What is the Best Age to Neuter a Male Dog?

What is the Best Age to Neuter a Male Dog?

Last Updated on September, 2022

Neutering pets is a somewhat controversial topic. But most vets and dog owners agree that neutering is the way to go. 

Neutering is a significant decision. And as a responsible dog owner, you must have so many questions popping up in your head.

What is the best age to neuter a male dog? 

How should I care for my dog after the procedure? 

Are there any risks of neutering my dog?

I will clear all your doubts about neutering and take you through the best ages to neuter different dog breeds, and the benefits and risks of neutering. 

So keep reading to find out all you need about neutering your pup.

Quick Summary

Neutering is a significant decision that comes with many benefits and some risks.

The best age to neuter a male dog varies depending on the breed, but is typically between 6 and 9 months old.

Neutering a dog can improve the dog’s personality, health, and prevent unwanted litters.

Why Should You Neuter a Male Dog?

a veterinarian neutering to a dog

Sterilization is usually associated with most female dogs. However many pet owners now sterilize male dogs as well. 

There are many reasons for neutering a male dog. These include avoiding unwanted litters, reducing aggression, and lowering the risk of your dog contracting certain diseases. 

Neutered dogs are usually more social, less aggressive, and get along well with other pets and family members.

Also, they’ll become less territorial and won’t try to run away from home. All these qualities make them easier to train, and overall they become better pets.

Best Age for Neutering Different Dog Breeds

A dog is running on the ground

For most male dogs, the traditional & best age for neutering is between six to nine months, but it varies depending on your dog’s breed and health conditions. 

Some vets recommend waiting until sexual maturity, while others say the earlier, the better. 

Here’s an overview of the best age to have specific breeds neutered. 

Small dogs: If you are the owner of a small dog like a cocker spaniel, miniature schnauzer, or chihuahua, the age of neutering is not a risk factor. Small dogs include all toy breeds and dogs below 40-50 lbs at maturity. 

Larger breeds: If you own a medium to large dog breed like a labrador retriever, german shepherd dog, or a golden retriever, it is better to put off neutering until your dog reaches sexual maturity. This is around 11-12 months of age for male dogs. For female dogs, spaying must be done after the first heat cycle.

Giant breeds: The best age to spay or neuter giant breeds is at 14 months or after the first heat for female dogs. 

Benefits and Risks of Neutering a Dog

A dog is running on water, and a dog is peeing on the floor

Neutering a dog is a significant decision, and you must consider the benefits and risks before spaying or neutering your dog.

However, the benefits of neutering outweigh the risks, and dogs of all ages will enjoy a better life after neutering.

Benefits

Improves your dog’s personality: Neutering reduces aggression in male dogs and lowers the chance of your dog roaming out of your property.

Improves your pet’s health: Neutering reduces the risk of certain diseases such as prostate disease and certain cancers like testicular tumors.

Prevents unwanted litters: Pet overpopulation is a worldwide issue.

As responsible pet owners, we must do all we can to avoid unwanted pregnancies among dogs.

Risks 

Weight gain from hypothyroidism: Neutering your male dog will change his hormone balance and activity level. Neutering also causes hypothyroidism, resulting in lower thyroid levels. Low thyroid levels can cause rapid weight gain.

But you can address weight gain with a proper diet and exercise. Your vet will suggest medication for hypothyroidism separately.

May cause complications like urinary incontinence: A small percentage of dogs develop urinary incontinence after neutering. This usually happens if the dog is neutered when he’s too young. 

Anesthesia risks: Neutering is done under anesthesia. Anesthesia is typically safe, and most dogs undergo surgery without complications. However, there is always a small risk. 1 in 5 dogs may develop complications after receiving anesthesia. 

What Happens if You Neuter too Early or too Late?

a dog with a veterinarian

According to veterinary literature, there are consequences of neutering your pet too early or too late. 

Risks of Neutering too Early

  • Joint disorders: Neutering a dog too early can cause uneven bone growth. Many vets recommend that you neuter your pet after his growth plates close. If you fix your pet too early, it can cause irregular bone growth and distribution, leading to many future complications. Hip dysplasia is a common condition in early neutered dogs.
  • Heightened phobias and behavioral issues: Dogs neutered before 6 months of age have an increased risk of developing phobias and other social problems.
  • More risk of infections: Dogs spayed or neutered too early have an increased risk of developing contagious diseases. 
  • Higher risk of bone cancer: Dogs neutered before 12 months of age have a slightly higher risk of developing bone cancer in later life. 

Risks of Neutering too Late

  • Longer recovery time: Older dogs may not recover as fast as young dogs. Senior dogs require more care and more help in healing. 
  • Risk of unwanted puppies: The longer you put off neutering your dog, the higher the risk of having unwanted puppies.

Caring for Your Dog After Neutering

a man hugging a dog

Post-operative care is critical. How you care for your pup during the first 14 days after the surgery will determine how fast he’ll heal.

Here’s what you need to do to ensure your dog has a quick recovery.

  • Prepare a quiet, secure place indoors for your pet to rest.
  • Restrict your dog from exercising for two weeks. Discourage your pup from strenuous activities such as playing, running, and jumping. Strenuous activity can dissolve the sutures and induce swelling around the incision site.
  • Check on the incision at least twice daily until it is completely healed. A small amount of swelling, redness, and blood is typical. But if you have any concerns, immediately contact your vet.
  • Keep the incision dry for two weeks. Don’t bathe your dog, allow him to go on snow, or take him out during rain.
  • Stop your pup from licking the incision site. The best way to do this is by using an Elizabethan collar, also known as a cone. A cone doesn’t allow your dog to reach the incision site and keeps it free from licks and bites.
  • Keep up with veterinary medicine. Your vet will prescribe pain medication and sometimes even antibiotics. Make sure you give your dog all his medication on time. Don’t skip the pain medication even if your dog appears pain-free. 

Related article: How long to keep cone on dog after neuter?

FAQs

Yes, large breeds also do better if they are neutered. It’s better to neuter large breeds around 11-12 months of age. 

A neutered dog will be in pain for a couple of days. Most neutered dogs completely recover in about a week. However, this may depend on the age of your dog. An older dog may take longer to heal from the surgery.

Final Thoughts

People neuter their dogs at various ages, but the most common age is between six to nine months. For most dogs, age is a risk factor, and neutering too early or too late can immensely impact your dog’s health.

If you neuter your dog too early, he can suffer from bone issues, cancers, and other complications like cranial cruciate ligament rupture. But if you neuter too late, it increases your dog’s recovery time and the risk of having unwanted puppies.

It’s up to you to decide on the best age to neuter your dog. Always consider your dog’s breed and health condition. If you are still unsure, you can always discuss your options with a vet. 

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Thomas
Thomas Villalpando is the main author of IPet Guides. He spends his time reading, training, and working with several Dogs' behaviors. You can find more about him here.

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