What are the benefits of neutering female dogs?
Neutered bitches cannot reproduce and so you do not need to worry about unwanted puppies or inbreeding between family members!
Entire bitches can have false pregnancies. These sometimes need medical intervention due to behavioural or medical complications.
Female dogs that are neutered at the appropriate age have a markedly reduced risk of developing malignant mammary tumours. The protection is greatest when neutered before their first season, and diminishes the older they are when neutered.
Approximately 25% of entire bitches will eventually develop a life-threatening infection in their uterus (a “pyometra.”) This condition requires an emergency ovariohysterectomy which poses much higher risk than a normal ovariohysterectomy. The treatment for a pyometra usually costs £1000-1500.
In between seasons (“anoestrus”) the ovaries are inactive, and so have no influence on behaviour. When the ovaries are active, such as during a season or false pregnancy, the hormones released can cause behavioural changes. Some of these short lived behaviours are unwanted and negative, such as aggression to male entire dogs or general grumpiness, which would be avoided after neutering. However, only these specific hormone related behaviours will be improved with neutering.
What are the disadvantages?
Neutered dogs need less calories than entire animals, and so can be prone to weight gain if their food and exercise is not adjusted after neutering.
Neutered bitches have a slightly higher risk of developing urinary incontinence later in life than entire bitches. However, other factors such as breed, genetics and obesity are more important risk factors. Urinary incontinence regardless of the risk factors, is still a very uncommon condition but is easily treated and managed.
In between seasons (“anoestrus”) the ovaries are inactive, and so have no influence on behaviour. When the ovaries are active, such as during a season or false pregnancy, the hormones released can cause behavioural changes. Some of these short lived behaviours are positive, such as the release of progesterone around the time an egg is released which can have a calming effect on the bitch. However, only these specific hormone-related behaviours will be lost with neutering.
Rottweilers have a particularly high risk of developing bone tumours compared to all other breeds of dogs, and the risk is even higher in Rottweilers neutered at any age.
What are the options for neutering my female dog?
Surgical neutering provides permanent sterilisation.
There are hormone injections which can also delay a bitch coming into season, or even suppress them long term, but these can have unwanted side effects.
When should I neuter my female dog?
ALL DOGS: The protection against mammary tumours is highest when neutered before their first season, and evidence shows the protection reduces with each subsequent season.
SMALL AND MEDIUM BREEDS: We recommend neutering at 6 months old (before their first season) or between their first and second season.
LARGE AND GIANT BREEDS: Neutering large and giant breeds of dogs before 12 months old can increase the risk of orthopaedic conditions, such as joint and ligament conditions and so we recommend waiting until they are 12 months old, however, this does provide slightly less protection against mammary tumours.
OTHER: The risk of Golden Retrievers developing one type of tumour (haemangiosarcoma) is higher if neutered later than 12 months old, so the ideal time would be at or before 12 months old.
Rottweilers have a particularly high risk of developing bone tumours compared to all other breeds of dogs, and the risk is even higher in Rottweilers neutered at any age. Due to the potential association between growth plate closure and the risk of bone tumours, we recommend waiting until female rottweilers are 12 months.