Dog Neutering: A Complete Guide

31 March 2022

Neutering is an important topic for every pet parent. What is dog neutering and how does it work? What are the side effects and how will it change your dog? Should you neuter your dog? Discover the answers, below!

black dog standing in a field

Are you considering having your dog neutered? The idea of putting your pet through a surgical procedure can be daunting, so naturally, you want to be informed about the procedure. In this guide, we break down exactly what neutering is, along with the benefits and potential downsides of the surgery. We’ll also outline the neutering surgery in detail so you understand precisely what is involved, what the recovery looks like, and how much it may cost you. 

Let’s dig in.

What is dog neutering?

Neutering is a surgical procedure performed on male dogs to sterilize them. Also known as dog castration, neutering involves the removal of a dog’s testicles. In addition to rendering the dog infertile, neutering also protects dogs against testicular cancer and has been associated with certain behavioral changes, which we will discuss later in this article.  

How much does neutering a dog cost?

The cost of neutering a dog varies depending on the vet who performs the procedure. Generally speaking, it could cost anywhere from $50 to $200. 

Even if the cost of the neuter procedure seems daunting, it’s nothing compared to the cost of raising a litter of puppies. 

If money is an obstacle preventing you from neutering your dog, there are probably discount options available. Many cities run discount spay and neuter programs to help make the procedure available to anyone who needs it. If you’re not sure if your city offers this type of program, contact your local ASPCA branch or search “low-cost spay and neuter clinics” in your town. 

Benefits of neutering a dog

There are many benefits associated with neutering your dog, including:

  • Preventing unwanted litters of puppies
  • Protecting him from testicular cancer
  • Limiting sexual urges (like the tendency to hump pets, people, and objects)
  • Reducing your dog’s tendency to roam (due to less testosterone production)
  • According to the Humane Society, neutered male dogs have been shown to live longer than unaltered male dogs
  • Reducing the risk of prostate and hormone-related issues

Does neutering calm a dog down? 

When a male dog is neutered, their testosterone production is limited, reducing their sexual urges. As a result, the dog is less likely to perform territorial marking, and his urge to hump other dogs will be lowered. Lower testosterone levels also mean male dogs are less likely to roam. 

It is commonly believed that neutered dogs have a lower tendency to be aggressive, but studies on this are inconclusive. 

Overall, quieting a male dog’s sexual urges may help him calm down in some senses, but energetic dogs will still have plenty of energy for playtime.

black dog standing in a field

Are there disadvantages to neutering a dog?

As long as neutering is done responsibly, it doesn’t have any significant disadvantages, but you may need to make some adjustments to your dog’s lifestyle after the procedure.

Neutered dogs tend to have slower metabolisms, so you should be mindful not to overfeed your dog after the procedure. Make sure your neutered dog eats a balanced diet and gets plenty of exercise.

There is a lot of conflicting information as to whether neutering has disadvantages related to cancer and other health problems. Sources with a vested interest in purebred dogs tend to argue that there are severe disadvantages, while veterinary sources claim the opposite… you do the math! 

We can glean that any disadvantages with neutering tend to be related to performing the procedure when the dog is too young.

In some breeds, neutering too young may affect their bone growth and leave them prone to injury. In others, sterilizing too young could leave dogs predisposed to certain cancers. 

So, when should a dog be neutered?

The optimal age for neutering a dog varies depending on the size and breed of the dog. You and your vet should also take your dog’s overall health and lifestyle into account. Generally, it is said to be safe to neuter dogs any time after eight weeks old. However, many vets prefer to wait until the dog has reached sexual maturity at 5 or 6 months old.  

Speak to your veterinarian to determine what is best for your dog. 

The dog neutering procedure

While neutering is a surgical procedure, it’s much less invasive than the word surgery implies. However, your dog will be placed under a general anesthetic, and there are risks associated with that.

Here’s how the procedure works:

  • Before surgery, your dog will receive general anesthesia
  • After sedating the dog, the vet will prep the surgical site. They will clip the fur away from the scrotum and sterilize the area with an antiseptic.
  • The veterinarian will then make a tiny incision in the scrotum and place stitches to tie the testicles off. Then he will remove the testicles.
  • The vet will place stitches in the scrotum to close up the incision to complete the surgery. 
  • Then, the veterinary team will monitor your dog until he has fully woken from anesthesia. 
  • Once the veterinary team is satisfied that your dog isn’t experiencing any complications related to surgery, they will send him home with you to rest and recover. 

Neutering dogs with cryptorchidism

Some dogs have a condition called cryptorchidism, which means one or both of the testicles has failed to descend. In this instance, neutering is more complex as the veterinarian will first have to locate the undescended testicles before removing them. If this is the case for your dog, the neutering procedure may take slightly longer than usual. 

Cryptorchidism is a genetic condition that is most common in small breeds. Though it only affects between 1 and 10% of dogs, it’s well known, and there is no cause for concern when it comes to neuter surgery. Undescended testicles are prone to torsion and have higher instances of testicular cancer, so castration is highly recommended in this instance. 

Recovery from surgery

Your dog should fully recover from the neutering procedure within five to ten days. When he first comes home, your dog may be dopey from the anesthesia. He will probably have to take painkillers for a few days following the surgery. He may be sore, and your vet will likely discourage any heavy physical activity for about a week following the procedure. Make sure your dog has a comfortable and relaxing place to rest when he comes home. If necessary, separate him from other pets to ensure he stays quiet. 

The surgical site is typically very small, but your dog will probably have to wear a cone to prevent him from licking the area. The surgical wound will be minimal, so you shouldn’t have to tend to it, but it’s wise to keep an eye on it for signs of infection. 

If your vet uses dissolving stitches, they will fall out on their own within a week or so of the surgery. Otherwise, you may have to take your pup back to the vet to have his stitches removed. 

Will neutering change your dog’s behavior?

Neutering may affect your dog’s behavior in subtle ways, such as reducing his sex drive and limiting his tendency to roam. But, neutering your dog will not affect his personality.

If your dog is a fun-loving, active pup, he will continue to be that way once he recovers from surgery. If your dog is a laidback couch potato with an affinity for snacks, have no fear, this will not change!

There are many benefits to neutering your dog, including helping to control the population of unwanted pets, but ultimately it’s up to you and your vet to decide what is best for your dog.


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