Some dog owners worry that by neutering their dog, they are forever removing their ability to have sex. Sex is such an enjoyable experience that they feel guilty about depriving their pooch of the experience. Other owners are simply concerned about ensuring their dog doesn’t sire puppies. They want to know if a dog still produces sperm after being neutered.
Can a dog still produce sperm after being neutered?
Do you have to worry about the female dog down the street after your dog is neutered? Can they still impregnate a female? Read on to get the facts on neutering.
How Neutering is Performed
Neutering is also known as castration, which means the testicles are removed.
The first step is anesthesia. Your dog will be put to sleep, so they aren’t aware of the procedure. Then, the vet will make a small incision on the front of the scrotum.
The testicles are pulled through the incision, and the stalks of the testicles are cut. The vet will check for any bleeding, and then suture or glue the incision closed.
There is a fairly common complication. As a puppy matures, the testicles begin to work their way down into the scrotum. By 2 months of age, both testicles should have descended into the scrotum. You may have heard this referred to crudely as “balls dropping”.
If the testicles haven’t dropped by 6 months of age, they have Cryptorchidism. In many cases, one testicle will drop but the other will not.
Neutering can still be performed. In fact, most vets believe that it’s important to get dogs with the condition neutered to prevent health problems from the retained testicles.
If both testicles are retained, an incision will be made where the testicles are. If one is retained, one will be removed through the scrotum, and the other will be removed based on its location.
Recovery is similar, but there may be more than one incision site.
What Do the Testicles Do?
Put simply, the testicles perform two basic functions. They produce sperm, which is why they are removed during neutering. They also produce testosterone, which is the male sex hormone.
Testerone is produced by the testes, but is also produced in smaller amounts in other parts of the body.
Do Dogs Have Sperm After Neutering?
The testicles are responsible for sperm production. If the dog doesn’t have testicles, they cannot produce testosterone. However, that doesn’t always mean they don’t have any sperm. It is possible for dogs to still have sperm stored in their reproductive tract, even though they can’t produce new sperm.
How does a dog still have sperm after being neutered?
If the testicles are responsible for producing sperm, how do dogs still have sperm after being neutered?
Sperm Production and Storage
A dog still has sperm after being neutered because the sperm was created before he was neutered.
You can think of it like an assembly line. At the front of the assembly line are the testicles producing sperm. The sperm then makes its way down the assembly line, eventually either released via ejaculation or being absorbed by the body.
When the testicles stop producing sperm at the front of the assembly line, there’s still sperm working its way through the system. This sperm is dormant until needed or until it degrades.
Can a Neutered Dog Impregnate a Female?
Yes, a neutered dog can still imrpegnate a female after being neutered. It takes about 6 weeks for all the sperm to leave the reproductive tract. Once the sperm is cleared from the system, the dog is sterile. They can no longer impregnate a female.
Is a neutered male dog still attracted to female dogs?
If your dog is neutered, you may be surprised to find them still attracted or trying to mate with female dogs. On the other hand, you may not want to deprive your pooch of sexual desire, and hope that they maintain an attraction to females, without worrying about them producing puppies.
Male Dogs Reaction to a Female in Heat
We’ve all experienced it at some point in our lives. It is often called sex brain. When you have sex brain, it’s difficult to think about anything else. You don’t want to eat or sleep. You are constantly distracted. Your school or work performance will likely suffer due to your single-minded focus on sexual attraction and desire.
Dogs, particularly intact males, experience a similar condition when around a female in heat. They may do nearly anything to mate with a female in heat. They will often stop eating and focus only on the desire to mate.
They may stand at your door, scratching and howling to access the female. They may even appear depressed if they can’t reach her.
It’s hardwired into them, and us, to behave this way. Procreation is essential for the survival of the species. So, when we feel like we must mate to survive, there is a level of truth to it.
When a female is in heat, she releases a pheremone. This pheremone causes sexual excitement in males, causing them to focus on mating.
The phereomone released by the female is only half the equation, however. Testosterone is the other half. Testosterone drives many things in males, including sexual desire, aggression, and confidence. This is true of men as well as your canine companion.
Since testosterone levels are drastically lowered when your dog is neutered, you may expect their fascination with sex to diminish or disappear completely. However, it’s a bit more complicated than that.
One reason a dog may still have sexual desire after neutering is residual testosterone. Neutered dogs still produce testerone, just in much smaller amounts.
Some dogs may produce more testerone outside their testes than others. Some may be more sensitive to the effects of testerone. Regardless of the cause, some dogs retain more of their intact behaviors and desires than others.
Testerone and the Developing Brain
Testerone is also responsible for changes in the brain as a dog matures. It causes a male dog to take on male characteristics, including sexual attraction to females. These desires and personality traits are hard wired into their brain.
The testerone essentially programs their brain to behave in certain ways, and creates pathways related to male behavior and sexual desire. Even when the testerone is removed, the male programming remains.
When dogs are neutered early, at 6 months of age or earlier, the testerone doesn’t have the opportunity to write this programming. If your dog is neutered after 18 months of age, the programming is complete.
Even though testerone is no longer their to fuel the flames of desire, the fire created by the testerone doesn’t die completely.
Your dog may have a sexual attraction to intact females, but they likely won’t react with the unending overzealous passion of an intact male.
How long does it take for a male dog to calm down after neutering?
There’s an unfortunate misconception that neutering your dog is the cure for any behavioral issues. Many pet owners find out too late that it can actually be the opposite. Neutering can cause behavioral issues, particularly if it’s done at the wrong time.
How long it takes a dog to calm down after neutering depends on the cause of the behavior. Is it testerone fueled aggression or sex drive, or is it the neutering itself that is causing the issue?
When Testosterone Drops After Neutering
Testosterone doesn’t drop immediately after neutering. Instead, it takes between 2-4 weeks for the testerone levels to reach the level that will be maintained after neutering.
If your dog is truly having testerone related issues, you can expect them to calm down during this time. It may take longer for the behavior to calm completely, because they are behaviors your dog has grown accustomed to. However, it should be completely resolved within a few months, and in most cases within the first month.
Neutering will only help with behaviors directly related to sex. In male dogs, this usually applies to marking their territory and aggressiveness towards other dogs of the same sex. It is not a fix for any and all behavioral problems your dog may have.
Behavioral Problems After Neutering
There are a wide range of behavioral problems pet owners can encounter after neutering. Instead of improving behavior, neutering sometimes creates new problems.
Fear and Anxiety
Studies have shown that neutered dogs are more likely to be fearful of new people and situations, and are more likely to exhibit fear based aggression. Why does this occur?
Testosterone has other affects beyond the strictly sexual. One of the most important is confidence. An overly confident dog may be aggressive, seeking to be the alpha in all situations.
However, a dog that doesn’t have enough testosterone can also not have enough confidence. This can lead to aggression, nervousness, and many behaviors associated with nervousness and anxiety.
You can probably think of situations where you were scared and lashed out in anger. Perhaps you said something you later regretted during a fight, because you were afraid of being hurt emotionally.
You may have also experienced the anxiety that comes from a lack of confidence. It can be as simple as learning a new task, or as complicated as a major self-image issue. A lack of confidence goes hand in hand with anxiety, because you don’t feel you are able to properly handle things.
Other Unwanted Behaviors
Other unwanted behaviors that increase after neutering are not as easy to understand. Pica, or eating of nonfood items, is more common in neutered dogs. They are particularly prone to eating feces.
Obsessive licking or barking are also much more common in neutered dogs. They may bark when excited or scared and be impossible to quiet. They may lick until they cause sores or hotspots on their skin.
Neutering may have stopped them from chasing the neighborhood females and peeing on trees, but it certainly didn’t calm these dogs down.
The Importance of Timing
Neutering is something many owners choose to do for a variety of reasons. It’s the most reliable way to be sure that your dog doesn’t sire pups.
An intact male dog can be very inconvenient when they encounter a female in heat. If they tend to mark territory with urine, it’s natural to want that behavior to stop.
How do owners get the benefits of neutering while minimizing the risks associated with it?
The age at which a dog is neutered has a big impact on how likely they are to develop bad behaviors after neutering. The earlier the dog is neutered, the greater the chances of unwanted behavior. The behaviors are also more severe in those neutered earlier.
Some experts now suggest waiting until at least 18 months of age to neuter your dog, and two years for large breed dogs. They recommend not neutering before 12 months of age under nearly any circumstances.