Can Dogs Be Unfixed?

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Introduction

We love our dogs, but it's important to always remember they're animals that are driven by their instinctual desires. That being said, as responsible pet owners, it's important to always figure out what's best for them. With pet-overpopulation a real problem in this country, sterilizing (or fixing) dogs has become the norm. This has led to some owners wanting to know if the fixing procedure can be undone.

Generally, the answer is no. However, your dog can live a normal, happy, healthy life if you decide to keep them intact their whole lives - in other words, if you decide to forgo spaying or neutering your pup for breeding purposes, it's likely that this will not negatively affect your dog. 

That being said, it can be really useful to fix your dog. So, what are some signs that it's time to spay or neuter your dog? Read on for more info below! 

Signs Your Dog Might Benefit from Being Fixed

Dogs are instinctual creatures, so, if you leave them unfixed, you might have to deal with some really unpleasant parts of doggo life. Here are a few things that might happen if you have an unfixed dog, which you can take as signs that you might want to get your pooch fixed. 

If your dog (male especially) starts showing specific behavior issues, it might be time to get him fixed. The most common traits that intact males show is a tendency to mark (yep, even in your house) and increased aggression with other intact males. 

Your pup, whether male or female, will start to take on roaming behaviors when they near puberty. This natural reaction is inconvenient and potentially dangerous. Fixing your dog will typically solve this issue. An unfixed male can also go through an especially undesirable mounting phase during puberty.

Body Language

Check these body language cues your dog might be giving you to let you know it may be time to get them fixed:
  • Barking
  • Guarding
  • Jumping up
  • Howling
  • Sweaty paws
  • Biting
  • Wiggling

Other Signs

Need a few more signs to convince you it might be time to fix your doggo? Check these out:
  • Aggressive Tendancies
  • Testosterone-Fueled Behaviors
  • Marking and Spraying
  • Mounting
  • Leg Lifting
  • Roaming

Historic Reasons for Leaving Dogs Unfixed

In times past, pet overpopulation wasn't an issue. People kept dogs, bred dogs, and generally left them to their own devices. In the last 50 years, the number of pets without families has sky-rocketed. This has led to the call for all to prevent their pups from procreating as much as possible!

To this day, reputable breeders will choose to leave their dogs intact so that they can mate, but this is done with much care and selection. Those who leave their dogs intact and allow them to reproduce without a background in the breeds they are dealing with run the risk of creating unhealthy dogs, who are more likely to end up in shelters.

In more recent years, there have been more and more people leaving their dogs intact due to health reasons. Newer studies have proven that fixing your dog, especially before puberty, can actually increase their risk of certain cancers, and even cause incontinence issues in females! This choice does come with great responsibility, as it becomes the owner's duty to ensure that unwanted puppies do not result from such a decision. It also can't be ignored that both testicular and mammary cancers can be more of an issue in intact specimens.

The Science of Fixing or Not Fixing Your Dog

At this point you may be thinking - if my dog can't mate, is their life at risk? Well, not really. They won't be able to procreate or further their breed, sure, but it won't affect the specific health or survival of your dog. In fact, fixing your dog can sometimes help their health in the long run! Removing a dog's testicles eliminates the chance that these organs will develop cancer. Also, for dogs who are high-risk of developing ovarian cancers, a spay (or ovariohysterectomy) can rid their body of cancerous cells.

What is now being looked at closer is the potential damage caused by fixing a dog too soon. Puberty is an important time for mammals. Bodies change as they go from adolescent to adult. It isn't only the sexual organs that are affected by these hormonal changes. Muscles, bones and the body's overall function are governed by what goes on during puberty. 

By fixing a dog too soon (or at all, according to some), they may be at a higher risk of bone cancers and other complications. This is leading some to look at the validity of ovary-sparing spays and vasectomies for dogs. More studies will have to be conducted to have a clear answer to the issue.

How to Train Your Intact Dog

If you do choose to let your dog live a life uninhibited by a fixing surgery, there are a few training techniques you should be aware of. 

You'll need to make sure your dog is well-trained in all respects. A well-rounded, well-trained dog is less likely to respond specifically to instinct, which keeping them unfixed can likely strongly affect. Make sure your dog knows the command "no" really well - if you catch them in the act of doing something they shouldn't do, their response to this command is going to be huge. 

You also might have to keep your dog really well-trained when it comes to marking behavior. Make sure they understand that indoors, no matter where, is not okay to mark. This will require a lot of vigilant watching, training, and positive reinforcement.

It's also a good idea to be decisive when introducing your dog to other pooches. If you have an intact male, and another large male is present, you do run the risk of the two challenging each other for dominence. It may be best to keep the dogs seperate.

How to React To Your Unfixed Dog's Behaviors

  • Keep your female dogs away from other dogs while they're in heat.
  • Be strict with your dog about aggression.
  • Make sure they're well trained against roaming or leaving the yard.
  • Teach them not to mount.
  • Keep them on a strict training regimen.