When to spay or neuter a dog?

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Last Updated on March 14, 2021

When to spay or neuter a dog is a widely debated talking point. Typically spaying or neutering a dog is not an unfavored practice. It is mainly promoted for its benefits to the dog parents unless they discern what they are dealing with. As far as the age of when to spay or neuter a dog is concerned it varies from breed to breed. The traditional perspective of the vets suggests to spay a dog as early as 4-6 months. 

The surgery is easier to perform and rather fast preceding maturity. But some synchronous studies recommend spaying or neutering a dog, especially a large breed pup till it matures.

Except breed, other factors including health condition and environment also play its role. Knowing that the decision of having a pet is not only emotional or delightful but is rather the responsibility for years to come.

Even a glimpse of the pup, and your heart is destined to melt over its cuteness. But you need to keep an eye on the health and behavioral changes of the canine as well. Providing it with the best food to ensure optimal development. Determining the right age to spay or neuter is also a serious decision in this regard. 

If the decision of when to spay or neuter a dog is taken at the right time, it may not only help the puppy to enjoy a longer and probably healthier life as well. Besides, it is the most pragmatic way to curtail unwanted litter which commonly ends up as stray dogs. Not only this spaying or neutering your pet is also highly cost-effective in the long run if you are concerned about the expenses. 


Saying a female dog is the medical procedure performed by the vet to remove the female reproductive parts results in being sterile. The behavior related breeding instincts being culminated. There are medical and behavioral benefits to spaying of your female dog.

Delineating the medical benefits, spaying is going to repress the chances of uterine infections as well as breast tumor or mammary glands tumors called mammary adenocarcinoma and other  diseases. Some of which are not only malignant but you may also end up having expensive treatments or in worst situations might end up losing your adorable one.

On the behavioral end, a female dog will undergo heat as a natural behavior on sexual maturity. The spayed female dog will not be on heat during their breeding season. It is commonly a period of 4-5 days or even 2 weeks. The span of the heat cycle differs for every breed.

At the age of 9-10 months a female dog’s behavior is going to change. In that the change in the level of hormones in the blood induces some behaviors like being moody, howling most of the time for attention, or getting undesirable attention from male dogs, and frequently urinating everywhere or having clear or blood like discharge for days.

For large breed dogs, a female pup might not show the signs of maturity till 12 months. Alluding to various researches, a large breed dog spayed at 6 months holds an increased latency to develop orthopedic and cancer diseases vis-a-viz a dog getting the surgery at 12 months.

Whilst a small breed pup would enter its first what cycle as early as 6 months. Thus the age of spaying varies from breed to breed and for that matter canine to canine.

When to spay a female dog?

Traditionally it’s said to spay a female dog before or at the 6 month mark. Some animal rescuers also suggest even at 8 weeks. Nowadays it is recommended to wait until sexual maturity so all the organs are fully developed to avoid later complications but before the first heat cycle. As once it goes in heat cycle the structure of the blood vessels and uterus undergoes an irreversible change which makes it  complicated for spaying.  

Spaying before the first heat cycle provides better protection from diseases. It varies from 5-12 months of age depending upon breeds. The small dogs might show the indications of first heat at 6 months while the large ones even not at 12 month mark. Lap dogs are also taken as small breeds so the spay age is similar.

The rule is to let a female dog mature completely until it reaches the age of its first heat cycle and right before it happens, spay the dog. This is the perfect situation since it ensures the dog gets enough time to develop. But deciding the right time is still uncertain. As it can not be foretold when the first heat would happen. A canine’ lineage might be of some help but can not be used as a general predictor.


Neutering is the same procedure for male dogs as spaying is for female dogs. Vet removes testicles and other related structures to make them sterile.

The surgery ensures prevention of testicular cancer and some prostate problems. In addition, your male dog is likely to be less aggressive after neutering. An intact normal male will try all the creative ways to find a mate by escaping from home which might result in an injury from a road accident or  a fight with other male dogs. 

Not only this, dogs on sexual maturity mark their territory by urinating all over the place. And in the case it is your house too. Believe me it is not a very agreeable thing to deal with. The dog usually lifts its leg to urinate once it matures. Other behaviors include humping and over possessiveness. 

Although neutering can help in alleviating aggression but it’s not the solution. Since it is not going to eliminate the hormone completely but just reduce the amount of testosterone. It is the hormone responsible for growth and sexual well being of male dogs.

The small breed dogs grow and mature faster as compared to the ones having bigger bodies. The later need more time to fully develop their muscles and skeleton along with sexual growth. Till 12 months a large breed dog can grow muscles.  Thus when to neuter a male dog can differ with canine breed. Keep in mind that the dogs are also less likely to develop tumors if neutered at the right time.

Male dogs that are not neutered may have more chances of developing prostate disease, testicular tumors, perineal hernias, and perianal tumors.

When to neuter a male dog?

The best age to neuter a male dog is 6-9 months but for some breeds it could be as early as 8 weeks. Yet it is always better to wait until the systems of your dog are entirely developed, preventing complications. As for male dogs, adult size is an important factor. Small breeds grow and mature early so for a small breed male puppy neutering age is 6-12 months. Whereas for a canine of large breed 9-18 months can be considered. At this age the complete development of the muscles and its growth plates get locked.

Our suggestions

If your dog is overweight or has health problems either male or female there is a slightly higher possibility of post-operative complications. Therefore, be meticulous with the diet of the dog. Also solely the procedure of spaying or neutering will not cause your dog to gain some weight. Yet have routine check-ups of your dog and keep a close eye on the behavioral changes.

Keep in mind that prostatic cancer, and orthopedic or joint diseases are slightly more common in dogs who have been spayed or neutered earlier. So when to spay or neuter a dog is a crucial decision. Just a simple decision at the right age can save you and your dog from a lot of hassle and emotional trauma.

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