Will neutering a dog help with aggression? – Relievet

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Will neutering a dog help with aggression?

Jason Jones, MBA - October 22nd 2021

 Accuracy Review & Edit: Nicole Wanner, DVM - November 4th 2021
will neutering a dog help with aggression

Choosing whether to neuter your pup is a tough decision, one which can potentially change your dog's life expectancy by more than a year or double their chance of hip dysplasia.

But does it help with dog aggression? In some situations, it likely will, and in others, it may actually do the opposite.

We have covered all of these situations in this article, described the positives and negatives, and provided some possible alternatives to neutering your dog. 

Table Of Contents

  • Benefits of Neutering and Spaying
  • Drawbacks of Neutering
  • Aggression related Neutering alternatives
  • Are there any natural ways to deal with dog aggression

Benefits of Neutering and Spaying

There are some situations where Neutering may help with a dog's behavior. The following list covers those situations. 

  • Urine Marking – Scent marking is normal communicative behavior for dogs. Yes, some female dogs mark, so the boys are not all to blame; they are just to blame most of the time.

    Aggression may occur when a dog denotes its territory, and another dog crosses that line. The Humane Society of the United States writes that Neutering or spaying a dog may reduce urine-marking or end it altogether.
  • Excessive Mounting or "humping" – Excessive Mounting is a social behavior. Nonsexual mounting other dogs is a form of aggression that may lead to confrontation.

    The ASPCA writes that dogs often mount other animals when displaying social status or control. Castration is an option if your dog is showing mounting aggression that is hormone-related.
  • Roaming – Roaming leads to aggression because a dog is crossing into another dog's territory. CVETS writes that fully functional male and female dogs have powerful drives to breed and go long distances to fulfill those needs. It leads to the dog running away from home. Roaming then exposes the dog to potentially aggressive encounters.

    CVETS continues, Neutering and spaying will keep your dog from running away from home for a mate
  • Pet overpopulation – Overpopulation leads to aggression in dogs as it does in humans. Last year Americans witnessed several of their fellow citizens buying toilet paper and water to store away for use during the pandemic, and fighting exploded. Overpopulation causes finite resources.

    In a dog's world, that breaks down to food, water, shelter, sexual reproduction, and territory, all of which are worth getting aggressive over. The sure-fire way to slow pet overpopulation is by neutering or spaying your pet. 
  • Medical – In unaltered female dogs, the threat of uterine and ovarian cancer and uterine infection is eliminated. Male dogs may have a decrease in the chances of getting prostatic disease and hernias with Neutering. – Brown University 
  • Uterine infection – A bacterial infection causes Pyometra in the uterus. According to Huffard Animal Hospital, it is rare for a spayed dog to have uterine infections like Pyometra. Conditions can cause pain-induced aggression in dogs.
  • Breast tumorsThere currently is limited research on breast tumors and aggression in combination with spaying. For 50 years, it has been thought there is a correlation between tumors and spaying. However, recent studies show that female dogs in countries that rarely practice Neutering have increased mammary tumors. 
  • Life Expectancy - The University of Georgia studied 40,139 pet death records from 1984-2004. The research showed that intact dogs lived an average of 7.9 years, and neutered dogs lived 9.4 years. According to this study, that is another 1.5 years with your best friend.

    Increased life expectancy is closely associated with fewer behavioral issues and lowered risk-taking in dogs. For instance, a neutered dog may not have the drive to jump a fence and wander the busy streets looking for a mate. Well-behaved dogs tend to be under less stress, potentially reducing stress-related illnesses.

Drawbacks of Neutering 

The drawbacks of neutering a dog are not often discussed, but some can be quite severe. Here are the most common:

  • Anesthesia – Anesthesia's risk factors include minor problems like mild vomiting and serious conditions like cardiac arrest or stroke. The American Kennel Club states one in 2,000 healthy dogs die from anesthesia every year.
  • Hemangiosarcoma (HAS) - Hemangiosarcoma is a common cancer in dogs involving the cells lining the blood vessels. The Canadian Veterinary Journal wrote, there was an overall increased risk for HSA related to being neutered compared to intact dogs.
  • Joint Disorders/Hip Dysplasia – The University of California Davis School of Veterinary Medicine did a 2013 study that showed 10.3 percent of early neutered dogs got hip dysplasia

    Spaying or neutering your dog early in their life may cause joint disorders at a higher frequency than intact dogs.
  • Increased Aggression – For years, dog owners have been told Neutering decreases aggression. Studies are now showing this is not the case and that it may even be the complete opposite. When coming home from surgery, it is important to note that some dogs may be aggressive from disorientation and pain.

    The Third International Symposium on Nonsurgical Contraceptive Methods for Pet Population Control and Parveen Farhoody of Hunter College in New York conducted studies on Neutering and aggression. Both found male and female dogs increased their aggressive behavior post neutering.

Aggression related neutering alternatives 

If you don't think Neutering is right for your dog, there are some possible alternatives.

  • Chemical Neutering (castration via anaphrodisiac drugs) – The Journal of Basic and Clinical Reproductive Sciences wrote, chemical castration resulted in a reduction of male-to-male aggression with and without a receptive female in the immediate area.
  • Vasectomy – Dog aggression may be territorial or hormone-driven. A vasectomy removes the tube that carries sperm from the testicles to the outside for fertilization.

    The dog continues producing testosterone and may still have an interest in leg lifting and Mounting. A vasectomy is a good option for keeping the dog intact but not reproductive.
  • Medications – There are several medications available to reduce aggression in dogs. Antidepressants (Trazadone) and Benzodiazepines (Xanax) can be used to calm a dog. If aggression is the biggest reason to neuter your dog, medications may be a better option.

Are there any natural ways to deal with dog aggression?

  • Training – Training is the best way to change an aggressive dog's behavior. As mentioned before, aggression can be fearful, defensive, possessive, protective, territorial, and unsocialized. The owner should find out what triggers make the dog aggressive and then train the dog appropriately.
  • Aromatherapy – The Journal of the American Medical Association conducted a clinical study on 32 dogs with a history of travel-induced anxiety issues. A diffused lavender odor may offer a feasible alternative treatment for travel-induced excitement in dogs.

    CBD Oil – Anxieties are the most common reason owners are buying their dogs CBD oil. A symptom of anxiety is aggression. While more research is needed to draw a full conclusion, CBD may help ease aggressive behavior in dogs, according to the University of Western Australia.

    The most effective way to give CBD to your pup is CBD oil for dogs, as when absorbed under the tongue, it goes straight into the bloodstream.

    If your dog is a little more difficult and won't allow you to place the oil under their tongue, we make calming CBD chews for dogs. These can be safely taken in combination with our CBD oil for an even more potent dose of CBD.

    Always consult with your veterinarian before adding any natural products to manage an aggressive dog.

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Accuracy Review by:
Dr. Nicole Wanner is a veterinarian and published scientific researcher. She studies the effects of CBD as a Ph.D. candidate.

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