Spay and Neutering

The only way to be sure your dog does not produce unwanted puppies is to get your female dog spayed or your male dog neutered (casterated). Intact male dogs and bitches in heat find one another and breed.

Spaying involves the removal of both the uterus and the ovaries. Castration refers to the removal of a male dog's testicles. The term neutering is a general term to describe either spaying or castration. You may hear the terms neutering and castrating used to mean the same thing.


Benefits of Neutering

In addition to preventing unwanted puppies, neutering your dog has many benefits:

  • Female dogs who are spayed prior to their first heat cycle, which usually occurs between 6 and 9 months of age, and have a significantly reduced chance of developing mammary (breast) cancer, compared to dogs who have had even one heat cycle.
  • Spayed females cannot develop pyometra, an infection of the uterus that can be quite severe and can even result in death.
  • Spayed females tend to have more even temperaments and do not go through the hormone-induced mood swings that intact bitches often experience.
  • Neutered dogs often are better behaved than their intact counterparts. Not only are they less likely to roam (visiting neighborhood females is a major reason for roaming), they are also less likely to mark their territory by urinating in the house (testosterone is one of the major drives for this dominance-related activity).

In addition, neutered male dogs are much less likely to be aggressive toward other male dogs.

  • These behavior benefits are particularly true if you castrate your dog between the ages of 9 and 12 months, before the male becomes sexually mature and develops bad habits.
  • Neutering prevents the development of prostate problems often seen in older dogs.
  • A neutered dog won't develop testicular cancer, a common cancer of older, intact male dogs.
  • Male dogs who lift their legs to urinate don't leave urine burns in the middle of the lawn, because they usually urinate on trees, fence posts, and other vertical objects around the perimeter of the yard. If you prefer that your male dog lift his leg rather than squat to urinate, wait until this habit is well established before getting him neutered.
  • Many people think their dogs will get fat if they are spayed or castrated, but this isn't the case. Neutered dogs frequently don't need as much food as their intact compatriots. There is a simple solution: Don't feed them as much.

Depending on your locale and the veterinarian you select, it costs between $50 and $120 to castrate a male dog and between $75 and $140 to spay a female dog. For people on public assistance or with lower incomes and for seniors on fixed incomes, spay/neuter clinics are held in most towns and cities. These usually are sponsored by animal shelters and veterinarians as part of their ongoing effort to control the local pet population.


For the first couple of days after surgery (whether for castration or spaying), your dog should rest and should only go outside to the bathroom. For the next week, mild exercise such as on-leash walking is all right. About ten days after surgery, the veterinarian will check to make sure the incision is healing properly and remove the sutures (or check on self-dissolving sutures).


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This City of Stockton webpage last reviewed on --- 3/21/2011