Pros And Cons Of Neutering A German Shepherd – Complete Guide
Neutering a German Shepherd is a big decision and one that shouldn’t be taken lightly. And while there are varying opinions on when exactly you should do it, the common consensus is that it should be done. However, it is up to you to decide for you and your pooch. For this article we compiled a complete list of the pros and cons of neutering a German Shepherd. It includes researched data and proven studies to help you make an informed decision for you and your GSD.
Pros Of Neutering A German Shepherd:
There are several pros of neutering a German Shepherd which is why only 30% of dogs in the United States aren’t neutered. This is according to the American Veterinary Medical Association.
1. It Increases Life Expectancy:
This is the top reason and one of the main reasons that people will neuter their GSD. Dogs that are fixed tend to live longer than those that aren’t.
This is a huge positive considering that large canine breeds like the German Shepherd have shorter lifespans living 9 years on average.
The University of Georgia (UGA) published a study back in April of 2013 that compared the difference in lifespan between 40,000 fixed and non-fixed canines. The findings were pretty impressive.
Overall dogs that were not neutered lived on average 7.9 years and those that were neutered lived on average 9.4 years. Specifically, males had a 13.8% increase in life expectancy.
Here is a chart to put things into perspective and how much time this might add to your GSDs lifespan:
|Non-Neutered Male German Shepherd||Neutered Male German Shepherd|
|9 Years||10.24 Years|
The study also states that 50-75% of pet dogs in North America are electively sterilized based on recommendations from the major animal associations.
2. It Decreases The Risk Of Certain Health Issues:
While sterilizing a German Shepherd does increase the risk of death from certain cancers, overall, it decreases the risk of death from infectious diseases and increases lifespan.
Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia:
Although non-cancerous, this enlargement of the prostate is the most common prostate disease found in aging non-neutered canines. Fixing your GSD eliminates this problem.
Although non-life threatening, it can cause a lot of discomfort making it difficult for your dog to use the bathroom. A common symptom is blood in the urine.
Perineal hernias are more often seen in canines that haven’t been fixed. They occur when the pelvic diaphragm becomes weak causing an organ to protrude into the anus region.
They make it hard for them to urinate or have bowel movements and they can be life threatening if the bladder or intestines are involved.
For obvious reasons, German Shepherds that have been castrated subsequently cannot get testicular cancer. Removing their testicles also eliminates testosterone which is needed for the cancer to develop.
This is a huge benefit for sterilized male dogs as 27% of non-sterilized male dogs will develop one or multiple testicular tumors.
3. Less Accidents or Traumatic Injuries:
When a male German Shepherd that is intact begins to sexually mature, he will start to look for females to mate with. This is called roaming. It can lead to several predicaments including accidents or traumatic injures which can be fatal.
Often times dogs will escape from their house or simply wander off when they shouldn’t to track a female’s scent. Fixing your GSD will eliminate this problem avoiding any potential accidents or traumatic injuries that lend him or her in the Animal E.R.
What Can Happen:
- They can get hit or run over by a car in the street roaming.
- They might get lost and not be able to find their way home.
- A dog fight may leave them with injuries and deep wounds.
- A neighbor could harm them for being on their property.
- They may get bit by another animal who has rabies.
These are just some of the scenarios to give you an idea of what can happen.
4. It May Reduce Aggressive Behavior:
There are conflicting views on whether or not neutering your German Shepherd will reduce the amount of aggression they have. This study found no relation between aggressiveness and castration when around familiar people or dogs.
And it actually found that when left intact they were less likely to bite strangers than when castrated. That being said, it also refers to another study of 42 dogs in which the owners elected to get their dog neutered.
Owners reported that gonadectomized dogs had a 62% decrease in aggressiveness toward other dogs but that territorial and fear-induced aggressive behaviors remained unaltered.Frontiers in Veterinary Science – Aggression toward Familiar People, Strangers, and Conspecifics in Gonadectomized and Intact Dogs
The fact is that no one knows exactly what effect sterilizing their GSD is going to have on their aggression or behavior. And you can find people with opinions on both sides of the coin.
That being said, there are owners who say that it took the edge off of their German Shepherd’s aggression and calmed them down.
5. It Will Prevent Unwanted Pregnancies:
Obviously one of the most clear and forward reasons that owners get their German Shepherd neutered is to prevent any unwanted pregnancies.
Unfortunately, in 2020 alone 1,272,000 dogs were recorded during intake at shelters all across the U.S. 5.3% of those were euthanized. That means 67,416 dogs had to be put down because they weren’t able to be adopted from the shelter.
This is according to Shelter Animals Count, the National Database used to keep up with shelter statistics in America. The German Shepherd is one of many breeds that are commonly seen in shelters.
Many people aren’t ready or equipped to handle the energy and uptake that it takes to raise a GSD. They need an active owner who can spend time with them daily along with training and socialization.
6. It Can Save You Money In The Long Run:
There are several ways that neutering a German Shepherd can save money in the long run. While fixing your GSD can run anywhere from $50 to $250, it’s a small price to pay considering the possible costs of future health issues.
Here are some of the ways it can save you money:
- If they get pregnant, it will cost time and money to deliver and find homes for the puppies.
- You won’t have to spend money dealing with prostate problems or testicular cancer.
- They are less likely to get into fights meaning less vet bills from traumatic injuries.
- Less cleaning up urination around the house because of marking.
- Not as many behavioral issues which means easier training.
- Neutered canines are cheaper to insure due to the decrease in health issues.
These are just some of the examples and it doesn’t mean that a non-neutered German Shepherd won’t cost you just as much money. It just depends on the GSD.
Cons Of Neutering A German Shepherd:
Although there are plenty of pros when it comes to neutering a German Shepherd there are also a handful of cons to consider before getting your GSD snipped.
1. They Lose A Natural Part Of Their Anatomy:
First and foremost, fixing your male German Shepherd means they will lose a natural part of their anatomy and the ability to reproduce.
Surgically removing their testicles can change their overall sex drive, certain behaviors related to the hormones, and increase or reduce certain health issues.
You may want to consider that castration means your GSD may end up with a different personality. He or she may be calmer or subdued which can be good or bad depending on your view.
2. It Increases The Risk Of Joint Disorders If Done Too Early:
Hip dysplasia is a serious concern for German Shepherd owners and especially for the military and police who use GSDs for high profile tasks.
A study performed by Veterinary Medicine and Science back in May of 2016 found some clear evidence that neutering your German Shepherd too early has a definite impact on their joints in the future.
Out of 1170 total dogs, only 7% of intact males were diagnosed with at least one joint condition while 21% of males neutered before reaching the age of one were diagnosed with at least one joint condition.
That’s a huge increase of 16% which signifies the importance of waiting at least until your German Shepherd is one year old to get them fixed.
3. They Are More At Risk of Getting Certain Cancers:
While neutering your German Shepherd may help avoid testicular cancer, they are more at risk of developing other cancers.
Keep in mind that part of the reason for this, is because they have a longer lifespan when they are fixed and normally, they don’t get cancer until they are older.
Hemangiosarcoma is one of the increased risks of sterilizing your GSD. It is a malignant cancer that stems from the blood cells in a dog’s body.
It develops into tumors which can surface in the heart, liver, skin or spleen and it accounts for approximately 5% of all cancer cases.
Unfortunately, it is fatal and few dogs survive beyond the 4-6 month mark even after getting treated.
4. They Are More At Risk Of Getting An Immune Mediated Disease:
Sterilizing a German Shepherd can also increase the risks of them getting an immune mediated disease.
Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia:
Immune-Mediated Hemolytic Anemia is one of the most common causes of anemia in canines. It is usually caused by an underlying condition.
Dogs that have this type of anemia may collapse, be lethargic, have pale mucous membranes, or be unable to tolerate too much exercise.
5. They Are More At Risk Of Getting Dementia:
In addition to getting cancer when they are older because of sterilization and their increased lifespan, they are also more at risk of getting dementia in their old age.
Canine Dementia can lead to several different issues as they start to cognitively decline including:
- Decreased Learning
- Getting Lost
- House Soiling
- Sleep Disorders
6. It Can Change A German Shepherd’s Coat:
On rare occasions neutering a German Shepherd can cause a change in the appearance and texture of their coat.
This is more common in long haired GSDs with the hair getting longer. This is especially noticeable in the tail which gets really long.
Intact German Shepherds will have a more course, harder, thicker coat which normally stops growing once it reaches a certain length.
7. It Increases The Risk of Hyperthyroidism:
Studies have shown that neutering a German Shepherd increases the risk of them developing hyperthyroidism.
This leads to an increase in the amount of thyroid hormones in their body. Subsequently, metabolism spikes sometimes to dangerous levels.
It can lead to breathing issues, diarrhea, hyperactivity, increased appetite, increased thirst, increased urination, vomiting and weight loss.
8. There Is A Small Risk Of Complications:
Anytime there is a surgical procedure, you inherit a small risk. Although rare complications during surgery happen between 0.1-2% of the time.
However, the rate of fatality is very low and neutering your GSD is considered a clean surgery with a very low wound infection rate.
How To Weigh The Pros And Cons Of Neutering A German Shepherd?
Now that you have all of the necessary information to make an informed decision, you have to weigh all of the pros and cons.
Certain owners lean more to the moral side of the issues while others lean to the science and health aspects. For example, Dr. Becker, a wellness veterinarian, used to tell all of her clients to neuter or spay their dogs.
She ended up doing a complete 180 and started being proactive in telling her clients not to neuter or spay. She made this transition after seeing health issues in her clients canine patients later on in their lives. You can check out her YouTube video here.
In the end, you have to make the decision for yourself and your precious furry friend. His or her health is the most important.
Who Should Neuter Their German Shepherd?
You probably should neuter your German Shepherd if you are an inexperienced GSD owner who may be irresponsible and let your pooch outside without a leash to wander around.
This will lead to roaming which could result in pregnancy, a traumatic injury from an accident or your GSD getting lost.
Who Shouldn’t Neuter Their German Shepherd?
You probably shouldn’t neuter your German Shepherd if you are an experienced GSD owner who is responsible and will make sure that your pooch is never unattended and off their leash.
There is no reason to alter their natural chemistry if you plan on keeping them safe and away from any potential mates or dangerous situations.
Many owners have success in raising German Shepherds that aren’t fixed because they are educated and successful in protecting their GSD.
When Should You Neuter Your German Shepherd?
If you do make the decision to neuter your German Shepherd, when you do it is critical to their health. While some vets will recommend getting it done at 6 months, most experienced breeders will tell you to wait until they are at least a year old.
As we stated in the pros section of the article, German Shepherds that are fixed too early in between 6 months and 1 year, are at a much greater risk of developing joint conditions like elbow and hip dysplasia.
It’s not an easy decision but consider all of the pros and cons of neutering a German Shepherd before you come to your final conclusion. There is plenty of information out there. Do your homework and research as much as you can. Hopefully this article gave you a little more insight into this life changing procedure.
Please leave a comment below and let us know what you think!
Do you have any experience with neutering a German Shepherd? Are there any pros and cons you would add to the list? Let us know! We would love to hear your personal opinion!