To Spay or Neuter? That is the Question!

 Discussing neutering and spaying of domestic dogs is a topic sure to get a reaction – everyone has their own (usually strong) opinion. In the case of the male dog neutering is the removal of the testes, in the case of the female, spaying is the removal of the ovaries and uterus. Both procedures result in your dog not being able to have or contribute to unwanted litters.

There are always hundreds of dogs looking for homes at welfare organisations. Should we be adding to the population explosion?

Many people believe that spaying and neutering will make their dog fat. This is not true! Fat dogs eat too much –  i.e. too much food makes dogs fat! After surgery, your dog’s nutritional needs will diminish so to keep your dog’s weight stable you will need to maintain exercise and reduce food intake. Neutered dogs still make great watch dogs and maintain all of the personality they had before surgery. Occasionally spayed bitches suffer from urinary incontinence. On the plus side your bitch is protected from mammary tumors and pyometria (infection of the uterus) and your male from prostrate abnormalities.

There are also a number of behavioural benefits to having your dog spayed or neutered. In the case of the bitch, she will not come on heat twice a year with possible accompanying mood swings. You will not need to mop up the blood and keep her away form other dogs and keep other dogs away from her. For your male, there is likely to be a decrease (or prevention of) marking in the house (lifting his leg), wandering, inter dog aggression (fighting), challenging the owner and mounting people and other dogs. Neutered males are definitely more manageable.

There is a range of schools of thought about when to spay or neuter. Chat to your vet to get his opinion. Current trends lean towards early surgery with about 5 months being a good age. Some owners prefer to wait until their dog has matured and “filled out”. There is no need to wait until your bitch has had her first heat but do remember not to schedule spaying while your bitch is on heat.

Should I have my dog spayed or neutered?

Answer the following questions. If the answer is  “Yes”- move on to the next question, if the answer is “No”, book your dog in for surgery today.

  • Is your dog registered with KUSA (The Kennel Union) or in the case of German Shepherds, the GSD Federation?
  • Is your dog a good specimen of it’s breed – does it meet the breed standard? (Correct colour, ear carriage, markings, bite, size, movement etc.)
  • Is your dog free from hereditary health problems (been screened by a vet) e.g. hip displasia, elbow displasia, eye problems (these vary from breed to breed)?
  • Do you/ have you shown your dog at a breed show and been placed or graded?       
  • Does your dog have a reliable temperament i.e. is he or she confident, outgoing, calm and non aggressive?
  • Does your dog have any behavioral problems e.g. aggression, marking in the house etc?l

If you can confidently answer “Yes” to all of the above questions, then you may be off the hook for now. If later, you should decide you would like to breed with your dog, make sure that you can answer “Yes” to the following questions.

  • Is your dog over 18 months of age?
  • Have you had expert advice on choosing a mate?
  • Do you have a list of people wanting to purchase your puppies?
  • Would breeding a litter from your dog offer something to your breed?
  • Do you have the time and commitment to rear a litter ?
  • Can you afford the vet’s bills, registration, feeding, innoculations?
  • Would you be happy to take back any dog you have bred at any stage of it’s life?

Here is a list of reaons why you SHOULDN”T breed a litter. Breeding is best left to the experienced breeder. 

  • It would be a great experience for our children.
  • Our bitch/dog would be fulfilled!
  • Our dog is such a nice dog, we’d like to breed another just like him/her.)
  • Our bitch must have a litter before we spay her.
  • There is such a nice dog down the road – they’d make great puppies! 
  • It sounds like an easy way to make money.  

If you are still in doubt as to whether you should have your dog spayed or neutered get some expert advice (not from your neighbour or uncle in the police force). Chat to your dog’s breeder, your vet, your trainer or your breed club and make an informed decision. 

8 Responses to “To Spay or Neuter? That is the Question!”

  • Lorisa Ford says:

    Good Day,

    where would you recommend to neuter our dog? Does the SPCA provide this service, and is it safe instead of the expensive surgery at our Vet?

    Thank you for your time,

  • Graham Richardson says:

    I want my doggy to be spayed. But, I’m confused. All the vets say: as soon as possible. All the Rhodesian Ridgeback breeders say: wait until she has finished her first heat cycle.
    Any advice??? She’s now 6 months, weights 29kg.

    • julie says:

      As with all things doggy, you will get a wide variety of opinions. Our experience is that there are no negative effects of early spaying. (I have had bitches of my own spayed at various stages of their lives.) Spaying prevents the obvious – i.e. heat and possible pregnancy but also prevents phantom pregnancy and mood swings (possible aggression). Vets will advise early spaying as they see the health problems that come with un-spayed bitches i.e. mammary tumours and pyometra (womb infection). (I have had bitches with both). Breeders are in the business of breeding so are loath to advise spaying of a bitch that they feel might be good for their lines, for possible breeding. At the end of the day, the decision is yours. If she was my dog, I would spay right away before she comes on heat. As soon as she does come on heat, you cannot spay for at least 3 to 4 months.

  • Lynette says:

    My dog is 15 years of age and he is a male. Is it advisable for my dog to be spayed and to sit with this pain at such an old age.
    Thanks, Lynette

  • Kimberlin says:

    Hi. I have two male dogs. One is 10 months old and the other is 2 years and 4 months old. The 10 month old puppy is on heat and full of aggression which leads to fighting. Im trying to find a place where I can have both my dogs neutered at an affordable price. No organisation is willing to help me as my parents are seen as “rich” and my parents are not prepared to pay over R1000 per dog as we do not have that kind of money. Im really in seek for help as they are house dogs and its emotionally stressful and draining having to separate them to avoid fights.

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