Over the years, we’ve been asked our opinion on how neutering or spaying dogs affects their behavior and health, everything from the appropriate age to neuter and whether it’s true that it can cause weight gain. We aren’t veterinarians, but we did some research, and we’re here to clear the air on some common myths…

Myth: My dog will drastically change after the surgery

Fact: The sterilization process in male dogs involves the surgical removal of the testicles. Contrary to popular belief, the only behaviors that may change following the procedure are those that are related to male hormones. As Caesar Milan points out, a “dog’s basic personality is formed more by environment and genetic than by sex hormones, so sterilization will not change your dog’s basic personality, make your dog sluggish or affect its natural instinct to protect the pack.” So will anything change? Yes! Luckily, the removal of hormones will eliminate unwanted tendencies of unneutered male dogs – such as “roaming”, mounting, running away, and inappropriate marking. In terms of decreasing aggression, we’ve found evidence to suggest that neutering can prevent some aggression problems in males, but it won’t necessarily “fix” a temperament-related issue, such as territorial aggression or food aggression. In females, the affects are more subtle, and you will only notice a difference if your dog has gone through a heat cycle.

Myth #2: A neutered dog is more likely to gain weight.

Fact: There is no scientific evidence that a neutered or spayed dog will gain weight due to lack of sex hormones. This myth could simply be due to the correlation of pets gaining weight in general as they age, and less to do with the surgery itself. So fear not! As long as your dog is active, eats a health diet and gets plenty of exercise, the surgery will have no impact on metabolism or weight gain.

Myth #3: Dogs should never be neutered or spayed before one year of age.

Fact: The traditional age for neutering is 6 to 9 months. While some breeders recommend waiting until a dog is two years old for developmental reasons, we recommend referring to your veterinarian, who will know what’s best for your furry friend.

More facts: According to Texas A&M’s College of Veterinary Medicine, intact female dogs have seven times the risk of developing mammary tumors than spayed females. And for male dogs, the risk of testicular cancer is eliminated.

For new pet owners: we know the idea of your furry baby going under the knife isn’t a pleasant one, but rest assured that it’s a procedure with very few complications. And once it’s done, its done!

Next up: Cats! It’s different than you may think…