Behavior Changes When Dogs Are Spayed or Neutered

A picture of Dottie’s beautiful, intact Father showing at Westminster Kennel Club


A while back, I wrote a post about the problems of early spaying and neutering in our dogs. I have the link here.

The Problems with Early Spay and Neuter – Joyfully Healthy Pets

That post talked about the physical problems that can arise from altering your pet too early.

This time, let’s talk about the behavioral problems we are seeing in altered dogs, both male and female.

If you are like me, I was told that I needed to alter my dogs to calm them down, reduce their energy level, keep them from getting fat and to prevent aggression. So………..what if none of that is true? What if everything we have been told to do for our dogs, has a darker side?

Dog trainer, Kevin Behan, developer of the Natural Dog Training method, says this in the following article.

“I don’t believe neutering male dogs is calming, healthful or sociologically justified.”

The Debate Over Neutering | Natural Dog Training    1

Kevin Behan creator of Natural Dog Training.

It was Kevin’s observation that the most aggressive dogs he worked with were altered dogs.

Leah Lykos from Canine Movement Labs, a student of Kevin’s who studied with him for many years, has observed this with the dogs she works with:

“38% of my clients are neutered males, and of those neutered males, 80% of them are either dog or human aggressive, or some combination of the two. The number one issue for neutered males is human aggression.
The next segment is spayed females making up 32% of my clientele, and of those spayed females, 68% of them are dog aggressive or human aggressive, or both. Dog aggression is the number one issue of spayed female dogs who come to me for training.
Spaying and neutering at a young age seems to have an adverse effect on the dog’s sociability in general, both with dog and human interactions. It definitely weakens their natural temperament and causes them to have a smaller emotional capacity. Another way of saying this is that they are less adaptable to new situations, increasing the chances that they will become reactive when overwhelmed.”  Canine Movement Lab: Holistic Dog Training in Chattanooga, TN

This next quote comes directly from the article below and is from one of the scientists who ran the study.

“Our data showed that the behavior of neutered dogs was significantly different from that of intact dogs in ways that contradict the prevailing view. Among the findings, neutered dogs were more aggressive, fearful, excitable, and less trainable than intact dogs.” 2

I have had personal experience with my own altered and unaltered dogs. I had two altered male dogs. One was hard to handle and kept attacking my Golden Retriever, Rontu, who was not altered. He ended up living with my parents because the fighting was so bad. And my parents adored him. The other one was a seizure dog and very mellow. But that could have been his meds.

Of my spayed female dogs, they all had good temperaments. But as I compare them to my current dogs, Harriet and Dottie who are not altered, there is a noticeable difference in their temperaments. Harriet and Dottie are both closer to the breed standard than my previous dogs.

My most recent experience with an altered dog, a four month old male rescue mix, that had been altered by two months of age. I met his owner one day while Harriet and I were out for a walk. His owner, a woman whose husband had died three months earlier, was walking her dog. I could see that he was a handful as he was biting her and her arms were full of scratches and bite marks. This was her first dog and she really had taken on more than she could handle. Suddenly this dog jumped on Harriet and bit her ear. My poor sweet girl.

When I look at the picture of Dottie’s Father at the beginning of this article, and I see the video of him in the show ring, I see a well adjusted, content and happy dog. As most show dogs are. They are not altered and they exhibit the proper temperament for their breed. Are there exceptions to this, of course there are. But in my experience at dog shows personally, I have never seen it.

Read the articles and studies I have linked and decide for yourself.

Are T   here Behavior Changes When Dogs Are Spayed or Neutered? | Psychology Today   2

Neutering Causes Behavior Problems in Male Dogs | Psychology Today

Canine Movement Lab: Holistic Dog Training in Chattanooga, TN


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Joy Eriksen CSAN

Certified Small Animal Naturopath

My name is Joy Eriksen and I am a Certified Small Animal Naturopath. My passion is helping people with their companion animals. Keeping them healthy and vibrant for a long and happy life.

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