By Andrew Fischer
Top reasons why you shouldn't neuter your dog
Did you know that new research suggests that neutering your dog is actually quite bad for their health?
Most dogs are neutered prior to their first year of age. Neutering however disrupts proper hormonal distribution and negatively impacts essential growth processes.
In order to help you understand the modern claims that de-sexing is bad for dogs, we’ve analysed dozens of studies examining various aspect of gonadectomy (a medical term referring to the surgical removal of either the testes or the ovaries).
Here are the top reasons why you shouldn’t be opting for this procedure.
Neutering your pup doesn’t improve their behaviour
Many dog owners still believe that intact dogs are more aggressive than neutered ones. Even some veterinarians recommend to neuter male dogs as early as they reach 6 months of age in order to prevent aggression.
However, recent studies that monitor intact and neutered dogs didn’t find any strong correlation between castration and aggression.
Aggression seems to be more influenced by the dog’s training, breed, genetics, health and previous experience.
Castration significantly lowers your dog’s testosterone levels. Testosterone has been shown to increase confidence. If you have an overconfident dog, neutering him may help you control his aggression. However, Labradors and other calm breeds may suffer from further decrease of testosterone. (1) (2)
Neutered dogs are more prone to developing joint issues
Neutered pups are more likely to develop joint issues. These include a higher incidence of Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) ruptures, hip dysplasia or patellar luxation.
The incidence of these diseases especially rises when dogs have inadequate time to hormonally develop their bodies and to grow healthy bones.
Especially active dogs like Labradors who love to run a lot suffer from joint issues when neutered.
One study found that pups that were altered were around twice more likely to develop hip dysplasia than intact ones.
Neutered dogs have a greater potential for obesity
Every dog owner should know that castration will cause a resting dog to burn fewer calories than if the dog would be intact.
One study from 2019 published by Bjørnvad et al found that castrated dogs were at increased risk of obesity. This is due to a reduction in testosterone and a subsequent lowering of basal metabolic rate.
This doesn’t need to be a problem as long as you make sure your dog has plenty of exercise and has a balanced diet.
Anyway, castrated dogs have twice to three times greater probability of becoming obese than intact dogs. Obesity in dogs leads to a number of other health problems.
Many dog owners underestimate the negative impact of obesity on the health of their pups.
Neutered dogs are more likely to get certain types of cancer
Neutered dogs have an increased probability of getting specific types of cancer.
One study from 2013 found a link between neutering retrievers and incidences of cancers. It was found that altered dogs have an increased chance of getting some types of cancer including osteosarcoma, lymphoma, mast cell cancer and hemangiosarcoma. Other studies indicated that neutered dogs were also more prone to developing prostate cancer.
Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) is a common cancer in medium and larger breeds like Labradors. Osteosarcoma is especially common in dogs neutered before 1 year of age.
Neutered dogs have also an increased risk of splenic hemangiosarcoma (cancer of the blood vessel walls). The risk of developing this type of cancer is around twice smaller in intact dogs.
Spayed female dogs have an increased risk of bone cancer, cardiac tumors, cardiac hemangiosarcoma (cancer of blood vessels) and mast cell tumors.
On the other hand, neutering decreases the risk of developing other types of cancer. These include mammary, ovarian and uterine cancers in female dogs or testicular cancer in male dogs. (3)
Neutered dogs are more likely to develop Hypothyroidism
Many neutered dogs are more likely to develop Hypothyroidism. This is a condition where the thyroid gland is unable to make enough thyroid hormones to keep the body running normally. Thyroid hormones are triiodothyronine and thyroxine. These hormones help dogs to control their metabolism.
Symptoms of hypothyroidism in dogs include cold intolerance, lethargy, weight gain, hair loss, very thin hair coat, dry hair, ear infections etc.
Although this disease is treatable, it may be painful for your dog and quite costly.
Neutered dogs tend to be fearful
There is a number of studies that show that neutered dogs are more likely to be fearful and aggressive. These studies found some evidence that neutering may be linked to an increased likelihood of developing noise phobias.
Neutering older dogs may change their temperament
Neutering older dogs often causes changes in their temperament. If you insist on castrating your dog and you want to avoid this issue you should make sure to have the procedure done when your dog is around 1 year old. Bigger dogs like Labradors should wait till they are around 1.5-2 years old.
Neutered dogs are more likely to develop incontinence
Some studies suggest that neutered dogs may develop incontinence as a consequence of the neutering procedure. This is common especially in female dogs where 20% of bitches develop a so-called “spay incontinence” after neutering procedure.
The risk of urinary tract infections such as the urinary tract tumor are increased by a factor of 3.
Neutered dogs have an increased risk of developing canine dementia
Canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome (CCDS), also known as canine dementia is a complex of behavioural symptoms usually characterised by deficits in memory, perception, awareness, learning and by impairment of social interactions.
Neutered dogs seem to be more prone to developing canine dementia than intact ones.
The Bottom Line
We highly recommend you to talk to your veterinary about your individual dog’s situation. Every dog is different and has different health issues. This article should only show you that de-sexing has a number of disadvantages that should be taken into account.
Don’t forget to read our article also about the PROS of dog neutering HERE.
If neutering is still necessary, make sure to neuter your dog at the appropriate age. For bigger dogs such as Labradors, it’s recommended to wait until the dog reaches 2 years of age. Smaller male dogs can be neutered as early as they turn 6-9 months of age. (4)
At the end it’s still you who has to make the choice about what’s “best” for your dog.