At some point, you might ponder whether to castrate your lab or not. In essence, making that choice is dependent on many factors. For example, the age of the dog, the cost of the procedure, and the legal requirements
In this article, we try to help you convince yourself why you should do it. You will hopefully be able to decide on the next initiation for your labs.
Best age to castrate my Labrador
In many US states, it is legal for the procedure to occur. In fact, due to the high dog population in the shelter homes, male dogs are put out for castration when young. This is done to prevent over breeding. The recommendation from the vets is to castrate when the dog is 5-7 months old. However, today, dogs are neutered when they are between 6-8weeks old.
Some reasons why you are told to wait longer are:
- Younger dogs may get complications from the anesthesia used. Their liver and kidneys may fail because they are not mature enough to handle the drugs.
- Early castration may affect masculine characteristics and make your lab look feminine. Due to testosterone production cut out early, the dog won’t develop muscular structure.
- Urine disposal hygiene and preputial urine scalding become normal. When done early, the lab could be unable to ever protrude its organ from the sheath.
- It may lead to retention of their juvenile child-like behaviors even as they grow older in life
- It may lead to death in some instances. The anesthesia predisposes young dogs to low blood sugar and cold body temperatures. These are fatal.
For you who will opt to choose to neuter early you can consider the following pros;
- Some dogs may mature fast and pose a risk of breeding. You avoid this possibility totally.
- Post anesthetic recovery is way quicker in younger dogs. You have little to no risk of excessive bleeding.
- If you want to buy a young lab, desexing early makes it possible and smooth as you will not need to castrate them later.
- You will not have to wait up to the time the vets recommend. Five months is a long time.
Best methods available
If you have a Lab that is not neutered yet, you need to decide which method best suits you. In many vet places, these procedures are costly, starting from 200 dollars. Before this scares you away, there are other options where they offer free services.
You can decide to take your Labrador retriever through either scrotal or non-scrotal procedures.
- The most common method is physical castration. Your lab’s testes are removed, and the blood vessels stitched back together. The dog is then free from the testosterone production. This solves breeding and behavior problems.
- Chemical desexing involves injecting the dog with an inflammatory drug. It is a scarring agent that makes the testes swell and renders the dog infertile. Chemical neutering can make the dog have pain after the procedure. This happens since the swollen testes are painful.
- Dog implants/ contraceptives: They involve a dog getting an implant into the body, which releases hormones to curb sperm production. In turn, the dog is left infertile and cannot sire any puppies.
- Vasectomy features cutting the lab’s sperm duct. The dog will not be able to breed as a result of this. It prevents the sperms from moving to the reproductive organ and getting extracted. Behavior issues that come with no castration manifest themselves if this is not done.
Pros and cons of castrating your Labrador
There are two sides to the coin in the castration game. Even as you choose, you need to determine whether, in your opinion, the pros outweigh the cons.
- Prevents overbreeding: As a petowner, it’s advisable to have only the pups you are able to care for. When you castrate your dog, there will be zero breeding. Many shelters today are flocked with labs that seek homes to get adopted. There is no need to add on more.
- Prevents passing on defective genetic traits: When labs that have a certain defect are allowed to breed freely, they can pass it through to their litters. You can prevent this by castrating your lab. Some of the diseases are; hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cryptorchidism, hemeralopia, trapped neutrophil syndrome, collie eye anomaly, and congenital cataracts.
- Reduced risk in testicular diseases infection: When your lab gets castrated, the risk of it getting infected in the testes goes down by 70%. Testicular inflammation, testicular cancer, and disorders do not affect the dog.
- Desexing ensures the reduction in testosterone-induced diseases: As a lab owner, you do not want to predispose your dog to any disease that you can possibly prevent. Some of the diseases to be prevented are benign prostate hyperplasia, prostatitis, prostatic abscess, perineal adenomas (small cancers that occur around the excretory organs of male dogs), perineal hernias and certain castration-responsive skin disorders. Desexing removes the main source of testosterone in the animal’s body. This not only prevents the onset of these diseases but can even help to control or cure them if they are present.
- Prevents and reduces testosterone-induced behaviors: There are some things that you may be unable to train your lab against. Marking territories by peeing in the compound is associated with being intact. When your dog is greatly territorial, domineering, and aggressive, the reason is clear. Other times, it will be driven to go searching for female dogs that it may want to escape. When it spots female dogs, the intact lab may want to climb on them from behind. Labs also hump on stuffed toys, pillows, or anything. Intact labs can also start roaming. Unfortunately, this can make the dog predisposed to cruelty by humans or attacks from other dogs and animals. Such behaviors can be prevented when the testes of the dog are removed. Their testosterone levels, which are the primary cause of these behaviors will be out of the picture.
- Being overweight: You may have known why Labrador retrievers gain weight so fast. Castration is among the main reasons why labs can be overweight. Once you decide to fix your lab, you should reduce their calorie intake by 25%. Fixed Labrador retrievers have lower metabolism rates than the intact ones. Intact dogs tend to be more active and hyper. If you continue feeding your lab the same portions as before, they will gain more weight. You should be comforted in the fact that feeding your lab versus the cost of going for neutering is more costly. This applies if you are concerned about your budget. You should also know that labs can be predisposed to gaining weight fast for many other reasons. Choosing to evade castration for that reason is one-sided.
- You lose valuable genetics: When you do not castrate your lab, you are allowing for breeding. As an owner, you may want to progress the breed to the next litter. The problem with this is that breeding requires dogs to be tested so as to give good results. The downside to uncontrolled breeding is where a whole litter inherits inferior genes. Some may have been suppressed genetics in the past, which surface once the new litter is born. Temperament issues, dominance, and strange behaviors can also be passed down. In many cases, personalities are based on the parent dogs. If the parent dogs are aggressive and exhibit poor social skills, the puppies inherit. All in all, once you decide to go down the fixing route, be ready to say goodbye to ever seeing your puppy labs.
- Causes immature development and low muscular build: A desexed lab will show juvenile tendencies even as it grows older. Since the testosterone hormone is low in production, the lab will not grow normally. Testosterone is responsible for male features in dogs. These include more muscle, reproductive organ development, reduction in any mammary gland growth. When low, the immaturity grows on and is evident. If you compare an intact lab of a similar breed to the one neutered, you will observe the desexed one appearing small.
- It reduces a male’s desire to hunt, guard, or work: Labrador retrievers are often trained for hunting. Often, when the hormone responsible for this drive is withdrawn, and the dogs become docile.
- Loss of testosterone as a result of desexing may result in delayed growth plate closure: Dogs that have been neutered early in life (before the age of 12 months) tend to show delayed closure of their growth plates. These are the cartilage bands located in the ends of the animal’s long bones. Growth plates are responsible for making the bones grow and elongate during juvenile bone development. This is common in the formation of puppies. As a result of delayed growth plate closure, you will notice fixed animals being taller and longer in limb than intact male animals. Whether this increase in bone length should be considered a problem or benefit depends on you. Often people choose not to fix animals early because of it. This is in light that their Labrador retrievers may be more prone to orthopedic injuries).
- Castrated dogs are predisposed to certain cancers: Check out this study here, showing how the cancers affecting castrated dogs are taking a toll on them.
- Predisposition to some diseases: Labrador retrievers are susceptible to getting joint problems as they grow. Joint problems such as hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament diseases are common. Once castrated, chances of getting these diseases shoot up. It is costly to treat these diseases as they need surgical correction. You will need to determine whether your dog is old enough to take it and recover well. Such tough decisions need thinking twice.
- The procedure is relatively costly: Considering that neutering is an optional procedure, you may be taken aback by the charges the vets give. The procedures are not less than $200 in many states. When on a low budget, you can choose to scout for places where they offer free neutering. Some community-based organizations do this to help counter unnecessary breeding. Be sure to check that if serious about fixing your dog.
What are some social benefits of castrating your dog?
- When you work from 8 am-5 pm, you will have an easier time managing your pooch. You will not have your dog chasing neighboring females or running away from the home to look for a mate.
- You will be able to leave your dog with dog sitters. In most cases, sitters do not agree to stay with a male dog that is not castrated. It may cause a lot of chaos, especially when aggression instincts kick in.
- It is a norm in the United States as it is a legal requirement. When you take your pooch for training and socialization classes, you do not fear that your dog may misbehave.
Convinced on whether to castrate or not? You should remember that if you intend to own a female dog, neutering your male is less invasive. It is better to castrate the male one. Having a well-done fence prevents your dogs from moving outside your confined compound. This hence reduces the chances of possible breeding. Other stray dogs will also not access your compound. You need to consider how your lab will react to the castration. It is not a straight forward decision. Whichever route you take, however, be sure to be responsible for the consequences.
Learn more about Labradors on our other blogs.