What’s the difference between neutering and castration?

There is no difference – castration is the specific term to describe neutering of a male animal.

What does dog castration involve?

Castration is a relatively simple procedure that removes the testicles. This takes away the reproductive ability of the dog and also a lot of the male hormones.

Image of a Labrador for Vets Now article on castrating dogs
Dog castration prevents unwanted pregnancies and provides a number of health benefits

When should I get my dog castrated?

Sexual behaviour usually develops during maturity and so neutering before this offers the most benefit from that perspective.  Once learned, these behaviours are much more difficult (but not impossible) to control.

Surgery is much simpler and therefore safer when your pet hasn’t fully developed sexually and so we usually recommend surgery while your pet is still maturing.

The exact age your pet ‘matures’ will vary depending on species and breed so it is important to speak to your vet relatively early on to ensure you don’t overshoot the ideal window.

Are there disadvantages to dog castration?

Many of the so-called disadvantages of dog castration are unfounded. Owners’ concerns generally centre around the following issues:

  • A castrated dog cannot ‘father’ any future offspring
  • The risks associated with surgery/anaesthetic

However, it is worth noting that while all surgery comes with a degree of risk, this is a routine procedure and there are considerably more advantages than disadvantages to getting your dog castrated.

Do castrated dogs put on weight?

Animals do not ‘become fat’ because they have been neutered. Their metabolic needs are slightly reduced so the amount of food they need is slightly reduced. Providing you adjust your dog’s diet, there is no reason for them to put on weight as a result of neutering.

Will my dog's personality change after castration?

No, animals do not become ‘characterless’, dull or unintelligent after neutering.

What if I want my dog to have a litter?

Although everyone loves their own pet and thinks they are perfect, it is important to carefully think through why you want to breed from your pet specifically. You need to weigh up the pros and cons carefully.

Here are a few things to consider:

  • most ‘stud’ animals have a proven ‘excellence’.
  • you may want a ‘replacement’ for your pet, but you will potentially have six or seven ‘replacements’ to raise and rehome.
  • if things don’t go to plan, medical care can be expensive.
  • breeding of animals is an area not covered under most insurance policies. Will you be able to afford if this goes wrong? – A caesarian will cost somewhere between £500 and £2000 during the daytime and could be more out of hours. Your vet will expect payment in full and at the time.
  • rearing a healthy litter is still costly by the time you have fed, wormed, vaccinated, cared for and loved them through the first weeks of life. Most people do not make money from breeding.

I have an older dog that I want to castrate, am I too late?

It’s never too late to castrate your dog. Although some of the advantages from ‘early castration’ are no longer applicable, there are still many benefits to castrating your dog, later in life.

Is there any alternative to surgical castration?

‘Chemical’ castration involving the use of oral or injectable drugs is available but does not have the permanent effects that follow surgical castration. The use of such drugs is often accompanied by side effects and so should be discussed with your vet.