There are many reasons as to why owners spay or neuter their dogs. The most common is to prevent an unwanted litter of puppies and as a result, overpopulation. However, other reasons include selective breeding, the prevention of certain diseases and the reduction of undesirable behaviour.
It can prevent over-population
It is very likely that owners of entire dogs can find themselves in the difficult situation of having a litter of unwanted puppies. This poses problems for rehoming and often economic difficulty within the home, especially since there can be around seven extra mouths to feed and possibly vaccinate. Sterilising dogs is a much cheaper alternative than having to raise a litter and trying to home these puppies successfully requires a lot of time and energy; something most dog owners do not have enough of.
Dog charities increasingly encounter having to take on these puppies and, with the enormous influx they receive every year, many of them unfortunately have to be put to sleep. By the castration and spaying of dogs, overpopulation can be prevented allowing these charities to concentrate their resources on getting already homeless dogs adopted.
The original aim for the sterilisation of any species began with the concept of keeping pure desirable breeds and eliminating the undesirable characteristics of others. In some cases this could be that the dog has a genetic defect, such as cryptorchidism, and so breeding from it would pass this problem onto future generations.
The most common reason is concerned with the aesthetics of the dog. Some breeders find, for example, that a certain colour of a dog’s coat of a particular breed does not sell well and so the breeder will prevent that dog from breeding further. As a result, this will reduce the number of the breeder’s dogs with the undesirable colour and hence reduce their economic losses.
The advantages of castrating a male dog
It can reduce sexual behaviour
Once a puppy has reached or is nearing sexual maturity they often exhibit mounting behaviour. Some dogs do grow out of this as they reach adulthood yet the most effective remedy is to train the dog against it. Despite this, correct training is not always possible or the dog never grows out of this unwanted behaviour. Therefore, castration has shown to reduce mounting behaviour as long as the cause is sexual. If the behaviour is as a result of the dog seeking dominance then castration will do little to prevent this and correct training will be required.
It can reduce wandering
Many dogs are involved in traffic accidents and it is thought that castrating the dog can reduce the possibility of it escaping from the home and roaming the streets for possible mates. Not only are traffic accidents a traumatic experience for both dog and owner, but according to the law the owner owes compensation to the driver for any damage resulting from the accident. Even if the dog is not able to wander it will still be able to sense bitches on heat, causing it stress and so possibly leading to a loss of appetite.
It can prevent certain medical conditions
Testicular cancer can be prevented once the testicles are removed. In this case, castration can also be a cure for most testicular cancers if they are diagnosed early enough. Some dogs may have a condition known as cryptorchidism which is where one or both of its testicles are retained, usually within the abdomen. These testicles are far more likely to develop cancer and its removal at a young age is advised to prevent any possible cancer which may result from the condition. These dogs should not be bred from since this disease can be passed down many generations.
Castration can also prevent diseases linked with male hormones including prostate diseases and some forms of hernia such as perineal hernias. However, these diseases are not common and so are generally not the main reasons for castrations.
The advantages of spaying a female dog (bitch)
It will prevent the bitch coming into season
Bitches come into season twice a year and this can prove to be very inconvenient if it lives within the home especially since being on heat can leave an unpleasant mess. Another advantage to this is that male dogs will no longer persistently approach the bitch while it is on heat and so walks in the park need not be a nuisance after neutering. Also, the main positive aspect of this operation is it prevents the risk of unwanted puppies from an accidental pregnancy.
It can prevent and treat pyometra
Pyometra causes the uterus to fill up with pus resulting in the health of the bitch rapidly declining. Symptoms for this include a loss of appetite, an increase in drinking and urinating, and depression. The most visible symptom, however, is discharge leaving the vulva. The infection is fatal but if diagnosed in time, the uterus is removed in surgery during an emergency spay and the dog has a chance to recover. Spaying the female dog before this condition can arise means there is a lot less stress for the dog and owner and it is a lot less expensive.
It can prevent certain tumours
Ovarian cancer is an uncommon disease but spaying can be used as a preventative measure. More common tumours that can occur are mammary cancers and can be prevented, or at least have the severity reduced, by spaying. The earlier the bitch is spayed, the less likely mammary tumours will develop.