Last Updated on November 11, 2023 by Linda Richard
The first several months of owning a pup are both wonderful and stressful. One of the key questions to answer is when to neuter a Labrador and are there risks in waiting? In fact – is neutering or spaying your dog really a must or can you skip that step? What are the benefits of neutering and how can you make sure that all goes well? Let’s go over all the details below.
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When To Neuter A Labrador?
The Labrador neutering best age is widely debated. Depending on who you ask it can be as low as 6 months and as high as 15 months. And, in truth, there are benefits and drawbacks to both early and late neutering/spaying. What’s undisputed, however, is that spaying and neutering are absolutely a must unless you’re 100% sure that you want to breed your dog.
So, when to neuter a Labrador? Generally, most experts recommend doing so after the dog hits puberty, i.e. between the 9th and 15th months. Doing so earlier is an option most vets would agree to and it can help deal with some unwanted behavior from your dog such as marking territory (peeing over stuff) and bad temperament. However, neutering/spaying early also comes with some health drawbacks we’ll discuss below.
Additionally, most of the bad behavior of pre-neutered dogs can be foreseen and/or reacted to quickly. Whereas the health negatives of an early neutering are there for life. So, our advice would be to wait until the 9th month or until your dog hits 45 pounds of weight (20 kg). And, of course, you should always consult with your vet about your dog’s health and growth specifics first.
Spaying Or Neutering – What’s The Difference?
If you are a first-time dog owner you may be surprised by some of the terminologies. That’s perfectly understandable so let’s quickly go over the basic terms here. Spaying – or ovariohysterectomy – is the process of removing the ovaries and uterus of female dogs. This not only prevents the female dog from getting pregnant and reproducing but it also stops her heat cycle.
For male dogs, the term is neutering – or orchiectomy – is the corresponding process in which the male dog’s testicles are removed. This prevents any possibility of the dog reproducing and it also makes sure no negative behaviors such as aggression, territory marking, escape instincts, and so on will be developed.
Both spaying and neutering are also often referred to as gonadectomy.
What Are The Benefits Of Spaying Or Neutering Your Labrador?
When it comes to spaying or neutering, a lot of people often view them as “excessive” procedures. And, truth be told – they are. However, they are very much justified for the many benefits they provide, both for you and your dog, as well as for society and the canine population as a whole. So, let’s go over the main benefits one by one:
1. No More Stray Dogs
Puppies are awesome. So, what’s better than a few puppies other than more puppies? Well, that’s solid logic until you consider how serious these numbers can be. Given that females can have up to a dozen puppies per litter, that makes for an average of ~16 pups a year (more than one pregnancy per year).
If those pups are then allowed to reproduce too that means ~128 more pups on the second year, 512 pups on the third year, then 2,048 pups on year four, 12,288 pups on year five, and 67,000 pups on year six.
And, yes, you’d never let things get that out of control but can you vouch for the people you’ll give your pups to? This is the very reason why breeders often ask for a written promise that dog owners will spay/neuter their dogs. That’s also why states/countries with no strict spaying/neutering programs are often overrun by stray dogs.
2. Health Benefits
Onto something that may interest you personally – studies have shown beyond a doubt that spayed/neutered dogs live longer. In particular, neutered male dogs have 13.8% longer lives and spayed females – 26.3%!
This is because spaying and neutering reduce various health risks such as pyometra and other urine infections, as well as various tumors such as testicular, cervical, ovarian, uterine, and mammary cancers. With female dogs, in particular, the longer you let her un-spayed (and without regular sexual contacts and pregnancies), the risks of such tumors grow exponentially.
Learn more about: How Long Do Labs Stay In Heat and How Can You Best Meet That Challenge?
3. Behavioral Benefits
With male labs, the behavioral benefits are especially impressive. An unneutered male dog will very quickly develop tendencies to mount every object (and subject) at home, will develop an insatiable desire to escape and roam the neighborhood, will start marking its territory with urination and may even develop disobedient and aggressive tendencies toward you and your family.
What Are The Risks Of Spaying Or Neutering Your Lab Too Early?
There are studies showing that early neutering/spaying can lead to certain health problems such as some cancers as well as joint problems. There can also be urinary tract problems in male labs if they’ve been neutered before they are fully developed.
This doesn’t mean that you should never neuter your dog before its 9th month, however. The best time to neuter a Labrador depends on the individual. Faster growers may very well be suitable for early neutering so you should always consult with your vet first.
What Are The Risks Of Spaying Or Neutering Your Lab Too Late?
When wondering when to spay a lab you should also consider the risk of being too late. Fortunately, for females, such risks virtually don’t exist as long as you spay them by their 15th month. For males, if you delay too much you may start noticing some of the behavioral problems we outlined above. In those cases, just take your dog to the vet immediately.
Are There Any Overall Risks With The Procedure Regardless Of When You Do It?
Technically speaking, every medical procedure has its risks. However, if the vet does their job properly, neither spaying nor neutering really has any negative health side effects.
In Conclusion, When To Neuter A Labrador?
If your dog has reached 9 months of age – or is between the 6th and 9th months but has reached 45 pounds (20 kg) of weight – it’s time to go to the vet. All delaying may get you are practical behavioral problems at first and some serious health issues later on.