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Castration in dogs: pros and cons

Anyone who takes in a young dog will sooner or later be confronted with the question of neutering. We explain the advantages and disadvantages to make the decision easier.

Castration and Sterilization – What’s the Difference?

During castration, the gonads are surgically removed under general anesthesia – the testicles in males and the ovaries in females. This prevents the production of sex hormones and prevents sexual behavior. In contrast to castration, the spermatic ducts or fallopian tubes are only severed during sterilization. A sterilized animal is just as sexually active as it was before the procedure – it just cannot father or have offspring. Therefore, many veterinarians castration more often on both bitches and males.

The obvious benefits of neutering

The advantages of neutering are obvious: a male dog can no longer be disturbed by bitches in heat, and the bitch does not get into heat with all its accompanying symptoms. But: Castration is not a means of correcting behavioral disorders or compensating for errors in upbringing. At most sexually hyperactive male dogs can be “cured” of their bad habits by castration. On the other hand, castration can prevent certain diseases: in males testicular cancer and some diseases of the prostate, and in bitches the dreaded uterine suppuration and tumors of the milk bar. If the bitch is neutered before the first or second heat, her risk of developing breast cancer is reduced. It is possible that castrated bitches are better protected from diabetes mellitus than their intact female counterparts.

Castration is and remains a surgical procedure

So nothing like under the knife? It is not that easy. Because although castration is a routine procedure in every veterinary practice, there remains a residual risk: incidents of anesthesia and complications during the operation or during wound healing are rare, but in principle possible. And: In bitches, castration is an even more profound intervention than in males and is therefore associated with greater pain, since it is an abdominal operation.

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Disadvantages of castration in dogs

When deciding whether to castrate the dog, the focus should not only be on medical reasons, but also on the dog’s biological development. You must remember that puberty is an important biological process in the dog’s maturation. Bitches in particular have a strong mental development boost after the first heat. You should also make the decision castration! Yes or No! always depend on the type of dog you keep. The large dog breeds need much longer for their mental and physical development than dwarf or small dog breeds. Large breed bitches in particular (Newfoundlanders, Leonberger, Great Danes) have a higher risk of developing urinary incontinence than dogs under 20kg. There are also bitches of certain breeds (Boxer, Doberman, Giant Schnauzer, Bobtail, Irish Setter or Collie) who become incontinent more often after castration than, for example, German Shepherd bitches.

The disadvantage of castration in bitches of certain types of dogs (e.g. breeds with an innate protective instinct or bitches with a tendency to social intolerance) can lead to increased aggression against female mates. Medically not a problem, but a blemish is the possible development of puppy fur in long-haired breeds. Here, the undercoat overgrows the shiny outer hair – the fur looks shaggy and dull. Puppy fur can occur in both the bitch and the male, but it is far less common in the latter. Another side effect can be an increased appetite due to the loss of sex hormones. There is no longer any hormonal brake. Retrievers, cockers and beagles are particularly affected. If the dog is fed unrestrictedly, obesity can quickly develop. You can counteract this with consistently reduced feeding and sufficient exercise.

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The right time for a castration

The right time is based on two points: On the one hand, the age of the bitch and, on the other hand, the time of the cycle. If you have decided to have a castration, then this may take place at the earliest two months after the heat. There is no right answer to the question of the appropriate age. While some studies recommend early castration because the risk of incontinence and weight gain are lower, other studies prove the opposite. It only makes sense to castrate the bitch early (before or at the latest after the first heat) because of mammary tumor prophylaxis.