Should You Neuter Your Dog? – The Dilemma Faced By All Shih Tzu Owners

Should you neuter your dog? - The dilemma faced by all shih tzu owners.

What It Means

Should you neuter your dog? Every shih tzu owner must agonise over this decision, a decision that must be made considering what is right for that particular dog. First, let’s make it clear what is involved.

Neutering is the act of surgically removing part of a dog’s reproductive organs under anaesthetic in order to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

In females this means the removal of the ovaries and usually the uterus as well. This operation is known as spaying. It means the female will no longer produce eggs or go on heat.

For males the testicles are removed in an operation known as castration. This will stop the production of testosterone and sperm.

Vasectomy can also be considered for a male but this is a much less often performed operation. With vasectomy a section of the semen canals is removed. After the surgery testosterone is still produced and so is sperm but it cannot leave the body. It costs about the same as castration and, like castration, it is irreversible.

The Advantages Of Neutering

The most obvious advantage, one that I’ve already mentioned, is that there will be no unwanted pregnancies. On a larger scale that means less abandoned puppies and less dogs in shelters.

There are several health benefits to neutering. Males operated on before reaching sexual maturity, which is usually at six months, will have very little chance of developing testicular cancer and later in life will have a reduced risk of prostate problems.

8 week old shih tzu puppy - the earliest age for neutering.
ID 42268924 © Helgidinson | Dreamstime.com

The lifespan of a female can be increased if she is spayed before she first comes into heat. The probability of developing breast cancer or urinary infections is greatly reduced.

While a dog is under anaesthetic for neutering surgery a good vet will take the opportunity to check for the presence of diseases such as hip or joint problems or any puppy teeth that have not fallen out and need extracting. Attending to everything in one go under the one administration of anaesthetic causes less distress to a puppy than multiple visits to the operating table.

A male neutered before reaching sexual maturity will not be so interested in marking out his territory with samples of his urine. Nor will he have the desire to escape his home to roam around, with the possibility of encountering dangerous road traffic, in search of a female on heat. Fights with other dogs to establish mating rites will become unnecessary. All of this means he will be less interested in females and more attentive to his family.

Because a female will not come on heat there will be no stains on the carpet, furniture or clothing. Males will not come along to bother her.

Neutering will save you money in the long run. That is the money you will not have to spend caring for an unexpected litter or for the cost of having stitches put your dog’s wounds after he has lost a fight with a rival.

The Disadvantages Of Neutering

There is a minor risk that a dog may have an adverse reaction to the anaesthetic.

There may be a minuscule increase in the chances of developing bladder cancer or joint problems but this has not been satisfactorily proved.

Breeding actions may continue. If a male dog practiced humping before the operation, he may still like to do so after recovery. Male and female dogs could continue to participate in sexual relations should they so desire.

A neutered dog may experience reduced energy levels for a short while after the operation.

A dog neutered after reaching sexual maturity may experience an increase in appetite.

At What Age Should You Neuter Your Dog?

As previously stated, dogs should ideally be neutered before reaching sexual maturity which, for shih tzu, is generally around the six months mark. This is particularly important if you have mixed sex dogs in your household to prevent insestuous pregnancies.

Although many vets will tell you that six months is the correct age for the operation, there is now a strong case for performing the operation as early as eight weeks with the proviso that the puppy has reached a minimum weight of 2 lbs (0.9 kg).

Puppies have a faster metabolic rate than adults. At eight weeks they have a faster recovery rate from the surgery and the anaesthetic. The blood vessels that serve the ovaries, uterus and testicles are far from fully developed and so there is less bleeding. The faster metabolic rate also means a young puppy will heal faster than an older puppy or adult.

Animal shelters have to neuter puppies as early as possible, that is eight weeks. No side effects of neutering at this early age have been reported.

For surgeries that charge for operations by the weight of the dog, neutering at eight weeks will save you money. Vets in such surgeries that say the operation cannot be carried out until the dog is six months old are probably just saying so to charge you more.

After Surgery – What To Expect

No dressings will be needed on the wounds as for males the scrotum shrinks in upon itself and for females all of the surgery is on the inside, including any self-dissolving stitches under the skin. However, an Elizabethan collar, or head cone as it is also known, will be necessary for the male to prevent him from licking his wounds.

Shih tzu prescribed painkillers and antibiotics looks worried.
ID 38620850 © Chaoss | Dreamstime.com

Painkillers will be prescribed to ease soreness and antibiotics prescribed to prevent infection. With careful attention to the wound, which involves disinfecting it daily, it should heal in about two weeks. If during the healing time any redness is observed around the wound or the dog becomes lethargic or stops eating, then contact the vet immediately to find out if there are any post-surgery complications.

Two weeks is also the time it will take the male to lose his hormones after surgery. During this time he should be kept away from females and any other dogs or animals he is likely to be aggressive with to avoid interrupting and setting back the healing process. He should also not be given the opportunity to exercise vigorously.

Common Myths Dispelled

Many people think that neutering will make a dog put on weight. This is not true. The only factors that will contribute to making a dog overweight are poor diet and lack of exercise. For further information on this, please see my posts, “How Much Food Should A Shih Tzu Eat” and “How Often Should You Walk A Shih Tzu?”.

Many people, perhaps the same ones, think that neutering will make a dog lethargic and lazy. While this may be true immediately after the operation, after full recovery the puppy will be as active as before surgery.

I was one of the people that thought neutering may change a dog’s character but now I know better. Apart from the positive changes previously mentioned, that is less marking territory, less desire to roam and less aggressiveness to other dogs, a neutered dog will have exactly the same character as before the operation.

A neutered shih tzu behaving normally.
ID 124691139 © Teeradej Srikijvilaikul | Dreamstime.com

Should You Neuter Your Dog? – The Verdict

As you can see in this post, there are more advantages than disadvantages regarding neutering, suggesting that it is something that should be done and I think that most vets would agree with that. But there are other factors to be considered before making a decision.

Certainly if your shih tzu has underlying health conditions such as heart or kidney problems, then surgery is not in his or her best interest and a vet would probably not perform the operation anyway.

If you have a one dog household, or one sex dog household, then surgery is not really necessary unless your shih tzu is going to be roaming freely amongst other dogs.

In households with two or more mixed sex dogs, then it is essential that all are neutered, otherwise there will be puppies everywhere!

I hope this post has helped you in your consideration of whether you should neuter your dog. If you have any thought or comments on the subject, or about shih tzu in general, please leave a comment or contact us.

Until next time.

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22 thoughts on “Should You Neuter Your Dog? – The Dilemma Faced By All Shih Tzu Owners

  1. I have read here as well as on other Shih Tzu sites that spaying a female before first heat is best. Though my Shih Tzu baby is only 5 ½-month-old, she has already had her first heat so now I am concerned about spaying her. Plus she already weighs 12 lbs! What are the risks of spaying her at this juncture? I respect your opinion and would like to know your thoughts. Thanks.

    1. Hello Hannah,

      Thank you for your kind words and your query.

      If you are going to have your shih tzu spayed, I recommend doing so before her second heat cycle. Statistically, she will still reap the same health benefits and avoid the same risks as if she had the operation before her first heat cycle.

      At 12 lbs, she is just on the upper limit of the normal weight range for a 6-month old shih tzu. So based on the information you have given me and subject to your vet’s approval, I can’t see any reason for the operation not to go ahead.

      I hope this helps.

      Shih Tzu Steve.

      PS: Have you subscribed to my free newsletter yet? Right now, as a bonus for subscribing you will receive the link to download for free my PDF guide “7 Steps To A Happy Shih Tzu”.

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  2. Our male Shih Tzu is 3 months now, and the only dog in the house. Should our dog be neutered if we’re considering doggy day care in the future. We don’t know anyone with dogs, so we’d like to utilize day care a few times a month so he can socialize and interact with other dogs. Hate the idea of neutering a dog, but if it’s necessary we will. Worried about the future negative medical conditions he might get because of neutering. Thanks!

    1. Hello Brian,

      I apologize if I’ve taken long to reply to your comment, I have technical issues at the moment with my message alert system.

      I would say that, If your puppy is going to be mixing with a lot of other dogs on a regular basis, then yes, neutering is a must to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

      Like you, I’m not one for neutering for the sake of it. Try not to worry about future health conditions. Like all operations there is a small risk, but the vast majority of dogs come through neutering without any serious health problems. There is more chance of beneficial health changes in the future than negative ones.

      I hope this helps,

      Shih Tzu Steve.

  3. Coconut will be 10 in October and is not neutered, is it too late to be safe?? CDC housing gave me a 30 day notice to leave or neuter him. Coconut fathered puppies in February and I kept a female. I will spay her, she is 4 months….even though they are both purebred…. but CDC let me move in here with him intact and has seen my
    county licensing for intact male for 7 years. I wonder if there is a legal angle to keep him intact other than marrying a vet quickly??

    1. Hello Wallis,

      Thank you for your query.

      Though it is more common to have this operation performed at puppy age, a shih tzu can be neutered at any age. Check with your vet that it would be safe to perform such surgery on Coconut.

      You could also consider a vasectomy as an alternative. Would CDC Housing accept this? A vasectomy shouldn’t cost you any more than neutering.

      I’m afraid that I am not able to advise on legal matters and would rather not comment on this in case I gave you false hope, but I wish you luck if you do decide to take this route.

      I also wish Coconut well should you decide to go ahead with either of the surgical procedures.

      Best wishes to you also,

      Shih Tzu Steve.

      PS: I regret that I do not know of any single vets!

  4. All my life my siblings have been shihtzus. They have lived long and amazing lives, I’m grateful for every minute I got to spend with them. This July we lost my Best Friend 17 1/2 yrs old little angel. Even though I was raised with puppies, my mom did the puppy stages, so I just knew they were neutered, it was just what was done. Now, that I got my first puppy and in it from the beginning, I’m questioning the why and have this bad feeling. Maybe because of covid and the limited personal interaction you get at the vet, or the issue I feel with scheduling. We don’t have our boy in a cage, since we’re home, so he’s never been in one, I feel having him dropped off 9am, wait around to be neutered until the Dr starts around 11am, he’s can be picked up by 3pm. Sounds like a long cruel day for a 20 minute procedure. So, since there’s a neutered 6yrs of dog in the house and going forward as long as there’s no other female dogs, why does it need to be done? To prevent shelter dogs? Which I completely agree with, I would rescue all of them, if I could. But he isn’t leaving the house or going near any females. I just don’t want to be selfish and do what’s best for him Sorry for venting just unsure what’s right.

    1. Thank you for your query.

      First, my commiserations for losing your Angel last July. 17½-years is a good age for a shih tzu but still all too short.

      I believe that there is no simple right or wrong answer to the issue of neutering. Every situation is different.

      I have never neutered my two boys as I have never seen any reason too. There are no female dogs in my house and I make sure that they don’t get “that close” to any passing bitches while we are out. So, there is no chance of any unwanted pregnancies. Plus, I am not generally in favor of having parts of the body removed unnecessarily, be it pets or humans.

      With so many puppies around, I think that your mother had no other choice but to have a general policy of neutering every puppy to avoid the situation getting out of hand in terms of numbers.

      Certainly, if there are no dogs of the opposite gender in your household, there is no urgency to neuter your puppy unless your vet recommends the operation for health reasons. I will say, though, that if you are going to have him neutered, now is the time to do it while he is still a young puppy.

      Should you go ahead with the operation, I am sure he will continue to have the same happy life with you as he would have left intact.

      I hope that this is of some help to you.

      Shih Tzu Steve.

  5. I have a Male shihtzu he is going to be 2 in April! He is sweat and isn’t aggressive at all! He loves to play with other dogs , I don’t see the need to spay him. I did not spay him cause I was scared! I lost 2 dogs before and made me depressed and terrified of losing him. I would love to have his puppies to keep his pure lineage alive! Yes I would be keeping the puppies! Or giving to close friends and family where I know where and how they are! I’m just scared of neutering. If we neuter all dogs one day there will be no more dogs. I understand that there are a lot of dogs in shelters and I would love to have a huge house and rescue as much as I can!

    1. Hello Bianca,

      Thank you for your comment.

      Like you, I am not in favor of neutering just for the sake of it. But there are circumstances where neutering is, in my opinion, justified, such as where the dogs health would deteriorate if not neutered, or where genetic diseases would be passed on, or where unwanted pregnancies would lead to unwanted, neglected or abandoned puppies.

      I hope you go on to have many happy times with your shih tzu and I wish him a happy birthday in April.

      Shih Tzu Steve.

  6. Hello my dog is 4 years old now and the vet is advising me to get him neutered but I am scared if he is gonna be okay I feel like he is going to get depressed or something. I am not just very sure about the advice. What if he stops eating or playing and also the side effects on his health after operation. Will he be needing extra care and time after the operation? I am just worried about the whole operation thing.

    1. Hello Kashish Dugar,

      Thank you for your query.

      If you trust your vet and he or she is advising you to have your dog neutered on medical grounds, then there is no question that you have to go ahead with the operation.

      If your vet is advising you to have your dog neutered to prevent unwanted pregnancies and there is little chance of your dog fathering any puppies, then you need to think about it, just as you are.

      On the one hand, there is evidence to support that neutering can mean that your dog is healthier in old age than he may be if he isn’t neutered. This is because neutering removes (literally) some of the causes of diseases, such as testicular cancer, which can occur more commonly in a senior dog.

      On the other hand, there is a small chance that if the neutering isn’t performed at the puppy stage that the character of an older dog can be altered by the operation. But it is a small chance. In all probability, your dog will continue to live his life as he is now after he has recovered from the operation.

      Ultimately, I cannot tell you one way or the other what to do. Your vet is a lot more qualified than me to give that advice. You have to weigh-up the pros and cons and make the decision yourself.

      As for after care, you just have to make sure that your dog doesn’t exert himself or get too excited for a week or two after the operation until the stitches have been removed. He may need to wear an Elizabethan collar to prevent him licking the wounds.

      I apologize if I haven’t helped very much here but I have tried to advise you as best I can.

      Shih Tzu Steve.

  7. My male puppy is almost six months. We have no female dogs. He has just started to hump occasionally. His demeanor is fine. I’m about to make an appointment but I keep hesitating. I’ve read that I should wait for him to be 10-12 months and that if you I do it too soon it can cause issues. I’m finding most articles recommend 6 months for Shih Tzus so I’m going to stick with that however I hate reading that it could cause issues. I’ve read your article and I want to make sure I’m making the right decision. Six months is an ideal time for a Shih Tzu to get neutered, correct? Thank you!

    1. Hello Jessica,

      The ideal time for neutering a shih tzu is just before he reaches sexual maturity, which is usually around six months.

      Neutering can lead to a healthier senior dog in later life.

      However, it may not put and end to the humping.

      Shih Tzu Steve.

  8. Thanks for the advice to have your dog neutered if you have two dogs that are of the opposite sex. My fiance has a female beagle and I have a male corgi. I’ll talk to her about getting one of them spayed or neutered.

    1. Hello Franklin,

      Thank you for the positive feedback.

      Yes, if you want to avoid any unwanted canine pregnancies, it is advisable to either spay the beagle or neuter the corgi. I guess which one will depend upon the age and health of each dog.

      Best wishes,

      Shih Tzu Steve.

  9. Hi,
    I’m wondering if it’s too Late to get my two 6 year old male shih tzus Neutered! Both are from Same Litter .
    I find that both are some what, frustrated we say, especially one. Help Please!

    1. Hello, Sue.

      Thank you for your query.

      Neutering is best done at the puppy stage but can still be performed on an older dog, it’s just that he may take a little longer to recover from the operation. However, neutering does not guarantee that the behavior you describe will stop. If it was happening before the operation, it’s likely to continue afterwards, too.

      My Charlie sometimes tries to hump my Bruno. When he does this, we have trained him to respond to the “Stop!” command. We achieved this by using the positive reinforcement method, that is rewarding him when he stopped on-demand or by putting him on time-out if he didn’t. Charlie is quite an obedient dog anyway, so it didn’t take very long. If you need more tips on making your dogs responsive to commands, you may find some useful ones here:

      How To Stop A Shih Tzu From Being Aggressive

      The choice is yours, but personally at 6-years-old I would only neuter a dog if there was a chance of any unwanted pregnancies. As I say, neutering is probably not going to stop the humping behavior but training might.

      Regards,

      Shih Tzu Steve.

  10. Hiya, my Shitzu can be extremely aggressive if he is on my lap or bed and other approach or try to move him . He can sometimes be vicious if we try to get him to go outside at night . Other than that he is lively, but absolutely devoted to me
    Do you think castration would help his aggression ?

    1. Hello, Lynne.
      Thank you for contacting Shihtzuandyou. I know some people will disagree with me but I would not use possibly suppressing aggression as a reason for castration as it may work or it may not. The only two reasons for which I would consider castration are preventing unwanted pregnancies and improved future health prospects.
      Instead, I believe that your shih tzu’s aggression can be trained out of him. I guess that you know that he is just trying to protect you from what he sees as a possible threat. Every time he growls at somebody, stand facing him in a way that obstructs his view of the subject of his barking. If he wears a collar, hold him by the collar underneath the chin (this stops him jumping up) and calmly reassure him that nothing is wrong. After a few repeats of this routine he should eventually get the message and stay calm.
      As for the aggression at night going out time, you need to assert your position as pack leader to prevent this. For tips on how to do this and stopping aggression generally, take a look at my recent post How To Stop A Shih Tzu From Being Aggressive .

      I hope that this helps.

      Regards,

      Shih Tzu Steve.

  11. That’s good to know that if your dog will be mingling with other dogs that it would be best to have them spayed or neutered. That way you could make sure that you don’t have any issues with puppies. I’ll have to consider doing that if I decide to get a dog for my kids.

    1. Thank you for your welcome thoughts, Tyler. Good luck with your new dog should you decide to go ahead and get one.
      Shih Tzu Steve

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