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Signs Your Dog Needs to be Neutered

Signs Your Dog Needs to be Neutered | BetterVet

Being a responsible pet owner is a huge task, and choosing whether to neuter your pet or not is part of this process.

But when is the right time? Are there increased risks with having your dog neutered too early? Knowing when or if your dog should be neutered can be a conundrum for most pet parents.

Thankfully there are a few clear signs your dog needs to be neutered:


Marking is when a dog puts a small amount of urine on particular spots on a regular basis. Dog urine contains hormones and smells that let other dogs identify each other.

By marking, your dog is identifying his area and letting other dogs know he lives or exercises in this area. Marking can be harmless when done outside of the home, but some dogs can take this behavior inside, leading to frustration and stained furnishings. 


Dogs can smell a female in heat a mile off and are biologically programmed to go looking for her. If your dog keeps escaping to go and meet new acquaintances, it’s a sign your dog needs to be neutered.

Neutering takes away the hormones that fuel their desire to. A dog who is focused on finding a female is at risk of being hit by a car or injured trying to enter a property. A roaming dog is also sadly a target to dog thieves, so dog neutering can help keep your dog safe. 


Showing signs of mounting toys (or legs) is a sure sign your dog needs to be neutered. This is an unwanted behavior and can lead to further problems such as paraphimosis, a common urologic emergency.

If you notice this sign, speak to your veterinarian, as humping can become a learned behavior. 


Some dogs can develop aggression or defensive behavior. While the root cause may be related to other things, dog neutering can be very helpful in starting to manage this problem while seeking help from professionals to change these behaviors. 

Health Benefits of Neutering 

There are many health benefits to neutering your dog. You can choose to neuter your dog at any time, but most vets recommend around the six-month mark unless they are a large or giant breed. If your dog is a large or giant breed it’s advised to wait until approximately 1-2 years old (your vet will give a personalized time based on your dog’s breed). Large or giant breeds grow slower and their growth plates in the legs take longer to close. Later neutering also reduces the risks of some types of cancer in large and giant breed dogs. 

The key health benefits of dog neutering are: 

  • No chance of developing testicular cancer 
  • Reduced risk of prostate-related disease e.g. prostatitis 
  • Reduced risk of aggression or sex hormone-related behaviors 

Dog neutering prevents unwanted pregnancies. A litter of puppies may look cute in a photo but are a massive commitment in real life. If your dog has a genetic condition such as hip dysplasia, by choosing to neuter your dog you remove the chance of other puppies inheriting this condition. This is a responsible thing to do as a pet owner and improves the breed’s health over time. 

Risks of Neutering 

There are some risks to be aware of when a dog has a neuter operation. Neutering is done under general anesthetic, so there is always a small risk of an anesthetic-related complication. Your vet will do a health check before the surgery to make sure they are fit for anesthesia for your peace of mind. 

There is a small risk of inflammation or infection at the surgical site after surgery. Sometimes dogs chew their stitches out and need a second surgery to replace them. Following post-operative discharge instructions closely and using a cone will reduce the chances of these complications happening. 

Alternatives to Neutering 

If you’re seeing signs your dog needs to be neutered but are not yet sure that this is the right thing for you and your dog, there is a temporary alternative available in some countries. Suprelorin is an injection that can be given under the skin (like a vaccine) that causes temporary infertility, usually around one year. This is often enough time to decide if you would like to get your dog neutered.


To summarize, the signs your dog needs to be neutered are clear when you know what to look for. There are many benefits to having your dog neutered, but it’s important to feel confident in your decision, so always reach out to talk to a veterinary professional if you have any doubts. If you decide not to neuter your dog, remember most doggy daycares, dog walkers, and kennels will only accept neutered pets in a group environment. You will often need to plan ahead for these services or look for alternatives such as house sitters. 

Frequently Asked Questions

What is neutering?

Neutering is the surgical removal of a male dog’s testicles under general anesthesia. This operation is done at a veterinary clinic or hospital by a veterinarian. It is a straightforward and quick procedure that vets do day in and day out, so they are very experienced in this type of surgery. By removing the testicles we take away a hormone-producing organ and this helps to reduce the behaviors mentioned below.  

Will my dog miss his testicles? 

No, your dog will not miss his testicles. Dogs adapt well to reduced hormone production, and there are many health benefits to neutering. 

Can dog neutering be reversed? 

Dog neutering is a non-reversible operation. Once the testicles are removed, they cannot be re-attached. So, it’s important to be sure that you want your dog to be neutered. 

What is the recovery time for neutering?  

The recovery time for neutering is around two weeks. Your dog will need to rest for two weeks so that the surgical site can heal well. 

Does neutering leave a scar? 

Yes, a small surgical scar will remain, usually around half a centimeter. Once the hair grows back, it is not normally noticeable in most dogs. 

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