*This article is not meant to be an expert opinion on the topic of neutering and spaying your dogs; rather, it should be read as an open conversation based on answers received from the people that responded to our questionnaire on Instagram (open for anyone to respond to). This is based on a compilation of a very small population (less than 50 responses per question were received), and we are sharing what we gathered from it. We’d love to hear your thoughts, too – comment down below to tell us what you think!
Hi guys! Sandy here. This topic has been on my mind for a while now as Humphrey is approaching his first birthday and is not yet neutered. As with most things in life, we don’t believe there is a one-size-fits-all approach when it comes to neutering and spaying your dog. There are so many breed-specific intricacies, and so many risks and benefits that you have to carefully weigh in on what is best for your dog.
I don’t want to get into the nitty-gritty details so here is an article (among the tons I’ve been reading since we brought Humphrey home) that I felt best summarized the health benefits and risks when it came to neutering/spaying your dog. The article is one of the few that seemed to be objective, and supported with references, while being clear and easy enough to read without having a medical background. This article will not discuss the impact of spay/neuter on population control, or the impact of spay/neuter on behavior, and is purely based on the health risks and benefits.
As for Humphrey specifically, the only decision that we feel comfortable sharing with you at this point is that we will not be neutering him until at least the age of one. Other than that, if and when we neuter him will most likely depend on his behavioral changes, if any, as we are constantly monitoring how he behaves and interacts in different settings.
Enough about what we think, lets get to your answers! We asked you guys a few questions on this topic and here are the answers we’ve gotten. If you're already committed to neutering/spaying your pup, scroll all the way down to read the tips for preparing for the surgery.
When is the best time to spay/neuter?
Out of the 35 responses we received, 5 of you said “when they are young,” “as soon as possible,” “as early as the vet says is safe,” or something to this effect suggesting earlier the better. Most people gave answers in the range of 6 months to a year.
As for answers that were specific to females, 4 people said before their first heat and 2 people said after their first heat cycle.
“Vets at UC Davis said the best time is when all the canine teeth fall out, and before first heat.” -@sofias_frenchie_life
--Just to add context, most puppies lose their canine teeth by 4 months.
"There are a lot of factors (personal preference, gender, breed, etc.) but based on my research for corgis, you want to wait until 9-12 months. Because they are prone to spinal issues later in life, waiting 9-12 months will give your corgi enough time for the growth plates to fully develop. Some sources have said neutering/spaying earlier will potentially increase chances of spinal issues." -@puddles_the_corgi
--This was super insightful, and I believe is relevant to French bulldogs as well.
“Wait until after a year to 16 months of age to neuter. Helps joints properly close and your Frenchie to develop to his greatest potential.” -@eminencek9
--This is a reputable breeder in the East Coast (Humphrey is not from this breeder but we have a couple beautiful Frenchie friends in NYC that are from this breeder!)
“I was told about 1-2 years due to bone growth.” -@maitlandgw
--To cite the article I mentioned above, “if [neutered] before 1 year of age, significantly increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer); this is a common cancer in medium/large and larger breeds with a poor prognosis.”
“I say 18 months. Wrote a blog on it. The across-all-breed recommendation is incorrect.” -@anmitsufrenchie
--I followed up by reading the blog post and the conclusion for Anmitsu, a female French bulldog, was "to wait between 12-18 months before spaying. This is after her first season."
“At about a year old – when I started marking and running away. (FYI, it didn’t help.)” -@wee.gimli
“I think it’s the best time when your dog/puppy has been off the walls.” -@haileygirltkd
--Many people believe when to neuter should depend on behavioral changes and not solely based on age.
“We waited until Tony was approximately 2 years. It let him physically mature first.” -@babblingbrookesmith
“We wanted to wait until full maturity but he kept getting attacked at the dog park.” -@drogo.thefrenchie
When did you neuter/spay your dog? Was it a good decision?
We received about 43 responses from those that have neutered/spayed their dogs. And most answered that it was a good decision.
18 people provided an answer as to when they neutered their dogs, and 4 answered before or around 6 months, 6 answered between 6-12 months, and 5 answered just around one year. The remaining 3 answered 18 months, 3 years, and 6 years old.
“We neutered my dog at a little over a year and a half old. He’s better behaved now!” -@madisonpm0607
“We ended up neutering him at 8 months however I noticed he was more aggressive after.” -@drogo.thefrenchie
“I got Mozart neutered just after he turned 1. It was the best decision as he was easier around other dogs. Mozart was also easier to train and didn’t burst into hyper moods anymore. It’s also less frustrating for them.” -@kelly.s.mathieson
“At about 6 months. It was a great decision. His temperament is more calm.” -@ape328
“7 months, and yes! He could go back to daycare, stopped humping, and [there are] a few other benefits” -@bubbabareiben
“When he was 1! Yes it was, we weren’t going to breed him and his hormones were crazy” -@maitlandgw
“We had Watson neutered at age of 6. He calmed down afterwards. Whew!” -@mkwhittaker2015
--It was interesting to note that even at the age of 6, neutering had an effect on behavior/personality.
“Yes, a good decision if you don’t intend to breed. Especially for boy dogs. Adult boys will get aggressive (even if the sweetest dog) around other non-neutered dogs.” -@natnowak
“1 year. Gimli’s okay with gender neutrality – but he still has balls if you know what I mean!” -@wee.gimli
--This last one was my favorite answer!
15 people provided an answer as to when they spayed their dogs, and 11 gave an answer of between 5-7 months. The remaining 4 answered 10 months, 12 months, 13 months, and 17 months.
At first, it was surprising to me how much smaller the range was for female dogs (majority at 5-7 months) as compared to male dogs.
“After k9’s fell out & before 1st heat. Attitude/energy are the same, no complaints from us.” -@sofias_frenchie_life:
“We spayed Maci at 5 months. For us, it was right for health and not breeding her.” -@kathicip
“6 months, before she went into heat, no regrets!” -@winnifred_the_pug
“My 1 year old Frenchie was spayed at 6-7 months. It was okay. On the first day she was quieter than normal.” -@brazilian_every_day_carry
There were a couple answers stating that when you rescue a dog from a shelter, neutering/spaying is a requirement, if the dogs are not already neutered/spayed before becoming available for adoption.
Any tips for dogs preparing for the procedure?
There were so many helpful tips! Many said to make sure you have some nice treats for them. Some said to make sure they get lots of rest leading up to the surgery while others said to make sure they have a really good day of exercise in before the surgery since they won’t be able to go out and play while they recover. I guess that means you have to think for your own pup – if he/she loves being active then probably best to let them have a good run outside before the procedure.
Some other really great tips:
“Instead of the stupid cone, the inflatable donut was a life saver. So much more comfort!” -@winnifred_the_pug
“For flat faced dogs, the neck donut worked well. He could barely reach his balls anyway!” -@wee.gimli
“If you can get a cone or inflatable donut beforehand to get them used to it, I would suggest doing that.” -@aelindseth
“Please make sure they do not use ace for the anesthesia, some frenchies don’t do well with this type.”-@eminencek9
--As mentioned above, this is a French bulldog breeder in the East Coast. I followed up with Nina of EminenceK9 to get more information on "ace." "Ace" is short for Acepromazine (also known as Acetylpromazine, and common brand names are PromAce, or AceProject), and this can be deadly to brachycephalic breeds. Based on my further research, "Brachycephalic breeds (e.g., Pugs, Bulldogs, and especially Boxers) and giant breeds may have an increased risk of side effects. Herding dogs like Collies and Australian Shepherds that carry the MDR-1 (also called ABCB1) genetic mutation can be especially sensitive to acepromazine and should usually be given a reduced dosage." --OR IN MY OPINION NEVER!
"Not every vet will specialize in every breed...We luckily found a vet who was a previous corgi owner and we fully trusted Puddles in her hands. My advice would be to find a recommendation through another parent of the same breed as specific breeds can run into similar issues." -@puddles_the_corgi
--I second this tip! Our vet is a bulldog specialist and has 2 French bulldogs himself. Other than the regular check ups, I'd only trust him to do any invasive procedures.
“Make sure you get a doctor who knows proper anesthesia protocol for Frenchies.” -@merlinthefrenchbulldog
“Find a doctor who knows how to treat a brachycephalic dog so they can administer the right anesthesia.” -@itsmechophop
--Yes, we know how paranoid the parents of flat-nosed pups can be when it comes to anesthesia. We had one person that responded to this questionnaire advising against neutering as their French bulldog died in the surgery.
“We wanted to avoid excessive anesthesia, so we planned our nose job for the same time.” -@queen.eleanor.of.france
--A lot of our Frenchie friends plan to do the nares and soft palate surgery (if needed) at the same time to avoid excessive anesthesia.
“Prepare for them to get stir crazy! Our dogs were very hyper because they couldn’t play.” -@courtneyfcooper
“Do what you feel is best for your pup, ensure someone will be home the first few days post-op.” -@sofias_frenchie_life
--I think this is also a great tip. If you can’t afford to take time off work, try to get it done right before the weekend so you can be there for your pup all weekend. And when you're not able to supervise, make sure they have the cone or the inflatable donut on!
"For insurance, submit a quote before you proceed and get the insurance company to pre-authorize it. I use Health Paws and they paid their portion over the phone the day of the surgery so I did not have to front the entire bill and wait for the insurance company to reimburse me." -@drogo.thefrenchie
--Super practical tip! I never knew this could be an option (we are on Nationwide, just FYI).
On the bright side, there are many people that responded they did not have any tips as their pups recovered really well:
“Gaston was a little mushy for maybe a day and a half, but he was perfectly fine afterwards!” -@gastonstarkthefrenchie
“Both of mine recovered really well. Gotta wear a cone & no playing hard.” -@mimihig
Another one of my favorite answers, to end this post on a less serious note:
“Don’t tell them about it if it makes them nervous.” -@taylorrice._
--C’mon! I can trick Humphrey into getting his shots, but I don’t know if he would forgive me for not telling him about this beforehand! :P
I hope this post was informative. As I mentioned in the beginning (and I cannot emphasize this enough), the purpose of this post is to inform you of the responses I have gathered. This is not intended to serve as an expert advice, or to sway your decision one way or another. If you have any tips or stories to share, I’d love to hear it!