Neutering is an operation in which both testicles are removed from a male dog. It can be performed at any age. The operation is not difficult and the dog can usually go home the same day. Instructions before surgery are the same as those for spaying.
Neutering has a number of health benefits. It eliminates the risk of testicular tumors and greatly reduces the risk of prostate enlargement and perianal adenomas. Neutered males are less territorial, more congenial with other dogs, and less likely to roam. Neutering does not, however, affect the dog’s basic instincts, including his willingness to guard and protect his family.
When a dog is neutered before puberty, his sexual urges do not develop. If he is neutered after sexual maturity, his interest in estrous females may persist, although this is not common.
Neutering may be advised to eliminate unmanageable behavior, such as some forms of aggression. Unfortunately, many behavior problems arise from causes other than male hormones. Thus, neutering may not improve the dog’s basic behavior.
Traditionally, dogs have been neutered after attaining most of their adult stature at about 6 to 9 months of age. It is now known that early neutering and spaying does not adversely affect growth and development, although dogs may grow a bit taller than expected. The American Veterinary Medical Association, the Humane Society of the United States, the American Kennel Club, and many veterinarians agree that neutering as early as 8 to 12 weeks is safe and may be preferable, particularly when there are genetic or conformation reasons why the individual should not be used at stud. If neutering is done before the puppies are placed in their permanent homes, there will be no concern about future breeding misuse. Early neutering is often practiced at animal shelters to ensure that the dog will indeed be neutered. There have been concerns about increases in urinary infections and incontinence with early neutering, but so far there is no definitive evidence that this is a problem. Some veterinarians recommend waiting until a dog has reached his adult size before spaying or neutering, however, because this is better for the joints, which will be stressed over the lifetime of the dog.