Dogs reach sexual maturity when they are about six months old. If you wish to prevent reproduction, then you should choose to neuter before this important milestone.
Deciding to Perform the Procedure
While it isn't advisable to perform the procedure on a newborn puppy, it is best to take care that the surgery is performed before your pet reaches sexual maturity. Other considerations include:
- Once male pups are eight weeks old, it's likely that their testicles have fully descended, which is a necessary condition for performing the surgery. According to the ASPCA, spaying and neutering can occur as early as eight weeks.
- The ASPCA also recommends scheduling the neutering procedure before puppies reach sixth months of age, in order to avoid behavior problems associated with not neutering. Specific breed and the physical health/maturity of the puppy can also play a role in determining the most appropriate age to neuter.
Concerns About Dog Neutering
Many people are concerned that if they have their dog neutered too soon, the procedure will have a negative impact on his personality and physical development. Your veterinarian can help allay any fears you may have. There is also a long running myth that neutering male dogs will cause them to stop being playful companions. Even though this myth has been perpetuated for years, it is simply not true. Playfulness is simply part of the canine nature. Your dog is likely to remain playful throughout his lifetime whether or not he is neutered.
Reasons for Early Neutering
Neutering dogs at an early age can actually keep some dogs from developing negative behavior patterns. Issues may include:
- Aggressive behavior in some male dogs once they become sexually mature.
- Territorial marking can be another problematic issue may occur in dogs that haven't been neutered.
- Dogs past sexual maturity are more likely to escape confinement and roam the neighborhood, which can lead to fighting.
In some cases, early neutering can prevent these types of behaviors from becoming part of a dog's nature. However, it is not guaranteed to fix or prevent all possible behavior problems. Proper training is the best deterrent to unwanted behaviors.
How Can I Be Sure My Dog Is Ready to Be Neutered?
If you purchase your dog from a breeder, you'll know exactly how old your new pet is when you bring him or her home. This can be very beneficial when making decisions about when you should schedule the neutering procedure. The breeder can be an excellent source of information about the best way to care for the particular type of dog you have decided to add to your household.
If Your Dog Comes from a Breeder
If you aren't planning to breed your pup, talk with the breeder about his or her thoughts on the best time to take care of getting your puppy neutered. Reputable breeders are knowledgeable about health and personality considerations for the particular breed they raise, so your breeder should be able to let you know if there are any breed-specific recommendations for your dog.
If Your Dog Is a Rescue
Of course, not everyone purchases his or her dog from a breeder. If you adopt a stray dog or rescue an animal from a shelter, you won't have the advantage of knowing exactly how old your animal is. When you bring home a pound puppy, you aren't likely to know exactly how large he will be when fully grown. In this situation, it can even be difficult to judge the age of your dog based on his size since you don't have breed size standards for comparison. Luckily, most shelters take care of neutering before allowing pets to be adopted, but do be sure to ask about it.
Seek Expert Advice
Fortunately, your veterinarian can help you make an informed decision about the best age to neuter your individual pet. When you take your puppy to the veterinarian to complete his or her shots, discuss your concerns about the best age to neuter a dog. Whether your dog is a purebred or a foundling mixed breed, your veterinary health professional is the best resource for all types of health care information.