Puberty and neutering
Dog puberty and neutering ©Dorota Holden
 

Puberty

Puppies normally reach puberty any time from six months old and their elevated hormone levels can adversely affect their behaviour, so seek help if you are having any problems. This behaviour will not 'automatically' be resolved by neutering despite advice you may receive to the contrary. Try not to worry - it soon passes!

Bitches are normally 'in season' for three weeks (and are fertile during this time) so they should not be taken outside (other than the garden) or allowed to mix with male dogs. You can tell your bitch is in season when her vulva swells and she exudes a discharge which may be blood tinged. This should happen about every six months, throughout her life.

As male dogs reach puberty they start cocking their legs, and you may observe an increased interest in other dogs, independence, mounting behaviour and 'macho' behaviour with dogs and/or people.

Neutering

Unless you are going to breed from your dog, you will no doubt consider neutering it. This has some health and behaviour benefits and some downsides too.

PROS of spaying bitches:

  • reduces the incidence of mammary tumours, if carried out at an early age
  • ensures no phantom pregnancies
  • ensures no womb infections (pyometra)
  • ensures no ovarian tumours
  • ensures no unwanted pregnancies

CONS of spaying bitches

  • can increase the risk of urinary incontinence in older bitches
  • does affect growth rate
  • does affect maturation
  • increases the likelihood that your dog will get fat later in life (unless you control its diet strictly and exercise it regularly)
  • could affect the growth and texture of your dog's coat

PROS of castrating male dogs

  • removes the risk of prostate problems
  • removes risk of testicular cancer
  • can reduce aggressiveness
  • can reduce hypersexual behaviour

CONS of castrating male dogs

  • may not reliably reduce aggression
  • may not reduce dominant behaviour
  • does affect growth rate
  • does affect maturation
  • increases the likelihood that your dog will get fat later in life (unless you control its diet strictly and exercise it regularly)
  • could affect the growth and texture of your dog's coat

Your vet will be able to discuss the best course of action for you and the best time to neuter. Your dog's breeder is well placed to advise you of how neutering may affect your dog's future weight and coat quality.

Each dog is an individual and you should consider the advantages and disadvantages of neutering your dog carefully.

Related Topics

CastrationNeuteringSpaying

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