What Is the Age to Neuter Dogs?

By Jane Meggitt

The age to neuter dogs ranges from puppyhood onward, although traditionally dogs have been neutered between the ages of 6 to 9 months. The age also depends on where you obtained your dog. If you adopt your dog from a shelter, he likely will undergo neutering before you take him home, no matter his age. Neutering prevents more than unwanted puppies. It also prevents other testosterone-related behaviors, such as roaming, unwanted mounting and aggression.

The Neutering Process

Canine neutering is a straightforward procedure. Your dog is anesthetized before the surgery. The vet makes an incision in front of the dog's scrotum. Through that opening, she removes the testicles, cutting and tying off the stalks. Depending on the veterinary practice, the incision might or might not be closed with stitches. The dog goes home on the same day. His scrotal area might appear swollen for the next few days. Most dogs recuperate rapidly, but it's best to keep him quiet for a day or so.

Pediatric Neutering

If a puppy's testicles have descended after he's reached the age of 8 weeks, he can undergo a pediatric neutering. Some vets prefer neutering at this age, because the puppies recover quickly. Male dogs neutered as puppies often grow larger than their counterparts neutered at a more conventional age. While female puppies undergoing pediatric spaying might be more prone to urinary incontinence in old age than dogs spayed at a traditional age, there is no such issue with pediatric neutering. Dogs neutered as puppies might have a slightly higher risk of hypothyroidism and hip dysplasia, but they also have a lesser risk of certain cancers.

Adolescent Dogs

Many vets prefer to neuter young dogs between the ages of 6 to 9 months, before they reach full sexual maturity. Neutering won't affect your young dog's personality or activity level. Neutering won't make him fat -- that happens because of overfeeding and lack of exercise. Neutering eliminates your dog's risk of developing testicular cancer, and lessens the odds of prostate cancer and other prostate issues. If you have no intention of breeding your dog, neutering offers benefits with no real downside.

Older Dogs

A dog neutered after reaching sexual maturity might retain certain intact male behaviors, especially if he's been bred. That means female dogs in heat might attract him, although he can't mate with them. If you want to have a senior dog neutered, your vet will perform a physical examination and conduct basic blood tests before scheduling the surgery. Expect an older dog to take a bit longer to recuperate. In about a week, he should be able to resume normal activities.