Can I neuter my dog at 8 weeks? Here’s What to Expect

What is the earliest age to neuter a male dog?

The traditional age for neutering is six to nine months. However, puppies as young as eight weeks can be neutered as long as there aren’t other health problems. An adult dog can be neutered at any time but there is a larger risk of complications.

What happens if you neuter a male dog too early?

Some veterinarians say that spaying and neutering too early will deprive your dog of the sex hormones necessary for their maturation. These hormones are responsible for skeletal growth. If the procedure occurs too early, it may take much longer for your dog’s growth plates to close.

Ever heard the term “prepubertal gonadectomy?” This mouthful of terminology was brought to you by veterinarians who theorized it would be easier to spay and neuter puppies and kittens before they reached sexual maturity. It seems that waiting until puberty –– the traditional approach –– has a downside they sought to circumvent by getting the deed out of the way early on. If it’s performed sooner, these veterinarians reasoned, surgical gonadectomy (aka, spaying and neutering) might just be faster, easier, safer, and cheaper. What’s more, they were dead sure that sterilizing these pets earlier meant they’d never add to the pet overpopulation problem by procreating.

Short-term results and complications of prepubertal gonadectomy in cats and dogs: In this 1997 study of 775 cats and 1,213 dogs, “prepubertal gonadectomy did not increase morbidity or mortality on a short-term basis, compared with gonadectomy performed on animals at the traditional age. These procedures may be performed safely in prepubertal animals, provided that appropriate attention is given to anesthetic and surgical techniques.”

And that’s exactly how most practicing small animal veterinarians feel about it: “Go ahead and use it in a shelter setting but I’m not about to start spaying and neutering eight week-old puppies and kittens. Not in my OR.”

Early Spay-Neuter Clinical Considerations: After listing the many considerations due a prepuberal patient, this 2002 article concludes that, “No significant short-term or long-term effects have been reported. Prepuberal gonadectomy is most useful for humane organizations and conscientious breeders wishing to preclude reproduction of pet dogs and cats while placing animals at a young enough age to optimize socialization and training.”

It’s better to spay a bird in the hand, isn’t it? (You know what I mean.)

Should you Spay or Neuter Your Dog?

When is it safe to spay or neuter my pet? Generally, it is safe to spay or neuter most kittens and puppies at 8 weeks of age. However, be sure to check with your veterinarian and have your pet evaluated before scheduling spay or neuter surgery.