Your puppy has settled in and is learning lots of new things through puppy training and socialisation. So far, so good!
Now is the time to start thinking about another important step in their young life: neutering.
Discuss this with your vet, but accepted medical guidelines say dogs can be neutered after 6 months old. For female dogs, some wait until they have had their first season before being spayed. For male dogs, particularly bigger breeds, some wait longer until the dog has reached sexual maturity before castrating. In both cases, it’s usually between 6-12 months old.
By the time unneutered male dogs reach sexual maturity at around 12 months, they begin to be governed by their hormones. So, unless there is a realistic plan to breed from them, having them neutered is the kindest and most responsible thing to do.
The social issues of an unneutered male can be especially pronounced in a doggy day care setting, because there are a number of dogs together for extended periods of time. A similar analogy is human siblings, where they may be well behaved together when at school, but bicker at home because they are familiar and comfortable with one another.
Entire males, in particular, can become anti-social. Their natural instinct is to mount other less confident male dogs. Generally, they will fixate on one dog, and persistently follow them around trying to mount. This is unpleasant for the other dog, and means the unneutered male is missing out on the friendly doggy interaction going on around him.
One common worry we hear from owners (usually men!) is that their male dog will lose their personality if neutered. Having cared for thousands of dogs for more than a decade we know this is a myth. Once a male dog doesn’t have to contend with the instincts of testosterone, their real personality shines through.
While unneutered female dogs are less aggressive when they come into season, they do become clingy and will bleed. This tends to happen every 6 months for around 3-6 weeks. As well as dealing with the physical side, you will also have to fend off the attention of interested male dogs.
Once you’ve made the decision to neuter, here’s our simple three-step guide.
1. When to neuter
This varies from breed to breed so discuss with your vet. We require male dogs older than 12 months to be neutered. Generally, female dogs can be neutered from around 6 months old, and male dogs can be neutered after 6 months old.
2. How to neuter
While the process involved is a full medical procedure, it’s an operation vets undertake regularly and is fairly quick and simple. The Blue Cross has some excellent information on what’s involved.
3. Neutering aftercare
All being well, your puppy will be up and about just a few hours after surgery. Monitor them closely for 24 hours. Within 2-3 days they will be back to their normal self. Restrict their exercise for the first 7 days to ensure they don’t burst their stitches. Some vets use dissolving stitches while others will remove them.
Next time we discuss dealing with teenage angst and separation anxiety as your puppy reaches young adulthood.
This blog is part of a series focusing on a dog’s life from puppy to pensioner! Read about how to look after your dog - from agility and grooming to neutering and zoning out.