About castration

dog neutered castration bitch

The trend towards castration came - how could it be otherwise - from the USA to Europe. In order to keep the animal population under control, prevent the supposed risk of cancer and be able to influence behavior, it was thought that they had found the ultimate recipe with castration. In the USA, virtually everything that is not allowed for breeding is castrated; They prefer to carry out early castration when they are puppies or young dogs. Thank God, more and more veterinarians, behavioral biologists, zoologists and trainers are speaking out to finally educate the public about the dangers of often unnecessary castration of dogs and bitches.


Until a few decades ago, castration was only common among nations that slaughtered and ate their dogs. Since the dogs had to be fattened before they could be sold for consumption, they were castrated. Castration causes the dog's basal metabolic rate to drop sharply, and therefore castrates tend to gain weight.


Of course, this article is not aimed  at owners who need to castrate their dog for health reasons!

The neutering

Castrating a dog for behavior therapy is no different from trying to cut off the leg of a dog that constantly hunts. From the point of view of the German law, neither is allowed. Therefore, animal protection and purchase contracts that require the castration of a dog should be viewed as non-existent. Contracts that contain violations of the law are immoral and therefore invalid.


Castration before the end of puberty must also be categorically rejected. Especially during the critical phase of puberty, the sex hormones in the brain do more than just prepare for future sexual potential. They perform a whole range of tasks for mental maturation, and the fact that bitches, for example, grow up a little more with each heat shows this. Estrogens, but also partly testosterone, are involved in the rewiring and rearrangement of nerve cells and nerve fibers in the brain in many places, for example in the brain regions concerned with stress processing, social competence and social intelligence.


Puberty is largely over when the bitches have completed their third heat. So-called early castrations before the end of this time have effects in the sense of a permanently child-headed and aimless dog, an eternal puppy. The physical effects of early castration, e.g. effects on bone growth, cardiovascular system, the horrible castrate fur, incontinence etc. We don't want to talk about it any further here.

Excursus: castration before aduldhood

Early castration means that one of the developmentally important sources of hormones is removed. These must be removed BEFORE the dog's body and behavior have even matured, before the four-legged friend reaches the first year of life. What is alarming in connection with early castration is the fact that sex hormones affect development. When these hormones are removed, the growth plates that ensure proper bone structure do not ossify properly. This promotes joint diseases. 


A study by Benjamin L. Hart used a data set of 759 Retrievers to prove that early castration:

  • Does not protect against cancer
  • Early neutered dogs are more likely to have health problems
  • Twice as many early castrated male dogs suffer from HD as intact male dogs
  • Dogs have increased problems with cranial cruciate ligament strains after castration
  • After castration, lymphatic cancer is diagnosed three times more often
  • Mast cell cancer was NOT found in intact female dogs in the data sets collected for the study, but was found in 6% of female dogs that were neutered after the first year of life.
  • HSA (a blood vessel cancer) was more common in early spayed bitches than in intact bitches

It also cannot be mentioned often enough: castration is not a substitute for education! Anyone who cannot keep their unneutered dog under control will usually not be able to control a neutered one either.


Especially when it comes to the behavioral reasons for castration, various forms and meanings of aggression are often lumped together in an undifferentiated manner. The belief that castration could influence aggression goes back to the assumption that aggression is fundamentally controlled by the sex hormone testosterone and is associated with hierarchy, status and the defense of sexual partners. However, this is not the case in most cases.

Hormones & Co.

Hormone Effect
Adrenaline The escape hormone in the organism; together with norepinephrine, it forms the active stress system
Cortisol Hormone of the passive stress system; it is largely responsible for the development of fear, insecurity and panic
Dopamine Joy messenger that is responsible for the feeling of happiness; acts as a self-rewarding and learning drug
Norepinephrine The “fight hormone”; Norepinephrine promotes the release of testosterone and is part of the active stress system

Bonding and trust hormone; stress brake; female reproductive hormone, belonging to the social network


The parental hormone; responsible for various brood care behaviors


Male sex hormone; is released as the “I am the greatest” hormone with any kind of social success


The jealousy hormone or partner protection hormone; belongs to the social network with oxytocin

For example, fear-aggressive dogs are controlled by the stress hormone system, for example the passive stress hormone cortisol. And especially in dogs that react aggressively in fear and panic situations, when they lose control, on a leash or in similar situations, the stress hormone cortisol from the adrenal cortex is the cause. Testosterone, on the other hand, inhibits the release of cortisol, so it has an antianxiety effect. You could also say: Testosterone makes one more brave.


If you take away sex hormones from fear-aggressive dogs, the animals become even more insecure and the behavior shown can get worse. It is precisely these connections that make the common practice of castrating animal shelter dogs appear in a particularly bad light. Such dogs are often more cortisol-controlled simply because of their previous history and the changes in their living conditions that they have endured on several occasions. Those interested in shelter dogs or dogs abroad are advised not to be intimidated by the contractual agreements, which usually state that the dog they adopt must be neutered within a set period of time - which then also has to be proven. If a dispute arises, such clauses will not stand in court!


This applies even more to dogs that are imported from other countries as so-called “rescued street dogs” and transplanted here into completely different living conditions. For these dogs in particular, the last bit of self-confidence provided by the sex hormones is often a healing lifeline.

dog neutered castration bitch

Food defense or so-called food aggression is also under the influence of cortisol.


Stress hormones also play a role in self-defense aggression, but here it is more the stress hormones of the messenger substances of the active system, in particular norepinephrine (also known as the fight hormone). Norepinephrine increases aggressive behavior and at the same time acts as a learning amplifier in other parts of the brain. So if a dog has experienced aggression a few times in a frightening situation as a tried-and-tested solution to a problem, this will be learned very quickly and saved as problem-solving behavior for the future. An example here would be leash aggression. This learning through success sometimes turns the dog into an aggression junkie, on whom the removal of testosterone has no effect whatsoever. However, you have to give these dogs security and not take testosterone.


The young animal defense behavior in male and female dogs as well as partner protection behavior are also not controlled by sex hormones. Therefore, castration is ineffective here too. Pair bonding in dogs is not primarily a sexual bond, but rather a social bond. And so the neutered male dog can defend his owner vigorously without any sexual ulterior motive, which often happens.


What is misinterpreted as dog dominance behavior is often something completely different. In most cases, people's lack of leadership skills are to blame. If humans do not fulfill their role as lead animal and cannot credibly and purposefully identify and ward off danger, but also structure everyday life, the dog - often rather reluctantly - takes on this role in the team. It is obvious that this cannot be influenced by castration. And especially dogs that don't actually want this role as a leader tend to be unsettled by the great responsibility, and this brings us back to the area of cortisol-controlled stress behavior that we already talked about above.


In summary, this means that most of the problems attempted to be treated through castration have nothing to do with sex hormones. Furthermore, the sex hormones are important for the dog to master his life confidently and courageously. Taking these away can make the behavior worse rather than better. If castration is still an option, a test run using an implant is usually started first. The implant is said to be an alternative to permanent castration. So you can get used to how the dog functions as a castrated creature so that you lose the fear of this final and never-recoverable mutilation. If the chip is then removed and the dog has not changed its behavior, you have proof that castration is necessary. In my opinion, this is just window dressing and the chip is used to gently lull you into the final castration. I was definitely advised against the chip because it just pumps the dog full of hormones that he doesn't need, and you would miss an important phase of his education, especially for a young dog, if you simply "wipe away" this phase with the chip.



Most castrations result in mutilation of body and soul. Anyone who closely observes an early castrate can see exactly how socially incompetent these animals sometimes are. Children's souls trapped in adult bodies...

Intact male dogs in everyday life: riding

Many dog owners are bothered by the male dog's riding, which sometimes begins in puppyhood. This can have two reasons:


(1.) It is sexual in natureThe situation here is that the bitch can usually defend herself quite well against the intrusive male dog. This can also look a bit more violent, but it doesn't matter to the male dog, a decent male dog can handle such a "slap" quite well. If he becomes aggressive towards a neutered male dog, the neutered dog will also defend himself against it. By the way, the reason why intact male dogs are so fond of bothering neutered dogs is because neutered male dogs “smell” to another dog like a bitch just before or at the beginning of pre-estrus (this is the phase in which female dogs bleed).

Of course, you have to show your male dog the boundaries and sometimes grab him by the collar and pull him away from the object of desire if he doesn't stop. In the case of very energetic male dogs, this sometimes requires a lot of assertiveness to sort it out, but is absolutely no reason for castration! In addition, if the person you love is a neutered male dog, you shouldn't be afraid to tell the animal's owners that they actually caused the riding themselves by castrating their dog. Because the intact male behaves completely normally!


(2.) Another reason for such behavior may be that it is an act of dominanceCastration doesn't change that at all, because even in the world of castrations there is a hierarchy that needs to be clarified. A pubescent young Spitz is usually very self-confident and, especially at this age, it may well be that he would like to prove himself. Here, too, it is important to take action and stop the gossiping.

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