What Are the Health Benefits to the Dog?
There are several health benefits to neutering. One of the most important concerns the prostate gland, which under the influence of testosterone will gradually enlarge over the course of the dog’s life. In age, it is likely to become uncomfortable, possibly being large enough to interfere with defecation. The prostate under the influence of testosterone is also predisposed to infection which is almost impossible to clear up without neutering. Neutering causes the prostate to shrink into insignificance thus preventing both prostatitis as well as the uncomfortable benign hyperplasia (enlargement) that occurs with aging. It is often erroneously held that neutering prevents prostate cancer but this is not true.
Other health benefits of neutering include the prevention of certain types of hernias and tumors of the testicles and anus. Excessive preputial discharge is also reduced by neutering.
What Behavioral Changes Can Be Expected After Neutering?
The only behavior changes that are observed after neutering relate to behaviors influenced by male hormones. Playfulness, friendliness, and socialization with humans are not changed. The behaviors that change are far less desirable. The interest in roaming is eliminated in 90% of neutered dogs. Aggressive behavior against other male dogs is eliminated in 60% of neutered dogs. Urine marking is eliminated in 50% of neutered male dogs. Inappropriate mounting is eliminated in 70% of neutered dogs.
At What Age Can Neutering Be Performed?
Neutering can be performed at any age over age 8 weeks. Dogs neutered before puberty (generally age 6 months) tend to grow a bit bigger than dogs neutered after puberty (testosterone is involved in the causing bones to stop growing so without testosterone the bones stop growing later). Neutering can also be performed in the geriatric patient should the prostate gland become enlarged and the best medical decision be to shrink it. In this event, preanesthetic bloodwork and other diagnostics relevant to anesthetizing an older patient would be recommended.
The traditional age for neutering is around 6 months of age and many veterinarians still recommend neutering at this age.
The benefits of neutering (both health and behavioral) can still be obtained regardless of the age at which neutering is performed.
Will He Become Over-Weight or Lethargic?
Activity level and appetite do not change with neutering. A male dog should not gain weight or become less interested in activity post neuter.
Will He Still Be Interested In Females?
His interest will be reduced but if he is around a female dog in heat, he will become aroused by her. Mounting behavior often has roots in the expression of dominance and may be expressed by a neutered male in a variety of circumstances that are not motivated by sexuality.