For many first-time golden retriever owners, figuring out the best age to neuter can be difficult. Veterinarians, breeders, and owners will all have a different view on the best age to neuter. The conventional wisdom used to be that 6 months of age was the best time for the procedure. However, more recent evidence suggests that neutering this early can have serious long-term consequences for your golden retriever’s health. So today, we’ll get to the bottom of this complex question, “What’s the best age to neuter golden retriever male”?
(Note: Looking for info on spaying a golden retriever female? Click here!)
Why People Neuter Their Golden Retriever
Neutering your dog is generally a good idea, especially if you own a large breed like a golden retriever. After a male golden retriever is fully grown, their reproductive organs can cause unwanted behavior. While each owner has their own incentives, most of the decisions to neuter involve:
- reducing roaming behavior
- reducing the risk of male-to-male dominance/aggression
- preventing unwanted breeding
- reduce the risk of congenital conditions
- reduce the risk of some cancers
- curb urinary problems
While these are all great benefits of neutering, it’s important that you fully understand the impact that neutering your dog too early will have. Certain sex hormones play a huge role in the overall development of your golden retriever. With this in mind, the standard 6 month rule doesn’t work for most retrievers, as it can take 7-8 months for your dog to fully grow.
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The Risks of Neutering Your Male Golden Retriever
Today, neutering your male golden retriever is the expectation. And, in all fairness, the pros do outweigh the cons when it comes to neutering. However, many vets will simply leave out the risks associated with the procedure to ensure that you pay for their service. Knowing how the neutering process will affect your retriever is vital to caring for him as he ages.
Neutering Triples the Chance of Obesity
Many golden retrievers will gain weight after the neutering procedure. This is a very common occurrence in neutered and spayed golden retrievers, but it doesn’t have to be. Neutering slows down your retriever’s metabolism. Because of this, they do not need to eat as much food after the procedure. Many owners do not know this, and so they feed their dog more food than they need. Be sure to discuss with your vet how much food your retriever should eat after the operation to ensure they do not gain too much weight.
Increased Risk of Hip Dysplasia & Torn Ligaments
Hip dysplasia affects many large breed dogs, especially as they age. This is a condition where the hip bone starts to break down/shift around, resulting in your retriever having difficulty walking. Neutering a male golden retriever at a young age affects bone development. This causes more problems for your retriever as they age. Most vets recommend neutering at 6 months old, but the bones do not fully develop until 7 – 8 months of age. This means that neutering at 6 months old will increase your dog’s risk of having major bone problems.
Neutering Raises the Risk of Fatal Cancer Called Hemangiosarcoma
Hemangiosarcoma is a cancer of the blood vessels, and it is most common in golden retrievers and other medium-breed dogs. Neutering your retriver affects their hormones levels. With the altered hormone levels, retrievers are less likely to be able to fight hemangiosarcoma. So, if you neuter your retriever, be sure to have him checked up on at least once a year.
Neutering Also Triples the Risk of Hypothyroidism.
Once again, this is a consequence of altered hormone levels. Hypothyroidism is a condition that affects the thyroid gland, which is basically the hormone-regulator the body. Effects of hypothyroidism include weight gain, weak muscles, and a lack of energy. As your dog ages, start to look for these symptoms. Of course, these are also symptoms of an aging golden retriever. However, if your retriever develops these symptoms all of the sudden, it’s important to take him to see a vet.
Behavioral Changes After Neutering Golden Retriever Males
Earlier, we touched on some of the common reasons why people decide to neuter their golden retrievers. One of the biggest impacts that the neutering process has is on the behavior of your dog. The testes produce a ton of different chemicals in your retriever’s brain – The most important one being testosterone.
Once you get rid of these hormones, your retriever will start to act differently – After all, their literal brain is going to be altered by this surgery. For the most part, these changes are positive ones. For example, neutering will help stop your retriever from becoming defensive around other dogs or strangers. There are, however, other consequences that you should be aware of before deciding to neuter.
Less Defensive Against Other Dogs / People
As mentioned earlier, neutering your golden retriever will stop the production of testosterone. This will also make your golden retriever less defensive when it comes to others, especially male dogs. Golden retrievers are not defensive dogs to start with, but neutering will mellow them out even more.
The reason your retriever may become defensive comes from their natural instincts to protect themselves. In most situations, retrievers will only become defensive if they feel threatened. If your retriever has not been neutered, then another male dog is seen as a threat to your dog. Neutering your retriever reduces the amount of testosterone in their brain, which stops them from feeling threatened by male dogs.
Stopping from Humping Furniture/People’s Legs
This common behavior comes from your retriever’s desire to — You know what! Once he is neutering, he will no longer have this urge. Of course, you can train him to stop this behavior before neutering. However, if nothing seems to work, neutering will certainly do the trick!
While humping furniture isn’t going to actually hurt your retriever, it is still an undesirable behavior – Especially if it’s a person your retriever decides to hump. Unfortunately, it is hard to stop your retriever from doing this through training alone. While it is possible to stop your retriever from humping things while you’re in the room, no amount of training will get rid of his urge to hump. Neutering is the only long-term solution to stopping your dog from humping.
Stopping Jumping / Biting
After your golden retriever’s testosterone production stops, he will largely stop jumping and biting as much. Even though these actions generally come from over-excitement, testosterone is the hormone that makes your retriever want to be so physical. Without it, he will be much calmer and willing to lay down for pets rather than jumping. If you’re worried about your pup becoming non-energetic, don’t worry — They’ve still have the same level of energy when it comes to exercise / playtime!
Exercise after Neutering Your Golden Retriever
After the neutering procedure, there will be many hormonal changes in your retriever. These changes may not be very dramatic, but you will definitely notice a change in your dog’s energy levels. Because of this, you may need to adjust their exercise routine after neutering.
Unfortunately for us, there are no hard and fast rules on how much exercise your golden retriever will need. Your best bet is to simply let your retriever tell you how much they want to do daily, and then going from there. For the first couple weeks, your retriever will be recovering from the surgery, so sluggishness and fatigue are expected. If, however, you notice that your retriever is constantly lacking energy well after the procedure, it may be a sign of something else.
Golden Retriever Exercise Schedule
As you probably know, golden retrievers are a very active breed. While they may lose some energy after neutering, it’s vital that you continue to exercise your retriever as much as they need. As mentioned before, your retriever’s bones and joints will be affected after the neutering process. Because of this, continual exercise is needed to make sure your retriever stays physically healthy. Click here for our full guide on, “How much exercise does a golden retriever need?”
So… What’s the Best Age to Neuter a Golden Retriever Male?
There is no doubt that 8 months old is the best age to neuter golden retriever male. Because the neutering procedure stops vital growth hormones from being produced, your retriever puppy may have long-term health consequences from neutering them too early. Your retriever’s bones will not stop developing until 8 months old, and neutering before then can cause them to have weak bones and muscles as they age.
Traditional veterinarian advice would say that 6 months is the best age to neuter. This is because your puppy is almost completely developed, and so 6 months is the soonest you should consider neutering. As discussed above, however, this has been the standard for decades. Now, as new research is being done, we know that this is too early to ensure your puppy is done growing.
I hope this article answered all your questions about the best age to spay a golden retriever male. If you have any other questions, please leave them below. In addition, you can contract us directly!