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8 Signs Your Dog Needs to be Neutered

signs your dog needs to be neutered

Signs your dog needs to be neutered show the right time to neuter and help fight the pet overpopulation pandemic. Neutering is a surgical procedure that removes a male dog’s testicles to prevent them from siring litters. 

Besides the obvious prevention of unwanted litters, there are many reasons for neutering. For one, your intact male dog will urinate a lot as territorial marking. Some may even release some pee in the house, making a pet odor eliminator your best friend to get rid of that lingering stench. 

In the following paragraphs, we will explore some of the signs that your dog may need to be neutered. We have consulted canine experts like Sarah White in her book High Quality, High-volume Spay and Neuter for a complete guide on the topic. 

Unlike female dogs that have to be on heat to reproduce, male dogs can be on the mating clock at any time. They can also sire multiple litters from different female dogs if allowed, making neutering paramount to population control. 

A male dog displaying signs that they’re ready to mate depends on the availability of a female in heat. It is important to note that neutering is a permanent procedure, and once it is done, the dog will no longer be able to reproduce. 

It is also important to have the procedure done by a licensed veterinarian, as there can be risks associated with any surgical procedure.

What is Neutering?

Neutering is a surgical procedure that removes the testicles of male dogs. It is a common procedure often recommended by veterinarians to help prevent unwanted litters and improve the dog’s overall health.

8 Signs Your Dog Needs to Be Neutered

Neutering a dog involves removing the testicles of a male dog, which can help prevent unwanted behaviors and health issues. While some may call the process castration, neuter is a better term since it focuses on the benefits of the procedure rather than a perceived cruelty.

 Here are some signs that may indicate it’s time to neuter your dog:

Excessive Marking

Male dogs may mark their territory by urinating on objects like furniture or walls. However, excessive marking may indicate a problem and maybe a sign that your dog needs to be neutered and is a hassle to deal with. 

However, remember that abnormal peeing in the house can have other causes. Some dogs engage in submissive peeing mostly due to fear, while others have health issues like UTIs or kidney problems

Aggressive Behavior

Unneutered male dogs may exhibit aggressive behavior, especially towards other male dogs. Neutering can help reduce aggression and make your dog more docile. The increased aggression is because the dominant animal gets the mating rights in the wild. 

A study of behavioral differences between dog sexes found that canine intraspecies aggression gives a competitive edge for mating and resource rights. However, not all dogs increase aggression levels. You can read our article on 

Roaming Tendencies

Unneutered male dogs may have a strong desire to roam and may escape from your yard or home to find a mate. Neutering can help reduce this behavior and keep your dog safe. 

With male dogs being able to smell a female in heat about 5 to 8 miles away, a female doesn’t even have to be close to trigger roaming. Dogs with yards will turn into escape artists, and those living in apartments will want more walks.


Unneutered male dogs may display over-excited behaviors due to their hormonal fluctuations. This can make your dog appear more restless than usual. Even dogs that are normally hyperactive will get even more restless. 

Increased Humping 

Male dogs that are not neutered might frequently mount other pets, objects like pillows, or even people as a display of dominance. Neutering can help reduce such mounting behaviors and improve social interactions.

So if you notice your dog humping you more frequently, you’ll now know that the act may be sexually charged. Even females engage in humping, especially when they’re approaching their heat cycle.

Increased Interest in Other Dogs 

Signs of heightened interest in other dogs allow the male dog to express his reproductive readiness and desire to mate with the receptive female. Behavior is driven by hormonal changes, mainly an upsurge in testosterone, which heightens their mating instincts.

Intense Sniffing

When near a female dog, the male may exhibit intense sniffing of the bum or genital area to detect pheromones signaling her reproductive status. The dog intensely follows females on walks, in the park, and anywhere else. Even shy, introverted dogs get out of their shells to catch a whiff of a female.

Territorial Behavior 

A male dog being extra grumpy about someone or another dog getting into their space may be a sign it’s time to neuter. Increased territorial behavior, especially if it’s not normal in your dog, indicates that your dog wants the female dogs in his area for himself. 

When Should You Neuter Your Dog?

It’s best to neuter your dog when they stop growing or are about to. This means small breed males need neutering at around 6 to 8 months while large to giant should wait until 12 to 18 months. 

Several  studies have shown that early neutering (below six months for small dogs and 12 months for large) increases the risk for cancers like lymphoma, mast cell tumor, hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, and also joint issues.

Why Should You Neuter Your Dog? Neutering Benefits

Neutering your dog has several health and ethical benefits, as follows.

1. Reduced Risk Of Adding To Shelter Population

Unneutered dogs may contribute to the pet overpopulation problem, resulting in many dogs being abandoned or euthanized. Neutering can help prevent this from happening.

Any person engaging in the breeding of puppies without proper training and knowledge is a backyard breeder. Backyard breeding is the biggest cause of dog homelessness. 

2. Testicular Health

One significant benefit is the treatment of testicular cancer, which can be fatal in male dogs. Dogs whose testicles haven’t dropped typically get neutered to snip the disease causing the issue at the root. 

Please note that while several people claim that neutering prevents testicular cancer, growing evidence may show otherwise. A study of 759 Golden Retrievers found that lymphosarcoma (cancer risk) was three times more likely in dogs neutered below the age of 1 year and even more below six months.

3. Preventing the Passing of Unsuitable Temperament

Anxious or aggressive dogs should not be bred, and neutering can help prevent these traits from being passed on to future generations.

4. Behavioral Improvements

Neutering can also have behavioral benefits for your dog. Unneutered male dogs are more likely to exhibit aggressive behavior, such as biting and fighting with other dogs. Neutering can help reduce this behavior and make your dog more pleasant to be around.

5. Keeping Your Dog Safe from Roaming 

Neutering can also reduce the likelihood of your dog running away from home or wandering off. Unneutered male dogs are more likely to roam in search of a mate, which can put them in dangerous situations, such as getting hit by a car or getting lost and poisoned.

What Happens if You Never Neuter Your Dog

Unneutered dogs can sire puppies and will give you unwanted puppies. Additionally, you will notice increased roaming, territorial marking, restlessness, and sometimes aggression when a female in heat is around.

Possible Risks and Complications of Neutering 

Neutering a dog is generally a safe procedure. However, like any surgery, it carries some risks and potential complications. It is important for dog owners to be aware of these risks before deciding to neuter their pets.

One possible risk is scrotal hematoma, which occurs when blood accumulates in the scrotum after surgery. This can cause swelling, pain, and discomfort for the dog. In severe cases, it may require additional surgery to drain the blood and prevent infection.

Neutered dogs may also be at risk for certain health issues. For example, neutering can increase the risk of obesity, leading to other health problems such as joint issues and diabetes. It can also increase the risk of urinary incontinence, particularly in female dogs.

It is important to note that these risks are relatively rare, and most dogs recover quickly and without complications after being neutered. However, it is still important for dog owners to discuss these risks with their veterinarians and make an informed decision about whether or not to proceed with the surgery.

When to Consult a Veterinarian

You can visit your vet once you notice any signs a male dog wants to mate above, like aggression, frequent urination, mounting, and roaming. Ensure the vet is licensed for the procedure to ensure a smooth neutering process. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Does neutering a male dog calm them down?

Many dog owners believe neutering their male dogs will calm them down and reduce their aggression. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this claim. While neutering may reduce testosterone levels, it is essential to remember that aggression in dogs is often caused by other factors such as fear, anxiety, or poor socialization.

When is it too late to neuter a dog?

It is never too late to neuter a dog. While it is recommended to neuter dogs when they reach physical maturity, which is around 6 to 12  months, depending on size, dogs can be neutered at any age. 

Does neutering a dog help with dominance?

Neutering a dog does not automatically make them less dominant. Dominance in dogs is a complex issue and is not solely related to reproductive hormones. Training and socialization are key factors in addressing dominance issues in dogs.

Reasons not to neuter your dog?

There are several reasons why a dog owner may choose not to neuter their dog, such as personal beliefs or concerns about the risks associated with surgery. However, it is essential to remember that unneutered dogs are more likely to engage in behaviors such as roaming, marking and also contribute to homeless dogs. 

Is it cruel to neuter a dog?

No, neutering a dog is not cruel. In fact, neutering is a routine procedure performed on millions of dogs each year. Neutering can provide several health benefits and can also help reduce the number of unwanted dogs in shelters.

Final Thoughts

Neutering a dog is a big decision, and it’s essential to consider all the factors before making a final decision. Signs that a dog is ready for neutering include increased roaming, territorial marking, aggressiveness, humping, and interest in other dogs. The procedure is crucial to reducing homeless dogs.


Tamsin De La Harpe


Tamsin de la Harpe has nearly two decades of experience with dogs in rescue, training, and behavior modification with fearful and aggressive dogs. She has worked closely with veterinarians and various kennels, building up extensive medical knowledge and an understanding of canine health and physiology. She also spent two years in the animal sciences as a canine nutrition researcher, focusing on longevity and holistic healthcare for our four-legged companions.

Tamsin currently keeps a busy homestead with an assortment of rescue dogs and three Bullmastiffs.

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