It is often recommended that pet dogs be spayed or neutered, but is it the same for working dogs? There are both benefits and risks to the procedures, so spaying or neutering a dog, particularly a hunting dog, is something every owner must consider carefully. In addition, some hunters may be concerned that getting a hunting dog fixed could alter the dog’s drive, energy, or alertness.
Should owners neuter their hunting dogs? Due to the fact that in most cases the benefits outweigh the risks, owners should almost always make the decision to neuter or spay their hunting dogs. In addition, spaying or neutering a dog does not seem to have any effect on its ability to perform its hunting tasks well.
Neutering or spaying, also known as ‘fixing’ a hunting dog, or any pet dog, is almost always the best choice. However, it is always important to consider the dog and the situation before making that choice. In addition, at what age owners decide to neuter or spay their hunting dogs is also crucial. The age a dog is when it is fixed makes a world of difference to the dog’s future health.
Benefits to Spaying and Neutering Hunting Dogs
Neutering and spaying dogs can have many benefits for the dog and owner, including personality and health benefits. One of the biggest benefits is that it reduces the risk of cancer associated with the reproductive organs. In male dogs, the risk of prostate cancer is greatly reduced. In addition, because they are removed completely, the risk of testicular cancer is eliminated entirely. In female dogs, the risk of mammary and uterine cancer is greatly reduced. It also reduces the risk of tumors developing in female dogs. Not only does this mean that dogs that are neutered or spayed will generally live longer, healthier lives, but it also lowers the risk of needing to spend large amounts of money on expensive vet bills in the future.
Spaying female dogs also has other health benefits. For example, it greatly reduces the risk of Pyometra, which is a uterine infection. Pyometra is an infection that is caused by a female dog repeatedly going into heat without becoming pregnant. When this happens over a long period of time, cysts can develop. If these cysts burst, which does happen, they can become infected. This infection is Pyometra, and it can be difficult and expensive to treat. Because spaying a dog also means that the dog will generally never go into heat again, the risk of Pyometra is nearly non-existent in spayed animals.
In addition, eliminating a female dog’s heat cycle has other benefits for hunting dogs—females that are in heat are typically not allowed to enter field trials. Once their dog is spayed, hunters will never need to worry that their female hunting dog will not be allowed to compete due to hormone changes.
Spaying and neutering dogs also has other benefits, such as subtle changes to the dogs’ personalities. Dogs that are fixed are generally calmer. Fluctuations in mood are often decreased. This can make dogs more stable under different circumstances, such as changes in location or when they are around other dogs. It can also make it much easier to train dogs. Female dogs that are spayed are often more friendly or loving, while male dogs that are neutered tend to be much less aggressive.
Other benefits include the fact that male dogs will no longer mark their territory if they are neutered, which means less mess. Female dogs, on the other hand, obviously can no longer become pregnant after being spayed, so this eliminates the risk of unwanted puppies.
Potential Risks When Spaying or Neutering Hunting Dogs
Spaying and neutering dogs does come with some risks. First, the procedure itself is invasive and dogs much be anesthetized in order to have it done. However, spaying and neutering are the most common operations that veterinarians perform, so the risk of anything going wrong is quite minimal.
Occasionally, after being spayed, some female dogs experience a decrease in energy. This is often a hormonal change, and it can cause the dog to gain weight. This can, in turn, lead to other health problems. Potential weight gain can be controlled by keeping a female dog on a strict exercise regimen, even if it seems that the dog has less energy than before.
The biggest risks associated with spaying and neutering dogs come when the dog is fixed at too young of an age. Because fixing a dog causes a change in hormones, it can also affect the dog’s growth. This can lead to health problems later on. These issues include improper bone growth. Improper bone grown can lead to irregular head or chest shape or a tall, lanky build. The risk of hip dysplasia is also elevated in dogs that are spayed or neutered at a young age. In some dogs, such as labs and retrievers, the risk of hip problems triples when they are spayed or neutered too early. Male dogs also experience a greater risk for joint conditions such as arthritis later in life. This can also sometimes occur in female dogs, although it is much less common.
When Should a Hunting Dog Be Spayed or Neutered?
Spaying or neutering a hunting dog provides more benefits than risks, and it is therefore generally considered to be a good idea. However, getting a dog fixed at too young of an age can greatly increase the risk for health problems. Because of this, determining when to spay or neuter a dog is crucial.
Spaying and neutering should be done after a dog has finished growing. Female dogs tend to mature faster than male dogs. Because of this, female dogs have generally finished growing and maturing at between nine and 12 months of age. On the other hand, male dogs have finished growing at around the two-year mark. Therefore, female dogs can be safely spayed at about a year old, while male dogs can be safely neutered at two years old.
Can You Collect Dogs’ Semen for Use Years From Now?
Some dog owners may want to have their male hunting dog neutered in order to provide better health or to maintain a more stable personality in the dog. However, after neutering, a dog cannot be bred. If a dog is prized for his hunting skills or is well-loved, owners may want to breed him in order to have puppies that carry on these same traits. Collecting and storing a dog’s semen can solve this problem. It allows owners to neuter their dogs without eliminating the possibility of future puppies.
Semen can be collected at home or the procedure, which is non-invasive, can be done by a veterinarian. The semen can then be frozen for later use. Some veterinarians will also provide a place to store the semen. Years later, the semen can be used to artificially inseminate a female dog and, hopefully, produce a litter of puppies. Frozen dog semen can also be sold in order to allow other dog owners to breed their female dogs.
Are Dogs That Aren’t Fixed More Aggressive?
Unneutered male dogs are still producing the hormones that make them feel they need to fiercely defend their territory or their pack. These hormones may also cause a dog to feel that he needs to fend off other male dogs in order to protect his right to mate with female dogs. All of these instincts can cause moments of aggression. When a dog is neutered, however, these hormones decrease and so do the urges they cause. This in turn often makes neutered male dogs much less aggressive, and it often provides them with a more stable, calmer personality.
Although it is often more apparent in male dogs, spayed female dogs are also sometimes less aggressive. Female dogs that are not spayed sometimes experience what is called a false pregnancy. During this time, they may adopt people or items as their litter. They can then become extremely protective of the object or person, and they can act aggressively if they feel their litter is threatened. A threat may be as simple as another person or animal straying too close to what the female dog is attempting to protect. Spaying a female dog can greatly reduce the chances of false pregnancy, which also decreases the risk of potential aggression.
Are Fixed Dogs Easier to Train?
Dogs that are spayed or neutered generally have more stable personalities. They are much less likely to be distracted by changes in environment or by the presence of other dogs. This is particularly true in male dogs who, when left unneutered, are often very distracted by the presence of female dogs and the possibility of mating, or by other male dogs that they may see as potential threats. Because of this, spayed and neutered dogs are often easier to train because their personalities are more stable and the chance of distraction is decreased. However, it is often better to fix a dog after it has matured, which means that the dog should already have had the majority of its training before it is at an age where it is ready to be spayed or neutered.
Can Hunting Dogs Be Trialed if They Have Been Fixed?
Most hunting dog competitions allow both spayed and neutered dogs. Fixing your dog will not be a disqualifier. I have even heard stories of dishonest competitors hiding females in heat on the trail course to distract intact males. Might be just trial lore, but one story you won’t have to worry about if you have a neutered dog. It should be known that often females in heat will be barred from competing in trials or in the case of NAVHDA females in heat run last in the day to avoid throwing off the males.
Are Neutered or Spayed Dogs Better Around Kids?
Both fixed and unfixed dogs can be great around children when they are properly trained, and when they are treated well by the children. However, spayed and neutered dogs are often better or gentler around kids. This is because their personalities are generally more stable. Spayed and neutered dogs are much less likely to be upset or disturbed by changes in their environment, including loud, energetic, or boisterous children. In addition, spayed and neutered dogs are often less aggressive and less territorial. This means they are less likely to become upset and act out if a child gets too close to them or to something or someone they are feeling protective of.