Will Desexing My Dog Change Its Behaviour?

Spaying or neutering your dog offers health benefits but many owners wonder if it changes their pet’s behaviour. Here are some useful insights...

You may have heard someone exclaim that the reason they haven’t neutered or spayed their dog is that it would ‘change their personality’. It may even be something you’ve been wondering about yourself.

The good news is that, according to vets, spaying or neutering your dog won’t change its personality and, after they’ve recovered from the procedure, you’ll still have the same dog you had before, just one that’s less likely to become a puppy parent!

However, addressing the question about whether spaying or neutering your dog will impact its behaviour is a little more complicated. Spaying or neutering may change a dog’s behaviour but, for the most part, these are positive changes.

How can desexing affect behaviour?

When you spay or neuter a bitch or a dog you’re removing the drive for certain behaviours, for example, those associated with the animal being in heat and looking for a mate.

In female dogs, being spayed will help reduce roaming tendencies, frequent urination (to attract males) and potential aggression. Similarly, a neutered dog will be less likely to roam, try and mount inanimate objects (or your legs) and mark their territory.

How much it impacts these behaviours will depend on how late or early in their life the dog had the procedure done. The later in life a dog is spayed or neutered, the less impact it may have on these behaviours.

However, it’s not a quick fix

While spaying or neutering your dog may help calm them down and reduce aggression, it’s important to understand that these behaviour changes aren’t guaranteed, so this shouldn’t be the only reason you’re putting your dog through this procedure. Some behaviours are learnt, rather than driven purely by hormones.

Other benefits of desexing

Aside from eliminating or reducing some unwanted behaviours, spaying and neutering your canine friend has other benefits. For females, you won’t need to deal with bleeding during their heat cycle – or her turning up with an unwanted pregnancy.

And for both male and female dogs, neutering and spaying can help reduce rates of cancer - particularly testicular and prostate cancer in males, and mammary or uterine cancer in females.

Whether you spay or neuter your dog is a personal decision. If you have any questions or concerns about the procedure, it’s always best to talk to your vet.