Should I neuter? If so, when?
The decision on when to spay/neuter is such a personal one.
Every family must decide for themselves when the best time is based on their own comprehensive research of the facts involved and the knowledge behind their own dog’s health needs.
I, personally, hate to spay a female at any age. I have had some terrible experiences with this procedure, and so I avoid it at all costs. It is a high-risk surgery, even if it is routine.
Our founder, Lois Schwarz, agrees, "I dont like to 'spay' bitches because it takes Gods animal's insides out and that goes against my belief's. There for, i have never spayed my dogs and let others do it for the most part. In the last 5 yrs i began spaying bitches and had a terrible time with the outcome in some of them. I do not advocate spaying unless you have a vet that has plenty of time and experience on his hands. I do not trust most vets. I would NEVER spay my bitches."
But, not spaying means dealing with twice a year swelling and discharge, plus keeping her away from intact males for three weeks (two weeks during discharge and one week after that) every six months.
Pro tip: It is the week after the bleeding stops that a female dog is typically most ready to breed.
Males are a little different. The surgery isn’t as invasive. There is less possibility of complications after the surgery. Healing time is greatly diminished.
Here's another quote from our fearless leader, Lois Schwarz, on neutering male dogs, "Most large males should be neutered as soon as they start marking or lifting their leg outside. Sometimes you can judge it by when a dog starts to challenge you or other dogs. Most of the time a large/med sized dog needs to be neutered at 9 months of age. Giant dogs dont mature as early and dont start lifting their legs until about 13 months or so. small dogs mature at 6 months and chihuahuas mature at 3 - 4 months.. so the ANSWER to when to neuter your dog does not come from others. it comes from your dog..the owners just have to be able to 'see' when it should be done, Before marking happens is a best guide."
No one says you have to spay or neuter your dog.
There is no law that says you have to spay/neuter your dog… yet at least.
If you are aware of your female dog’s heat cycles, keeping her rear covered and away from intact males during those times twice a year, then you can easily keep her from procreating.
If you take care to keep your male stud contained at all times lest he wander around the neighborhood looking for the ladies (males can disappear for several days at a time and are VERY persistent when a female is in heat), then it is possible to keep your male dog intact throughout its life.
It’s quite a lot to monitor intact dogs of breeding age, requiring a certain awareness of your dog that you might not otherwise desire. In that case, I recommend waiting as long as possible to spay/neuter so that the dogs will be able to develop their bodies to the fullest potential. Keeping the reproductive hormones intact until after the growth plates have closed (around 16 – 18 months old in our breed) and growing has ceased means your dog will have its full musculature and overall size before losing the natural hormones God gave them to thrive in life.
But not every family can wait until their American Dirus dog is 16 – 18 months old when their growth plates fuse together.
Right around the time of sexual maturity (9-11 months old), male dogs can begin marking, placing their scent around the house. They can also become more territorial and macho in stature around other males. Gone are the sweet puppy days, replaced by a more confident, take-charge dog.
Sometimes, this behavior is too much dog for a family. The humans don’t have the knowledge of canine communication behind them to teach their bright-eyed, bushy-tailed teenage stud how to live with these new feelings inside himself. When that is the case, it might be best for all involved, including the dog, to be neutered.
Dire Wolf Project founder, Lois Schwarz, has often said, “If you want the nicest, sweetest, snuggliest dog, buy a male and neuter him early at 6 months before he develops his hormones.”
She says this because a male neutered early becomes like a eunuch… never needing behavior altercation training for overzealous macho-like tendencies. No challenges for authority or confrontations when another male walks by that looks at him cross-eyed. A male neutered early remains young at heart, like a perpetual puppy.
There are some recent research studies that have come out about the long-term health effects of neutering early, but humans have neutered dogs at 4-6 months for quite a long time now.
You may have had dogs in your life that were neutered early. If you had a terrible experience with your dog’s health later in life, you might be inclined to wait a bit longer for those hormones to develop this time around.
Or… if you have known lots of dogs neutered early that did not show any real health concerns throughout their lives, you might have the opposite opinion.
Again, that is why it is such a personal decision. There is no definitive research paper that can tell us for sure one way is worse than the other. Until there is, I suppose it will continue to be a personal decision based on your own research.
Here are some recent studies published on the subject if you want to read some of the latest research coming out on the subject of spay/neuter:
And... here is an article by Dr. Becker, DVM that might help you with the decision on when to spay/neuter your dog.
I can’t even imagine taking my 3.5-month-old puppies and bringing them to the vet to have them spayed in 2 more weeks. They are much too little and haven’t even begun to develop into themselves yet.
They are sweet and loving at this age, but they could sure use someone to teach them how to enjoy a loving home full of happy new adventures.