If you’re a dog owner, there’s a very high likelihood that you’ve overheard the theory of neutering aggressive dogs as a taming technique. Most people believe that castrating an aggressive male dog will fix the problem. But what do science and studies in animal behavior suggest? Does neutering help with aggression in male dogs or is it just a myth that should be debunked?
Well, today we’re going to explore this subject basing our arguments and conclusions on scientific research and findings. We will also highlight the benefits and downsides of neutering your fluffy friend. This way, you can make an informed decision on whether to schedule your dog to be neutered or not.
Does neutering help with aggression in male dogs?
According to multiple studies, neutering male dogs do not yield significant aggression-related positive results. However, aggressive sexual behaviors or aggressiveness caused by male sex hormones (sex-related aggression behaviors) will be reduced. This means if the aggressive behavior has nothing to do with your dog’s reproductive hormones, neutering will not yield any significant benefits.
Recently, a study involving more than 13,000 dogs analyzed the effect of spay status and the age when the procedure was performed but did not find any significant positive effects of neutering. The study tested three types of aggression: aggression towards familiar people, aggression towards strangers, and aggression towards other dogs. Neutering did not have a significant effect on any of these behaviors.
Surprisingly, the study found that aggression towards strangers increased if the male dogs were neutered when they were aged between 7 and 12 months old. The reason for this wasn’t clear, although some theorize that the increase in aggression is due to reproductive hormones having some kind of modulating effect on behavior.
According to Stanley Coren PhD., DSc, FRSC, neutering causes behavior problems in male dogs, including increased aggression, fearful behavior, and over-excitability among other undesirable behaviors. Dr. Cohen based his arguments on a study led by Paul McGreevy of the Sydney School of Veterinary Science at the University of Sydney.
The study involved 9,938 dogs and yielded similarly less positive outcomes. It focused on the effects of neutering in male dogs and found that only a small percentage of the results were desirable. The study also indicated that dogs neutered too early will display greater undesirable behaviors as they grow older.
The study concluded that the expected positive effects of neutering male dogs, such as making them less aggressive, did not occur. There were only four positive behaviors displayed by neutered dogs in the study:
- Neutered dogs were less likely to howl when left alone
- Neutered dogs were less likely to leave urine marks indoors
- Off-leash neutered dogs were more likely to return when called
- Off-leash neutered dogs tended to reliably fetch tossed items
So, does neutering help with aggression in male dogs?
Based on the study led by Paul McGreevy, there are more negative effects of neutering male dogs than there are positives. The study found that neutered male dogs are likely to show aggression to delivery workers, strangers walking past their homes, cyclists, joggers, rollerbladers passing by, unfamiliar female dogs, unfamiliar persons approaching a family member, or unfamiliar visitors.
The study also showed neutered dogs displayed more fear-related behaviors when exposed to loud noises, unfamiliar situations, or unfamiliar people, when barked or growled at by unfamiliar dogs, when encountering unfamiliar objects by the sidewalk, when being examined by a veterinarian, and even when having their nails clipped.
Other undesirable behaviors the dogs displayed include eating droppings or feces, rolling in smelly substances or droppings, barking persistently when alarmed, stealing food, and licking themselves in an obsessive manner.
As you have seen, there are very few benefits of spaying a male dog, especially if it’s aggressive. The cons outweigh the benefits. Now that we have answered the question on whether neutering helps with aggression in male dogs, what are the other pros and cons of spaying your fluffy friend?
Other Benefits of Neutering Male Dogs
- Reduced risk of prostate cancer
- Reduced mating urge
- Neutered dogs are calmer and cleaner
- Dogs population control
Other Cons of Neutering Male Dogs
- Can affect your dog’s coating texture
- Cal lead to urinary inconsistencies
- Affect your dog’s maturation process
- Terminates the breeding process
Final Thoughts on Neutering Aggressive Male Dogs
Having pointed out a few studies on the effect of spaying male dogs, in your opinion, does neutering help with aggression in male dogs, and will you consider spaying your dog? If you have neutered your dog, what are the behavioral changes you noticed after the procedure? Let’s have a conversation in the comments section below.