Get Your Dog
By Luzelle Cockburn
OK, so there’s lots of information about spaying and neutering and which one is the best option. But let’s examine what’s best for you and your dog. To get your dog fixed is to get a female dog speyed or a male dog neutered. It means removing the organs that allows them to reproduce.
Is this a good thing? What is the fallout? How can you decide what is best for YOU and YOUR DOG?
What are the risks of not having your dog fixed?
The most important factor to consider here is: can you keep your dog from breeding if you choose not to get them fixed? Not every dog should be bred from. Actually the majority of dogs should not be bred from, but that’s for another blog.
Females come into season approximately once every 6 months, but I have heard of females who come in more often than that. Typically they will drip blood for three weeks, but it’s good to keep your female isolated for at least a month during this time. Yes, your female may try to escape. Yes dogs can breed through fences. So the best way to keep your dog secure is to have your dog in a crate inside the house when you are not able to watch her and take her out on leash.
Male dogs can smell a female from quite a way away. And some males can become quite determined to get to a female. Yes, they may escape. And in doing so could injure themselves. Temperament wise, unneutered males can become a bit more humpy and tune you out more, if you don’t have good obedience on the dog.
Temperament wise, females can get grouchy during their seasons (just like us humans). And may become more inclined to fight with other females in the house (or males, they just have shorter tempers in general). If they have a phantom pregnancy they might start guarding an area, carry soft toys around and even come into milk.
What are the health risks?
There are also health risks on both side of the argument, but here we’ll just briefly talk about the cancers your dog can develop if you choose not to get them fixed.
Obviously each time you breed a female you put her health at risk. There are so many things that can go wrong with breeding, so make sure you are prepared to do things properly before you decide to go down that track.
For female dogs there’s an elevated risk for mammary cancers. The only way to prevent this completely is to get your female spayed before her first season. Females can also develop pyometra, which is a serious, life threatening infection. It can happen after any season due to the way a female’s hormones work. For this reason, I usually have my females spayed at age 5.
For male dogs, there’s an increased risk in testicular and prostate cancers. But the incidences are fairly rare.
What are the risks of having your dog fixed?
Right now we come to the other side of the coin. Getting your dog fixed can increase aggression issues. Though, these can be minimised through training. Dogs also become less active after being fixed and run the risks of becoming obese. Most of the risks associated with getting your dog spayed or neutered are health risks.
Of course, there’s the operation to consider, which is much more invasive for female dogs than for male dogs. You also have an increased risk of most cancers as the hormones required by the dog isn’t there. Dogs can grow taller than they would otherwise because again, if spaying and neutering is done before the hormones tell the growth plates to close naturally of course the hormones are not there to do that.
Incontinence in female dogs can also increase once spayed, so if your dog is already piddling with over excitement, fear or she hasn’t developed proper bladder control yet, please don’t spay her at least till that’s sorted. Especially if you find it frustrating.
Then of course comes the really serious part! Risk to injury! Dogs who have been speyed or neutered have an increased risk to injuries! And this is something serious to consider if your dog as a active athlete or working dog. Of course, for females coming into season every time an important competition comes on is another consideration, as you’re not allowed to take a female in season to a trial. Not a Kennel Club trial anyway.
What’s Right and What’s Wrong?
There are always two sides to every coin. Choosing to spay or neuter your dog is not an easy decision! There is no right or wrong answer. The right decision is one that suits your family and circumstances.
But, here’s how I’ve made my decisions about spaying and neutering. If you can answer YES to all these questions, by all means keep your dog entire if it works for you. If you answer NO, then you should consider spaying or neutering your dog.
Can you prevent your dog from breeding?
This doesn’t mean leaving your dog in the back yard. This means securely kenneling or crating a dog while you’re not there to supervise them to prevent them from escaping or another dog getting to them.
If your dog is female, can you handle a female dog coming into season 2-4 times a year for 3 weeks at a time?
Are you prepared to put doggy undies on your female to save your carpets or is this just too much like hard work? If it’s hard work, just get her spayed, no one is judging you. It is your decision.
Is your dog an athlete or working dog?
Not working dog by breed (i.e. a German Shepherd is part of the working dog group, but my German Shepherd is a pet, not a working dog, she is not required to run 10km a day, every day).
Does your female dog have incontinence problems?
Incontinence problems are frustrating to deal with. Spaying will make this worse. So give your female dog a chance to develop bladder control properly and spay her once that is sorted.
What Should You Do?
No one can make your decision for you. I’ve tried to present the information you need to make the right decision for you and your dog so that you can make the decision that’s right for you.
What would I do? I have plenty of kennels, crates and ways to keep my dogs from breeding and escaping. I also don’t mind putting on undies or keeping a very close eye on my dogs (I do that anyway). So I generally would neuter a male dog between 2-7 years old and a female dog between 2-5 years old. Why 2? Because by then they’re finished growing and developing.
When would I get a dog fixed? If I couldn’t keep the dog from breeding, I’d have them neutered. Also if a dog shouldn’t pass on their genes, I’d get them neutered. Despite your best efforts, sometimes accidents happen (this is not an excuse to be negligent though!), so if I definitely don’t want the dog’s genes in the gene pool they have to get the snip!
Quite frankly, I’m not too worried about the risk of increased aggression, because to me, I can sort that out through training. So that is not something I consider when making the decision (not anymore, anyway). The biggest concern for me is the health implications. If a I have a dog with health problems (or temperament problems) I’d just get them fixed. I don’t want their genes passed on. If that doesn’t really matter, I’d leave them entire, but that is because I have the knowledge and resources to deal with unfixed dogs.
But that’s me. You have to decide what is right for you! I hope this article has helped you make an informed decision! Let us know what you think!
Need Some Help with Your Dog?
The whole reason I’m a dog trainer is to keep dog out of shelters and rescues and off death row. The best way to do that is to keep dogs with their families! So, I’ve put together some resources to help you with your dog! It’s all kept in The Dog Training Lab – you’ll find heaps of free resources, just pop your email address in The Free Resources Hub to get access and you’re set!
What information is in there? Tips to help you with walking your dog on lead, toilet training, problem barking and so much more!
Hey, I’m Luzelle!
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