If you’ve been wondering if you should get your dog the snip, you’re not alone. In fact, dog parents around the world are looking up “neutered dog behavior” right now – wondering if everything they see online is true!

(Which, considering how much there is to read on the topic, can be pretty overwhelming, to say the least.)

So we’ve gathered all the facts, fallacies, and figures about neutered dog behavior, the signs your dog needs to be neutered, how much it can cost to get a dog neutered – and what behavioral changes to keep an eye out for. (Like a tendency to grow less active – which you can catch on early by monitoring your dog’s daily exercise.) Let’s get started!

Neutering, sterilization, castration…what’s the difference?

Now you might’ve heard of terms like these being used interchangeably – so it’s important to know the difference.

But in a nutshell “sterilizing” is a broad term, including both male and female animals. This involves a specific surgical procedure to ensure your dog is no longer fertile.

  • “Neutering” or “castrating” a male dog means removing their testes.
  • “Spaying” a female dog means removing their uterus and ovaries.

At the same time, sterilization procedures don’t just include neutering.1

For example:

  • A procedure like a vasectomy would only prevent your dog from being fertile – it wouldn’t affect your dog’s behavior otherwise.
  • A procedure like an orchietomy is what vets usually mean when they suggest “neutering” – i.e., removing your dog’s testes. This kind of procedure might result in the kind of neutered dog behavior you might be expecting. (Like a lack of sexual behavior.)

Read more: Chemical castration implants for dogs – an alternative to surgical dog castration

How does the sterilization process usually work?

Usually, your vet might instruct you to bring your dog or cat to their clinic around the morning – fasted, or without having eaten any food from 10 pm or so the previous evening. (Though they’re allowed to drink water.)

You’d then have to:

  • Leave them at the clinic for your team of vets to do the surgery
  • Pick up your pet later in the afternoon once they’ve woken up
A small dog getting checked up at the vet

Your team of vets will make sure your dog is fully anaesthetised during the surgery. They might also give your dog pain medication to overcome any discomfort once they’re finished. After, they’ll keep your dog hydrated via a drip to ensure their blood pressure stays normal.

You might need to keep your dog on pain medication for a couple of days after. They might be a bit sore and squirm around in discomfort, as they heal.

⚠️ Just remember: this is a permanent procedure – so think carefully before you want to make this decision. (I.e., whether to simply sterilize your dog or neuter them completely.)

How much does it cost to get a dog neutered?

For a healthy dog, the average cost of neutering can range between $75-$200 – depending on a range of factors.2 Some of which include your dog’s:

  • Age
  • Size
  • Breed
  • Weight

(All of these can affect how well your dog is likely to respond to surgery – and any complications that might arise in them handling being anaesthetized.)

Besides, other factors like your area of residence, the specific vet practice, and the kind of medication used can all play a role.

💡On the bright side, many vet practices can help support you with the costs through specific payment plans. Else, you could go for an affordable voucher from Humane Solution to assist with the costs. (Provided you’re eligible.)

Is a neutered dog worth it in the long run?

Now depending on where you live, sterilizing your dog might actually be a legal requirement! Some US states, for example, include mandatory requirements to spay or neuter your dog once they’ve passed 8 months of age.

So make sure to check your local laws and with your vet to make the best decision.

Signs your dog needs to be neutered

Every dog has a mating instinct – and the urge to follow through on it is one of the biggest reasons behind an uncontrolled pet population.

So here are some signs you should consider getting your dog neutered – especially if:

  • They’re an escape artist and tend to run away from home once they’ve sniffed out a female in heat.
  • They’re aggressive, especially as a result of poor training or socialization.
  • They’re territorial and like to “mark” their spots with urine

Another important reason your dog might benefit from neutering is if they have a condition called cryptorchidism – i.e., when their testicles haven’t descended yet in the scrotum.

A pair of dogs barking at each other at a park

Other signs your dog needs to be neutered include anatomical abnormalities – like an enlarged prostate gland – or if they’re from a breed vulnerable to health issues.

⚠️ However, we’d strongly advise you to only take this decision after consulting with your vet.

There are both upsides and downsides to neutering your dog – and ultimately, factors like your dog’s age, sex, breed, and overall health can all play a role.

Why you should consider neutering your dog

Overall, there are a whole bunch of perks to the process of getting your dog the snip. (The key one being that neutered dog behavior might be significantly easier to handle.)


  • No unwanted pregnancies (and angry neighbors demanding puppy support.) Since your dog will no longer respond to nearby females in heat.
  • Fewer escape attempts from home. Roaming the neighborhood to find a mate is one of the key reasons your dog might jump the fence or run away in general.
  • Reduced urinary marking and territorial behaviors.
  • A reduced risk of testicular cancer and prostate disease.
  • Fewer instances where other, intact males react aggressively to your dog. (Since they’ve sniffed out yours as a rival, if you haven’t gotten them neutered yet.)
  • Reduced sexual behaviors, like mounting or humping pillows (or even people’s legs.)
A pair of puppies in a cage at a shelter

⚠️ But most importantly, keep in mind that most animal shelters in the US are overcrowded and unable to rehome many dogs that end up there.

So it’s possible they might not be able to accomodate an unwanted litter of puppies. (Who might end up being euthanized instead.)

Can neutering really reduce my dog’s aggression?

The biggest perk of neutered dog behavior is how it can potentially reduce your dog’s aggressive tendencies. But is it really so simple as just that?

Well, for starters, aggression in dogs is usually a defensive response. It may result from:

  • Fear, stress, anxiety
  • Improper training (or a lack thereof)
  • A lack of socialization opportunities
A small aggressive dog sitting in bed

It also helps to remember: testosterone isn’t solely produced by your dog’s testicles! (Your dog’s adrenal glands and kidneys also help produce some of it.)

💡 So while neutering might help reduce aggression, you might still need to train your dog to reduce any such behaviors. (Or enroll them in an obedience program.)

Read more: Clicker Training for Dogs: A Step-by-Step Guide to Positive Reinforcement

terrier puppy running through grass

“…Neutering alone may not resolve these problem behaviours completely and behavioural intervention will also be needed.”

The Veterinary Nurse

Similarly, a 2022 study found that castration:

  • Did help reduce aggressive behaviors towards dogs and other animals
  • Did not help reduce aggressive behaviors against people
  • Did not help reduce anxiety or fear in dogs – in fact, it actually increased some dogs’ anxiety.

All of these factors mean that when making this decision, it’s important to consider your dog’s individual situation beforehand – their temperament, training, socialization, and what habits they’ve picked up over the years.

The downsides of neutered dog behavior

Now around 2-3 months after your dog’s gotten the snip, their bodies are adjusting and adapting to the change. So it’s possible you might find them:

  • Less active than before, with a near 30% drop in their energy (as their testosterone levels lower)
  • More likely to gain weight, due to the lack of activity. (And if you’re feeding them the same as before.)
A sleepy dog lazing on a couch

Which is where your vet might prescribe you a specialized diet that contains fewer calories, more protein, and fewer fats. This is to help your dog maintain a healthy weight for their age, size, and breed – and prevent weight-related health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and pancreatitis.

Read more: What Makes Dogs Fat? Getting An Overweight Dog Back In Shape

Besides, it’s important to continue your dog’s daily routine – i.e., with regular walks, playtime, and outdoor time. (Yes, even if they look like they’d rather laze around all day instead.)

⚠️ Because if you neglect their daily exercise, it’s possible they might get even more sedentary (and overweight) as a result.

And one of the best ways to stay accountable to your dog’s health – and also have a more productive conversation with your vet? Tracking their daily activity.

And no, we don’t mean jotting down your dog’s fetch score in a journal. But rather, actionable data that can help you spot a drop in your dog’s active minutes early – and detect health issues before they worsen.

💡Which is why dog parents around the world – just like you – are investing in Tractive’s life-saving technology.

Dog running with tennis ball in mouth in the grass, Tractive GPS app in foreground

With its built-in motion detector, your trusty Tractive device picks up on your dog’s movements throughout the day.

Which, with time, can help you figure out:

  • What’s a normal level of activity for your dog
  • How your dog compares to other, similar dogs around the world
  • When there’s an abnormal drop in your dog’s active minutes (which might signal something’s wrong)
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Other risks associated with neutering a dog

Besides getting less active and more likely to gain weight as a result, neutering your dog might also come with other health risks.

Which is why it’s important to discuss the issue with your vet first – keeping in mind your dog’s age, genetic history, and any medical conditions.

A vet examining a small dog at a clinic

Because as it turns out, neutering can increase the risk of your dog developing certain health conditions – while reducing others.

For example, a 10-year study by UC Davis3 found that:

  • Larger dog breeds were more vulnerable to joint problems than smaller dog breeds. (Though exceptions do exist, like Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds.)
  • Some smaller dog breeds were more likely to develop different types of cancer after neutering. (Like Boston Terriers and Shih Tzus.)
  • Some medium-sized dog breeds like Golden Retrievers were 3 times more vulnerable to cancer after spaying or neutering.

Now while this sounds scary, it bears repeating: always consult your vet first before taking this decision. They can help you make an informed choice what might best suit your dog, based on their age, size, breed, and other health risks.

When can a dog get neutered? And does it even matter?

Yes, and it plays an important role in your dog’s overall health. You might’ve read how neutering post 6 months of age is the best choice – but again, this might depend on your dog’s breed, sex, size, and health risks.

Which is why vets generally recommend4:

  • Neutering smaller dogs between 6-12 months, since they have fewer risks of developing orthopedic issues
  • Neutering larger dogs between 9-18 months, since they have a higher risk of developing orthopedic issues.

Other studies have found that dogs castrated before 2 years of age are less likely to experience post-surgery complications than older dogs. Puppies and adult dogs also seem to recover more rapidly after castration.

A Golden Retriever undergoing surgery at a vet's clinic

But with that said, your dog’s breed and sex does play a role here as well. For example, the same UC Davis study found that:

  • Female Boston terriers spayed at 6 months had no increased risk of joint problems or cancers compared to intact dogs.
  • Male Boston terriers neutered before 1 year of age had higher risks for these health issues.

⚠️ Besides, every surgical procedure increases the risk your dog might experience some complication in recovery – or another health problem, like parvovirus or developing hip dysplasia.

Which is why it’s important to always discuss your dog’s individual circumstances with your vet first. (Including their breed, sex, size, and age.) They can help you make the best decision once you’ve considered all the factors involved.

Fear & anxiety as a part of neutered dog behavior

Your neutered dog might seem calmer – but some studies have found they might also be likely to more easily spooked by:

  • Other dogs and people
  • Loud noises5

Both of which are prime reasons your dog might end up making an escape attempt – whether that’s running away from home or bolting the leash when you’re out together on a walk.

⚠️ Noise anxiety is also one of the primary reasons why more dogs go missing around the 4th of July than any other day in the year.

But the good news? With your trusty Tractive device, you’ve got both an Activity Tracker to keep your newly-neutered buddy on their toes – but you can now also track them in real-time, no matter how far they roam.

For example, you could set up a “safe zone” around your home and backyard – and let your Tractive device work its GPS magic to monitor your dog’s movements. (Even if you’re at work, traveling, or just not around.)

Tractive GPS virtual fence

Now the minute your dog runs past or escapes this “safe zone” – you’ll get an escape alert on your phone.

So you can more quickly intervene and bring them back to safety – before they run off too far from home. (Where there’s no end to the dangers they might face.)

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Set Up A Virtual Fence

Wrapping up: Busting 3 myths about neutered dog behavior

1.  Your castrated dog can’t experience pleasure anymore

Not true. Most animals don’t feel pleasure during sex – including your dog. It’s a matter of natural instinct for them.

If you’re deciding to castrate your dog to get rid of unwanted behaviors like humping, try training them out of this behavior first. Rubbing against objects can be simply a habit they’ve picked – not necessarily due to their sex drive.

That said, if you castrate your dog, there are high chances that they’d keep rubbing against people or things if you haven’t addressed the underlying behavior.

A man training a dog in a field

2. Your castrated dog is immediately infertile

Nope, not immediately after castration. Some dogs can remain fertile up to 6 weeks after they’ve gotten the snip.6

This means that after the first days of a successfully carried out castration, your male dog could still get another female dog pregnant. So watch your dog carefully when you’re out a walk during the first days after the surgery.

A woman running with a dog on leash

3. I don’t need to castrate my dog – he never leaves my side!

Besides the mating instinct, your dog has a hundred different reasons to run away from home. (Yes, no matter how much of an indoor dog you think they are.)


  • Boredom
  • Fear, stress, or anxiety (which you might find heightened in a neutered dog)
  • Prey drive, or their hunting instinct
  • Noise anxiety
  • …and more.

Read more:

A dog peeking through a hole in a wooden fence

Some dogs might even jump, step over, or even dig under your fence to escape home. (Especially if they feel cooped up indoors for too long.)

And for reference:

  • Even small dogs can run off up to a half mile (~1 km) – simply because they want some excitement. 
  • Bigger dogs can cover even longer distances – up to 5 miles/8 km!

💡 Which is where besides getting them neutered (after discussing your options with your vet), it’s a good idea to invest in a dedicated dog GPS and Health tracker for your buddy – both for their safety and your peace of mind.

(Plus, ideally one that’s 100% bite-proof, waterproof, and built for the most rough and tumble outdoor adventures. So you can hike, ski, run, and swim with your dog – stress-free.)

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Always know where your dog is

Follow every step in real-time with unlimited range. Get alerts if they wander too far. Keep them happy & healthy with Wellness Monitoring. And let others – like walkers or sitters – keep an eye on your dog too.

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Because after all’s said and done, you’ll be taking an active role in your buddy’s health, safety, and well-being.

Which means a longer, happier, healthier life by your side.

Want a vet’s take on whether you should neuter your dog? Here’s Dr. David Randall from FlexPet weighing in:

And if you’ve liked this post, share it with a friend or a loved one – and let’s help build a safer, kinder world for our furry friends together.

Your furry friend’s health and wellbeing means as much as to us as it does to you. So we’ve made it a priority to only share medically-relevant content on our blog.

This post was checked, double-checked, and medically verified by Georgia-based vet, Dr. Dwight Alleyne.

Dr. Dwight Alleyne, DVM

Dwight Alleyne was born and raised in Long Island, New York where his love of animals began. His career for animals began working for a well-known no-kill animal shelter on Long Island.

Dr. Dwight Alleyne, DVM

He worked his way up the career ladder working as a kennel technician, veterinary assistant, and then becoming a licensed veterinary technician at the shelter.

His passion for veterinary medicine led to him applying to and being accepted at Cornell University Veterinary where he graduated from in 2006. After completing a small animal rotating internship at Purdue University, he eventually made his way to Georgia where he has been practicing ever since.

Dr. Alleyne has practiced at several small animal clinics throughout Georgia. He has a keen interest in soft tissue surgery and has extensive experience in performing ultrasounds including echocardiograms.

When he is not practicing medicine, Dr. Alleyne enjoys writing and editing pet health articles and providing pet advice through telehealth.

Dr. Alleyne also has his own blog called “The Animal Doctor Blog.” Check it out on: www.anmldrblog.com.