The Pros and Cons of Neutering a Dog

A veterinarian’s take on the reasons for and against neutering a pet.


Q. We have a 7-month-old Chihuahua. Our question is about neutering. We have never neutered any dogs we had. Do we really need to? I understand that it's for their health, but are there any cons to it? Some people said it affects their growth. Is that true? I would like more info (pros and cons) before deciding to neuter.

A. You have touched on a topic that is suddenly becoming highly controversial in veterinary medicine.

If you had asked me this question more than 6 months ago, your answer would have been a resounding yes, you absolutely need to neuter your pet. This helps deter aggressive behavior, decreases risk of disease, results in a better-behaved dog, and will, most importantly, decrease the possibility of any unwanted pets due to an unplanned breeding.

Recent information has not changed that recommendation, but has qualified it. Neutering will help prevent unwanted pets, and for that reason alone, is strongly recommended. But other issues are not as clear as they used to be.

Dog behaviorists are discovering that un-neutered dogs are not necessarily more aggressive than neutered dogs, and in fact, may be more aggressive. Interestingly, neutered dogs have a higher incidence of prostate cancer than un-neutered dogs. They are generally just as healthy as neutered dogs, and possibly have lower incidence of certain injuries such as a ruptured cranial cruciate ligament in the knee. Some researchers speculate that the ligaments of neutered dogs are weaker and more prone to ruptures.

Finally, it is clear that neutered or spayed dogs have a higher incidence of obesity, possibly due to decreased activity or changes in hormonal balance.

Although the overriding consensus is still to neuter your pet, there is an interesting amount of new research that suggests there may be some downsides to doing so.

Keep in mind that millions of pets are killed every year in U.S. shelters due to overpopulation. Neutering is the best, and only effective method, of preventing this horrible tragedy. There is still controversy on what is the best age to neuter your dog, but if you do so at about 6 months of age, you can avoid the possibility of any growth abnormalities that have been discussed when neutering pets at a very young age.


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Brian   sooke, International

2/27/2016 7:28:53 PM

I have a young Australian cattle dog.and after reading the pros and cons I am confused as to what to do in regards to neutering.

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Erica   Costa Mesa, California

10/6/2015 1:31:10 AM

Very well spoken Vladimir, I couldn't agree more. Especially what you said about waiting to neuter after your male dog is fully grown & matured. 6 months is still far to young to neuter. Your dog is still growing at 6 months & unless you want to take the high risk of your dog developing knee & joint problems & possible growth deformities pet owners should wait to neuter your males later in life, for example 2 years old or even later. Still then I would not suggest neutering at all, instead opt for a vasectomy for your intact male dogs. In this case everyone wins... The Vet, you & your dog!

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sally adler   mount vernon, Washington

11/7/2013 3:57:59 PM

I have recently been accepted into a low rent Hud apartment complex in Mt. Vernon .Washington...I went through all procedures, background check, credit history, etc. I knew they required a deposit for my Toy Poodle but was unaware until almost move in day that they required my dog to be neutered. I am totally devastated by this,. he is almost 7 years old and very protective of me, but not mean or particularly agreesive...he is 11 pounds and no real threat.I keep a close watch on him and really object to having them dictate that I neuter my og at this older age. I have recently been widowed and ill in a nursing home. I am now ready to move into the apartment with my dog, but these people are causing me great strife, want to meet my dog, (which is fine ) but this is not Nazi Germany, what recourse do I have ??? So it's in their rules, but I was not informed at the beginning. I don't believe neutering will change him, but will make me very sad, upset, and feel guilty. and I might want to breed him in the future. Any suggestions

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Eileen - 249708   Port Perry, ON

3/22/2013 5:54:32 AM

And the discussion goes on. This is just like so many others things in our life one day it is the best choice you can made and then next day it is not the best choice you can make. I think with allot of reading, thinking and having a good reason for your choice is the best way to come to a decision on this issue.

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