12 Biggest Pros and Cons of Neutering Dogs

If you grew up watching Bob Barker host The Price is Right, then you knew the show would be closed in the same way, every day.

“Help control the pet population. Have your pets spayed or neutered.”

The current host of the show, Drew Carey, has continued on with this tradition. Millions of pets have been spayed or neutered thanks to this one simple line.

Neutering is a form of surgical sterilization for male dogs. The dog is taken to a veterinarian, who will then remove the dog’s testicles using strict sterile techniques. The dog is under general anesthesia when the procedure is performed.

Here are the pros and cons of neutering dogs to think about if you’re considering this procedure for your pet today.

List of the Pros of Neutering Dogs

1. It reduces the risk of prostate and cancer problems.
Dogs that are neutered no longer have the risk of suffering from testicular cancer, a common form of cancer in dogs, later in life. Other common issues, such as infections or cysts, are reduces as well. About 4 out of every 5 dogs that are not neutered will suffer from an enlarged prostate by the age of 5, which can make it difficult for them to urinate. That issue goes away as well.

2. It reduces marking and spraying issues.
The removal of the testicles changes the hormonal balance that is within the male dog. Less testosterone is present, which means there is less of a desire to mark territory. There can be fewer spraying issues around the house as well. This benefit is reduced when the dog is neutered later in life, so it is a good idea to consider this option around the age of 6 months.

3. It stabilizes the mood of the dog.
Dogs are naturally protective of their territory. They will guard it against any “unfriendly” visitor. Some male dogs can be overly aggressive, especially when other male dogs are encountered. The neutering process reduces these behaviors. It will also reduce the aggressiveness seen in the dog over time without reducing their desire to be active and playful every day.

4. It reduces the mating urge.
Dogs that are not neutered will have the urge to run away from their home if they sense a dog in heat somewhere in their neighborhood. The urge to mate is reduced once the neutering process has been completed. That means the desire to roam and expand territory is reduced. They still like to get outside to explore, but the purpose is different. The goal is to have fun more than it is to find a mate or expand personal borders.

5. It does not cause them to gain weight.
Dogs that are neutered will usually be more inactive than normal for up to 2-4 weeks after the procedure. This is normal. It is part of the healing process. As long as the dog receives a healthy diet and regular exercise, the act of neutering will not cause the dog to put on weight. As the dog ages, the focus on diet and exercise must increase as the dog will want to eat the same amount while wanting to exercise less.

6. It can reduce sexualized behaviors.
Some male dogs are hypersexualized. You can see this with behaviors that include leg humping and mounting other dogs of either gender. Neutering can reduce these behaviors because it changes the urge to mate. Although there may be changes to the maturation process afterward, for some dogs, the benefits here outweigh the potential disadvantages which may occur later on in life.


List of the Cons of Neutering Dogs

1. It does not guarantee a change in behavior.
Many dogs have learned behaviors that go beyond basic hormones. Some dogs may have learned to lift their leg to spray, so they’ll keep doing that after they are neutered. Some dogs can become more aggressive after being neutered. Although it is possible for undesired behaviors to disappear after this procedure, it is not guaranteed. You may see more undesired behaviors instead of fewer.

2. It can cause urinary incontinence.
Although it doesn’t happen often, there is a small risk that the neutering procedure could cause urinary incontinence for the dog. It happens when the surgery takes place before the bladder is fully developed. As the dog ages, the bladder muscles are weaker than they should be, which causes leakage. That is one of the reasons why dog neutering is not recommended for most breeds until the age of 6 months.

3. It could change the texture of the dog’s coat.
Because neutering initiates a hormonal change for the dog, there can be some changes to the animal’s physical characteristics over time. One of the most common changes that is seen happens to the coat. Dogs that are neutered may have their coat growth patterns altered. The texture of their coat might change as well. This doesn’t affect the overall health of the dog, though it can change their sensitivity to hot or cold temperatures.

4. It affects the maturation process.
Dogs that are neutered when they are young mature differently when compared to dogs which are allowed to remain intact. Some dogs may benefit from being neutered later in life. Some may be better off not being neutered at all. That is why this procedure should be discussed with your veterinarian before a final decision is made. It could affect the overall health of your pet for years to come.

5. It increases several different health risks for the dog.
Neutering can increase the health risks of certain conditions for dogs. Dogs that are neutered before the age of 12 months have an increased risk of osteosarcoma. There are increased risks for hypothyroidism, cognitive impairments, and orthopedic disorders as well. Some dogs may even experience an increased risk of suffering from an adverse reaction when given a vaccination.

6. It stops the breeding process.
Some dogs may be candidates for contributing to a breed’s gene pool. The neutering process takes that option away. If a male dog is listed as a purebred and has papers to support it, then neutering may not be the right choice. There would be more value in breeding for puppies in such an instance, even if there are undesired behaviors that you may wish to modify.

The pros and cons of neutering dogs is, in general terms, something that can be beneficial to individual pets while controlling overall population levels. The danger here is making an assumption that all dogs benefit from this procedure. That is simply false, which is why every potential advantage and disadvantage must be carefully weighed to determine what the right course of action should be.


Blog Post Author Credentials
Louise Gaille is the author of this post. She received her B.A. in Economics from the University of Washington. In addition to being a seasoned writer, Louise has almost a decade of experience in Banking and Finance. If you have any suggestions on how to make this post better, then go here to contact our team.