When Is The Best Time To Neuter Your Dog?

Veterinary care, vaccinations, a healthy diet, spaying and neutering are all part and parcel of having a young dog. Spaying and neutering is important as it has numerous medical and behavioral benefits. It will also help with pet homelessnes. Read on to find out more about the best time to spay or neuter your dog. 

Neutering vs spaying

You might be wondering if there is a difference between neutering and spaying your dog. 

Spaying refers to the removal of the female dog’s uterus and ovaries through an incision on its abdomen. The medical term for this surgery is ovariohysterectomy. Spaying is usually performed under general anesthesia.

Neutering refers to the surgical removal of a male dog’s testes. In this surgery, the testicles are removed via an incision made near the front of the scrotum. It is simpler than spaying, but is still a surgery that is carried out under general anesthesia. 

Neutering a male dog

Most male dogs reach sexual maturity by 5 to 6 months. However, larger breeds may continue to mature up to 12 months or even older. You may notice your dog lifting its leg to spray itsurine in an attempt to mark its territory, humping and being overprotective. These behaviors are all signs of sexual maturity. 

There is also significant muscle growth during this time. This helps to prevent orthopedic issues later on in life, especially in larger dogs. As such, it is important to allow your dog some time to reach sexual maturity before neutering it. 

When should I neuter a male dog? 

Generally, it is possible to neuter a male dog after they reach 2 months of age. However, this might not be the best time to neuter your dog. Some veterinarians will advise waiting until your dog hits puberty which is around 6 months. It’s best to consult your vet on the best time to neuter your dog based on its breed and size. 

It’s also worthy to note that dogs who are neutered after they hit puberty grow larger as testosterone plays a role in bone growth. 

Dogs who have cryptorchidism, whereby their testicle do not descend, can also be neutered. In fact, they should be neutered as they are more at risk of testicular tumors as compared to other dogs. 

Dogs who are neutered at an older age, are overweight and in poor health have a higher risk for complications from the surgical procedure. If this is a concern to you, speak to your vet on minimizing risks as well as whether the benefits of neutering outweigh the risks. 

Spaying a female dog

Female dogs will experience their first heat cycle when they reach sexual maturity. Signs and symptoms of your dog in heat include moodiness as well as bloody vaginal discharge. She will most probably also get the attention of male dogs in the neighbourhood. 

Female dogs usually experience their first heat anytime from 6 to 12 months. Once in a while, there will be dogs as young as 4 months experiencing their first heat cycle. 

When should I spay a female dog?  

It is recommended to wait till your dog is about 6 months and even older for larger dogs. Studies demonstrate that some breeds of dogs that are spayed before 6 months of age have a higher risk of orthopedic problems in the future. 

It is also best to spay your dog before her first heat cycle to reduce the risk of breast cancer and uterine infections that will require intensive medical care. There is another reason to spay your dog before her first heat. Your dog’s blood vessels and uterus change to a mature state after the first cycle. This makes the surgery a little more complicated as compared to spaying an immature dog.

As such, the ideal situation would be to allow your female dog to be as matured as possible but spay them before their first heat. However, it is quite difficult to predict when your dog’s first heat will be even if you know the dog’s family history. 

The best course of action would be to discuss with your vet as to when the surgery should be done. Spaying a female dog in heat  is also possible if the situation warrants it, although this is generally not recommended. 

When should I neuter or spay my dog according to its breed size?

The American Animal Hospital Association recommends that large breed dogs, or male dogs that are over 45 pounds projected adult body weight should only be neutered after their growth stops. This is usually when they are between 9 to 15 months. 

For small breed male dogs, or dogs who are under 45 pounds for their projected adult body weight, neutering should be done when they are about 6 months. 

Small breed female dogs should be spayed around 5 to 6 months before their first heat cycle. For large breed female dogs, spaying should be performed between 5 to 15 months. Do consult your vet if you have a large breed female dog as spaying them depends on a variety of factors including lifestyle and the risk of disease. 

Benefits of neutering or spaying your dog 

Spaying or neutering your dog has quite a number of benefits for you, your community as well as your pet. If you’re wondering whether you should spay or neuter your dog, here are some good reasons to do so.

Your female dog will live have a longer and healthier life

Spaying your female dog prevents breast cancer as well as uterine infections which can be fatal. Spaying your pet is a form of protection against these diseases. 

Your female dog will not go into heat

As your spayed female dog will not go into heat, you will not have to worry about blood spots getting on your furniture. You will also not have to worry about your dog getting pregnant. 

Your male dog will have better health

Neutering your male dog will help to prevent testicular cancer, as well as non-cancerous prostate disorders. 

Your dog won’t roam around the neighbourhood

Male dogs who are intact will want to find a mate. You can expect them to look for ways to get out of the yard such as by digging under the fence. Once your dog is free, he may be injured in traffic or get into fights with other male dogs. 

Your male dog will behave better

Dogs who are intact will want to mark their territory by spraying urine all over the house. On the other hand, dogs who are neutered are less aggressive and more gentle. Many pet owners describe their neutered dogs as devoted, friendly and kind. 

It will save you money

Spaying or neutering your pet will cost less than caring or a litter of puppies! Finding good homes for the puppies can be difficult and veterinary care after birth can cause quite a sum. It will also cost less than the treatment for your dog’s wounds if it escapes from your home and gets into fights with other dogs. 

If will help to fight pet overpopulation

Unplanned litters of puppies can be prevented by spaying or neutering your dog. It’s also worthy to note that thousands of dogs are euthanized or suffer as strays because pet owners are unable to cope with them. Stray dogs can cause car accidents, frighten children, get into rubbish bins and dirty the neighbourhood. 

It will not make your dog fat

The main cause of obesity is overfeeding and lack of exercise. Spaying or neutering your dog will not cause it to grow fat. With regular walks and a healthy diet such as nutritiously balanced gently cooked dog food, your pet will stay trim and fit. 

Some pet owners may choose not to spay or neuter their pets for the following reasons:

  • They show or breed their dogs
  • Fear of anesthesia and surgery
  • Financial constraints 
  • Unaware of the benefits of spaying and neutering

If you are still unsure whether you should spay or neuter your dog, a chat with your vet might help you in your considerations. 

What to expect after neutering your dog

While spaying and neutering are common procedures, they are still surgeries. You can expect that your dog will be a little groggy due to the anesthesia for a few hours after the surgery. Your vet will also give your dog some medication to help it recover faster. It is recommended that food and water should be limited for the first few hours after the procedure. 

Most of the time dogs who are spayed or neutered will recover smoothly and be back to their normal selves in a couple of days. Nevertheless, you should ensure that your pet does not lick the incision site as this can keep it from healing properly. You should also restrict your pet from too much activity as not to aggravate the surgery site. Here are some other things that you can expect after neutering your dog as well as surgery aftercare tips to keep your dog as comfortable as possible. 


Dogs of different breeds and sizes sexually mature at different times. Thus, the best thing that you can do is to discuss with your vet when to neuter or spay your dog. If you’re unsure whether you want your pet to have this surgery, consider the benefits that this surgery offers. Ultimately, the decision is up to you.