has all its body parts intact.
Not All People Believe in ‘Fixing’ Animals
There has been an increasing number of people who now believe that animals shouldn’t be spayed or neutered.
And this is not a new viewpoint
Let’s take an example, in Norway, people frown upon if pets are neutered until and unless the procedure is justified by a medical reason. If the goal is to control the population of stray animals then it is not considered to be a valid reason for neutering.
On the contrary, in Los Angeles County of USA, most dogs should be neutered or spayed before they even turn 4 months old.
Therefore, if you reside in LA County, there are many different options including mobile Spay/Neuter units.
Does Neutering Large Dog Breeds Even Work?
In some cases, neutering might not produce the same results that we expected it would.
If the main reason why you want to spay or neuter your dog is to avoid any unwanted little, then it is indeed a great solution.
However, if you are thinking that by neutering you will be able to fix some behavioral issues of your pet then you are highly mistaken as it might not be the case.
Risk of Cancer Increases If Dogs are Neutered At A Younger Age
Earlier, I have mentioned that spaying female dogs reduce their chances to get uterine infections and breast tumors.
And yet it is true for female dogs but neutering your dog while he’s still quite young can lead diseases like cancer.
In a study done in 2014, which included 2,500 Vizslas and showed that if a dog is neutered at a young age, it is more likely to develop below-mentioned disease:
- Mast cell cancer
- Fear of storms
- Behavioral disorders
Behavioral Issues are not fixed by Neutering Large Dogs
As per several new studies that show, some of the reasons why people got their dogs fixed actually achieved the exact opposite of what they thought it did.
For example, if you neuter a male dog, it does not make him more obedient or loyal, rather it turns him into a furry friend, which means more excitable, more fearful, more aggressive or not easily trainable.
See the specific results in this recent study. These are from the Master’s thesis in 2010.
More Signs on How Neutering a Large Dog Can Lead to More Issues
There was another study, which is cited in was done on 1170 German Shepherds, and it was included that dogs that are ‘intact’ are less likely to develop problems like hip dysplasia and joint problems.
The study also shows that about 7% of the dogs that were intact were observed for 14 years and it was found out that they developed joint problems.
Over the same span of period, 21% of the dogs neutered before they even turned 12 months old developed joint diseases.
However, the sample of this study was German shepherds and not large dog breeds in general. But researchers still think that the study is true for other large breeds as well.
The study also found that if you wait longer to get your dog neutered, it is less likely to develop joint issues.
The Limitations of These Studies
Every study has limitations and chances of errors and biases.
Therefore, it is important for us to understand the limitations of this study and how this study can help us in dealing with everyday situations.
Having said this, these studies do not necessarily have the answer to the question about the right age to neuter a large dog.
As an example, the study that included Vizslas is not the perfect study to determine the right age for large dogs to be neutered because they don’t belong to the same breed of dogs.
The study done on German Shepherds is probably a bit more related as that’s also a rather large dog breed.
Along with the limitations of the similarities of the different breeds, we must also consider any potential bias in the researches.
For example, maybe a dog owner has his reasons to keep this dog intact, and maybe he restrains issues related to his dog’s behavior to the researcher conducting the study, and this may impact the results.
What do we understand from these studies about the right age to neuter a big dog?
It is the number of similar findings each year, that makes these studies more reliable and credible.
Similarly, now that other breeds are also showing the same results, including large dog breeds. It means we can now generalize the results of different breeds.
It also shows that it can be a standard issue with all dogs and not an issue with just one specific breed.
My Personal Assumption on When to Neuter a Dog Large Breed
It is actually impossible to know the exact age to neuter a large breed dog.
In all the above-mentioned studies, we are told about the outcomes when talking about different breeds.
Each study has deviation and thus, does not provide a specific answer.
And maybe your dog could be one of those deviations.
A lot of people tend to believe what they heard or read in the past, rather than looking into the new information or research that the latest study presents.
But I’m not one of the people. I really believe that everybody should, after considering all these studies, put off spaying or neutering a large dog until they are at least one year old.
Final Summary Regarding Females
If you have a large female dog and hold off with spaying her, there are some problems that could arise.
The first and most obvious one is that she can end up pregnant when she enters her first heat cycle, but there’s also a risk that she can develop pyometra, which could be very serious in regards to your dogs’ health. But thankfully it is curable as long as you discover and treat it early enough.
If you have a large dog breed that you use as a service dog, spaying your large dog will obviously prevent the inconvenience of twice a year heat cycles.
So if you depend on your large dog for everyday routines, like a service or guide dog, this is something that you should really consider having done.
If you use your dog for shows and competitions, she won’t be allowed to enter any of those as long as she is in heat, so if there’s a big show coming up and your dog enters heat, that would be quite devastating.
But as we also pointed out earlier, if you neuter your large dog when she’s to young, it will leave her at risk of catching many different issues from a variety of cancers to some orthopedic problems.
Final Summary Regarding Males
It isn’t quite as risky if you wait to neuter a male dog as it is with a female dog, but there aren’t really all that many good reasons why you should.
But even if I think really long a hard for a reason so neuter your dog before he is 1 year old, I can’t come up with a single good reason. Every single one of all the modern studies I’ve read, all suggests that the old reasons are exactly that, old and irrelevant these days.
The old thought that neutering a large male dog would make him less aggressive doesn’t hold up, and instead, it just makes the risk of joint disorders such as hip dysplasia that much higher.
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