Age to Neuter Dog?

First off: I will be asking my vet. I am just curious how others have handled.

My little rescue guy is just over 4 months. He’s a sweet little guy with no real dominance issues to speak of. So I am not super worried about his behavioral tendencies. So, when would you neuter him? He is about 18lbs now so isn’t a large breed per se but is very substantially built.

And some adorable puppy pics, just ‘cause!


I have a standard poodle male. The current accepted trend is to hold out until 18-24 months for males for this breed. We are looking at 12 months for ours, as he is having a gastroplexy done as well. The ortho suggested that the minimum age would be 12 months for good bone / growth, but the longer we wait to have the gastroplexy done, the more we risk an episode of bloat. So we are going to go with neutering at 12 months old.

Our others were done at 12m (cryptorchid), 9m (by breeder), and 12m (slow to drop); all reached 13-16 years.

Our current lad is approaching the 12 month mark and has a giant set of cods on him…

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I’ve always had/have Labs & German Shepherds.
I don’t usually alter them unless truly necessary, as with our DD’s service dog.
Even then I wait until at least 26 months old.

Since your guy is a smaller dog, you probably could get by waiting until 12 months old.


There is no reason to neuter a male before it is full grown - so I would wait until 18-24 months unless other issues occur.

I have two unneutered males because they are show dogs - they are 5 and 10.

I once owned another dog that was well bred but outgrew the breed standard. He really had hormone issues (e.g. really struggled to focus in obedience classes, for example) and even the obedience instructor noted it. I had him neutered at 15 or 16 months. By then he was mature enough, and we knew he was definitely not breeding quality, so it was a quality of life issue. He really was happier afterwards.

So, ideally, I would have waited until 18+ months, but in some cases I think there are good reasons to do it earlier. I would not ever neuter before 12 months.

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Just a question here, because back when I had dogs we neutered or spayed at about 6 mos. Now I hear many saying ‘wait’ (with the male) dogs, and I’m wondering what the medical rationale is for it?
I had always been told to do it before their hormones really got going as it would cut down on the tendency to wander.
??? Can somebody explain? Thanks.

With my vet’s recommendation, we did ours at 6 months.

Googling waiting to neuter male dog pops up all kinds of places to read more information. The most common reason is waiting until after puberty. Waiting will allow their skeleton to completely develop and may decrease orthopedic injuries.

My breeder asked that I wait until my most recent acquisition was 18-24 months. He is a licker extraordinaire so at the age of, wow, 6 in a few days, he’s still intact. He lifts his leg, yes, but both my boys know to use the dog door to go outside. During walks, there is ‘his’ bush… no other peeing allowed on walks. He and my neutered, older, smaller BT love playing what I fondly call Border Terrier Smack-down

Every dog is different. A good conversation to have with your vet. :rofl:

i’d wait for growth plates to turn from cartilage into bone. I have a dog i found on the road, he’s 3, and i have not neutered him yet. I love looking at a full male dog. Tightly muscled, large cranium…and the extra umph of drive. But i train working dogs, and can handle the intensity…i love the intensity actually.

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I don’t think most vets understand that neutering puppies is a bad idea. As a GSD person, we wait until at least 24 months. Vets also push the crappy Science Diet foods - so nutrition is not something I would discuss with them either. JMHO


I think they do. But they see unwanted litters all the time. So they have to make recommendations based on owners that are not responsible, too.

I’ve never heard that before; I mean, sure, dogs might go looking to breed, but I think many altered dogs are prone to wandering too.

Neutering a dog before it is mature would be like castrating a 10 year old boy. Hormones are important for more than just reproduction. They are necessary for growth and development.

The only real risk for males is that they will impregnate unspayed bitches. And possibly get into fights with other males, particularly over unspayed bitches. But, altered dogs and bitches can still get into fights. So it’s really about minimizing unwanted puppies.


So just curious - what happens to all these dogs that are neutered in rescues prior to being adopted out? Are they suffering health side effects?

I see both sides of it; as a rescue, trying to ensure not adding to the overpopulation; but the health side of it weighs in, too. I know I have a smaller window of time if I want to be reimbursed for his neuter (as a rescue it’s part of the contract); not certain if that means I have to get him neutered in that timeframe though.

For what it’s worth, my vet recommended anytime after 6 months.

The hormones are what tell the long bones to stop growing. Without the hormones, you get abnormal growth which leads to orthopedic issues. There is also research that dogs altered early are more at risk for certain cancers. This is more a risk for large breeds as they develop more slowly.

My previous shepherd was neutered at 5 months. He ended up being 6 inches taller than standard. He also blew both cruciate ligaments and developed other orthopedic problems. He was euthanized at 10 yrs due to chronic pain and strange gastrointestinal issues that were never diagnosed.

My current shepherd is 4yrs and still intact. My vet said to wait until he was at least 2 yrs old. But he’s a gentleman, so there’s been no need to neuter him.


Sure, lots of dogs suffer ruptured cruciate ligaments. Lots of dogs have other random lameness issues and/or are not fit enough to “work” consistently, not that most owners try, so they would never find out.

Rescues have their own mission; and controlling over population is one part. Owner education would go a long way. As would placing rescues in appropriate homes. But sure, they still have a lot of owners who really don’t know how to care for a dog.

In situations where the owner is responsible, the responsible thing is to let the dog mature fully before neutering.

Are you aware (curious mostly and not inspired to look :slight_smile: ) of any studies comparing rates of cruciate ligament issues (I’ve heard this is one of the reasons to delay neutering) between male and female dogs neutered, say, before the age of 24 months against those neutered after the age of 24 months?

As a ‘blanket’ policy, I think early neutering to keep inadvertent or purposeful but mislead breeding from taking place.

For the responsible owner who manages their dogs carefully to ensure only planned breedings, waiting makes sense to me.

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Some studies are quoted here.

Lots of responsible dog owners don’t want to breed, but they can keep their pets from impregnating (or being impregnated) for 18 months. It’s not really that hard. But obviously it takes some effort. E.g. you cannot get a male puppy and have a breeding age, intact bitch in the house without serious planning. But, if someone doesn’t know that - they are, by definition, irresponsible pet owners in my opinion. (Spay the bitch!)

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I regret having my doberman neutered at 6 months, he blew his CCL out at the age of 3.

I did a ton of research on this before buying a pup recently. I got a female and decided on a ‘partial spay’. The uterus is removed and the ovaries are left intact. I chose this option because I wanted to preserve her hormones but not have to worry about pyometra. For a male dog, you can now get a vasectomy so they still have their hormones. My vet had not heard about partial spay but I sent him some scientific articles I found online and he was willing to do it after his own research and talking to a vet who had done it. An option to consider.


Same for my old Australian Shepherd. She was spayed too young, grew way too tall and blew out both CCLs (but at age 9).

I waited until my Cane Corso was 3 years old to have him neutered. My vet recommended waiting until he was at least 24 months and the breeder suggested waiting till he was 3 years old unless there were behavioral issues. My guy has always been very friendly, sometimes almost too friendly, so I waited until he was three.

I had my lab spayed at around 6 months of age and she suffered a rupture of both cruciate ligs about a year apart, mast cell tumors, partial paralysis of her esophagus, and glaucoma. I don’t know if one or all were caused by early spaying or not.