To snip or not to snip? The question of castrating dogs

Dr Katie Friel-Russell

BVSc MAPDT PGDip CCAB MRCVS Veterinary Behaviourist

To Snip or Not to Snip?

If you have a male dog, even a puppy this is a question you may have already asked yourself. There is a lot of confusing information out there on castrating dogs so here I have condensed it all down.  So that you can make the right, informed decision for you and your dog.

If you have a female dog please see our blog about spaying here.

Reasons to consider:

  • Population Control

  • Behavioural Benefits

  • Behavioural Concerns

  • Health Pros and Cons

  • Other Factors

Population Control

One reason people consider castration is from a population control point. In the UK dogs should always be legally “under control”. As we do not have a large free-roaming dog population, this is generally easily managed even with entire dogs. When you have multiple dogs in the same household of both sexes this can be more difficult. If population control is your only concern then there is the option of a vasectomy which means they still keep their bits but they cannot sire a litter.

If you are considering breeding from your male also consider his genes. Is he really the best, mentally and physically, of his breed to pass on to the next generation? Does the world really need more puppies? Will he be more frustrated following one mating?

Many people think they would like a dog to have one litter, but this can lead to a huge increase drive to get to girls. Often people also presume they will be able to make substantial money from having a stud dog. Unless you have a top specimen that people are desperate to breed with theirs then you are unlikely to make much money this way and it can be a very stressful life for stud dogs.

Behavioural Benefits

There are many people, including many vets who believe castration is the cure for most behavioural problems. This is not the case. Castration removes the testicles and therefore removes testosterone. The only behaviours that castration will affect are those behaviours driven through testosterone.

Male dogs will vary in their levels of testosterone hugely for many reasons. (Including number of puppies in the litter, ratio of boys to girls in the litter and age of dog.) This means the behaviours driven through testosterone will be more apparent in some dogs than others.

Behaviours driven through testosterone include;

  • Urine marking. The extreme version. This is when dogs HAVE to mark every time they smell another dog. This would include in your own home. Many castrated dogs and females will mark when out on walks. As this is a normal behaviour it will unlikely be affected by castration.
  • Mounting bitches in heat. This is not the same as humping – other dogs, people or toys (see below). A dog who hunts out bitches and tries to actually mate with them is driven through testosterone. Castration will hopefully improve this behaviour.
  • Fighting with other dogs around bitches in heat. This does not include general aggression towards other dogs or in any other situations.

Behavioural Concerns

As said above castration removes testosterone. Testosterone is a confidence building hormone and so we risk reducing their level on confidence. In dogs who are already confident this change is usually not noticeable. But if your dog already shows behaviour driven through low confidence (e.g. behaviours driven through fear, anxiety or frustration) there is a risk you will make these worse.

Common behaviours I would strongly recommend avoiding castration in include;

  • Low confidence driven behaviour. Aggression towards people and other dogs, separation related problems, guarding issues, noise sensitivity or general anxiety or fear responses.
  • High arousal behaviours. Things dogs do because they are over aroused will not be affected by castration. Mouthing, humping (people, toys, cushions and dogs who are not in heat) or “over excited behaviours” will not be improved and could be made worse with castration.
  • Urine marking. If marking is due to low confidence, then this can actually be made worse through castration.

Even testosterone driven behaviours which have become learnt behaviours will not improve with castration. If you have a dog who has been marking in the home for years and you then decide to castrate him this behaviour is unlikely to change.

Positive Pet Training

Health Pros and Cons

Health benefits of castrating dogs are usually promoted by most vet practices. There does seem to be some health benefits but there are some conditions in which the risk is increased by castrating dogs.

  • Testicular cancer. Castration eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer. But it is also a very low risk disease in dogs. It is not very common and it is relatively easy to detect by monitoring your dog’s testicles. Treatment via castration is often curative. So this benefit of castration is not necessarily as good as it seems.
  • Prostate problems. Non-cancerous prostate problems are less likely in castrated dogs but the risk of cancerous prostate problems may be increased. There is not currently enough evidence as to whether it is beneficial from a prostate point.
  • Health risks. There is some evidence that castration can actually increase the risk of osteosarcoma, a very dangerous, malignant cancer which often kills dogs. There is also evidence that it increases the risk of hypothyroidism. This is not a life threatening condition but does require life-long treatment.
  • Weight gain. Many castrated dogs will gain excessive weight. This can be controlled with appropriate diet and exercise but often their metabolism will slow down so they can’t eat as much as entire dogs. Overweight dogs have lower quality of life and are susceptible to more health problems and have a shorter life expectancy. If your dog is already overweight getting them to the right weight before castration is definitely recommended.

Some dogs become very frustrated when in the close vicinity of bitches in heat, whereas others don’t even seem to notice. In these frustrated dogs some can have extreme responses, appear lethargic, not eat and drastically drop condition. This is not good for them mentally or physically. Castration should be considered in dogs such as these unless further separation from bitches can be achieved.

Other Factors

You also need to include the risk of a general anaesthetic. Although a healthy, young dog has a very low risk with an anaesthetic, there is still a risk. You need to weigh this up with all the other pros and cons when deciding if castration is right for your dog.

Guardians should also think of the process of going in for a stay in the vets and the intense handling required for vet treatment. For some dogs this experience can be traumatic and can make future veterinary treatment difficult. Others breeze through it and it doesn’t seem to affect them. Do you think your dog would cope well with strangers handling him?

Conclusion

The decision to castrate or not is yours. For some dogs it can be extremely helpful to aid in behaviour changes. For others it can be really damaging. There are pros and cons from a health side and these also need to be considered carefully.

If you are unsure if castration is right for you and your dog, then chemical castration may be an option for you. This allows you to see the effect of castration on a temporary basis. An implant (similar to a microchip) can be put in and the effects last for 6-12 months. If your dog’s behaviour deteriorates at least the effect will wear off. You can discuss this in more detail with your vet.

Remember to think about training you can do in advance of any elective procedure. You can train your dog to happily wear a buster collar. You can teach your dog about handling in advance of the surgery. And you can ensure that your dog will cope with medication and rest post operatively.

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Dr Katie Friel-Russell

BVSc MAPDT PGDip CCAB MRCVS Veterinary Behaviourist

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233 Comments

  1. Jenny Ellis 21st July 2020 at 9:12 am - Reply

    My dog is fifteen months old with no confidence and has not been castrated. Every other male dog he has met seems to want to kill him! We had thought it was maybe because he hasn’t been castrated but after reading your article I think it’s more likely that they know he is submissive. I think it will be kinder for him to keep him intact.
    Your article was very helpful

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 21st July 2020 at 12:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Jenny, yes absolutely I would recommend keeping him entire if he has low confidence! It’s great you’re researching and making an informed decision.
      Check out our online learning for some free courses about Coronavirus and increasing confidence and there’s a discount code on the free course for our Understanding Your Dog course too which will make a lot of his behaviour make a lot more sense!

      • samantha waugh 18th June 2021 at 8:13 am - Reply

        Hello I am due to have my eleven month old golden doodle boy castrated in a week. He has never shown any humping behaviour other than maybe once a week with his dog bed. However about three weeks ago he has become obsessed with following girl dogs and trying to obsessively lick their genitals. On a few early occasions he also proceeded to try to mount them. He has also been doing a lot of spraying when we go out the house for a month or so. The interest in girl dogs is with all girl dogs regardless of it they are spayed or in season. Other than that he has been very friendly and confident with all dogs and people. He is one of a litter of 11 – 6 boys and 5 girls. Do you think castration will help with his behaviour to girl dogs?

        • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th August 2021 at 4:04 pm - Reply

          Hi Samantha, thanks for getting in touch. If he is checking out all the girls he might just be learning after interacting or smelling one girl in season and he’s not sure what is going on! Castration may help this behaviour especially if progresses, He is still very young and not mentally or physically mature so there will still be some risks in castrating him, but he may make the decision for you if he can’t do anything apart from hunt for girls!

    • Terence Smith 2nd January 2021 at 1:18 pm - Reply

      I rescued a four year old, entire dog . When i took it for walks other entire dogs would attack it. Once a neutered dog also attacked it, I talked to the owner and it transpired that it was a rescue dog, from a shelter, and that it had been neutered late in life.
      I believe it to be the case that entire males put out a pheromone whose function is to attract female dogs to its territory. This pheromone has an adverse effect on some entire males and it compels them to attack so that it eliminates’ competition in its imperative to procreate.
      After i had had this dog for a couple of years it also started to attack entire dogs on site, or should I say “on smell”.
      When this happened I thought to castrate it but I thought that its brain was hard wired by then and thought that it would not alter alter its attack response upon smelling the pheromone. Of course castration WOULD cure half of the problem, preventing my dog from putting out the pheromone. However I have heard of some disastrous behavioural outcomes to having mature dogs castrated and I didn’t want to risk this as my dog just loves all humans and I didn’t want this to be altered.
      At present I have found an Isolated roadway where I can see backwards and forwards for very long distances and can see any dog walkers for some distance. In this place I can let him off the lead. If i see a dog walker in the distance I can lead and mussel him long before a potential problem.

  2. Charlie 29th July 2020 at 8:28 am - Reply

    Our 6 month old puppy barks at everything. He’s calming down with training but when he hears anything outside the house at night and he’s not in his crate it sets him off. This and marking in the house is the only unwanted behaviour. The vet has said when we go to have his retainers baby canines our to have him neutered at the same time but we are on a time limit to decide and we only got him 2 months ago so your information was very helpful but it’s a big decision to make for a young puppy. His best friend is my work dog who is a spayed female and she tries to jump him so he is innocent so far thank goodness!

    • Teresa 15th December 2020 at 12:43 pm - Reply

      Our dog is 18 month Bull Mastiff. He has been to all puppy obedience classes. However, on a walk we seem to keep his attention but the minute he picks up the scent of another dog he runs. There is no aggression, he just wants to play and it’s as if we are not there. Would casteration help with this?
      In the home he is spot on.

      • DrKatieFrielRussell 20th December 2020 at 9:43 pm - Reply

        Hi Teresa,
        If he just wants to play then that is a management and training issue and castration wouldn’t help this at all. You’d be much better off getting the help of a local force-free dog training to work on his recall!

        • Arlene 20th February 2023 at 3:35 pm - Reply

          Hi
          I have a 2 and half year old OES male, I also have an almost 6 month old female OES. The male is very calm and well behaved, but saying that he has not been exposed much to other dogs as we live out in the country. Having read your article I am thinking that a vasectomy would be best for him. My only concern is that we do not eant puppies. Both dogs are very well behaved at the minute. I want them to live there best life.

          • DrKatieFrielRussell 23rd February 2023 at 12:12 pm

            Hi Arlene, vasectomy to prevent puppies is a great idea but with two entire dogs it will also require some management to prevent frustration on both sides. Especially with her being so young we generally wouldn’t recommend mating even when vasectomised as it can be difficult if your girl is not keen. So giving them space from each other in separate rooms throughout the season or supervised time together may be possible. Some dogs become too frustrated to cope with the scent of a girl in heat and this option isn’t manageable long term. If you are planning on having her spayed soon then a vasectomy would avoid puppies for now and keep both dogs comfortable and healthy long term!

  3. Nathan 29th July 2020 at 8:03 pm - Reply

    We have just rescued a 9 month old staffy X and he is due to be castrated tomorrow by the rescue centre, but I am really second guessing the decision now. He is a really happy loving boy, yes he gets excited when he sees other dogs and people and always wants to interact. He has heaps of confidence but when he sees children he sometimes gets really worried and can growl if they interact with him. We’re not sure what happened to him in his previous home. He is a really good boy and I feel the way he acts now can be helped with training rather than castration. At a loss what to do :(

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 2nd August 2020 at 12:03 am - Reply

      Hi Nathan, how did everything go last week? It can be really tough with rescues as they are so desperate to prevent any more unwanted puppies being born when there are already so many dogs desperate for a home. This is usually their first concern but most rescues will discuss this with you and if they know you are really committed to the training and preventing breeding can delay castration further.
      I hope everything works out for your boy, lots of dogs find kids really difficult and often need a lot of help boosting their confidence around them.

  4. Clare Flower 6th August 2020 at 12:54 pm - Reply

    I had my boy 8 months done yesterday, he is such a loving pup no aggression at all. When I was sorting his collar out yesterday he was growling at me . I will be devastated if it has changed his loving nature. I will be fuming with the vet as this was never mentioned . Hopefully it’s just because he was confused after operation what do you think ?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 12th August 2020 at 12:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Clare, I hope your boy is doing better now. After any surgery dogs will be stressed and painful and then much more likely to be reactive and grumpy. If he is grouchy you should always give him space and understand he is just struggling, not even being nasty. The changes we see from the reduction in testosterone will usually take a few weeks to see so this hopefully won’t affect him and once he has recovered from the op you will get your lovely boy back!

      • Isabel 14th April 2021 at 10:55 pm - Reply

        My dog is 6years old he’s been fine. I’m more concerned about health benefits rather than breeding or behavior. I want to ensure he lives as long as possible. What do you think about castration in a perfectly fine male dog?

        • DrKatieFrielRussell 7th August 2021 at 11:31 am - Reply

          Hi Isabel, great question! Yes if a dog has absolutely no behavioural concerns and is completely fully grown then there shouldn’t be any negative side effects except for the stress of surgery (which can be severe in some cases). I would not recommend in under 5 year old dogs but as yours is already six it should be low risk.
          Health benefits are possible but not dramatic and there is still evidence that it could be detrimental e.g. removes risk of testicular cancer but could still increase risk of bone cancer. The only other thing it improves is the prostate (which can make older boys unwell) and castration as treatment if it affects your boy is usually effective.
          Overall it is probably quite low risk either way at this point for your boy!

          • Lorraine Lord 7th February 2023 at 3:00 pm

            My whippet, Donald is 20 months. He is very reactive with some males, castrated or not, and fine with others. He also follows females, when free running in the field, and sometimes tries to mount them. If castration is recommended I am worried about his age, anaesthetic (whippet) and a change in his personality.

          • DrKatieFrielRussell 8th February 2023 at 9:43 am

            Hi Lorraine, if he is reacting to males regardless of their neuter status, and trying to hump girls who aren’t in season then we wouldn’t think either of those are particularly hormone driven. Humping that is from testosterone is usually exclusively reserved for girls in season. It might be a sign he is emotionally over aroused if dogs are sometimes difficult for him. There is certainly a risk that his reactivity towards other dogs could worsen with castration. I’d recommend seeking support from a qualified behaviourist before making the decision to castrate him.

  5. LISA HILBORNE 13th August 2020 at 7:17 am - Reply

    We have a 6month old Lhasa apso boy. Recently he has been off his food and very sexually aroused. He humps toys, table legs etc but lack of appetite caused us to seek help at vets. We have been told he is too sexually aroused and needs urgent castration even though one testicle has yet to drop( meaning double the cost of operation too) the procedure is scheduled for tomorrow, is this the right thing to be doing?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 14th August 2020 at 12:08 pm - Reply

      Hi Lisa, if he is humping objects and people it is very unlikely to be sexually driven and more likely to be arousal driven (often due to anxiety). But testicles retained by six months are unlikely to descend and so surgery is likely to be required at some point for your boy (as retained testicles are much higher risk of becoming cancerous). Best of luck with him.

  6. Jo Hewett 22nd August 2020 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    We are in two minds about our 13 month old border terrier. Happy character and confidently bounces up to all other dogs – is very submissive towards them – lies down with legs akimbo! Never aggressive to anyone/anything. Quite humpy. BUT scenting in the house all the time. Big problem. He is nervous of our make neutered cat so could be that?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 3rd September 2020 at 3:49 pm - Reply

      If he is “submissive” to the dogs this is actually what is called Appeasement and is a low confidence behaviour. Having him castrated would really risk this behaviour escalating into more fear based behaviours so I would be very cautious even with the scenting in the home.
      Humping anything apart from girls dogs in season is another sign of low confidence (not a reason for castration) so there are certainly risk factors in his case.
      Getting some training to help him out first would be really useful, or talk to your vet about chemical castration so that it can be reversed if needed!

      • Ashleigh 13th January 2021 at 1:13 pm - Reply

        Hi. My dog is gue to get castrated in 3 weeks time. He is 17 months old. He is very giddy when he sees other people, constantly jumps.up and doesn’t calm down for.the whole time he’s around other people. he wee marks every time we go out for a walk, if I take him to the vets where he can smell other dogs he will wee, and he also humps other people. Now and again he gets aggressive, this is more.towards.my partner and this is more when my partner tells him what to do( which my dog doesn’t seem to like) he has gone for me and my.parter on more than 1 occasion. But I do wonder if this has been times where he hasn’t felt well? Going off this info is there any steer on weather castration would help or not? Thank you

        • DrKatieFrielRussell 14th January 2021 at 9:32 pm - Reply

          Hi Ashleigh,
          his giddiness and inability to calm down around people and his humping, and especially any aggressive behaviours all indicate he is anxious. If you castrate him there is a large risk that these behaviours will be made worse. Even his urine making on a walk and at the scent of other dogs is normal to a degree but can be exaggerated with anxiety. I would strongly recommend you seek help from a qualified behaviourist and avoid castration for your dog at this time.

  7. Linda 27th August 2020 at 2:01 pm - Reply

    I’m undecided to neuter my year old cockerpoo boy , he’s a little timid but has a lovely nature , will this change his personality, I’m getting another pup in four weeks time another boy , I really don’t know what to do

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 3rd September 2020 at 3:47 pm - Reply

      If he is a little timid then there is a good chance that his behaviour would deteriorate through castration as his confidence dips more. Getting another pup soon will be hard work (as well as lots of fun!) and so rushing a castration in before then will be tough for all of you! Two entire boys living together works well all the time, but as with any two dogs their relationship will need managing such as time apart, separate training and walking times, being fed separately and given chews apart.
      Our new online Puppy Problems training course runs through all the general puppy stuff as well as managing two young dogs together!

  8. Sylvia Gibbins 29th August 2020 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    We have a 10 month old Sheltie and we’re going to have him castrated in a few weeks time but our breeder was horrified and said we would end up ruining his coat and he would end up looking like a sheep! She would only recommend castration for medical reasons. Now we don’t know what to do as he is a loving dog no problems with him at all. Any advice?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 3rd September 2020 at 3:42 pm - Reply

      If you’re not having any problems then the risk of castration might be more limited. But if there are no issues then there isn’t really any reason to rush into anything either!
      The health benefits don’t come into play until he is an older man, so I would certainly recommend waiting for now!

      • Amy 6th February 2021 at 7:04 pm - Reply

        We have a 2 year old German Shepherd. He went to training for a month and a half last summer. He needed help building his confidence and learning to trust us. He is my daughters dog and when she moved back in with us that’s when we realized he needed some help. Fast forward 6 months. His confidence has been better – we have two younger children and he doesn’t growl anymore at them. He is protective of my daughter but even that has gotten better. Last night i was taking him out to potty and he spotted another dog being walked by our neighbor and he took off after it. We use a shock type collar from his training and it didn’t phase him at all. He hurt the other dog, not severely but it still had to get some stitches. Our plan was to get him neutered this month before all of this happened and now I’m worried it will make it worse. He’s never shown aggression toward other dogs- he has always loved other dogs and this has confused us so much. Any wisdom would be appreciated.

        • DrKatieFrielRussell 6th February 2021 at 9:51 pm - Reply

          Hi Amy, thanks for getting in touch. Firstly I would strongly recommend seeking the help of a force-free trainer and never using an electric collar on your dog. There is a good chance that the electric collar and other aversive training techniques you have been advised to use have caused your dog to react to other dogs as those techniques cause pain and anxiety (two of the biggest causes of dog reactivity).
          I would advise against castration as there is absolutely no evidence it would help you for the behaviours described but most importantly to change your training techniques.

  9. Jennie 2nd September 2020 at 10:20 pm - Reply

    Is there a good age to castrate a dog. Mine is 2 years old, the age my vet advised me to wait until being a larger breed. Is there any harm in waiting until he is 4? I’m thinking of holding off a bit just to train him up a bit further. Thanks.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 3rd September 2020 at 3:35 pm - Reply

      There is certainly no rush, and definitely leaving until completely mature keeps bones and joints as safe as possible. The health benefits only come in when much older so I would not recommend before the age of five for most dogs (and lots of reasons to avoid altogether for some)!

      • JD 8th January 2023 at 1:23 am - Reply

        Thanks for this. My new chihuahua is six months old. He is bouncy and fully of joy and confidence. Currently he has no behavioural issues that I can see and gets on well with out other 12 year old chihuahua who is neutered. I’d like to wait a couple of years if it’s not gonna harm my Geno in any way. Thanks again.

        • DrKatieFrielRussell 10th January 2023 at 10:49 am - Reply

          Great JD that sounds perfect if he’s doing well wait at least for complete maturity are 2.5 years (but ideally wait until he’s around 5 years) and then castration shouldn’t have any negative effects on him. Just make sure you train him up to cope with being in the hospital and for the recovery beforehand!

    • Alison 10th October 2020 at 4:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Jenny ..my dog is 15 months old. He is very friendly and confident. He does, however, try to mount female and male dogs sometimes! It’s not that he is always chasing a female but every now and again it can be an issue. I can manage it as he hangs around them quite awhile before making a move so he can be removed from situation in plenty of time. He doesn’t always try to hump male dogs either but sometimes he will! He tends to have favourites and in those instances will be persistent. We take a neighbours dog out whom he plays with alot and has never tried to hump before. The other day they were wrestling for awhile and then it turned into him trying to mount the other dog. He wouldn’t give up so had to be put on the lead. I don’t know yet whether that was a one off or whether he will try that again. Will this behaviour wear off in due course possibly? If so how long a time frame? As I would say humping is more prominent wirh male dogs than seeking out females, from what you say about testosterone, castration would not necessarily change this at all?

      • DrKatieFrielRussell 12th October 2020 at 10:34 am - Reply

        Hi Alison, if the mounting/humping behaviour isn’t directly solely at girls in season then it is much more likely to be driven by emotional arousal, rather than sexual arousal. When dogs get wound up through excitement or anxiety there is a good chance they can start humping. This makes much more sense in your dog’s case as he can play for a while before starting (when it is too much for him). Managing him by having very short play sessions and then separating him to calm down will be much more successful than castration as it is extremely unlikely this is due to testosterone. Our online course Understanding Your Dog goes through effective emotional management and how to help your dog!

        • Zoe Jade 12th July 2022 at 12:40 pm - Reply

          Hi Dr Katie, I have a 2 year old cocker spaniel. We originally agreed not to have him castrated because he was a shy puppy & after speaking with the vet when he was 6 months it was decided it was probably the best option for him. However, since then he’s shown signs of aggressive guarding of me as his owner, toys/chews, even other dogs & children that come to the house or whilst out & I’m sat down somewhere with him. Whilst on walks he’s absolutely fine, it’s like something switches & not sure what’s causing it. Would he be to old to be done at his age now & would that be a possible help? My fear is that I think he does have confidence issues & I know having males done that lack confidence can cause potential worst issues but he’s never had problems with other dogs or people until recently. Any help would be great, thanks.

          • DrKatieFrielRussell 12th July 2022 at 1:08 pm

            Hi Zoe, thanks for getting in touch and I’m sorry that your boy is finding things tough at the moment. I would definitely have concerns about castrating your boy at the moment as the behaviours you’re describing will be driven through fear and frustration, not testosterone. There is no chance that castration would help him but a huge risk of taking things worse. I’d really recommend talking to your vet about a referral to a qualified behaviourist to help you instead. We help boys like him get better all the time, but castration is never part of that treatment!

  10. Georgina Bentley 7th September 2020 at 3:39 pm - Reply

    Hello, I have a 5 month old French Bulldog male who is very well socialised and has been since we got him and is currently attending weekly training with other dogs but at a covid safe distance, however he has some unpredictable behaviour on occasions, wary of strangers and sometimes barks etc and the same with other dogs, 9 times out of 10 he is fine. And this barking/lunging sometimes snarling at other dogs is usually when he is on the lead. However it is quite upsetting behaviour to see. He is a very confident little boy, I am quite keen to get him castrated if of course it will help with this behaviour?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 8th September 2020 at 3:58 pm - Reply

      Afternoon Georgina, the barking and lunging would definitely be a sign of lower confidence levels with anxiety +/- frustration concerns and castration would in no way help with those behaviours but could certainly make things much worse! At five months he is such a little baby still, I would strongly recommend helping him cope better around other dogs and leaving his bits alone!

      • Prakash 15th September 2020 at 10:58 am - Reply

        Hello Dr. Am in the process of getting a male puppy home in October. One of the dilemma I had was on neutering the dog. After reading multiple articles, interacting with few pet owners, and reading your article now, I’ve decided not to go for neutering. One concern that is bothering me is when the puppy matures, how frequently should I allow him to mate, some advise, it should be monthly. Even though its too early, time would fly, hence posing this question on the mating frequency for a male dog. Is there any healthy schedule that could be maintained once he matures?

        • DrKatieFrielRussell 15th September 2020 at 1:35 pm - Reply

          Hi, congratulations on getting your new pup! and it’s great you’re not planning on castrating him after considering the risks. Entire males do not need to mate at all throughout their lives and live very happily this way. If he is used for breeding he is more likely to get frustrated when he can’t have access to mate and so unless he is the very, very best specimen (health and temperament) we wouldn’t recommend using him for any breeding at all!

          • Prakash 15th September 2020 at 6:08 pm

            Thank you Dr. Sincerely appreciate your inputs.

      • Catherine 23rd September 2020 at 9:28 pm - Reply

        Hi
        Should I castrate my 3 year old dobermann? He clicks & drools on his walks if he picks up the scent of a bitch. I’m getting a spaniel puppy in 2 weeks (bitch) & wonder if I should get him done before or at all? Will he try to mate her when she comes into season?

        • DrKatieFrielRussell 23rd September 2020 at 9:46 pm - Reply

          Yes he will definitely try to mate her when she comes into season. It can be very difficult to keep a male and female entire dogs separate during a season and you need to keep them entirely separated (different rooms) for at least three weeks at each season. So your options are to castrate your boy (with the potential negative behavioural side effects) or to the spay your girl prior to her first season. Check out our blog on spaying here. As she is a spaniel she is at much lower risk of an early spay compared to larger breeds.

  11. SHARON AKIN 14th September 2020 at 4:03 pm - Reply

    My 3 year old Dachshund gets jealous of my older Dachshund. He growls if the older dog comes near me whilst he (3 year old) is with me.
    This sometimes leads to them fighting.
    Will having him castrated help with this jealousy or am I wasting my time?
    Thank you

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 15th September 2020 at 1:27 pm - Reply

      Afternoon Sharon, castration would be extremely unlikely to help with that behaviour but could easily make things worse. Dogs do not feel jealousy as humans understand it and the behaviour you’re describing is related to anxiety and frustration (not testosterone) and so by making him more anxious you are more likely to make it worse.
      You’d be much better spending the money you might spend on the surgery having sessions with a local force-free trainer to help build up his confidence!

  12. Stephanie M 14th September 2020 at 7:47 pm - Reply

    Hello! My fiancé and I have been considering getting a second dog(who will be a spayed/neutered adopt). The dog we currently have is an almost 3 yr old Chihuahua mix and he barks a lot at guests and our neighbors dogs, humps every now and then and has some “playful aggression” against my fiancé’s father. He is a nice dog who is playful and fairly well behaved but my partner and his family never really get him to socialize with other dogs. I’m afraid that after doing research it appears that it should be best both dogs are fixed in order for better chance of them to get along. The thing is, my partner really really doesn’t like the idea of neutering his dog. I haven’t told him anything yet because I’d love nothing more than to add a new member to our family(with proper research and preparation) and it would hurt to have him reject the idea immediately. I honestly don’t think he’ll change his mind about the idea and I’d hate to have him resent me or regret neutering his dog. I’m not sure what It is I’m asking for, but any advice would be so so helpful, please. Are we just meant to have a single dog household?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 15th September 2020 at 1:32 pm - Reply

      Hi Stephanie, You can absolutely get another dog whilst your first dog is entire. Many households have multiple male dogs who haven’t been castrated, and as they are generally going to be more confident the relationships can be much better than having castrated males living together. The behaviour your dog is currently displaying shows he finds some things a little difficult from his barking and humping (the humping isn’t sexually driven because he is entire). So castrating him is likely to make those behaviours worse and make him less likely to get on with the new family member, whereas leaving him entire doesn’t increase his risk at getting along at all!

  13. Megan 17th September 2020 at 3:38 am - Reply

    Our dog is about a year old hes a mixed breed of we are guessing German shepherd and maybe Rottweiler or Doberman cross not sure. We have only had him for six months now he was found on the side of the road. So he was a rescue. He has pretty bad separation anxiety but it has gotten better since we first got him. When he’s out in the yard he barks at everything! People walking by, biking, kids, cats, deer, vehicles. But hes so sweet and would never hurt anyone. He does play a bit aggressive sometimes but we working on it. He has sooo much energy. He hasn’t yet been around female dogs in heat so we aren’t sure how he would act around that. The thought of getting him fixed makes me sad.

  14. Koki 25th September 2020 at 12:03 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr. I have a male Rottweiler who’s 1 year and 3 months old. He has an issue in his hip which is suspected to be starting stages of hip displacia and he’s improving well with Physiotherapy and swimming. I wasn’t sure of neutering and checked with the vet. She advised me that neutering is good considering his condition and she also said that it could be done even now.
    Should we wait till he’s 2 ? Will neutering him now affect his growth?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 29th September 2020 at 11:35 am - Reply

      I would discuss more specifically about his case with your vet. There are studies showing early (at least before two as he is not fully grown yet) will increase the risk of bone cancer in larger breeds and particularly in those already at higher risks, which rotties are. I would be cautious castrating him early but please discuss with your vet with more knowledge on his specific medical history.
      Best of luck with him!

  15. Natasha 28th September 2020 at 8:21 am - Reply

    My dog gets aroused almost every mornings and he seems to have that paraphimosis problem since we need to help him put it back in afterwards.
    When I mentioned this to the vet, her first suggestion was castration but I have done a lot of research and seen that castration will not necessarily stop him getting aroused. And if that doesn’t stop he will continue to have the problem of not being able to retract it.
    What do you think could help him truly?
    My fiancé and I have learned how to help him but we are not always around.
    It has not been easy having to wake up before 6 am to help him out or just worrying that is happening again at every sound he makes in the early mornings…

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 29th September 2020 at 11:37 am - Reply

      Hi Natasha, thanks for getting in touch. These cases can be tricky, sometimes they do continue even with castration, but castration can help in some cases. It could be worth discussing your vet chemical castration (which is temporary and reversible) to see if it helps. If it does then surgical castration probably is the best option for your boy. But if there is no improvement then he hasn’t undergone unnecessary surgery!
      It’s great you’re able to help him out, it can distressing for everyone if they get stuck and can become really sore!

  16. Sam 28th September 2020 at 1:34 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr Katie

    I have a just about 7 month old blue English Stanfordshire bull terrier. I’ve done a little bit of research and am unsure about desexing and am unsure what to do

    I think he’s well socialized as we have been going to a dog park since he was 16 weeks old after he had his last injection

    He plays well with other dogs and people doesn’t really bark at anyone or anything like that

    He’s humped his bed occasionally for a couple of month which I don’t think is sexual we usually take the bed off him and he stops
    He’s recently started trying to hump our arm but we stop him from doing that too and he usually calms down

    Recently at the dog park he has started following a dog (changes on the day) and tries to hump them it lasts for a little bit then he goes back to playing

    He’s also started getting a bit of fluid, like a pre cum on his penis at various stages of the day

    His training is alright as it’s mainly just been us due to covid haven’t had any professional training except for 4 weeks at puppy school

    I’m unsure what to do as I’ve seen the pros and cons of desexing on what I’ve read so far

    The thought of desexing him makes me sad and I just don’t think I can do it to him he’s beautiful and I don’t want anything to change him but I want to do what’s best for him

    Thank you for your time and hopefully I hear back from you

    Kind regards
    Sam

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 29th September 2020 at 11:41 am - Reply

      Hi Sam, thanks for all the information. If he is humping quite indiscriminately then it is unlikely to be sexual, especially at such a young age. And more likely to be emotionally drive. If it is emotionally driven and his is castrated his behaviour is likely to deteriorate. He is so young and has such a lot of physical maturing to do and finish growing his bones the risk of castrating this early would be higher for him.

      Discharge from the penis throughout the day is normal for both castrated and entire males so that is nothing to worry about as long as his penis/prepuce isn’t inflamed or painful.

      You’d be best working with a force free trainer to build up his confidence and focus when out and about to manage the humping behaviour and at home too. Our online course “Understand Your Dog” goes through emotional arousal management and how to make it easier at home too!

  17. Mags Kirby 30th September 2020 at 1:56 pm - Reply

    Hi, my 10 month Spanish Water Dog has his left testicle retained. I went to the vet yesterday who found it in his groin area. As it’s too late to drop we will get it removed. However she also said we should remove the other one. Our breeder recommends avoiding castration at all and certainly not under 2 as it’s important for their growth and development. My vet doesn’t agree and says they would still produce testosterone. Would keeping one healthy testicle be of any health risk. Or would it produce enough testosterone to be if use? Your advice would be gratefully appreciated.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 30th September 2020 at 10:53 pm - Reply

      Hi Mags,

      Removing the retained testicle is definitely the right thing to do due to the high risk of cancer. But this risk isn’t incredibly high at such a young age, so leaving him to mature further (whilst actively monitoring it as it can be palpated) would be one option.

      The second option of removing the retained one but leaving the normal is something that quite a few vets are happy to do. The remaining testicle will give enough testosterone to maintain growth and confidence levels. The main reason vets are cautious about this is because if something happened to a dog (rehomed for any reason) and they saw there was only one testicle, they would want to get the second retained one out, but they wouldn’t know it was already gone! To avoid any potential mix ups you can record one testicle removed on his microchip and this usually helps the vet to worry less about issues down the line!

  18. Sai Raj 3rd October 2020 at 6:15 pm - Reply

    Hi, I got my buddy (Rio) completed 6months ( labordor) and he is completely fine and healthy. I have only one concern that he want to socialise with everyone he sees and for that he goes out of control and jumps on everyone…today I took him to vet for a general checkup and they suggested me to neuter him…..kindly suggest do I need to neuter him?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 8th October 2020 at 11:16 pm - Reply

      Hi Sai, the behaviour you’re describing is not driven by testosterone and so castrating him won’t help. It could be driven through appeasement behaviour which is a low confidence behaviour, especially if he is only 6 months. If so castrating him is likely to worsen his behaviour. Getting help from a force free trainer will help but castration won’t!
      If he is only young castration in a Labrador at that age will also increase his risk of bone cancer.

  19. Amy Delahoussaye 8th October 2020 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Good morning! I have learned a lot reading your page but I still wanted to contact you to reaffirm what I have concluded. I have a nine month old Great Pyrenees. He is very sweet and we really have no issues with him. We live in the country so there is no contact with other dogs. We have a spayed 2 year old female Lab. He mounts her but she really wants no part. She actually mounts his face which I believe is a dominance issue. They get along quite well. I see no medical or behavioral reason to have him neutered. What is your opinion? Thank you in advance.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 8th October 2020 at 11:19 pm - Reply

      Hi Amy, I’m glad you found it a useful resource! It sounds like you’ve understood it great too. There is certainly no behavioural benefit in castrating him. Mounting, unless you a bitch in heat, is not sexually driven. As you can see from your girl doing it too, dominance is not a cause for behaviour in pet dogs, that theory has been disproved by the scientific community, instead it is a high emotional arousal behaviour (something displayed when dogs are wound up from being too excited or nervous or frustrated). You might find our online course Understanding Your Dog interesting!
      As for health with his size there is certainly much more risk to castration than there would be benefit!

  20. Shaun Snape 9th October 2020 at 10:57 pm - Reply

    Hi, thanks for the read it’s really helpful. Our dog is 19 months old. He’s not aggressive, doesn’t mark at home and has very good recall. We are looking in to neutering him for when we go away so we can put him in dog boarding which most require a castrated dog. The only worry I have is that he is submissive around dogs at first, put almost straight away after meeting will play and run around with them. Should I be worried about this? Thanks a lot!

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 12th October 2020 at 10:31 am - Reply

      Yes it can be limiting if some places ask for neutered males only. What people describe as “submissive behaviour” is actually anxiety driven behaviour using appeasement techniques (dominance and submission doesn’t exist like that in dogs, it has been disproven by the scientific community!). Which does mean if you castrate him and his confidence drops there is a risk his anxiety towards other dogs could increase resulting in more exaggerated responses including avoidance or repulsion (growling, barking, snarling) behaviours. We run through this in detail in our Understanding Your Dog course if you’d like to know more!

  21. Mimi 12th October 2020 at 2:43 pm - Reply

    Hi, I have a 15 year old lhasa apso who hasn’t been neutered but he has recently been diagnosed with pernial hernia , constipation and prostactic hyperlapsia. The vet has suggested to neuter him to prevent further damage. He recently had a light dose of anaesthetic to clear his passage and it should have taken him only 15-20 minutes to come out of it but it took him over an hour and was groggy and slept most of the day for the next 2 days. His blood results came back normal but I am not sure if we should go ahead or not . Our vet facilities in Nepal isnt great so I am not sure whether to take the risk or leave it as it is. We have heavily cut down his meat intake and added more fibre to his diet (pumpkin, spinach) along with increased dose of lactulose to help him with constipation but he is still having a hard time pooping. Please could you kindly advice on what else I can do for his health. Thanks a ton!

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 12th October 2020 at 2:47 pm - Reply

      There’s lots going on in this case so I can’t give clear cut advice without having access to full medical records. Talk to your vet about chemical castration which can have the same medical improvement for a medical case such as this but without the risk of an anaesthetic to see if it helps. If so chemical castration can be maintained for life or you could opt for surgical castration, best of luck with him.

    • Rachel 17th November 2020 at 10:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Dr Katie,

      I have an 18 month golden retriever. He has such a lovely nature, is super friendly but he does have episodes of becoming obsessive with other dogs and tries to hump them (females and males) and can get a bit unnecessary. He does roam but not for just females, just a “nice” smelling dog. He humps his bed at home a lot and we end up hiding it away but then this diverts onto my dad.

      We are considering getting another dog (18 months and neutered) and really don’t want him to start obsessively humping the poor dog and causing stress.

      I am really struggling about what to do as castration doesn’t seem to be the answer.

      Thank you!!

      • DrKatieFrielRussell 22nd November 2020 at 8:57 pm - Reply

        Hi Rachel, Thanks for your message. It certainly doesn’t sound like castration will help! That humping behaviour is due to high emotional (not sexual) arousal. You need to help him manage himself with short manageable exposures and nice calming breaks. We go through all of this in our Puppy Problems online course in more detail too. But castration will likely escalate this behaviour to more serious responses including use of repulsion techniques when he is struggling (growling/snapping/biting)!

  22. Rané 12th October 2020 at 9:57 pm - Reply

    Hello
    Im really not sure if my puppy has low confidence or not! He has just turned 6 Months. When meeting other dogs he lays on the floor or on his back and allows them to lick etc. I thought that this was very submissive behaviour. However I have noticed that with a couple of dogs he known since 8 weeks old he can play very aggressively leading to unequal play (one dog also a puppy albeit a few months older and another dog 18 months)
    At day care and with dog walker ive been told he’s very active and enjoys chasing other dogs and being chased. On the flip side however
    He currently now is reluctant to walk past our drive so we are driving him to open spaces for walks etc.
    He only seems to hump pillows or toys (arousal behaviour as I understand) and has become to guard resting places i.e sofa/growling when being picked up after a period of rest.
    Im really not sure what may be best for him.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 16th October 2020 at 9:20 am - Reply

      Hi, at six months he is still a complete baby and depending on his breed there could be large health risks to castration so young. It certainly sounds like he has low confidence around other dogs and that his behaviour is already progressing to some avoidance and repulsion type behaviours and so castration would be a large behavioural risk and could make this much worse. You would be best seeking the advice of a local force-free trainer to help him out so that he doesn’t progress but castration won’t help any of those issues!

  23. Diane 15th October 2020 at 11:00 am - Reply

    Dear Dr. Your advice would be much appreciated. I have two eight month old Yorkshire Terriers, brother and sister. Obviously I would not wamt them to breed and neutering was always the obvious option. They are both happy, heathy, outgoing dogs who love other dogs and people. I worry about neutering changing their personality, but at the same time I’m worried they are starting to sniff around each other so I need to make a descision quick. Can I neuter the male and not the female or is it best to do both. So confused. Thank you in advance.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 16th October 2020 at 9:18 am - Reply

      Hi Diane,
      Getting your girl done would definitely be the better choice. If you haven’t already also read our blog on spaying which is generally always recommended, whereas castration has risks getting girls done is really beneficial behaviourally and for health reasons.
      Also if you get your boy done they could still mate successfully for up to six weeks after his op. If you get your girl done they cannot mate from the moment she gets home, that makes the whole house a lot more relaxed for you straight away!

  24. Jessica 19th October 2020 at 1:36 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr. Katie
    I have a 2 year old boxer dog. He is lovely in the home and fabulous with our two children. Outside, it is a different story and I’m at my wits end. He pulls like a train on the lead and can show aggression to other dogs whilst off the lead. I am quite small in terms of build and I find it difficult and demoralising to walk him. He’s better once he has had a run off the lead, but there doesn’t seem to be any calming him down. It’s as if he can’t control himself. I have tried to be as consistent as possible with training and he is very ball driven. So much so that he will knock you off your feet to get to it, which isn’t fun as he’s over 30kgs. I have run with my previous dogs but I can’t run with him as he’s far too strong and has to be at the front when running with a group.
    He is our second boxer but third dog and we have never thought about castration before because we don’t agree with it. Would castration be the answer here? Or is it rigorous training?
    Thank you in advance for any guidance you’re able to provide :)

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 20th October 2020 at 10:14 pm - Reply

      Hi Jessica, none of those behaviours will be improved through castration, training with a force-free trainer to help him have more self-control and frustration tolerance. Castration could certainly make this worse by increasing anxiety. Our life Skills online course has lots of self-control games which are great for managing this kind of behaviour too!

  25. Paul 20th October 2020 at 8:49 pm - Reply

    Hello,
    I have a 9 year old Gordon Setter male who has had a castration today at my local vet. The main reason I decided to have him castrated is because we now have a 10 week old Gordon Setter female puppy and do not wish to breed from them.In the future. Also, our male dog is quite aggressive to other dogs in our locality, especially when on the lead, which I believe is due to a territorial and owner protection issue. Will these behavioural issues change?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 20th October 2020 at 10:16 pm - Reply

      As he is already castrated there isn’t much you can do at this point so hopefully it doesn’t make his behaviour worse. Castration will never make dogs less aggressive towards other dogs (this is not a territorial issue but driven through fear and/or frustration, both of which can unfortunately be made worse by castration).
      Obviously it is good by the time your pup is in season they cannot mate. If you’re in this situation in the future spaying the girl before her first season is the better option to avoid unwanted pregnancies!

    • Zoe Kempton 29th November 2020 at 9:35 am - Reply

      Hi Dr Katie, thank you for your article it was really interesting to read! I’m still having issues deciding what to do – I have a 8 month old Cocker Spaniel (male) who has a brilliant personality – very friendly to both dogs & people he does sometimes surrender especially when they are much bigger than him. But my previous cocker spaniel was very nervous & we never got him snipped & he got to 14 years old. But we’ve worked really hard to get my current puppy more confident by introducing him to as much as possible since we got him at 8 weeks & I worry that it would affect it in a negative way all the hard work to get him where he is now – as he is a big softy & sensitive at times. He was also the runt on the litter & I would say he’s below the average weight as a result… But he’s confident with people & when we go for walks he is usually very happy to say hello to other dogs unless they come sprinting up to him, he usually runs back to me. But I spoke to my vet yesterday that was strongly advising it but I really don’t know what’s best for him? I want him to be slightly older if we were to even consider it but the vets says when he’s 10 months would be the perfect time which to me he’s still young & growing… & I’m not having any issues apart from him slightly humping his toys every now & again. I don’t need his behaviour to change as it’s not an issue at the moment but then as the vets say if he does develop behaviour issues after that age it might be to late to sort them when he’s a bit older as he’s ‘missed his window’ apparently so I feel a bit pressured & just want to do what’s right for him! But I find it hard to believe that my dogs personality will completely change once he’s gotten through puberty but that’s what I’m led to believe…

      • DrKatieFrielRussell 29th November 2020 at 10:49 am - Reply

        Hi Zoe, thanks for your message. It is great you are considering the right step for him so carefully! There is no evidence at all that there is a time frame for getting dog’s castrated to prevent behaviours occurring. If he did suddenly become hyper-sexualised (which is extremely rare and usually already evident at 8 months!) then you could get him booked in the same week and he wouldn’t have learnt any unwanted behaviours in that time.
        But that testosterone is so important for him in his physical and mental development. He is a long way off being physically or mentally mature and castrating him too young can increase his risk of bone cancer, and as he isn’t the most confident dog in the world it could cause him a step backwards in his behaviour.
        The health benefit of castration, preventing testicular cancer, has no rush! It isn’t something he is at risk of until he is much older.
        Also be cautious of doing too much work to socialise him. Lots and lots of interactions isn’t usually best. A few great interactions a week really increases confidence and how they feel about dogs and people, but loads of interactions usually means some of them are sub-par which actually worsens his perception and makes him less confidence. It’s all about quality and not quantity. Our online course Puppy Package goes through all of it in loads of detail if you need any more help!

  26. AnnMarie Thornley 23rd October 2020 at 10:20 am - Reply

    Hi – I have a 6 month old staffy pup and have an appointment for castration on 11th November – so he will be 7 month then.

    He has a lovely nature and wants to be friends with dogs and people alike.

    In the last 3 weeks, he has just started to hump – dogs when playing and me and my son when at home.

    I am just concerned that the bigger and stronger he gets, the humping becomes a major problem

    So will castration help calm this behaviour and will it affect his mental and physical growth?

    So confused as to whether I am doing the right thing!!

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 25th October 2020 at 11:00 am - Reply

      Castration will affect mental and physical growth especially at such a young age. Humping especially during play is extremely unlikely to be sexually driven (instead it is emotionally driven) and therefore castration won’t help. Learning how to manage his emotional arousal and switch him off instead will be much more successful! Check out our online course Understanding Your Dog for more info!

  27. Fleur 23rd October 2020 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr Katie,

    I have a three & half year old entire male Cavapoo who has the most lovely temperament and adores other dogs, people and children. However he has been attacked in the park on several occasions by other male dogs. The dogs have been sniffing each other in the park, not exhibiting any tense behaviours or body language, and then go in and attack him, often pretty viscously and have had to be pulled off by their owners. I was told by a dog walker that this was my fault because I hadn’t castrated him and that this was always going to happen as long as he was entire. I’ve been very happy not to have had him castrated as he has very bad food & environmental allergies and a grade 1 heart murmur, which has meant I haven’t wanted to put him under the risk of anaesthetic. On reading your article it’s pretty clear to me that if I were to castrate him, the mild behaviours of barking at noises, humping out of emotional excitement and separation anxiety (which we have been working on successfully through training) would actually get worse due to lowered confidence from the lower testosterone; but I’m now so worried that if I don’t castrate him, he will continue to get attacked by other male dogs. He has never exhibited any of the signs you’ve mentioned about trying to mount dogs on heat (although he wants to follow them around to have a prolonged sniff and sometimes lick), and so there would be no other reason to have the surgery and the risk of anaesthesia other than this one considerable problem, but I desperately don’t want him to be hurt, or even killed in a dog attack. What would you advise?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 25th October 2020 at 11:03 am - Reply

      It can be so difficult trying to manage other people’s dogs and is unfortunately the big risk factor when we take our pooches out. Some dogs find entire males more difficult, but usually they dogs will also find most dogs difficult and therefore still risk going for him even after he was castrated. If he is giving any anxious signs at all (which would be very normal after having had a few horrible experiences) then this is more likely to be the cause than his testosterone levels. As he is a higher risk for an anaesthetic it is a very serious consideration. If you really wanted to go down that route then trialling chemical castration (with the implant) would let you see if it helps him out with other dogs without the associated risk. If it so then you could consider surgical castration or continue chipping him to maintain the chemical castration. If not then you don’t have to risk his surgery!

      • Fleur Shepherd 26th October 2020 at 2:45 pm - Reply

        Thanks so much Dr Katie, it’s really interesting to understand the dynamics of all this, from both my dog’s and the attacking dogs’ perspective. It’s really helpful to know that there is the chemical castration option to trial to see if this makes any difference. Fortunately at the moment these attacks haven’t seemed to have outwardly affected his confidence and happy temperament, but I will continue with the training to keep his confidence up, and in the meantime speak with our vet to look into the implant further. Many thanks again for your help.

  28. Ella 7th November 2020 at 7:57 am - Reply

    Hi Dr Katie
    I have a 11 month old Cavapoo. Despite lots of socialising he is very scared if other dogs whether they are bigger or smaller than he is. He has had some horrible experiences of being nipped by other dogs and being barked at rather aggressively/ lunged at. There have also been some rare occasions where he has barked at other dogs and pulled the lead trying to lunge toward them. I wonder if this is to do with not being neutered? He loves humans and is a real lap dog, and prefers cuddles and being indoors. We aren’t really having too many issues with humping etc yet. He has an extremely sensitive tummy and we have had quite a hard time getting him to eat etc so he is on the skinny side. I am really worried about the whole neutering thing because I want the health benefits and don’t want to put him at risk of getting cancer later in life, but I don’t want to make his quality of life worse now and make him even more nervous and lacking in confidence. I’ve also read research that suggests neutering can decrease the risk of some cancers but increase the risk of osteosarcoma. The other worry we had was that he has a lovely temperament and we don’t want that to change. Could you advise?
    Many thanks
    Ella

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 22nd November 2020 at 9:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Ella, thanks for getting in touch and it’s great you’re working so hard to find out what is best for him. It sounds like he’s had some tough experiences with other dogs which has meant he has learnt to be nervous of them. Castration will make him more nervous and make this behaviour worse. Socialisation is not about volume, it is about the quality of the interactions. A few fantastic experiences around dogs is great but many bad interactions is not socialisation it is in fact sensitisation.
      The cancer risk you would remove by castrating him will not come in to effect for years, this is a disease of older dogs. So he would see no health benefits being castrated now, or in quite a few years time. I would never recommend castrating a nervous dog, nor a dog under 18 months. The osteosarcoma risk is also very low for him due to his breed, this is something we are much more concerned about in large breed dogs.
      I would recommend getting help from a force-free trainer to help him grow in confidence. Once he is coping well with other dogs then if you wanted to castrate him when he is older (e.g. five years plus) then you would get the health benefits at that point! Our Puppy Problems online course goes through lots of the exercises you’d need to help him too!

  29. Claire 9th November 2020 at 6:11 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr Russell. I have a miniature dachshund who is 16 months old. He is so loving and sweet natured most of the time and has not marked our house at all. He also very rarely humps and if he does it is generally a toy and over excitement. However, He did become very distressed when a local bitch was in heat (crying and scratching at the door to go out). This is not normal behaviour for him.
    He is great with dogs and bitches he knows But has become growly/snappy to dogs he doesn’t know – mainly males (and mainly in tact). But there are some dogs he just doesn’t like and doesn’t forget. He is also not a fan of Labrador puppies and we seemed to have an influx at the time his behaviour changed (when he was about 11 months).
    I have been working with a trainer but unfortunately I have had an operation and am recovering at home so he is going out with dog walkers now.
    I have been told that his ‘behaviour’ would improve with neutering but I am not sure. I am trying to research but would really value your opinion? Also for miniature dachshunds it is recommended not to neuter until at least 18 months.
    I would really appreciate any advice you have.
    Thank you in advance. Claire

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 22nd November 2020 at 9:00 pm - Reply

      Hi Claire, I’m sorry to hear you’ve been unwell and that your pup is struggling more around other dogs. His behaviour changing at adolescence is much more likely due to an increase in frustration, rather than testosterone. If he really does struggle around bitches in heat then trialling chemical castration may be the best thing for him. But with his breed and interactions with other dogs it can mean they often result in pain due to his size and long back which will worsen his perception of them. If this is the case then castrating him will knock his confidence further and worsen his behaviour. If going out with a dog walker it is important that they give him space from other dogs and never tell him off for his behaviour, telling him off for reacting will only make him more scared and worsen his behaviour, unfortunately this could be what is happening when you aren’t around.

  30. Benjamin Mott 19th November 2020 at 1:18 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr, we have a two and a half year old male vizsla. He is a big dominate intact male. He is the most loving friendly dog with our family and lets the children do anything to him. Unfortunately when we take him out for walks he can get aggressive towards dogs on leads and other make dogs. He doesn’t do it all the time and sometimes he plays and has fun. Thing is his aggressive behaviour is getting worse and it’s becoming really difficult and upsetting. He is well socialised and a few times a week he is with a dog Walker and mixes well with all the other dogs. On the occasions where he becomes aggressive it’s worrying because he loses all his recall skills. Our vet has suggested castration and she thinks it will calm him down and make him less aggressive. After reading your article I’m now confused as to what to do. He is booked in for castration next week and I really want to make sure we are making the right decision.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 22nd November 2020 at 8:55 pm - Reply

      Hi Benjamin, It is extremely unlikely that castration will help in this behaviour. Dogs are not dominant in the “pack leader” way, this has been disproved many times scientifically. Instead this behaviour will be driven through frustration or fear, both of which can be made worse with castration. I would recommend instead seeking the help of a force-free professional to help him, or at most opting for chemical castration which is reversible if it does make things worse, best of luck with him!

  31. Laura Price 24th November 2020 at 4:56 pm - Reply

    We have a 2 year old Labrador – he is confident in that he likes to say hello to other dogs but he is also very submissive. He humps his bed every day which we don’t have a problem with, he might sniff at female dogs but never attempted to mount another dog, he marks a lot when he is on walks if he smells another dog. We have not neutered him based on his submissive behaviour however on a couple of occasions recently our dog has been very aggressive towards other dogs passing on leads. We’re now really torn and can’t decide whether to neuter him or not?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 25th November 2020 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Hi Laura, it certainly doesn’t sound like any of his behaviour is driven through testosterone. His increased reactivity on a lead is much more likely due to his anxiety you have already been seeing with other dogs. “submissive” behaviour is actually low confidence, anxiety driven behaviour (dominance/submission doesn’t exist in dogs like that). As dogs grow, if they don’t get the right help and management, this anxiety will worsen and they will change the way that they display it, usually resulting in the use of repulsion (often referred to as “aggression”) behaviours.
      If you castrate a dog at this point you are likely to make the behaviour worse. There is no evidence or reason why castration would help in your case. Our online course “Understanding Your Dog” goes through all this in more detail and then getting the help of a force-free trainer will be the best route to go!

  32. Tina Dyke 7th December 2020 at 9:58 am - Reply

    Hi, our 3 year old st Bernard has over the last couple of days become obsessed with our 15year old castrated cross breed. He is constantly trying to smell his private parts drink his urine and mount him, to the extreme , he wines If he can’t be near him and won’t settle. They have been together for a couple of years and both our st Bernards have always chased after him to look and smell when he wees but nothing more than that. The other entire male st Bernard isn’t acting any differently . The vet has suggested castrating the younger dog. We didn’t have him from a pup and he is very loving And confident generally, But he humps and shreds his bed if I go out even though he has the other 2 dogs and he can be aggressive with the other male st Bernard over high value food, he also takes an aggressive stance if he were to be pushed away from anything, while being told off. He loves to take other peoples things to get attention and doesn’t like to release them

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 14th December 2020 at 9:58 pm - Reply

      Hi Tina, If things have suddenly changed a full health check of all of the dogs (and especially a urine check if there are changes to urine sniffing and prostates) is the best first step. It is extremely unlikely that testosterone will have caused this sudden change. If he has behaviour likely to be driven by anxiety such as his behaviour when left alone then castration could certainly make this behaviour much worse.
      A dog reacting to being pushed or around high value food are normal behaviours which we should protect dogs from experiencing by teaching dogs a moving cue, and by ensuring that dogs are separated around all sources of food. We don’t recommend ever “telling a dog off” this only “work” via scaring them and over all worsens behaviour. Instead we can teach appropriate behaviour and heavily reinforce this and manage inappropriate behaviour but pushing a dog is very likely to escalate their behaviour and can easily progress into bite behaviour.
      Best of luck with them and I hope you get a full resolution.

  33. Diane 14th December 2020 at 3:35 am - Reply

    Hi im thinking of having my dog neutered he is 8 yrs would this be OK and how much does it cost hes a shih tub.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 14th December 2020 at 9:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Diane, it depends on his heath and his behaviour and the price will depend on your vets – your first point of call should be your vets!

      • simon moorcroft 29th December 2020 at 9:46 pm - Reply

        Very informative article. We have 5 year old black lab entire male. Absolutely shown no aggression, confident. A delightful pet BUT he had always been over interested in dogs especially if in season bitches around- he sniffs and licks excessively and after sniffing bits of the ground, his mouth is a quiver and drooling. This only happens in the main field we exercise him as we live in a fairly populated area with ever growing number of dogs. When we take him to the country- none of these issues. He’s extremely energetic, can run all day long and had in past struggled to keep his weight. Reason for this post is that last week he was attacked by a staffie on a lead( ours wasn’t on lead) and to my wife’s horror he most certainly attacked back and went back for more- no damage done and owner of staffie admitted his dog had attacked others- he usually skirts by any sense of aggression. We have had a lab before who also showed signs of sexual aggression and behaviour and although the vet wasn’t at all sure castration would work, his bad habits disappeared straight away. My wife, of course now wants to get our current lab castrated after this one-off incident and I must admit it is tiring having to constantly remove him from his bottom licking tendencies. Sorry for long post but again any views welcome. My feelings are that in his case as he is so calm and confident, hopefully castration may be an option for us

        • DrKatieFrielRussell 14th January 2021 at 9:07 pm - Reply

          Hi Simon,
          I’m sorry you and your dog went through the attack episode, that must’ve been really tough on you all. Following a traumatic event such as that is quite a risky time to go for castration as it will have really knocked his confidence around other dogs. If he was attacked first and then responded to defend himself, that is actually a very normal protective response that many dogs would do and wouldn’t be “improved” by castration. Once he is settled and interacting well (even if licking) dogs again then castration might not affect him negatively, but there is also a good chance it won’t change his licking habits!

  34. Terence Smith 2nd January 2021 at 12:38 pm - Reply

    Dear Dr Katie My daughter rescued a seven year old, entire male Doberman dog who had been kept in an enclosure, outside of its UK families home for six years. It had been kept in this miserable situation by the family for about six years because when the family had little children the dog would brush past the children and inadvertently knock them over.
    My daughter, who also had toddlers, introduced this dog into her home as part of her family, as an equal, to the extent that it would lie on the sofa with the family.
    The dog was perfect with the children, it would allow them to take the liberties which toddlers sometimes do prior to parental correction. It was my opinion that the dog, despite the lack of any socialisation, had instinctive, parental hard wiring intact. It was behaving as if these were the packs children.
    UNFORTUNATELY this lack of socialisation did cause a big problem when it came to meeting other dogs in parks etc. It would run up to other dogs aggressively barking at them, in their faces, and was generally causing dog to dog problems without actually attacking them by biting.
    To cut a long story short my daughter , was advised to have the dog castrated in the hope that this would alleviate its dog to dog behaviour.
    This castration had disastrous effects . Almost immediately it became intolerant of the children. It started to not like them and would nip them. My daughter found several alternative homes for the dog with people who did not have kids, with no success. Each time the adoptees couldn’t cope with the dogs behaviour and returned the dog to my daughter who eventually had to place the dog in an animal shelter. This broke my daughters heart of course. She loved the dog and bitterly regretted having the dog castrated.
    It is only my opinion but I think that it was the testosterone or another testicular chemical hormone that activated this parental hard wiring in the brain and that castration took away the trigger that activated it. I Wonder what are your thoughts on this and what other effects castrating a mature dog can have? Thank you . Terry Smith.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 14th January 2021 at 9:10 pm - Reply

      Hi Terence, I’m sorry that your daughter’s dog had such a difficult start to life, and that your daughter received the wrong advice. Yes castration often has such negative effects in all aspects of behaviour. This is unfortunately much more likely the reason why he deteriorated around the children (previously was confident and happy around them, once castrated was anxious and reactive towards them). My hope is that more and more people can understand how disastrous castration can be and what a big decision it is. I’m very sorry your family had to go through all of that.

  35. Sarah 7th January 2021 at 8:58 am - Reply

    Hi

    We have 2 bulldogs, a male at 2 years and a female who is 8 months. We decided to leave the male in tact as he isn’t territorial or ever aggressive to other dogs. He’s a very placid beast. He can get over excited during rough play but it’s manageable (the worst he gets is grabbing my clothing when I try to leave and stop the game). A quick firm no and distraction solves this no problem.
    With the female, she is his full sister from another litter so we do not want pups and we’re currently waiting for her first season so we can then have her spayed. We plan to move the male out while she has the season (go to a relative). So this isn’t a bearing castor.
    Since we got the female and they’re on walks off lead he has started to stray and not return when called. He had good recall before she came along but now we’re not sure if he’s showing off or is more heightened now he lives with a female. Would castration help with this behaviour? He’s confident, too friendly with other dogs (loves to sniff their genitals for far too long – they tolerate it for so long but then make it clear to stop to which he doesn’t listen to. We say he’s that wierdo at a party you avoid haha). For a well socialised dog he chooses not to read other dog aggression warning signs, he still ploughs on determined to make friends. He has no social cues bless him. We’ve tried different ways but I don’t think he has this in him, it’s like it’s missing from his brain. A Frenchie even snapped in his face and caught his jowl and he just looked at me all hurt, like “why don’t they like me?”. This behaviour is the same with other dogs even now he has his sister. Who’s crotch he licks alot (mortifying), she tolerates it for so long and then warns him off or sits so he can’t get her. Sorry I’ve rambled!
    Do you think castration would help with this?
    Thank you

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 14th January 2021 at 9:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Sarah,
      That’s great you are putting things in place to avoid inbreeding at home, you can also talk to your vets about temporary hormonal suppression for your male if needed. But there are lots of benefits of getting your girl spayed and then you don’t need to worry about breeding in the future, this is always the way I would recommend in male/female dog households.
      It is much more likely he is more wound up and excited since having a puppy in the home, and also it’s normal that your training might not have been as focussed on him as you’ve had a puppy to manage! He’s also just gone through adolescence during this time and it is very common for recall to deteriorate. Unless the only time he runs off is when he smells a bitch in heat then castration won’t help I’m afraid and instead going back to basics and focussing on managing him to prevent mistakes and adding value to your recall cue! Our online training course Life Skills goes through recall in great detail!
      Sniffing and licking other dogs genitals is a normal behaviour but is exaggerated in lower confidence dogs and so castration may actually make this behaviour worse. With your girl, once she’s done and her hormones are steady then he will hopefully do this less at home.

  36. Rita 10th January 2021 at 11:52 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie, this is a very informative article, thank you! I have a 9 month old bull pug cross that was just attacked by another intact male dog (he did nothing to provoke the other dog). He’s a really lovely dog who’s not aggressive at all but also quite confident, yet other males keep growling at him or trying to attack him, especially in the last month or so. I have been told that it is likely that this is because he has not been castrated as other dogs see him as ‘competition’. I was already on the fence about castration but now I’m leaning more towards the snip, I’d love to read your opinion on this particular case.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 14th January 2021 at 9:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Rita, I’m really sorry you and your dog went through that, it is awful when it happens. He is still very young to consider castration and with him having had some horrible experiences around other dogs it is also quite high risk at this point. Unfortunately other dogs are the main thing we can’t control for with dog training and we can never guarantee that they won’t go for your dog. But anxious dogs are much more likely to have other dogs have a go at them, and following an attack it would be unusual for your dog not to be giving off worried signals around other dogs at the moment.
      Very rarely we can see some entire males find other entire males more difficult (although your boy is still very young for them to class him as a mature male). If you really wanted to see if it could help I would recommend chemical castration which is temporary, you could assess changes in your dog and how others react to him too.

  37. J Rowan 11th January 2021 at 8:10 am - Reply

    Hi, I am in a dilemma about whether to castrate or not too. I have a 2 year old GS x collie. He is a confident boy, happy to sniff and say hi but generally happy to do his own thing. He very rarely starts trouble but if someone has a go at him he will not back down and fight back. I find he is more aggressive to other dogs if my children are with me. He also has obsessive traits like chasing trains (safely alongside a fence), chewing the same tree and getting stones from the river. He had a best friend who is played with constantly but he now gets a bit irritated with her and tells her to leave him alone which makes me sad as I like watching him play with other dogs and I don’t like it when he is grumpy which seems to be more frequent The vets of course recommend castration but looking at your original post I am not sure what the benefits will be. Please can you advise? Thanks alot

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 14th January 2021 at 9:28 pm - Reply

      Hi Jackie, I would be very wary going down the route of castration with your boy. It sounds like he does have some anxiety and therefore castration would risk making all of these behaviours worse. I would certainly recommend a consult with a qualified behaviourist (during lockdown we can offer these over video consult) to get him assessed instead of risking making him worse with surgery.

  38. Josh C 13th January 2021 at 4:48 pm - Reply

    After much, much research and deliberation I’m leaning towards getting my German shepherd done. He is very confident, not excessively protective (if someone approaches me whilst I’m eating or in bed he may whimper or grumble but not growl or deep bark) and he is well trained with a good recall. His issue is if he comes across a girl on heat or even a dog that he thinks is on heat then I will lose him almost completely. Often it can be a submissive male who has been done already. He also feels the need to sniff every dog he meets, 98% of the time that’s all it is but being such a big dog it isn’t always received well. My only concern is I don’t want his overall character to change too much as he is an amazing dog. Cuddly, confident, playful and very fit and healthy. (He’s on a raw diet) Should I be worried that he may have negative behavioural changes if I get him done? He is 2 next month.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 14th January 2021 at 9:35 pm - Reply

      Hi Josh,
      If his behaviour only changes around bitches in heat then castration could absolutely help this behaviour, and can be a relief for him as well as it can be very frustrating for entire dogs if they regularly smell girls in heat. If dogs are confident and happy then castration is unlikely negatively effect their character and they can still have a great work drive too. Sometimes it can affect their coat quality though.
      If you are unsure it is quite easy to first trial chemical castration from your vets to see how it affects your boy, if you’re happy with the results then you could go ahead with permeant surgery!

  39. Wendy 20th January 2021 at 2:51 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr Katie
    I am researching the pros and cons of castration/spaying. My story is this. I had 2 rough collies. One more timid than the other, one male one female with 6 months difference in age. Due to breeders terms I had them spayed castrated at 6 months. However now nearing 13 yrs on my 11yr old male developed cancer in his leg/hip. It was extremely quick was within the time frame of 24hours that he had to be put to sleep. Seeing comments regarding dogs with cancer I can not help but feel was this caused due to a bad decision of castrating him at a young age? I had always thought of just taking a vets advice and this is what I had done. Reading now that my other dog guards her food, is nervous on eating, is fussy at eating and is noise sensitive could spaying her have been the wrong decision, and how much of what a vet rings true when so many are now running practices by commission? I now have a 5 month old pup RC and have been told one of his testicles has not dropped so they are giving him to Feb until it drops and had advised this to prevent cancer. My gut is telling me no, but Im afraid this may be because losing my other dog to cancer is clouding my judgement. However, this pup is a happy, healthy, well balanced dog I really can not see any justification to castrate him. Can you please tell me with only having one testicle is this a reason to castrate? Many many thanks

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 6th February 2021 at 11:10 am - Reply

      Hi Wendy, I’m so sorry to hear about you losing your boy and it can be so traumatic when it happens so quickly too. Hindsight and research are fantastic things but even 10 years ago the information relating to cancer and castration wasn’t around so no one knew the link. And as for girls, if you check out our blog on spaying, actually spays are recommended from a behaviour point of view and usually help with dog’s behaviour and are extremely effective from a health point of view.
      For your pup talk to your vet about just removing the one undescended testicle (this one really is high risk for cancer and does need to come out) but the other can stay and still provide the testosterone that he needs! As long as the information that one has been removed is updated onto his microchip any concerns about people looking for that one in future can be avoided!

  40. Richard M 20th January 2021 at 5:34 pm - Reply

    What an excellent blog. I am 68 years old and have owned, enjoyed & loved one male golden Retriever (first dog) and two male black Labs (the current Lab is now 7 years old). None of them were castrated despite advice from numerous dog owning friends & various self professed experts. The Retriever & the second black Lab were acquired as puppies and grew up in a busy house with kids. They were trained by me and were/are an integral part of family life. Loads of exercise & love. I purchased the first black Lab when he was 18 months old for £25. He was a total nervous wreck having lived in a home where he was badly treated & bullied by a larger older dog. He would nervously pee any time one of us approached him. He would also run off at any opportunity & occasionally snap at people. The pressure to have him castrated grew daily (especially from our Vet) but we persevered. He died of cancer when he was 12 years old. He had been a great friend to all of us and I’m sure he enjoyed his life to the full (apart from the first couple of years). I do question the motive of some Vets regarding castration as I know a few people (including one of my daughters) who have had their dogs castrated following advice and the resulting changes in their behavior & general demeanor was not good.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 6th February 2021 at 11:13 am - Reply

      Thanks for your story Richard, it sounds like all your dogs have been super lucky to be part of your family and that you’ve done a great job with them!
      There isn’t really an ulterior motive with castration with vets (most practices lose money doing the surgery once you factor in all the costs) but just a lock of knowledge of the more modern research showing that it really isn’t needed, and should at least be delayed until dogs are ready physically and mentally!

  41. joana 20th January 2021 at 9:21 pm - Reply

    my dog is 16 months old, he is a yorkshire terrier and he is a very happy and playful dog(which I love his playfull atitude) But I think he has separation anxiety since my mom says he barks and cries for long periods of time when II leave and he starts howling and barking when I grab my keys. My father always said from the beginning that I needed to get him castrated, but I’ve been reading articles and they say that their personality will change after that to a much calmer one, with a decreased desire to move and play around. My only concern is I don’t want his overall character to change too much as he is an amazing dog. I really want him to keep his playful and active attitude because that’s what I love about him and I’m afraid the castration will change that. Do you think it is a good idea to go through with the castration?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 6th February 2021 at 11:15 am - Reply

      Hi Joana, I’m sorry to hear your dog is struggling so much, it sounds like he is really anxious. If you castrate him it is likely to make that behaviour much worse as he will be much more worried. Castration doesn’t “calm dogs down” that is a complete myth, and it certainly won’t help with separation related behaviours – for that you need the help of a qualified behaviourist.

  42. Eve Bellamy 25th January 2021 at 10:30 pm - Reply

    Hi there! I’ve found this article so very informative, so thank you for that! I don’t know if you’re able to give your thoughts, but we have a 4yo entire ridgeback. He actually sounds just like the German shepherd described above (by Josh C) and he has described exactly the problems I have with my dog! He’s a fantastic dog in general, friendly, lovely in the home and great with kids. But my only concern with the castration side of things is he is very sensitive and doesn’t always like being left alone. That’s not happening much at the moment (covid!) but he’s very attached to me, being the main feeder/Walker! We’ve always trained him positively and never hurt him or anything of the sort! Had him from a pup but he’s just a very sensitive soul and I feel worried castration could make that worse. Is it likely the chemical castration would help reveal where it may/may not improve things? Hope that makes sense :) thanks in advance, Eve.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 6th February 2021 at 11:18 am - Reply

      Hi Eve, I’m really glad you found the article helpful and I’m so glad you’ve had a lovely positive relationship with your pup! Chemical castration can be a great option for exploring the effects of surgery on him, especially if he is more sensitive as removal of his testosterone could be detrimental to him. It is also important to consider that the surgery itself (and even the implantation of the chemical chip) can also affect dogs as these are stressful experiences in themselves.
      Now that he is physically fully mature and generally a happy dog I would recommend working a little more on him being comfortable left alone (he would be left alone at the vets for surgery!) before going further down the castration route though and everything is more likely to be successful for him!

  43. Aoin Douglas 28th January 2021 at 12:23 pm - Reply

    I have my 6 month old male Scottie booked in for castration next Tuesday. He is not hugely aggressive but he is quite ornery and will snap if you invade his space without good reason or behave suspiciously or unconfidently towards him. He has always played rough with our Westie bitch but she reciprocates proportionately so we have left it at that until now, however he has recently started cornering her for a good humping every chance he gets. He turns into a panting mess and our Westie has nowhere to run to. This is what has brought the situation to a head. Now I’ve read your article, however, I’m worried it may make the snappish behaviour worse.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 6th February 2021 at 11:21 am - Reply

      Hi Aoin, Thanks for your message, I’m not sure if you’ve gone ahead with surgery for your boy but from your description I would be cautious castrating him as it could make his snapping behaviour worse. I would also want to monitor and assess his humping behaviour as there is a fair chance it is not sexually but emotionally driven (and therefore castration wouldn’t affect it anyway). It can be a really tough call as it obviously isn’t nice or fair on your girl to have to put up with it but focussing on assessing your boy and increasing his confidence can avoid those behaviours much more effectively than surgery can. Consider the chemical castration option for an intermediate option too.

  44. Clare 4th February 2021 at 10:59 pm - Reply

    Hi, I have an 8 month old male cocker called Chester who is very friendly with people and all dogs, he runs up to play with them ( returns on call most of the time ) jumps up all the time, he gets mouthy with us sometimes ( mainly at my 16 year old daughter) but is generally very excitable, I cancelled his castrations twice as I just don’t know if that’s reason to do it, he doesn’t mark in the house or hump – please help when’s the best age x Clare

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 6th February 2021 at 11:23 am - Reply

      8 months is really young to consider castration especially without major testosterone driven behaviours (such as intense urine marking). I would not recommend any dog is castrated before 18 months and only then once they are emotionally stable. Your little Chester has lots of maturing to do and the over the top mouthy, extra excitability is usually driven by some anxiety and displayed as appeasement behaviour (check out our online course Understanding Your Dog for more info) and so castration could escalate this behaviour into much more of a problem. I’d recommend getting a good force-free trainer or behaviourist on board to help out and delay the surgery!

  45. Keith Gordon Littlejohns 5th February 2021 at 8:25 pm - Reply

    Hi. I am considering whether or not to have my two boys castrated. I have two male Cocker Spaniels from the same litter now 14 months old named Billy and Douglas. My daughter has their mum. Douglas weighs about 15/16kgs whereas Billy weighs between 13/14 kgs. Douglas is the more dominant whereas Billy is submissive and very anxious. Although they play quite well in the house or while on walks Douglas does on occasion attack Billy I believe to assert his dominance.
    For that reason i am considering having Douglas seen to so as to calm him down but having read a number of your previous comments get the impression that to have Billy seen to could make him even more submissive.
    However if i have one seen to but not the other could i end up with more problems. A dilemma
    I would appreciate your views

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 6th February 2021 at 11:26 am - Reply

      Hi Keith, firstly I really recommend checking out our online course “understanding your dog” so that you can read both dogs a little more. Dominance/submission has been completely disproven by the scientific community so the attacks are nothing to do with asserting dominance and instead are much more likely to be driven through anxiety. Castration would be a huge risk for escalating this problem further.
      You really need to seek some qualified help from a behaviourist to help the boys manage their relationship more, raising siblings is extremely difficult to do and often results in fighting and can end up in the requirement to rehome one before serious injury if appropriate treatment isn’t started on time. Hopefully your boys can get back to a good place but castration should have no part in their treatment plan.

  46. Shannon 8th February 2021 at 11:10 am - Reply

    Hi,
    I have a 4 and a half year old Labrador. He is very much still a puppy, very hyper on walks and has a tendency to pull to other dogs (just to say hello, very friendly). He is anxious of the vets and being messed with. I am conscious on whether we should get him castrated due to his age and in the hope he would be easier to train. He seems to be quite anxious at the moment so unsure what is best to do.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th February 2021 at 8:07 pm - Reply

      Hi Shannon, I think you’ve understood your pup well, he is a bit anxious. Castration is likely to make this worse and therefore his behaviour will get worse. Castration has no beneficial effects to make a dog “easier to train”. I’d really recommend getting the help of a force-free trainer and avoiding castration at this time!

  47. Jennifer 8th February 2021 at 9:19 pm - Reply

    Hi, I’m finding this thread very useful. I have a 9 month old bull lurcher, (he’s a mix of greyhound, staffy and American bull dog). He’s very well behaved at home, brilliant with our 3 children, playful and easy to calm if he gets too excited. He loves going out on walks but I can’t walk him with another dog as he just gets too excited. He won’t leave them alone even if he’s barked or growled at; he seems to think that’s an invitation to play! If we see another dog while walking he’s overly friendly and won’t come back to us. He’s recently started humping other dogs; males and females. He loves a squirrel chase and I’m always slightly nervous if we see a small dog he’ll charge at it so always put him on a lead. We’d planned to have him castrated at around 12 months but I wondered whether we should do it earlier to calm him. Reading other comments it doesn’t sound as though it will help. I also don’t want him to change his personality at home as he’s already a bit submissive. Would really appreciate your thoughts. Many thanks

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th February 2021 at 8:44 pm - Reply

      Hi Jennifer, it sounds like your pup is a normal adolescent who doesn’t understand dog to dog greetings that well (as most don’t, especially this year with all the lockdowns). Castration has absolutely no benefits for what you describe but could certainly risk making things worse. The humping, as it isn’t aimed only at girls in season, is not sexually driven so most likely won’t be improved. It is much more likely due to increased emotional arousal and some confusion/anxiety (especially due to his desperation to greet – this is a sign of some anxiety not just excitement) and therefore castration could make this anxiety worse and his behaviour worse as a result.

  48. Mandy 9th February 2021 at 9:30 am - Reply

    Hi. I came across this article and found it very interesting. We have always had our dogs castrated, because it was always advised by vets, however I read something several years ago that sometimes it’s not the best thing for your dog. Our dog is now approaching 7 years old and is still very lively, happy and healthy but he is a dog that suffers with separation anxiety. A friend said I should now think about having him castrated as he is getting older to eliminate potential health issues and whilst I wasn’t going to she has now planted a seed of doubt. On reading your article though am I right in saying that whilst it has the benefit of eradicating testicular cancer that isn’t very prevalent anyway and other health benefits aren’t hugely proven and as he suffers with anxiety I could make that problem worse? We are getting another male dog in a few weeks and I don’t foresee a problem as our dog has always been very friendly to other dogs and has never experienced problems with other dogs being aggressive towards him.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th February 2021 at 8:47 pm - Reply

      Hi Mandy, castration does eliminate the risk from testicular cancer, but this is something you can monitor for fairly easily. Castration would be high risk for making his separation issues worse, so you would be much better spending the money you would on surgery on getting help for his separation related problems. Further down the line, if he is no longer anxious, or if there is a concern re a lump or abnormality in his testicles then castration may be more suitable.

      • Mandy 10th February 2021 at 9:22 am - Reply

        Thank you for taking the time to reply and for this informative site

  49. Rebekah 10th February 2021 at 10:39 am - Reply

    Hi Dr. Katie, I have a 16 month old German Shepard – Airedale Terrier Mix. He is super friendly towards all humans large and small. He also really likes other dogs, sometimes too much. He goes up to any dog we come across and getting him to come back when called is difficult because he is so focused on the other dog. He’s usually not outwardly aggressive but he does try to dominate male dogs of a similar size by mounting them. Lately, he has started to occasionally growl at some male dogs. One other odd thing he has started to do in the last few weeks is to pleasure himself through licking. It’s a very unpleasant new habit.

    When we come across a female in heat he goes bananas. We have zero chance of getting him to come to us. He also licks female dog pee from the street and has run off after a dog in heat before.

    He has that stubborn terrier mentality and I have heard from other airedale owners that castration helped with their behavioral problems. However, I am not convinced that castrating is the right solution here.

    I appreciate any advince you can give!

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 12th February 2021 at 9:40 pm - Reply

      Hi Rebekah, I’m glad you’re dog is generally happy and friendly. Any mounting of male dogs, or any other behaviour is not due to trying to “dominate” this has actually be disproven by the scientific community. This behaviour is much more likely to be due to over arousal and/or anxiety/frustration. So these behaviours would likely worsen with castration.
      His interest in girls in heat and licking himself are behaviours which should be improved with castration.
      That makes him a little bit of a tricker case, he probably does need castrating sooner rather than later but ideally have some behavioural modification on board first.
      And castration won’t help with “general training” or obedience at all!

  50. Marie Learmount 10th February 2021 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Hi, I’ve just read through your article and some comments. I have a 2 year old cockapoo, he first started to display reactive behaviours towards other dogs at 14 months and we have been working with a trainer to work on his attention skills etc. We’ve had huge amounts of ups and downs. He never reacts towards bitches but is unpredictable with male dogs. We’ve had a few trainers over the last year some have said he displays dominant male behaviours and others have said it’s fear based aggression (total different ends of the scale!) we have often spoken about castration with the vet and our trainer and we’ve all been quite undecided how it would change things… so we have opted for the implant, temporarily removing his testosterone for 6 months before making this change permanent. So far we have seen a reduction is distraction ie he’s easier to train and keep attention, he’s less intrigued by other dogs however he has been more reactive. It’s only 4 weeks now since the implant has gone in so his testosterone should be nearly gone now. My question to you is if the temporary castration has negative effects and we decide to have it removed and return him to his full state, will his emotions be even more upset when the testosterone returns or will he just return to his previous ways?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 12th February 2021 at 9:45 pm - Reply

      Hi Marie, I’m sorry you’ve obviously been trying to help your boy a lot but have had a real mix of advice. “Dominant male behaviours” is something which has been scientifically disproven and the behaviours you described would always have a primary drive of fear and/or frustration. Therefore I would expect castration (chemical or surgical) to have the negative impact on his reactivity unfortunately. Removing the implant now should allow him to return to his previous state (although even in these few weeks can have learnt to be more scared so could still be worse, but will likely get worse if left in place). He then really needs the help of a qualified behaviourist to help him change how he feels.
      Any training that you have been recommended based on telling him off on any way will make his behaviour worse and should absolutely be avoided.

  51. Rebecca 16th February 2021 at 9:11 pm - Reply

    I have a 19 month old cocker spaniel booked in for neutering this Friday due to marking behaviours. He doesn’t mark in the house but instead marks other dogs when I take him out on walks. We’ve tried addressing this with training but are having no luck.
    He’s a lovely boy, very friendly, playful, mostly confident. He’s spooked by random things and will growl and bark at them but I think that’s more down to them being new to him e.g. certain christmas lights in December, rather than him being anxious. We did have a short period of him being reactive to other dogs when he was about 9 months old, following being attacked by a Collie but we ironed that out quite quickly and he’s only had two scuffles since then, once because he stole another dogs ball and the other, the dogs owner said their dog was acting strange and mine was the 3rd he’d gone for on that walk.
    However, after reading this post and the comments I’m wondering if I’ve made the right decision. I want to put a stop to this antisocial marking behaviour but I don’t want to see his personality change as he’s so lovely and friendly. I dont want to see him become aggressive in any way.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 17th February 2021 at 10:56 am - Reply

      Hi Rebecca, it is a really tough decision, your boy still isn’t physically and mentally mature yet so there is certainly potential risks to castrating him. And the fact that he is is 19 months, if he’s been marking on dogs for a little while now there is a chance that castration won’t actually help that either as it can become a learnt behaviour, and could well be driven through low confidence (which would be made worse through castration). I’d recommend thinking about chemical castration if you really want to try one out as then it is reversible if it makes his behaviour worse!

  52. Lorraine 28th February 2021 at 3:55 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr Katie , we have two patterdales one is 4 and the other a border x is 2 – they are good in the house enjoy and are very affectionate. Trouble is they are very reactive on walks to other dogs some reactions worse than other the younger dog is very excitable and we feel he amps up the older dog they are constantly sniffing and digging on walks for smells we thing could be female marking . We keep talking about castrations but never seem to totally know if this is the right decision . We have recently moved home and the dogs are more settled and we walk them lots to try and train out these behaviours – would castration help or are they typical patterdale characteristics. Many thank in advance Lorraine.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 1st March 2021 at 8:59 pm - Reply

      Hi Lorraine, it is pretty unlikely that castration would help in your situation, but there is a fair chance it could make things worse. To have a chance of changing their perception (which is the only real way of changing their behaviour) you would need to work on the separately, including walking them separately and working with a qualified behaviourist.
      And the sniffing and digging on walks are definitely normal terrier behaviours that castration won’t change!

  53. Nobelle 7th March 2021 at 4:38 am - Reply

    Hi Dr Katie,
    I have a 3.5 year old male Shih Tzu, booked in for castration just before Good Friday as I’ve taken the following week off to monitor him and the whole family will be home too. He is our first dog and is generally a warm, friendly and playful dog. We took him to puppy school, adolescent school and recall training so we could understood him and his needs as a dog. He doesn’t bark outside (only when to alert when the bell rings or the security light goes on) or show aggression to other dogs or people. If anything he runs towards and/or jumps at them in excitement. Other dogs have attacked him unwarranted a handful of times and the belief was because he was intact and they weren’t. Is this true? Also could his poor recall be due more to our training rather than his natural instincts/being entire? He is a flighty little thing if he sees a fox, squirrel etc, he is off!!

    I always thought unless male dogs are being bred, best advice is to castrate but after reading your article I am not so sure as I too believed that ‘it will calm him and reduce unwanted behaviours’. In the last year his pulling on the lead has gotten stronger and worse, so has his bed humping. Last year, he followed a female dog round park and was impossible to retrieve. He has always marked every tree, post and drive he can. Could these behaviours be occurring more so now because he is entire?
    He is now increasingly obsessed with smells outside in a way he never was before and seeks to bury his face in the grass, pavement or brick that has the smell/urintation but also wants to lick it. Despite his small size, he never used to mount other dogs, but now he wants to and he has also displayed minor aggressive behaviours at home that are instantly corrected and re-directed but the culmination of all these things is what made me decide that maybe now was the time.

    We tried the implant a few years ago to see how he would react but he seemed like the same dog so figured castrating him would be ok. My hesitancy has always been due to not wanting to change a generally happy dog and wanting to be a responsible dog owner by trying to protect his health and wellbeing. Also, intact dogs from what I hear are sometimes preyed on for dog theft and since the demand for dogs has increased over lockdown for them and the increased dog theft, this too propelled me to book in the neutering. A lady even stopped my dad to ask if we were interested in breeding our dog because he matched the colour way she wanted and doesn’t see a lot of dogs like ours around, which increased my weariness. However, now I am quite undecided on what to do. I want to do right by my dog and don’t want to hurt him unnecessarily.

    I would appreciate any thoughts or advice on this to help facilitate my decision to go ahead or not. Thanks so much.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 14th March 2021 at 10:06 pm - Reply

      Hi, it can be a really difficult decision. His recall after foxes and squirrels is definitely training based and not related to testosterone. Even his scenting behaviour if it is consistent is less likely to be due to testosterone.
      Other dogs sometimes react more to entire dogs, and others often to castrated dogs, so castrating your boy certainly isn’t a magic option I’m afraid.
      If he is generally confident and didn’t react to the implant he could be a good candidate, but it does always have some risk associated too.
      Unfortunately people stealing dogs only tend to check if they are entire afterwards, and the castrated dogs would still tend to be sold on. Being castrated unfortunately is unlikely to lower his risk, and this is all a real worry at this time for everyone with dogs.

  54. cherrybug 23rd March 2021 at 9:58 pm - Reply

    Hello, I have a spaniel who is 11 months old and I really don’t want to have him neutered yet. We have no intention of breeding, I would just much prefer to wait until he is older and fully developed.

    The problem is he has one retained testicle and I know it is unlikey to decend now, You can actually see it not too far from where it should be, so I had really hoped it may eventually come down. How long can we wait before putting him at risk as I have read that it can increase the liklehood of testicular cancer? Is there any chance it may still find its way to the right place?

    He rarely humps anything and doesnt mark in the house and is a lovely friendly dog. He is fairly confident though definitely can be submissive at times and a bit anxious, with people he doesn’t know or dogs he hasn’t met before. I worry that neutering will make him more anxious, especially as he is still young. Woud appreciate any advice. Thank you.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 1st April 2021 at 6:05 pm - Reply

      Hi, great question! The fact that his undescended testicle is visible means it is out of his abdomen. The abdominal ones are much higher risk to develop cancer than the inguinal ones (the ones that have come out the abdomen but not made it into the scrotum).
      This takes the pressure off a little! But it is also worth talking to your vet about just having the retained testicle removed and leaving his fully descended one long term. Most vets are happy with this approach as long as a note is made on his microchip so everyone knows there should only be on there!

  55. Nina 31st March 2021 at 7:56 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr Katie

    I wonder if you could offer an opinion on neutering a male whippet.

    He is currently just over a year old and is a happy confident dog. He is not dominant and likes other dogs and people although he can play rough when he is chasing. A whippet thing I believe and he is not aggressive it is more body barging when he is running fast. I manage it by avoiding playing with smaller dogs such as spaniels although he is very good with spaniels in my dog walkers pack. We are doing normal training and so far so good.

    I was originally advised by my vet to try and not neuter until at least a year unless any behaviour issue made it unavoidable. His advice was related to allowing him to mature and his growth plates to close in a medium sized dog. He has not shown any problematic behaviour such as aggression or humping and his marking is confined to outside and normal levels.

    However when he was 9 months we finally manage to diagnose chronic pancreatitis from low level symptoms and confirmed it through blood tests. These symptoms had been present from very early puppyhood and we are unsure of the cause. He is now on a prescription diet and enzymes and it seems broadly controlled although he has had brief flare ups over the last few months when he has picked up something from the pavement etc.

    My vet and I had agreed to wait on his condition to calm down and neuter hopefully by 18 months when we would discuss it again however I am worried about the balance of risks because of possible metabolic changes. Would this make his pancreatitis harder to manage/ have possible negative side effects later in life? I would weigh his food and control any weight gain as matter of course but I am wondering if the benefits of neutering outweigh the risks in his case?

    In the list of possible risk factors for precipitating pancreatitis surgery or trauma is also mentioned.

    Thanks

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th August 2021 at 3:47 pm - Reply

      Hi Nina, thanks for getting in touch and I’m sorry to hear that your boy has pancreatitis it is such a frustrating and often difficult condition to control.
      Certainly the surgery and anaesthetic could result in a serious flare up and is a real risk to consider.
      If he is generally a happy and confident dog then potentially the behavioural risk of castration would be limited. But there are also very limited health benefits and yes may make it slightly harder to manage his pancreatitis long term.
      I certainly wouldn’t be rushing into surgery for him. If you really wanted to go down that route I would discuss surgical castration with your vet as a trial.

  56. Alexandra Tzvetanova 18th April 2021 at 9:13 am - Reply

    Dear Dr. Katie, I would really appreciate your advice on the case with my 11 year old Spaniel – Few days ago, I found a small lump on one of the front legs, right above the elbow joint and after all the tests, the vet said it’s a mastocytoma and it should be surgically removed. The vet also wants to neuter him, as they are going to do the anesthesia anyway. But this is not connected to the mastocytoma and it is just a precaution. So, I am wondering if this is needed? My dog has epilepsy, as well. Can the castration somehow make the epilepsy worse or it’s not related? I really can’t take the decision… Thank you!

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th August 2021 at 3:36 pm - Reply

      Hi Alexandra, I hope you’re dog is doing well? I hope the lump has been removed without issue. It is always a difficult decision whether or not to castrate but also the anaesthetic risk. Ideally we have as short as possible but also want to limit the number of them especially with his other health concerns. Honestly if he’s got to 11 years without having an issue with his testicles there is a good chance he would never need them removed!
      It also increases his recovery time having two surgeries at the same time, personally I wouldn’t do it but if there are any other concerns with prostate then it might be best to have it all done in one go.

  57. Tony 27th April 2021 at 12:09 pm - Reply

    So reassuring to read this! Backs up what my vet has told me, but goes against all the doggy knowledge in the park!

    My Jack is generally very confident and well socialised, just turned 1 last week . He has however become aware of girl dogs in the last couple of months, especially after our neighbour’s pup had her first season. We have no problems with him humping at home, or marking. He is generally playful, so recall can be suspect if another dog wants to play. He can be humpy with other dogs, in a dominance way I believe, but with female dogs there is a determined effort to follow them and climb aboard. Regardless of whether they are spayed or not. Will this decrease as he matures (at the moment I guess he is in his pubescent teenage!) and I can attempt to control through more training, or should I be considering neutering if he doesn’t calm down around female dogs

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th August 2021 at 3:40 pm - Reply

      Hi Tony, thank you! And I’m so glad your vet is up to date with the science around castration. It sounds like he is being quite a normal teenager and if you’re not having lots of mess at home with marking etc then it doesn’t sound too much of a hormonal issue. If he’s trying to jump on all dogs, not just girls in season, then he is just generally excited (not sexually driven) and so castration wouldn’t necessarily help at all!
      And the recall is definitely a training issue – it usually takes a dip when they are teenagers so just protect him to prevent him from learning that ignoring you is fun! I recommend a long line until he’s able to think a bit more clearly again!

  58. Elizabeth Percy 29th April 2021 at 5:13 pm - Reply

    I have two young Jack Russell Terriers and I am considering neuter. Finn the boy is 1 year and intact and Lola the girl is 5 months and intact. Soon I am going to have a problem separating them. They are totally inseparable and have been since Lola arrived. I am thinking it might be kinder to neuter them as they will be very unhappy and frustrated being kept apart when of course they are going to want to mate. Also i wonder if it is cruel to keep a dog who will have the sexual desires if you are not going to allow them to be fulfilled?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th August 2021 at 4:08 pm - Reply

      Hi Elizabeth, thanks for getting in touch. Yes when you have two entire opposite sex dogs in the same household neutering one is a good idea. As they are small breeds the risk/benefit of spaying your girl would be in favour for having her done and leaving your boy entire (check out our blog on neutering in girls). It also prevents unwanted pups straight away, whereas if you castrate your boy and she is in season you’d have to have them separated for at least six weeks as in that time he may still be able to impregnate her in this time.

  59. Amanda smith 7th May 2021 at 9:40 am - Reply

    Hi,
    Thank you for this informative information.
    We have a 15 month whippet who is so loving in nature and is very confident. He loves to play and plays well with most other dogs too. However recently he has tried to assert his dominance over similar aged dogs woth lots of aggressive sounding barking.
    I practice positive reinforcement by rewarding him when he walks nicely past a dog or says hello nicely, but its very unpredictable whether he’s going to like a dog or not at the moment.
    He can probably also sense my anxiety of not know what his reaction might be.
    I want to let him say hello as its good for his socialisation but also don’t want to escalate anything.
    Do you think its his age and is likely to settle down in time? I have discussed castration with my vet and they too have said it may but may not help and so is really up to us.
    I’m feeling confused by reading many different articles and so unsure of what is right for my lovely boy.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th August 2021 at 4:11 pm - Reply

      Hi Amanda, thanks for getting in touch and I’m sorry to hear your boy is struggling. From what you described castration would not help. It is also important to understand dog behaviour and that he is not trying to dominate anyone (check out our online Portal for the course Understanding Your Dog which goes into all of this in detail).
      Working with a qualified behaviour would be a much better use of your money instead of surgery!

  60. Dolly 10th May 2021 at 5:51 pm - Reply

    Hi,
    We have our lovely ever cavapoo Chouquette which is 1 year old next month, he is my sweetest baby boy and he’s very loving and playful and attached to the family. My partner never wanted to have him neutered at the beginning and I had the opposite thoughts. However after meeting few neutered dog owners he has changed his mind as we were told castrations reduced some health issues from dogs etc. Other reasons come from Chouquette are he’s in humping season where he jumps toys, pillows, other dogs(but male dogs mostly neutered or not). He like sniffing them first and some dogs get aggressively barking back but Chouquette would do it again . We had to always keep an eye on him just in case the other dogs are not castrated female dogs. Other thing is Chouquette is barking quite bad since this year, he would bark at sudden scream or noise from kids which is understandable, bark at people approaching us ( waiters come to our table), noise from the building etc,,, he wouldn’t stopped if when tried to educate him in some way.. after reading the article I’m really starting to thing if castration is the cure to these issues he has, also he is a very anxious dog, like he has separation anxiety, he’s alerted to strangers, he has to follow us everywhere even from a room to another, etc. I’m not sure if he’s low confident but when there is a dog aggressively barking at him or trying to chase him he doesn’t bark back or run away from them. What do you think the best option is? Thanks

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th August 2021 at 4:13 pm - Reply

      Hi Dolly, thanks for getting in touch. It sounds like Chouquette is struggling a bit with anxiety and therefore castration could make his behaviour worse. Also at his age there are more health risks castrating him rather than leaving him entire. For health we would only recommend it in some cases and always over the age of 5 years. Otherwise I recommend working with a qualified behaviourist to help him with his behaviour, best of luck with him.

  61. Pauline 12th June 2021 at 6:35 pm - Reply

    So I’m after a bit of advise, please. My boy, Max, is a 16 months miniature schnauzer. We’ve not had him castrated and wanted to stud him as up until recently he had a wonderful temperament etc. Since getting him as a pup of 8 weeks, he’s always been highly sociable and confident around every dog, good off lead even though he wants to run to say hello to every dog he sees. However, about 3 months ago now he has gradually become more reactive on his lead, barking and trying to lunge at other dogs when they are close, stopping dead on his lead and barking at dogs further away. In the last month he has started to be reactive off lead too; not to every single dog but certainly to some and I think these are more male dogs than female. He will get aggressive by barking, try to jump onto them and dominate them, even if the other dog is a friendly Labrador which approaches him with a waggy tail and a smile. When he goes to doggy day care they have found him to get aggressive around certain male dogs too and have had to move him or give him time out on his own. So, my question is this: should I get him castrated rather than stud him? Is it just a phase as he is an adolescent dog? If I leave it and stud him for a few months/year, will his reactivity/behaviour get worse – I don’t want him to become aggressive and never be able to go off lead – he naturally has always wanted to be with other dogs. Any thoughts or experience you’ve had is gratefully received.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th August 2021 at 4:16 pm - Reply

      Hi Pauline, thanks for getting in touch. It’s great he was such a happy confident pup. The fact that he goes to doggy day care is a huge risk factor for developing difficulties around other dogs. Even the best run facility it is very difficult to ensure appropriate interactions at all times.
      His behaviour will absolutely not be aided by castration. But at his current behaviour I also wouldnt recommend studding him as he is likely to pass on his current anxieties to his pups. Instead I’d recommend working with a qualified behaviourist to help him get back to the happy pup he was.

  62. Kirsty Cope 12th July 2021 at 8:13 pm - Reply

    Hi got a 1 year old staffy blue very loving does growl sometimes at other dogs and people if being told off . Very hyperactive round people jumping up. He does hump his bed now and again. Would you think castration would be good for him .

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th August 2021 at 3:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Kirsty, thanks for getting in touch. I’m sorry to hear your boy is finding somethings tough. He certainly sounds a little worried and castration would be extremely likely to make all these behaviours worse.
      Instead I recommend talking to your vet about the possibility that he could be in pain and ask for a referral to a qualified behaviourist.

  63. Kathryn 13th July 2021 at 10:52 am - Reply

    Hi there
    We have a 10 month old male Jack Russell. He is a lovely dog and pretty chilled most of the time. He loves to play fight with his dog cousins and can sometimes be a bit aggressive – i.e. he doesn’t let up and occasionally they end up growling at each other. Despite his small size, he is generally a dominant dog against other dogs who roll over etc. At home he is quite chilled but recently a cat got in the house, and he went nuts, and ever since wants to patrol the small garden and runs out and barks to defend his patch. I am so undecided about whether to get him castrated or not. He shows typical Jack Russell ‘scrappy-do’ aggression but otherwise he is very good with other dogs in the park and with children and people. He can occasionally growl at my kids if they try and move him somewhere he doesn’t want to be moved to. Do you think castration will take the edge off the more aggressive side of his nature, or is there a risk it could make it worse? That would be the only reason we do it, as there is no risk of him straying where we live, and I can see the risk of testicular cancers etc are low.
    Thanks
    Kathryn

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th August 2021 at 4:24 pm - Reply

      Hi Kathryn, thanks for getting in touch. For the problems you list there is going to be no benefit in castrating him. He is a terrier wanting to catch small furry things! Working on his frustration drive and giving him an outlet are your best bet. Castration would be relatively high risk if there is already any growling around children and I would not recommend it. There is also some evidence that castration can increase the risk of prostate cancer and that is much more serious than testicular cancer!

  64. Jackie 15th July 2021 at 8:45 am - Reply

    Hi, we have an 11 month Cavapoo and 6 month Cockapoo. We are considering chemical castration for our Cavapoo but just so unsure. When we are out he is very intrusive with his sniffing to the point he won’t leave other dogs alone at times, he can be a bit of a nightmare. If he smells a bitch he’s bounded off, no recall will work and he’s attempted to mount at times. Both our dogs relationship has been pretty good and they are both playful but we have noticed just recently our Cavapoo has been quiet domineering over treats and has slightly snapped or snarled at our other dog but nothing more than that. Would castration be the answer settle him down.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th August 2021 at 4:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Jackie, thanks for getting in touch. It sounds like your Cavapoo is finding things a bit difficult at the moment. The snappiness is very likely to be made worse via castration and his intense sniffing of dogs other than girls in season is also usually driven through anxiety and would therefore worsen with castration. I really recommend talking to your vet for a referral to a qualified behaviourist and avoiding castration.

  65. Simon Hayward 15th July 2021 at 1:45 pm - Reply

    Hi, we have a 7 year old Parsons Terrier (who we took as a rescue 6 years ago). Up until January this year he was fine but then we lost our other dog and he has really missed her. Since then he has started getting aggressive towards both me and my wife but much more towards my wife, most of the day he is fine but in the evenings & at night you sometimes only have to look at him and he starts growling & snarling but still come up to us wagging his tail at the same time. He has shown no aggression towards anyone else. He is a very nervous dog and always runs away if another dog growls at him and if he hears thunder, fireworks or sometimes even someone just banging a car door he starts shaking with fear. Our vets said that it sound like he is trying to become dominant in our house since our other dog went and that castration would be a good option. However, after reading what you have said I would be worried that if we had him done it could make his nervousness worse. The only time he humps anything is when we are about to go for a walk and he gets really excited and humps his bed and cushion.
    We are very confused as to what to do and would really appreciate any advice that you can give.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th August 2021 at 4:26 pm - Reply

      Hi Simon, thanks for getting in touch. I’m sorry you lost your other dog and that he has found it so difficult. Any growling and snarling will get worse with castration. Dogs do not understand “dominance” in this sense and he is absolutely not trying to control you. He sounds very worried and with his age there is a very good chance this is actually pain driven. Did you know 80% of dogs at age 8years should be on pain relief for arthritis?
      Even the humping is going to be anxiety rather than sexually driven. I recommend asking your vet for a pain relief trial and referral to a qualified behaviourist.

  66. Jenny 2nd August 2021 at 9:36 am - Reply

    Hi, I have kept my 4 year old male black labrador intact so far. I decided when I got him as a puppy that I would wait until he was fully adult (18 months – 2 years) before considering neutering and as he proved to be quite submissive it felt better to keep him intact past that point. He has definitely gained in confidence and will stand his ground when challenged but not become aggressive in turn, but I don’t know how much of that is just down to experience and becoming an adult. I read up on the pros and cons of neutering and feel that health wise for him intact seems better. I have had no problems with issues like marking in the house (he house-trained really quickly, helped that his breeder had started training before I had him), roaming or seeking out females in heat. I have had him off leash walking, met an owner whose female was in season and although interested he has not been a problem in keeping control, leashing and leading away. He is however a very energetic dog when out (walked off leash with a ball to fetch and carry, also loves to swim) and seems hyper excited (he is fine in the house). He pulls strongly when on lead, so I use a head collar for leash walking (rare). I wonder if his activity/energy levels are affected by testosterone? I wouldn’t consider neutering on that basis, but I am curious.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th August 2021 at 4:29 pm - Reply

      Hi Jenny, thanks for getting in touch. It’s great that he is such a happy confident dog! There isn’t really any studies I know of showing energy levels between castrated and entire dogs but anecdotally and in other species this is not something that we see. He is likely a very clever dog and you could try tiring him through mental stimulation including chewing for a few hours a day and that will make a difference. I doubt castration would change anything there (lots of working dogs are castrated and can still work for 8+ hours a day just as easily as entire dogs!)

  67. Jane Harton 6th August 2021 at 9:38 am - Reply

    Hi. Fantastic article. I have a 10 month old Cocker Spaniel, due to locldown he was never really socialised as a small pup. He is very loving in the home, but is beginning to show real signs of aggression with the family members. What starts out as play usually ends up with him biting HARD! He barks at strangers and will try to bit if they come too close. He is very nervous around strangers and again will try to bit if they interact with him. He has no interest in other dogs whether they be male or female and seems to not enjoy going out for walks and would rather just play with us in the garden. My groomer advises castration before his agression becomes worse. Please advise.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 7th August 2021 at 9:25 am - Reply

      Hi, thanks Jane! I’m sorry to hear your pup is finding things difficult, you describe a dog who is a bit worried and definitely needs more confidence. Castrating him would reduce his confidence further and very likely make things worse. Instead I’d recommend talking to your vet for a behavioural referral. Very best, Dr Katie

  68. Kat 14th August 2021 at 2:22 pm - Reply

    Hello, this such a good article! I have a 10 month border terrier and I’m trying to figure out if neutering is the right thing to do. He is excessively marking after other dogs – a friend of mine has a 3 old French bulldog (neutered) and my dog is so obsessed with his smell – he would mark the spot where the other dog had lied and would try to hump him or obsessively lick his private parts. Initially, he has been obsessively licking the private parts of female dogs and I thought but now he does the same with male dogs that let him. I’ve been trying to distract him with a squeaky toy or with food but it doesn’t help and seems to get worse. I now keep him on the lead around other dogs so that I can stop him when the sniffing/ licking gets obsessive. He was a very easy to train puppy and even now without distractions (other dogs) he is very good at most commands. I don’t think he has confidence issues – he is very friendly with both people and other dogs – since puppy he would try to approach any dog regardless of size and age. My vet advices an obedience training. I spoke to another vet and some dog sitters and they say it’s testosterone driven behaviour and castration would help. Please, advise.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 16th August 2021 at 5:22 pm - Reply

      Thanks for getting in touch Kat. It’s great he’s nice and confident so if you do go down the route of castration then it should hopefully have limited negative impact. But the obsessive licking and marking can be a sign of anxiety and if it is to all dogs then it is much less likely to be testosterone driven. Managing his interactions with other dogs, such as putting him on the lead to prevent it, is definitely a good idea. You could discuss chemical castration with your vets to see how he responds. If it is testosterone driven it should improve dramatically and very quickly. If not then it could make this and other behaviours worse, but would at least be only temporary.
      But ideally first talking to a qualified behaviourist who could see him in action would then be able to give you more information on whether they suspect it is hormonal or behavioural in origin.

  69. Caroline 2nd September 2021 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    Hi, my male entire cocker spaniel is just approaching 18 months which is the minimum age I was advised with regards to getting him castrated, even chemically. I would prefer not to have him done, and have done a lot of research on this since we got him, and the cons seem to outweigh the pros, but he does do a lot of marking and has on the odd occasion done it in a pet store and our neighbour’s house (they have dogs), but never in ours. I like the idea of taking him to a dog friendly pub but really worried he will cock his leg. Is there anything I can do to prevent this?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 2nd September 2021 at 2:04 pm - Reply

      Hi Caroline, yes certainly for most dogs the cons will outweigh the pros. Unfortunately marking can be intense and less than ideal in some social settings!
      There isn’t any training really as such that you can do to counteract this natural behaviour (and even if you castrated him now it would be unlikely to improve anyway).
      Encouraging emptying his bladder before going in places (teaching a cue to go to have a wee) means there will be less mess to clear up, but they always seem to keep enough in reserve!
      The other option is an incontinence pad (belly band) to pop on as you first go on, which will catch the urine when he marks and you can then take it off!

  70. Paul Swain 6th October 2021 at 3:08 pm - Reply

    Hi, my boy is 9 months old and we are have big problems with him. He ignores basic commands he learnt months ago, he’s still mouthing, gets way to excited we we come home. But the worst issue we have is with our other dog, he’s attacked him 4/5 times now, he’s never broken the skin on our other dog but we now have to keep them apart most of the time. He also barks at every sound when he’s at home, barks at new people coming in the home and on walks he is reactive to every dog he sees, to the point where I struggle to control him ( I’m 6ft 4 and 100kg). Any advice would be helpful because we are at our whits end and are contemplating giving him up which would be devastating but it’s not fair on our other dog.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 13th November 2021 at 3:10 pm - Reply

      Thanks for getting in touch Paul and I’m really sorry to hear you’re struggling so much with your pup. He is currently going through adolescence where dogs are shown to be less responsive and can be a completely normal deterioration to cues they previously knew. Castration has been shown to make this worse rather than better.
      The other behaviours of attacking your other dog and reacting to dogs on walks could be driven through fear and/or frustration and you will need a qualified behaviourist to help teach him other appropriate ways of coping in these situations. Castration would be extremely high risk to make these behaviours worse at this point.
      Adolescence is the most common time that dogs are rehomed as their behaviour can be much more difficult to manage but with appropriate help I hope he is able to stay as a part of your family.

  71. Charu Patel 14th October 2021 at 6:55 am - Reply

    Hello Dr. Katie,

    We have a 11 month old Labrador ( turned 11 months old today) and he was diagnosed with hip dysplasia when he turned 6 months old. We had a specialist see Buddy and as per his instructions we have managed his weight and his exercise. He was on pain killers for 21 days along with joint supplements and now he is just on joint supplements. He has diarrhea on and off until he was 8 months old, but with a mixture of wet and dry food he is fine now. He is allowed only 15 minutes of running, playing with other dogs and the rest is walking, sniffing for him. Buddy is a very confident dog and extremely friendly. Our Vet advised us to get him castrated once he was a year old and then Buddy will have to go through 2 surgeries so that his hips are sorted. When he turned 8 months old, he has got this excessive energy and we have got a dog sitter/trainer who day sits him for 2 days a week with a lot of stimulation and also has other compatible dogs with Buddy to train him how to behave with other dogs. I have concerns as off late Buddy is so energetic that when he is with the dog sitter, he does not sleep more then 45 minutes to 2 hours in the day and if there is another dog with him like yesterday, he did not sleep at all or let the other dog sleep and the sitter had to separate them, still Buddy did not rest as he was very hyper. Once he is back with us in the evening he sleeps and then the entire next day he is lethargic and sleeps even more. He was attacked by a dog as well in the park ( He wants to play with all the dogs) and though the owner and me handled the situation, what worried me was that Buddy whined a bit when I got him a bit far from the dog but then again wanted to go and play with him. I did not want to neuter Buddy at least until he was 2 years old so that he could develop, but then all of the above and most importantly his hip dysplasia is making me rethink especially when I can see that his instinct is not to show he is tired or in discomfort in order to extend his play time. Just right now, he was sleeping on the sofa and wanted to change his position and I could see that he was struggling to get up and change his position. From what I and our dog sitter has observed, he humps once in a while but once given the command to “STOP” he stops it right away. Off late when he is meeting other dogs – he usually wants to go right away and play with them, but has started to straight go for the genitals to get a sniff first. There have been other occasions when an older dog gives Buddy the signal to stop what he is doing, which Buddy does stop but then goes back to them to play. Any advise would really be appreciated.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 13th November 2021 at 3:21 pm - Reply

      Hi Charu, thanks for getting in touch and I’m so sorry about Buddy’s hips. It is so tough but great that you know about it so early so that you can do things to help such as all the management you have already put in place and his hip replacements to come. I would really suggest talking to your specialist vet before thinking about neutering him. Studies have shown that staying entire can significantly improve dysplasia by increased muscle mass stabilising the joint.
      He also has had a few tough interactions and the loss of confidence from his reduced testosterone could hit him quite hard, especially with his surgeries to come too.
      Snuffing the genitals is very normal and (surprisingly!) quite polite for dogs! This could be increased due to adolescence and some anxiety following his altercation with the other dog and is certainly not always a precursor to sexual behaviours.
      From the information you’ve given I would certainly be considering leaving him entire and continue your great management. If you haven’t already do check out Canine Arthritis Management for some great help understanding the disease process too.

  72. Michelle 16th November 2021 at 12:54 am - Reply

    Hi Dr. Kate,

    I have an almost 8 month old Cavapoo boy. He is the most loving and energetic pup!! I’m so torn about whether or not to neuter him, do a vasectomy or just leave him intact. He does not mark anything in the house, only does his usual marks on our walks. He does not hump anything any more (we had a snuggle pup when he was a young baby and he would hump that all the time. We decided to take it away from him about a month ago and the humping has stopped). His confidence with other dogs is so so, if he knows the dogs he loves to play. If they are new dogs to him, he will just hide by his mama or daddy until he feels comfortable. We have a 12 years old female dog at home and he plays with her just fine, no humping, no showing dominance over her, and she is the one that actually puts him in his place sometimes.

    I think my biggest concerns are:
    1. Will his personality change? I still want to have my loving boy that loves to cuddle all the time.
    2. All of the health cons if we keep him intact vs neuter, I don’t know what would outweigh the other.

    Thank you for an advise you can give.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 23rd November 2021 at 5:21 pm - Reply

      Hi Michelle, thanks for getting in touch it certainly sounds like he should be left entire at least for now. 8 months is very young to consider castration for any dog, and gives no health benefits compared to neutering once he is fully mature (2.5years minimum) and actually has some health risks done so young. Certainly the behavioural risks at this point would be quite high as he is already showing some signs of not being completely confident with other dogs and this could get much worse.
      Dominance as in “dominating your other dog” doesn’t actually exist in dogs and has been completely disproven now so that isn’t something you need to worry about! If she is “putting him in his place” this will likely reduce his confidence further and managing their relationship and protecting him and her from each other (young dogs and older dogs have very different ideas of a good time!) will ensure everyone has a better time!
      Oh and vasectomy is only a benefit if it is difficult for you to keep him away from entire females in heat – it doesn’t affect him at all except there is stress from the procedure and recovery itself.

  73. Natalie 19th November 2021 at 5:02 pm - Reply

    Hi, we have a 15 month old male sprocker, he is full of energy, happy, friendly with everyone and has the nicest nature to all he meets. He is also very lively, does jump up at times (at a few people who have allowed it in the past). With other dogs, he’s well socialised, often goes to say hello (& sniff) either walks away or tries to get them to play and chase them. He went through a stage of humping his bed a few months ago but that has stopped and he doesn’t lead his scent indoors. A couple of our big issues are that he pulls on the lead, we have tried dog training, relentlessly for several months I have given in and now use the halti which works well for on lead walks. Off lead walks he does run and run and can often go sniffing but for rabbits and squirrels and can go quite a distance which is the biggest worry but when you call he does come back and rarely out of sight for long. The long runs and pulling are the main areas where we struggle would castration help in these situations?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 23rd November 2021 at 5:33 pm - Reply

      Hi Natalie, thanks for getting in touch and it’s great you have a happy confident boy! But the short answer is no castration won’t help with any of the issues you’ve listed. It is going to much more about giving him appropriate outlets for his hunting drive and force free training. The halti looks like it “works” but actually only prevents pulling by hurting dogs and I would really recommend not using it and instead teach him that not pulling is more worthwhile!

  74. daniel 31st January 2022 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    Our boy lab is 20 months old and intact, the last couple of months he’s become quite dominant/aggressive with dogs in the area he doesn’t know especially when on lead.
    dogs he does know when off lead he is fine but when on lead he gets quite aggressive towards them, only the one dog out of many i might add.

    If we go somewhere different for a walk he has very little interest in any dog he comes across.

    Would castration help reduce this dominance?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 2nd February 2022 at 1:45 pm - Reply

      Hi Daniel, thanks for getting in touch and I’m sorry to hear your lab is struggling. Actually dominance in dogs as you’re using it has been disproven by the scientific community. It is much more likely that the behaviour you’re describing is driven through frustration.
      As it is not driven through testosterone it means that castration won’t help, but it could certainly make things worse. I’d strongly recommend seeking the help of a qualified behaviourist instead!

  75. Elizabeth 27th February 2022 at 6:39 am - Reply

    Hi Dr Katie,

    I have a 7 months male maltese shitzu, he has an amazing personality, we have had excellent feedback from his doggy day care but according to the law (in Australia) he must be desexed to continue in puppy day care. He’s confident with small puppies and his confidence with large ones is improving, he has a lovely personality and is always full of energy and ready to play. he’s marking territory just when we take him for walks and he’s being trying to hump our legs and other dogs in the day care. this morning he was humping a pillow and had his first ejaculation. Doing my research, I’ve found an study from the University of Davis California, which says it’s safe to desex this breed at any stage. However, I don’t want to have any change in his personallity or make the wrong decision.

    Another concern is that he wont be able to come back to the day dare if he’s not desexed, Which i’m afraid can be frustrating for him, because he has so much fun with other dogs and trainers.

    If he has already had an ejaculation, would this affect the neutering ? is 7 months a safe age to desex him or should I wait and avoid day care for now?

    Thanks for your help

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 28th February 2022 at 10:19 am - Reply

      Hi Elizabeth, thanks for getting in touch. That’s great you’ve got such a happy confident boy. It does mean that any negative impact from a castration would be limited if he is very confident, but 7 months is still extremely early for surgery.
      Humping people, dogs not in season and objects such as cushions is usually down to too much emotional arousal and not driven through sexual arousal (which should only be aimed at girls in season). It can become a learnt behaviour if ejaculation is occurring.
      Day care is usually an extremely over arousing environment for most dogs and can lead to frustration driven behaviours in all aspects of their lives. So a break for now, to give you a chance to assess him at lower arousal, might be best. Even a few more months would allow him to physically mature more and begin adolescence, both of which would ideally happen before castrating him to avoid negative side effects.

  76. Connie 1st March 2022 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    Hey!
    So I have a one year old Pomchi who we “rescued” but it was from a good home at about 8 months. He is the sweetest boy to people, kids and other animals. When we first got him he would bark at any dog he saw and he just wanted to play so after training he got a lot better until recently. I’d say the last month when he see’s dogs his ears are painted on he goes up has a sniff and then if it’s a bitch will try and Mount but we don’t give him enough time with them to really know if he’s playing or being serious. We thought it would be beneficial to get him socialised in a doggy daycare so we put him in for a couple hours. The owner said his confidence is sky high and he try’s to “protect” the girls he likes and although he’s not actually hurting the dogs he’s telling off, the owner thinks it could become learned behaviour and that because he is so small a big dog would do a lot of damage. He recommended neutering and we were actually going to get him done when we first got him but the vet kind of talked us out of it and now this guy is talking us back into it and we’re wanting to do the best thing for our wee man! Any help appreciated!!!

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 4th May 2022 at 1:34 pm - Reply

      Hi Connie,

      Thanks for getting in touch. So most important is to work out what’s behind his sudden deterioration in his behaviour. It could be he had a proper scent of a girl in season, but it could be emotionally driven such as through pain or fear following an interaction or association. If it’s the later then castration could certainly make things worse.
      If he’s practicing the behaviour at day care it is very likely to get worse so I would recommend moving him out of that setting and working with a qualified behaviourist before opting for surgery!

  77. Dalia 2nd March 2022 at 10:11 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie,
    I’m very glad to find your article. I have an 11 month old cocker spaniel. Several months ago our vet pointed out he got only one testicle that dropped. She suggested we wait couple months and if nothing happens, castration. Is there any chance the second testicle will descend as he matures? Is the surgery the only way for him? He is very curious and friendly dog, no aggression, sometimes submissive with more aggressive dogs but less so lately. He is interested in all dogs- male and female, but haven’t seen him trying to hump them. He often humps his bed but most likely out of general excitement. He also sniffs and marks every second tree while on a walk. I’m worried how will the surgery, if it’s unavoidable for health reasons, affect his personality. Also, should I wait till he’s more mature or consider surgery now?
    Thank you for your help!

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 4th May 2022 at 1:38 pm - Reply

      Hi Dalia, thanks for getting in touch, it’s great you’re considering all the options for your boy!
      If his second testicle hasn’t dropped by now it is extremely unlikely to now and as I’m sure your vets have gone through leaving it retained significantly increases his risk of cancer.
      For cases such as this where there is any anxiety (being “submissive” around other dogs) castration could be detrimental for behaviour.
      So now I would recommend surgery to remove the remaining testicle only. Some vets are concerned about this in case he lived with anyone else at some point and they didn’t know so might book him for surgery to remove something which has already been removed! So to put their minds at ease you can put a note on his microchip details to say that one testicle has been removed!

  78. Simon Gittins 8th March 2022 at 9:54 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr Katie,

    We have a 19 month old Cockerpoo boy and he’s so super loving. He has the best personality, great recall and will happily play with dogs but he’s more obsessed with his ball so if we show him a ball he’ll instantly come back to us no matter what.

    We’re really concerned behaviour may change after being castrated. He’s not aggressive towards other dogs and so far other males haven’t been aggressive towards him.

    He marks his territory when out and once he did in a pet shop and in our daughters house, she has a castrated cockapoo, however not in pubs on holiday where other dogs have been.

    Our only consideration for castration would be for older age testicular cancer or other diseases. Our minds our just about made up but our heads are battered after reading so many articles. We really want to get this right for our boy despite our own vet just having a blanket ‘neuter all dogs’ approach. Do you think we should just leave him intact for now or possibly altogether? Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 4th May 2022 at 2:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Simon, thanks for getting in touch and it’s great you’re putting so much consideration into what is actually a huge decision but so many don’t think twice about!

      It’s great your boy is so happy and you have no reasons he doesn’t need testosterone so there is certainly no need to rush a castration.

      More evidence is coming to light that early castration can increase risks of arthritis as well as bone cancer. Where as testicular cancer is so low risk, easy to monitor and easier to treat than bone cancer.

      It is also a disease of older dogs so you can delay castration for five or even more years before he would be higher risk for testicular cancer, you can also check him regularly and go to your vets if you notice any lumps! But from your description keeping him entire is going to be lower risk than castration at this point!

  79. Andy 10th March 2022 at 9:39 am - Reply

    This is such a well written, balanced and fair post, thank you so much. My question, I have a wonderful 25 month old intact Am Bully, the sweetest dog. That being said he does display extreme marking and is quite dominant with other dogs. As a firm owner it is relatively easy for me to manage.

    However my question is, does being in tact and not actually using them make the dog unhappy? Does this cause frustration? I noticed more recently he has started to howl. I always get told to breed my dog as he has great lines and is stunning, but his happiness is my priority not money.

    Thanks so much

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 4th May 2022 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      Thanks for a great question Andy. Yes some dogs can get frustrated if they have a high drive to mate. They can become very extreme and even go completely anorexic because they are so stressed. These dogs usually do require castration for their welfare and quality of life.

      But actually most dogs can live their life not too aware. We work with a lot of entire dogs who can easily work around girls in season.

      If dogs are used for mating their expectations will usually increase and they are more likely to struggle and get frustrated when they can’t, so do consider that when thinking of breeding from him, he’s less likely to miss what he doesn’t know!

  80. Jel 28th March 2022 at 3:27 pm - Reply

    Hello.
    I when an 18 month old American Akita. He is very friendly with people and female dogs. With male dogs it really is pick and choose, so I keep him away from males due to the possible outcome and he’s never been off lead when in public.
    He is very confident an Alpha I’d say but he’s problem is he has one descended testicle in he’s abdomen and we have been advised to get him castrated via key hole surgery. What is your outcome on this?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 4th May 2022 at 1:56 pm - Reply

      Hi Jel, thanks for getting in touch. Yes if he has a retained testicle that one should be removed as it is very high risk to turn cancerous. But you can always talk to your vet about leaving the normal one in place to manage his testosterone levels.

      I also recommend checking out our online learning course which goes into detail disproving the alpha theory, to help you understand him more!

  81. Alessandra 29th March 2022 at 11:15 pm - Reply

    Hi Dr. Katie,

    Hello, I’m very undecided about castration. I have a 9 yr old Chihuahua mix. He is so loving and sweet most of the time and only marks when we leave him alone in the house. He has never been very friendly with other dogs, but he’s not aggressive towards them. He’s just not very playful around new dogs, especially other male dogs. He is a really happy and loving dog, but in certain moments he has some aggressive attitudes. For example, if he doesn’t want to go outside, he will growl. He communicates very clearly about what he doesn’t want to do. However, over the years the growls have escalated into snaps and even bites. We know what things he doesn’t like and try to avoid them, and if he starts growling, we leave him alone. However, when we have guests, it is hard to explain what things they should avoid, he has bitten several friends and family, for instance. Even people he knows.

    I’ve been told that castrating him might help, but as it is not certain, I haven’t made the decision yet. We also struggle to maintain his weight, and I know that the surgery wouldn’t help.

    If castration is the answer, then we are happy to proceed. If it’s not, what would you recommend I do?

    Thank you very much for your help.
    Alessandra

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 19th April 2022 at 2:20 pm - Reply

      Hi Alessandra, thanks for getting in touch and I’m sorry you’re finding things difficult with your boy. It can be so hard when others don’t understand them like you do!

      Castration is extremely unlikely to help in this case and would certainly risk making things worse. If things have escalated in the last few years I would strongly recommend a pain relief trial as with his age it is very likely he has some arthritic changes which would make him grouchier (80% of behaviour cases are actually medical and most of them are in some pain!). Alongside that I recommend seeking help from a qualified behaviourist as it sounds like he is finding some things tough and having some help to teach him that these things are not threatening will make life easier for all of you.

  82. Rebecca 10th April 2022 at 10:33 pm - Reply

    Hi! My dog is 2 years a gsp. We are thinking of having him done? Generally he has great recall, but recently seems distracted by other smells and takes longer to come back. Seems interested in females when on heat, and can become heavily distracted by this, pumped up, whining and generally not knowing what to do with himself, sometimes even not eating.
    We are worried that when off lead he may go to far and find another female who is on heat and try to mount her? Ralph does not hump toys or people and sometimes during play with mount other dogs, but this is not sexually.
    On walks he constantly smells, and marks.
    What are your thoughts on this?? Could it help Ralph? We are so worried it will change him, his personality and put him through lots of stress but equally we don’t want to find ourselves in a mess or walks become stressful!

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 4th May 2022 at 1:58 pm - Reply

      Hi Rebecca, thanks for getting in touch. It does sound like he could be one of the few dogs who struggles to cope around other dogs in season. It can affect them and totally stop them eating in some cases. Unfortunately in those cases surgery is usually the best option. But you could discuss doing a trial with the chip implant for chemical castration first to monitor the effect on him? If he is otherwise a happy confident dog the negative effects on him should be quite limited, and he’ll be happier than if he is getting depressed about not having access to girls!

  83. Juliette 29th April 2022 at 9:18 am - Reply

    Hi Dr Katie,

    I would be interested in your view about neutering my 8 month old puppy. As you’ll appreciate from what I describe below, I have a very complex puppy and a lot on my plate and advice from professionals varies and as a non-professional living through all this it is sometimes difficult to know who’s advice to follow – you seem well informed with the current scientific research and have an balanced and informed view.

    My new miniature schnauzer joined us a 8 weeks, by 11 weeks I noticed life was harder work than it should be, at 13 weeks we had our first reactive bark and then things escalated week on week from there. At 17 weeks he was diagnosed with reactivity (not towards dogs, but people and lots of other things), noise sensitivity, extreme separation anxiety, frustration and fear based anxiety. The last six months have not been a joy, but stressful, isolating and such hard work and whilst we love him to bits, his future remains uncertain, as it is currently impossible to have any kind of normal life.

    In addition to the issues above, he has been a full-on puppy, with every possible puppy behaviour exhibited on full power. Things on this front have started to calm in the last month or so, thankfully. However after being tortured continuously but puppy teeth, our puppy is now very confident at using his adult teeth to tell you he doesn’t want something, is not happy with something or in response to the distress he feels when he reacts or reaches his threshold.

    In terms of neutering I had planned to wait until he was about 18 months to allow him to emotionally mature fully, based on the most up to update to date research. However due to his confidence with his mouth, the vet has suggested that it’s time to ‘whip them off’. Given my puppy’s issues, whilst tempting, I’m conflicted. Advice very welcome.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 4th May 2022 at 2:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Juliette, thanks for getting in touch and I’m so sorry your time with your pup has been so tough on all of you.

      Absolutely none of the behaviours you have listed are driven through testosterone and instead it sounds like you have a frustrated anxious little boy who would be extremely high risk for getting significantly worse with castration.

      I would recommend seeking help from a qualified veterinary behaviourist. Did you know 80% of dogs with behavioural concerns are actually primarily medical cases, we see pain and allergy cases especially in young dogs who are struggling. Unless this medical aspect is resolved the training won’t work. But castration could certainly make things much worse and has absolutely no scientific evidence for helping in your case.

  84. Linda 21st July 2022 at 9:37 am - Reply

    Dr Katie I am so glad I came across your site. it has helped me make an important decision. My Shepweiller Rottie/GSD is almost 2 years old and was diagnosed with bi lateral elbow dysplasia FCP at 9 months and operated on at 11 months. It has been really successful and he has not limped since before the op. I have held off having him neutered as I wanted to make sure his bones are strong. He is generally a very happy but boisterous dog but over the last few months he has been getting into altercations with mostly intact dogs. Not serious ones but the kind were the dogs are are being aggressive but not actually touching each other. He also fixates on all dogs when we are out walking and his recall is not 100%. The reasons I was thinking of having him neutered were: The interest in others dogs and the aggression with other intact males. My worries are that although not an overly anxious dog he can get anxious fixation and this could actually get worse., also his bone health. I was going to start the process of having him neutered but after reading your advice I am thinking of delaying it or not having it done at all. Given his high risk of arthritis what do you think I should do?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 7th August 2022 at 2:08 pm - Reply

      Hi Linda, thanks for getting in touch and I think it’s great you’re looking for all the information to make the best decision for your boy.
      As with any case we can always decide down the line to castrate but we can’t undo the surgery! So if we have any concerns I would recommend waiting.
      He is still very young from a bone perspective and especially with his history.
      Most intact dogs can interact well with other entire dogs although may find it difficult around a bitch in season, so it could be a temporary issue with other entire males. If there is any anxiety on his part though this could escalate further with castration.
      If things are manageable now I would wait, and then if you still want to go ahead would consider chemical castration initially to monitor for any changes in his behaviour.

  85. Diane Morgan 24th July 2022 at 7:46 pm - Reply

    I have a 22 month old rescue dog who is very nervous. We got him at 6 months but it has been a long hard slog to get him where he is today. He is nervous of some dogs and quite bold with others. Our issue is that he is very wary of people and will still growl or air snap at male members of our household if he is startled by them or if they enter a room where I am sitting. He takes treats from a few people outside of our family but will not let anyone stroke him. He will back off and bark at them.
    The vet and behaviourist advised against castration for now but would he benefit from it at all in the future? I only issue outside with him is not having recall and off lead dogs running up to him. If he is offlead in a secure field he seldom gets into bother unless it’s with another uncastrated dog or a female on heat.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 7th August 2022 at 2:17 pm - Reply

      Hi Diane, thanks for getting in touch and congratulations on helping your boy make so much progress already.
      Unless he is only running off to actively mate with a bitch it is extremely unlikely that recall will improve his recall and instead active management (to prevent mistakes) and conditioning a strong recall will help.
      His fear with humans is likely to impact all of your lives more if it escalates (which is high risk with castration) compared to any possible improvement around other dogs from castration? So I would recommend working with your vet and behaviourist to reduce his fear further and then castration may no longer have any risks for him.

  86. Pia 5th August 2022 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Hello,
    So reassuring to read.
    I have a 15 months old male which I got from a rescue and needed to agree to neuter him when old enough.
    Reading up on all this, I think it might not be the right thing to do.
    He is well trained (for his age) and confident, he also doesn’t show any of the negative aspects and population control is not really an issue (as he is under control, mine, or worse, my old female Shepard bitch, who is spayed).
    I think it is too early to neuter him, and am wondering if castration might have an impact on his sport performance (he is training for agility and bikejoering, and I hope to compete with him).
    Also, would neutering him improve the behaviour of my old bitch, who does get into fights with him whenever he wants to say hello to anotaying hellor dog out on a walk. She does not approve of him saying hello to any dog, while he is a very friendly, outgoing chap. Those encountered are generally just a quick sniff, or some off lead play.
    Thanks

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 7th August 2022 at 2:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Pia, thanks for getting in touch. Yes it is very difficult with rescues asking for castration, often very young, but they are seeing so many pets abandoned that I can understand their drive for population control.
      But the people who are considering all the evidence around neutering are the ones who will manage their dogs appropriately to avoid any inappropriate breeding.
      It’s great that your boy is doing well but the benefits to him, especially if he’s young, in castrating him are just not enough to justify surgery.
      It sounds like your girl might need some help as continued episodes like you describe could influence your boy’s behaviour too and it doesn’t sound like either of them are enjoying it. Castrating him is extremely unlikely to alter her behaviour except to possibly find him harder if he becomes more anxious.

  87. Cathy 18th August 2022 at 7:15 pm - Reply

    I have an 11 month Cocker spaniel. Is has been a little nervous around new people since we got him. He is very friendly once he feels comfortable with the person. He has always been good with other dogs. Very friendly and wants to play. In the last couple of months he has tried to mount female dogs and also male dogs. He has a very poor recall while off lead as he is completely obsessed with smells and seeking other dogs. My trainer advised that neutering may help him concentrate better. He was recently attacked by another male dog and now gets very defensive by growling and barking at other dogs he meets. Do you recommend neutering for him?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 18th August 2022 at 10:48 pm - Reply

      Hi Cathy, thanks for getting in touch. His nervousness, defensiveness and young age would all be high risk for castration.
      His mounting behaviour, as it isn’t only bitches in season, is unlikely to be testosterone driven and therefore won’t necessarily go away with castration.
      And hunting and scenting is normal – it’s what he’s been bred for! Castration has no real affect on this either, instead you need to build self control and give him appropriate seeking activities.
      Overall there is likely to be no benefits to castration but very high risk from the information you’ve given.

  88. Cathy 19th August 2022 at 12:26 am - Reply

    Thank you for your reply. This is very helpful information

  89. Zoe 25th August 2022 at 8:43 pm - Reply

    Hi,

    We have a 5 year old male Cockapoo who is still intact. He’s a lovely dog and very obedient at home. No marking or anything like that in house. Will bark if someone comes to the door but his getting better at going to his bed to wait. He will be interested in a female and want to lick her if she is in/just come out of season but doesn’t hump (only a blanket if you lift it up). He was attacked when he was a pup by a young staffy who locked on his neck. I think this has left him a little wary of some dogs. He is happy to meet dogs but will not play and will growl if them get to playful and jump on him. Our issues are:
    1. Very scent oriented when on walks, always wanting to stop sniff/lick/scent patches of grass, walls, lamposts, trees etc and will pull hard to get to a scent if he can.
    2. For some reason he will no longer go near my husbands elderly parents, nothing has ever happened between them. Just as if he doesn’t like them anymore (yet he used to), he will stay out of the room if they are there.
    All of the things I have read from your responses (which are so helpful and supportive) lead me to think that castration will not help him or stop the sniff/lick/scent behaviour. Pulling on the lead is something that has got worse that seems to be driven by heightened senses but I think we have to deal with that through training.
    Are we on the right lines to leave him intact? Many thanks

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 7th September 2022 at 5:23 pm - Reply

      Hi Zoe, thanks for getting in touch. I’m sorry to hear he had a horrible experience with another dog, it really can change a dog for life. I would be worried about castration making some of his anxiety driven behaviours (unsure about some other dogs and for whatever reason being concerned about your husband’s parents) escalating with castration.
      And you’re right that honestly even the scenting is unlikely to improve with castration at this stage, if it was testosterone driven it would now be a learnt behaviour, and some of it can be because he is from such working breeds who love scenting!

      As a side note elderly people can sometimes suddenly be worrying for dogs due to if their mobility changes and they can appear unsteady and dogs can worry they may be hurt, or due to scent changes e.g. with health concerns including diabetes and other changes. If either of them have had any health changes recently that could explain his change in response or he could even be letting you know that something is changing if nothing else has changed.

  90. Chris Jarvis 17th September 2022 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    Hi – We have a 13 month old Tibetan Terrier he’s gone through puppy training and currently loves agility training. He’s been pretty responsive to all his training but has recently started to regress a lot on recall and pulls a lot on walks which we don’t seem to be able to get him better at but considering some more 1-2-1 training for him. Suspect / hope this is just adolescence though. What’s more worrying is he has a few times without warning decided to wee on our bed and a couple of times on our other 12 years old’s (neutered Bitch) bed. On a recent walk there was also another male dog he was friendly with where he decided to wee on him too. Is this just an age or other behavioural issue or a sign castration may be on the horizon? Our vet is of the castrate as soon as they lift their leg brigade which we’ve resisted for all the reasons you support.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 26th September 2022 at 1:27 pm - Reply

      Hi Chris, thanks for getting in touch. I’m so glad to hear he’s enjoying his training and absolutely his regression in training sounds like normal adolescence from what you describe. The urination could be intense urine marking and then castration could limit it (ensure you also use an enzymatic cleaner to help prevent the scent from calling him back there). It would also be worthwhile having his urine checked to rule out any signs of infection which could lead to inappropriate urination too.

  91. Robert McBride 29th September 2022 at 6:58 pm - Reply

    Hi, we have a white Swiss shepherd that is almost two years old. He has no problem with other dogs, there might be the rare occasion where he does not get along with another intact male, but it’s usually the other dog barking at him. We always thought his size and nervousness had more to do with it than him not being neutered. And he has only shown interest for 1 female so far.
    Our problem is that both his testicles have not dropped , we did do an ultrasound and they are at both sides closer to the thighs, they don’t seem to be causing problems yet.
    Since he is a nervous dog overall, is it worth going through surgery now? He did have separation anxiety but we’ve been training a lot and he has gotten much better in all kinds of situations , still the vet does scare him a bit, having come so far we were afraid it might be worse to remove them.
    Thank you in advance

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 4th October 2022 at 4:47 pm - Reply

      Hi Robert, thanks for getting in touch. I can tell you’ve done so much to help your boy and obviously want to continue to help him as much as possible. It is so difficult, if he had just one retained testicle I would recommend having that taken out and keep the descended one to boost his confidence. But he will need both out at some point to avoid cancer. It’s great he’s made so much progress already. It might be worth talking to a veterinary behaviourist (your vet could talk to one for advice too) to see if there’s anything different you could do now to give him an extra boost before surgery, and especially for some medication for the vet visits including the surgery to limit the impact of that on him. Best of luck with him.

  92. Kristina Brunvall 28th November 2022 at 6:22 pm - Reply

    Hi,
    We have two cocker spaniel puppies (male and 36 anf 34 weeks) They love eachother as in They pine for the other one when not around but soon as They are together They go crazy and the more dominant one humps, pushes out of the way and bites the more shy and timid one. Our vet has recommended chemical neutering them both First then if all goes Well going ahead with the snip. Worried about neutering the more timid and shy one, Will he Get bullied more? Please advise

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 8th December 2022 at 9:18 pm - Reply

      Hi Kristina, thanks for getting in touch. Castrating either of them at this point is a relatively high risk option (even chemically as it can take months to revert). I would strongly recommend seeking the help from a qualified veterinary behaviourist. There is a good chance there are other factors at play here (emotional and physical) above just relationship changes or especially above anything testosterone driven. They are so young still you really want to get this right for them but they are also very young to be considering castration of any form. I hope everything works out for you and if you need help with a consult just get in touch!

  93. Alex James 25th January 2023 at 10:19 am - Reply

    *EDIT*

    Hi Katie,

    Really torn at the moment on whether or not to castrate our 20 month old black Labrador. Primarily the reason FOR is because we also have a 9 month old female Golden Retriever who is yet to come into season.

    My hangups against castrating are because he’s pretty timid, sometimes anxious and sometimes I guess fearful. In the last couple of months he’s had about half a dozen unpleasant encounters with off leash dogs (while being on-leash himself) which have resulted in an increase in his reactivity, particularly to unfamiliar dogs. He doesn’t hate all dogs but very often when he encounters an unfamiliar dog it’s 50/50 on whether they get on or it ends up with growling, snapping and barking between them.

    He marks constantly when out on walks, we’re talking dozens and dozens of wees. Our initial hopes were that these traits would decrease after being “fixed” but after reading this page (and several others) I’m wondering if castration would actually create more problems for him (and us) than it would actually fix and that his fear, anxiety, aggression toward other dogs and his low confidence would ALL be worsened and not reduced! His recall is nowhere near good enough currently to be fully off leash (we use a trailing long line where appropriate) as I am terrified that if he was off-leash and encounterd another off leash dog that he didn’t know (or like the look of) that I would have absolutely no control of him whatsoever if a fight were to break out.

    I wasn’t aware of chemical castration until now and wondered if it would be a good idea to try that first or if even that would be a bad idea due to the time it takes to wear off.

    Really really conflicted at the moment as to the right decision to make for him. Your advice would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.​

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 25th January 2023 at 12:08 pm - Reply

      Hi Alex, thanks for getting in touch. I’m glad you found the advice helpful and can see how castration could definitely make things worse for your boy. From what you describe he could definitely deteriorate with reduced testosterone (from surgical or chemical castration). But it is extremely difficult to manage two entire dogs together in the home. As your girl is a retriever you would ideally want to leave her entire for a while longer before spaying her too which makes it more difficult.

      Your options would be: castrate your boy (surgically or chemically – but I worry very much about his deterioration), spay your girl now before her season (higher risk for bone cancer when she is older compared to letting her have a season or two), separate the dogs (ideally into different households for a few weeks whilst she has her season).

      Boys can get very depressed when they know there is a girl in season nearby and it can be extremely difficult to manage in the same household and they might both be desperate to get to each other. But if you have friends or family willing to look after your girl whilst she is in season you could keep your boy to help him with his behaviour during that time too. And I would really recommend seeking help from a qualified veterinary behaviourist, when young dogs struggle like that it is often caused by an underlying medical condition. With him being a Labrador (talking as a Labrador lover!) he is even higher risk for arthritis even at such a young age and a full assessment with pain score and gait analysis would be recommended. Very best of luck with them both, Katie

    • Sherry 7th February 2023 at 6:19 am - Reply

      Hi Katie, my 1 year old and 2 month mini Goldendoodle have a neutering appointment this Friday! I really want your advice I’m super conflicted on neutering him or not. I’m from the states so it’s super normalize here. He’s a super good dog. Doesn’t roam around or hump other dogs at the park. He only hump human but not a lot. He doesn’t have accidents at home always pee and poop outside. He is also super shy and timid. Low confidence and scare of everything and everyone. No signs of aggression. He loves other dogs and always wants to please them. Please let me know what you think!

      • DrKatieFrielRussell 8th February 2023 at 9:40 am - Reply

        Hi Sherry, I know it is very normalised to castrate but I think you’re right to be questioning it in your boy’s case. He’s not showing any problem behaviours due to testosterone but he is showing low confidence. So a castration at this point could certainly see his anxiety increase and show as him developing behavioural problems. From the information you’d share I’d really consider delaying and working on his confidence before considering castration again.

  94. Suellen 6th March 2023 at 7:54 am - Reply

    Hi Katie, l have quite a confident Australian Cattle Dog who has shown aggressive and dominant behaviors when off lead with other dogs usually males and smaller sized dogs. Generally he can be with other dogs but l need to keep a close eye on him.
    He is male 8.5 months old adolescent, is calm at home, doesn’t show any other sexually driven behaviors like humping etc. l find it really quite upsetting when he gets into a fight or annoys other dogs and am hoping that neutering will help to ‘neutralize’ him in a social situation. I am doing obedience training for herding dogs with him, and he is very keen to learn and please me but l am finding it hard to bond with him when l see him bullying other dogs.
    He was never particularly social his heckles always went up when he met new dogs and he seems to play too roughly for most other dogs, he does have another dog friend who plays in the same way as he does and l wonder if the couple of fights he has had are because he is entire?

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 6th March 2023 at 10:06 am - Reply

      Hi Suellen, thanks for getting in touch. If it is due to inappropriate pairing for play then castration is unlikely to help, instead teaching him to calmly interact with the environment around dogs is more likely to see him improve as well as teaching him a “finish” cue for play so that if the dogs aren’t compatible then stop the interactions. Castration at his young age holds physical risks especially around joint formation. If you were going to consider castration I would definitely recommend chemical castration to avoid a permanent change at this point when it may not help and may make things worse.

  95. Sharon Hulme 7th March 2023 at 8:48 am - Reply

    Hi Katie,

    I hope you can help. We have a 2 and a half year old entire border collie. He has a wonderful temperament, generally very good with other dogs, though sometimes can be over exuberant.

    Until recently he hasn’t shown much interest in females, other than enjoying meeting them when out on walks. Two weeks ago he became distracted, obsessing with smells on grass etc and losing interest in his frisbee.

    Quite unexpectedly he ran away when out on an walk, and was eventually found two miles away. I have kept him on a long lead in the area where be bolted. He seemed to be back to normal and then yesterday the ran away again. Thankfully he followed a lady with three female dogs, she recognised him and called the phone number on his ID disc. I was so very grateful that she kept him until I got there.

    I have booked an appointment with the Vet for a pre op for castration but I am worried about doing this. He has is such a good dog usually. Excellent recall, good at agility and sociable.

    I have read about chemical castration but I’m worried when it wears off he might repeat the bolting problem again. He could be a stolen, hit by car or injured..

    I would be grateful for your advice.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 8th March 2023 at 12:32 pm - Reply

      Hi Sharon, I’m glad your boy sounds like a happy lad! But yes it is very scary if they bolt and if they have become interested in girls it sometimes doesn’t matter how strong your recall is, the need to procreate is a very strong drive! Using the longline for safety for now is a perfect management strategy, but then considering chemical castration first would allow you to monitor for any negative behavioural change, and see how he would be off the lead once it’s at full effect. Even in a bigger dog like him it would usually last a good few months and you can see when it starts to wear off as his testicles will start to enlarge and drop again. At that point you could start your management with the long line and make a decision on surgical castration?
      But with his confidence high and he is just about skeletally mature the negative impacts on castration should hopefully be minimal, if at all, for him but will allow you all to have more freedom off the lead without worrying about girls!

  96. Ruth Glynn 9th March 2023 at 8:12 am - Reply

    Hi Katie. I hope you can offer some advice. I have 2 dogs. One rescue lab/springer who is around 11 years old. He has always been reactive to other dogs when out on the lead and is very nervous of any strange noises. He will shake before he goes out for a walk.
    My other dog is a Labradoodle. He is almost 18 months old. He barks a lot, if he hears other dogs barking. He plays confidently with other dogs when out walking. He has become quite obsessed cleaning his genitals.
    Up until recently both dogs have really been great together. I have always fed them separately. My older dog has always asserted himself if the younger dog has tried to take food etc. The younger dog has always backed off.
    Over the past week both dogs have started fighting with each other. They just look at each other and it all kicks off.
    The younger dog has also stopped responding to commands.
    They are my best friends and I’m stressing out they are going to seriously damage each other.
    Do you have any advice you can offer. Would you consider castration as an option for my younger dog. Many thanks Ruth

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 9th March 2023 at 2:15 pm - Reply

      Hi Ruth, I would not jump to castration in this case as there is no evidence that testosterone has affected this behaviour. My biggest concern straight away and would be that one of them (likely your old boy) has a medical influence changing their relationship. over 80% of dogs aged 8 have significant arthritis so if your 11 year old hasn’t recently been assessed for pain this would be my first step from the information given alongside management to keep them separate around any things of value or at any times of high arousal and monitoring for tiny changes in body language to separate them to give them a break. It’s so difficult if your own two dogs are struggling together so I would recommend speaking to a qualified behaviourist alongside a vet check for both vets to ensure the best possible outcome.

  97. Carole 12th March 2023 at 12:21 pm - Reply

    Hi, I’ve got a show cocker spaniel, 14 months old. One undescended testicle. We have an appointment to have it removed (just the one) later this month. He’s a confident, very lively spaniel, who tends to get over excited with visitors to the house, or anyone who what’s to say hello, but will happily ignore people and dogs who are not interested in him. He’s never off lead, his recall is awful, so much sniffing to do, so long line is used regularly. Last week he started to become very vocal indoors, started whining and scratching the front door (which he never does). Pulling like a train on walks, marking every post or wall, sniffing and whimpering, trying to dictate where we walk. He’s off his food, but does eat eventually at the end of the day, and we have woken up to a puddle the last two mornings (I’m assuming it marking?). Vet says it’s probably a bitch in season locally. We started taking him in the car to get him away from this area, where he is calmer.
    My question is, should I have both testicles removed now? Will the removal of one help decrease this behaviour (ie half the testosterone)? Do they mature out of this behaviour? What’s the kindest thing for him, and Us!!??

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 14th March 2023 at 10:31 pm - Reply

      Hi Carole, it’s great to read how carefully you are planning this big change for your boy. Absolutely that retained testicle needs to go, but there isn’t an immediate rush. And from your description it does sound like he may be being bothered by a local girl in heat. This can get worse each time he smells ones and can see extreme reactions from some boys. Ideally you’d leave him to be a little more skeletally mature and then castration would have less of a negative impact on him medically. I would be tempted to wait him out for this episode and see how he recovers, he may not have another for a few months or even more. If so you could consider having the retained testicle taken out when he is more like 18 months and more mature, and consider also removing the descended testicle for a full castration if he’s had another episode in the mean time.

  98. Enrique 14th March 2023 at 11:47 pm - Reply

    Hi Katie – Thank you very much for your article. We are on our second yellow lab (duddley) and he has been intact for his two years of age. He is super smart, energetic like a good ol lab and friendly. He is very alert, sensitive to noises and barks to whoever walk in front of our house. Oftentimes he would wake up in the middle of the night, run to the front windows and bark. He would also react to wildlife noises like owls in particular by getting inside the house and/or bark. He marks a lot outside and had occasionally refused to continue on his daily walk, pulling us to return home. I think it was triggered by some smell. He is now better at that and goes along a walk twice a day, and is a very social dog. He normally lays down whenever he sees other dogs approaching. Lately I’ve notices he is getting more confident, his tail is always up, sleeps through the night and likes to play a lot. we don’t discuss anything about neutering but every time we take him to the Vet. we get the question if we are planning on neutering, I always wonder if there is something we don’t know that we should go ahead with the procedure or what. when I ask of the benefits the only ones I hear is to avoid testicular/prostate cancer, behavioral improvements and not getting hurt for running in front of a car chasing after a girls scent but not compelling information. I really appreciate your article as it makes me think that so far it has been best to let him grow up and intact , build up his personality and turn around any insecure or anxieties he may have. If you could share any thought around monitoring for testicular/prostate cancer as part of his annual check-up I will tremendously appreciate it.

    • DrKatieFrielRussell 23rd March 2023 at 11:44 pm - Reply

      Hi thanks for getting in touch and I’m so glad you found this information useful. Absolutely all the evidence points to benefits of being left entire until they are at least fully skeletally mature (around 2.5 years for Labradors) and more evidence showing long term benefits especially for joint health. Testicular cancer is just feeling his testicles for any unusual lumps or bumps and having him checked by your vet if you do find any, no need to rush at such a young age but checking every 6 months from around 5 years and more frequently as he reached 10 is a good ball park. As for his prostatic hyperplasia you’ll probably notice if there are any changes, poo often changes shape, it can be very sore and they feel quite unwell with it. Cancer of the prostate is harder to monitor easily for, but is not something that the risk is reduced with castration so he would have the same risk as any other dog there.
      You hit the nail on the head though that none of the reasons to castrate are very compelling and in your case it sounds like leaving him entire is still the best thing to do!

  99. Alan 19th July 2023 at 11:13 am - Reply

    Hi Dr. Katie thanks for the article and the great information however I have a German shepherd-Lab mix (Bear) and my girlfriend has a Great Pyrenees- Australian shepherd mix (Diva) and we have planned for them to have puppies since we got them. However they ended up getting lose and caught in a knot during her time in heat and they had puppies at 13-14ish months old. We had always planned on getting them fixed after they had puppies but they had them too soon but getting to my question should I still wait till they’re 2 years of age before getting them fixed. We’ve had concerns about growth and development in our dogs with getting them fixed too soon and not to mention Bear the male dog does really well with our new 4 week old puppies and we’re not sure how he will react with the newborns after the surgery not to mention Bear also has aggressive tendencies with his food and his toys so I’m wondering would getting him fixed reduced those tendencies I’m kind of at a lose of what to do after the early pregnancy.

    • Dr Katie Friel-Russell 19th July 2023 at 11:22 pm - Reply

      Hi Alan, thanks for getting in touch and I’m sorry to hear your two managed to have the unplanned litter. It can be difficult and stressful managing an entire male and female together. It sounds like your male would really benefit from remaining entire and castration is much more likely to increase any aggressive type behaviour including guarding. Your female would also likely benefit from remaining entire for another 6-12 months. Depending on the frequency of her seasons this could involve one or two more seasons to manage or you could get her done close to her next season if unable to managed them through another season without mating. Usually the easiest option for this is for one to go and stay at a friend’s or relative’s house for the duration. Keeping them separated in the same house is likely to drive them both wild. You could talk to your vet about suppressing a heat for your female to get her to a more suitable age for neutering as another option although there is limited evidence as to whether this would impact any growth, I would hypothesise it would be less detrimental than an early spay but without evidence we can’t be sure.

      Certainly making changes right now with the pups in the house is unlikely to be the best move as the recovery period can make dogs sensitive and your male could certainly not want to put up with boisterous puppies when he’s not feeling great too.

  100. Guy Bennett 22nd May 2024 at 10:14 am - Reply

    Hello Dr Katie Friel-Russell,

    We have a Greyhound (7 Years old, castrated) and corgi (1 year old, in tact). They’ve lived together since the corgi was 8 weeks old without any trouble, other than the occasional growl. They’re never aggressive with other dogs.

    My mother was keeping them at her house for the weekend when we were away and fed them too close together and they had a massive fight – very out of character. At home they’re fed in different rooms. From my mums description it sounds like the corgi lost/ was losing.

    Its been 3 days since the fight and we’ve kept them apart but are starting to get them to see each other by putting them on leads and sitting them far apart in the same room. The greyhound appears pretty chilled about the whole thing but the corgi seems up for a fight.

    I’m thinking about neutering the corgi, do you think that would help our situation? Are we doing the right thing?

    Many thanks for any help! I’m very worried they wont get on again.

    Best wishes,

    Guy

    • Dr Katie Friel-Russell 23rd May 2024 at 1:54 pm - Reply

      Hi Guy, thanks for getting in touch and I’m sorry to hear your two boys had a fight whilst you were away. It can be normal for dogs to continue to find it difficult around each other for a few days or weeks but it sounds like you are managing safe interactions around each other well. Remember he could well still be sore from bruising at this stage too. The fight could have happened for a range of reasons including but not limited to; the stress of the change of routine, over resources (I recommend always feeding dogs separated by a physical barrier in all cases), pain or other medical influence for either of them.

      Testosterone is extremely unlikely to have been the cause in this case and therefore castration is unlikely to be beneficial. Especially at his age and breed castration now would come with associated risks especially for joint disease and his spine.

      I would recommend a full check up for both of them and referral to vet behaviourist especially if things don’t settle or if they have any further concerns with each other.

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