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Castrating dogs: why, when, how?

02 October 2022
10 mins read
Volume 13 · Issue 8
Figure 1. Mast cell tumour on the medial aspect of the elbow of a 9-year-old Male neutered Springer Spaniel. Removal with adequate margins proved challenging in the instance.


Castration is one of the most commonly performed surgical procedures in the UK, and yet there is little in the way of consistency among practices in the advice given to owners wishing to have their dog neutered. Opinions are often conflicting in terms of pros and cons of castration and the ideal timing. This article considers some of the available evidence and tries to resolve some of the ambiguity where possible.

Should we castrate? It is clear that the question of surgical neutering is a much debated and emotive issue (Reichler, 2009; Warnes, 2018): a Google search entitled ‘we should castrate dogs’ returned 5 680 000 results, whereas a search entitled ‘we should NOT castrate dogs’ returned 23 500 000. Almost all rescue centre websites, and all veterinary and public body websites that the author visited were in favour of castration (e.g. ‘why neuter your dog’; ‘neutering advice’; ‘dog neutering’) listing population control and behavioural benefits as the main reasons for encouraging it.

2015 figures from Dogs Trust suggested that around 50 000 dogs are abandoned each year ( That number is likely to have increased significantly over the past year because of the number of dogs bought during lockdown and the cost of living increases. It is clear that population control is required, although it is impossible to determine what proportion of the problem is compounded by irresponsible breeding.

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