what is the best age to neuter a labrador retriever

What is the Best Age to Neuter a Labrador Retriever? Find Out Here!

Neutering is a great way to keep your Labrador retriever under control and in good health. It keeps the rambunctious canine calm, ensuring a long and happy life. But before scheduling the surgery with your vet, you must find out what is the best age to neuter a Labrador retriever pup.

Generally, the best time to neuter Labrador retrievers is when they hit puberty. Roughly, you could have your lab neutered between 9 and 15 months. 

Read on to see the best time to have your Labrador retriever neutered and what you can do to help your furry friend.

What is Neutering? (The Pros and Cons)

labrador retriever on top of grassy field

Neutering is a surgical operation aiming to remove a dog’s testicles. Doing that removes the primary source of testosterone in a canine’s body. As a result, the male dog undergoes hormone-related changes, which are often beneficial.

It’s among the oldest and still practiced procedures today. And though vets used to neuter to de-sex male dogs before, it’s different now. It presents many benefits, including a longer life! 

There are two kinds of neutering you can have your Labrador retriever undergo:

  • Surgical Castration. This surgery involves an incision in a lab’s scrotum to remove its testicles. It’s a foolproof birth control tool, making lab retrievers infertile in mere months. But this is permanent and irreversible.
  • Chemical Castration. It’s a modern method of neutering a Labrador retriever. Here, a vet will inject Zeuterin into your lab’s testicles, making your dog infertile. And as you can see, veterinarians can do this without surgery. But this is only temporary and isn’t as efficient as traditional surgical castration.

You can ask your vet to try chemical castration on your lab retriever if unsure. This way, you can decide if surgery is necessary for your furry friend.

But besides making your Labrador retriever infertile, neutering also has other effects. The most apparent impact of the procedure will be on your lab retriever’s appearance. After all, any neutered dog will have zero testicles! Hence, many may mistake your Labrador retriever for a female.

If you don’t want that to happen to your Labrador retriever, you can request testicle implants. These are fake and can make your lab look the same minus the actual balls.

Physical appearance aside, expect behavioral changes in your Labrador retriever too. Generally, neutered labs will display lower energy due to the decrease in testosterone. Hence, you may see the following actions:

  • Continual piddling
  • Boisterous actions
  • Roaming around

The Pros of Neutering a Labrador Retriever

Now that you get the gist of neutering, here are the benefits your Labrador retriever can enjoy with the procedure:

✅ Safe and Guaranteed Birth Control

The procedure safely removes your Labrador retriever’s testicles, making your dog infertile. So, even if your lab retriever gets funky, it won’t be able to reproduce. And the best part is, it’s permanent!

So, not only will you not worry about pups, but you’ll also be helping reduce overpopulation. And this, in turn, can contribute to ending unsafe breeding practices.

✅ Reduces Your Labrador Retriever’s Health Risks

Neutering plays an essential role in extending a Labrador retriever’s longevity. The surgery alone boosts over 13% of your lab retriever’s life span. After all, it reduces your lab’s risk of developing testicular cancer and Pyometra. And these can be life-threatening over time.

✅ Improves Behavior

Labrador retrievers are notorious for their hyperactiveness. If you wish to tone it down a notch, neutering is the answer. After all, most labs get immense energy from their hormones. And removing their testicles will reduce the reproduction of those hormones. But note that this won’t stop your lab retriever’s bad habits. 

Instead, neutering will help in improving your Labrador retriever’s behavior. Therefore, consider this procedure if your male lab is uncontrollably hyperactive.

Energy aside, neutering also helps in reducing sexual behavior. After all, testosterone will be law, decreasing your lab’s desire to get funky with female dogs. And this, in turn, will eliminate unwanted sexual habits like mounting.

Finally, neutering can help ease your Labrador retriever’s aggressive behavior. Again, this bad habit goes back to testosterone. 

The Cons of Neutering a Labrador Retriever

As beneficial as neutering is for Labrador retrievers, it also has downsides. And these include the following:

❎ Makes Your Labrador Retriever Prone to Obesity

When your Labrador retriever gets neutered, it’ll begin to lose its metabolism. As a result, your lab can become lethargic, eventually succumbing to obesity. And research has shown that neutered lab retrievers need 25% calories to maintain a healthy diet. Therefore, if you want your lab fixed, adjust its diet first.

❎ May Stunt Your Labrador Retriever’s Growth

Neutering your Labrador retriever at the wrong time can stunt its growth. Hence, vets always tell owners to neuter their lab retrievers after puberty. The reason is that hormones play a crucial role in a Labrador retriever’s development. And conducting this surgery too early can delay the lab’s growth plate closure. 

Eventually, your lab retriever will undergo a growth spurt at such a young age. As a result, it’ll become more vulnerable to joint issues over time.

❎ Hormonal Imbalance

Due to the hormonal imbalances caused by the removal of testicles, a Labrador retriever has a higher risk of developing hypothyroidism. And this often disrupts your lab’s metabolism, heartbeat rate, and body temperature.

❎ Issues with Anesthesia During Surgery

Although rare, anesthesia issues may arise during a Labrador retriever’s neutering. After all, vets use general anesthesia on lab retrievers to knock them out for surgery. On that account, veterinarians have proven that over 20% of surgeries have at least one issue caused by anesthesia.

That, in turn, affects your lab retriever, letting it develop an abscess or infection. Luckily, complications due to improper use of anesthesia are rare among Labrador retrievers. And less than 5% are fatal. Still, it doesn’t entirely mean that neutering your lab is 100% safe.

❎ Provoke Your Other Pets to Fight with Your Labrador Retriever

Since your lab retriever will be fresh from the vet’s clinic, it’s natural to develop a different smell. And this can provoke your other pets, taunting them to fight with your lab. Hence, letting your Labrador retriever meet with your other pets after surgery can be dangerous. 

So, prepare to separate your other pets and designate a room for your lab retriever for a few days. Your Labrador can stay safe and slowly shake off the clinic smell. And eventually, your other pets will be able to recognize your lab again!

What is the Best Age to Neuter a Labrador Retriever?

labrador retriever with tongue out

Although neutering Labrador retrievers is beneficial, you must get it done at the right time for the best results. If not, it can threaten your lab’s health — doing more harm than good. So, what is the best age to neuter a Labrador retriever pup?

The best time to neuter a Labrador retriever is after it hits puberty. Generally, vets recommend this breed get neutered between 9 and 15 months. But some believe it’s better to have lab retrievers neutered when it’s as young as six months.

But countless studies have proven that neutering a Labrador retriever too early can lead to growth issues. Or worse, it can cause cancer. So, it’s better to be safe and go as early as nine months.

Before you have your Labrador retriever fixed, reconsider how it will affect you and your lab. I recommend deciding in respect of your lab retriever. After all, as beneficial as the procedure is, it’s not a perfect solution, and it isn’t suitable for all dogs. If you’re unsure, consult your lab’s vet to see what works best for your Labrador retriever.

If you’ve decided to get your Labrador retriever neutered, note that there are rules. Some countries have mandated the castration of this specific breed at a young age. And in such places, owners can get criticized for being “irresponsible.” For example, LA requires lab retriever owners to neuter their dogs before four months.

Meanwhile, some places consider neutering to be offensive and necessary. For instance, in Norway, many think it’s inappropriate without medical reasons.

So, to avoid getting into trouble, it’s best to know your place’s rules regarding neutering before you get it done to your Labrador retriever.

How to Take Care of a Labrador Retriever After It Gets Neutered?

what is the best age to neuter a labrador retriever (infographic)

Once you’ve decided to have your Labrador retriever neutered, it doesn’t end after surgery! After all, there are still aftercare steps that you, as the owner, must do to ensure your lab has a fast and comfortable recovery.

Although most lab retrievers recover fast by themselves, there are some things you can do to make it easier for your dog. Here are a few tips to ensure your Labrador retriever has a speedy recovery!

🩹 Limit Your Labrador Retriever’s Activity Levels

Some Labrador retrievers stay active even after going under the knife. Meanwhile, some labs remain quiet. Regardless, limiting your lab retriever’s movements during the recovery period is crucial. So, that means no long walks, jumping, playing, or running. 

Letting your lab retriever run around risks your dog getting injured. It can cause the incision to inflame or, worse, open! If you’re struggling to keep your Labrador retriever calm after surgery, here are a few things you can do to stop it from being too active:

  • Put your Labrador retriever in an appropriately-sized space when you can’t watch after it. Your lab should be able to stand and run around within the area.
  • If you can, carry your lab retriever up and down the stairs. Doing this prevents too much pressure on the incision. 
  • Avoid taking your lab for extended walks or making it play with other animals or humans. 
  • Stop your lab retriever from jumping on and off furniture.

🩹 Have Your Lab Retriever Follow Its Regular Diet

Although your Labrador retriever’s appetite might weaken after surgery, it should return to normal within a day. Keep it under a regular diet, starting with a half-size meal during its first day at home. And you can feed your lab retriever its normal portions during the evening. 

Avoid changing your lab retriever’s diet after surgery and giving it junk food. These include table scraps and other “human” foods, as we often like giving our dogs as a treat. Doing all these can hide post-surgical issues, which can harm your lab over time. 

If you have a young Labrador retriever pup, you can give it an extra meal throughout the day. Food aside, always keep water available for your lab retriever fresh off surgery! 

Usually, a Labrador retriever’s reaction to the surgery varies. Some can experience lethargy after a day, while others get their energy back within a few hours. Meanwhile, some lab retrievers vomit or defecate after a meal, which is UNUSUAL. Once you see any of these symptoms on your Labrador, call your vet ASAP. 

Lastly, if your lab retriever’s vet gave it an Elizabethan collar, don’t remove it during feeding! Your Labrador can accidentally scratch or bite its incision, leading to infection. So, keep the collar on unless you can supervise your lab during its meal. But if you decide to remove it, replace it after your lab retriever finishes eating.

🩹 Keep an Eye on Your Labrador Retriever’s Incision Site

Labrador retrievers have internal sutures providing strength to their tissues as they heal. And these will often dissolve entirely after a few months. Some vets also apply surgical glue to the lab’s skin to seal its incision against pathogens. But often, vets don’t place external sutures on lab retrievers. 

Meanwhile, if your vet tells you your Labrador retriever has skin sutures or staples, you’ll need to return to them after ten days to have them removed.

During the time your Labrador retriever has its sutures, here are the do’s and don’ts you must follow:

Avoid Bathing Your Labrador Retriever

No matter how smelly your lab retriever becomes, never bathe it! Keep your Labrador away from the bath during its recovery period, which often lasts ten days. But if you’re worried about the incision getting infected, you can apply a topical ointment. Still, never get the incision wet, as the surgical glue will dissolve sooner than intended.

Keep Your Lab Retriever Indoors

It would be best to keep your Labrador retriever indoors no matter how much it begs and whines about chasing after squirrels. Keeping your lab inside keeps it clean, dry, and warm. But if it needs to relieve itself, you can walk it out on a leash to ensure its incision doesn’t get touched.

Stop Your Lab from Licking its Incision Site 

Have your Labrador retriever wear an Elizabethan collar at all times. Making it wear the specialized collar stops it from licking its incision site, which can lead to infection. If you’re not keen on making your lab wear a collar, you can distract it with treats and keep an eye on it 24/7!

Check Your Labrador Retriever’s Incision Daily 

Always check your lab retriever’s incision at least twice every day. Usually, vets make one incision on the scrotum, so inspect it for any discharge, drainage, and odor. Redness and swelling are normal, but if you suspect it’s too much, bring your lab to the vet ASAP!

Some Labrador retrievers may experience tiny amounts of drainage and discharge for a few days. So, you don’t need to worry unless these are in ample amounts! And if you spot any bumps or bruises on your lab’s incision, it should reduce in size and appearance after a week.

🩹 Keep In-Heat Female Dogs Away From Your Labrador Retriever

Keep your neutered Labrador retriever away from unspayed female dogs. Although it had its testicles removed, a newly fixed lab can still get an unspayed female dog pregnant! Hence, you must separate your neutered lab from any female dogs for at least 30 days after surgery. 

Aside from that, your lab retriever may smell different from your other pets as they came fresh from the clinic. And this can cause your pets to fight your Labrador retriever. So, prepare to keep your lab away from your other pets for a couple of days after surgery.

🩹 Monitor Your Labrador Retriever for Complications

Neutering is safe surgery, but it can come with complications like any other medical procedure. Redness and inflammation on the incision should resolve within a few days (at least three days). But if it doesn’t subside in the indicated days, bring your Labrador retriever back to the vet ASAP. 

Moreover, don’t hesitate to bring your lab retriever to the vet once you notice the following: 

  • Pale gums
  • Lethargic behavior after a couple of days of surgery
  • Unstable gait
  • Reduced water intake
  • Sudden loss of appetite
  • Persistent diarrhea
  • Vomiting
  • Bleeding and discharge from the incision 
  • Your lab struggles to urinate or defecate
  • Unsteady breathing
  • Depression

Besides those mentioned, always check your Labrador retriever’s urine for blood. If you see traces after a day of the surgery, call your vet ASAP, as this may indicate a bladder infection unrelated to the operation.

ASPCA’s Spay and Neuter Alliance treat all post-operative complications from surgery. But remember, available treatment depends on your location and time of the day. Or, you can have your Labrador retriever checked at a consulting vet office near you.

🩹 Give the Prescribed Medication to Your Labrador Retriever As Instructed

Most veterinarians use long-term pain medication to ease Labrador retrievers during neutering. The effects of these drugs can last up to 36 hours. Hence, it’s standard for vets to prescribe pain medications for your lab retriever during that time.

Regardless, always follow the instructions given by your Labrador retriever’s vet well. And NEVER use human medications on your lab retriever to compensate for the prescribed drugs. After all, those may harm your lab’s health more than good.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What’s the best age to neuter a Labrador retriever?

A: The best age to neuter a young Labrador retriever is between 9 and 15 months. Once your lab hits puberty, it’s best to have it neutered ASAP. Never do it too early or too late, as it can cause joint issues to your lab retriever later. You can consult your lab’s veterinarian to determine the best time to have it neutered.

Q: Will the vet remove the balls when neutering my Labrador retriever?

A: The vet will make an incision on the front of your Labrador retriever’s scrotum to remove its testicles. They will push these two through the cut and sew the scrotum back. As a result, your lab retriever will lose its testicles, unable to reproduce.

Q: What’s the best age to have a Labrador retriever spayed?

A: The best time to spay a Labrador retriever is the same as neutering: once the dog hits puberty. So, if you have a female lab retriever always in heat, have it spayed between 9 and 15 months. But some vets recommend having this breed get spayed and neutered as young as four months.

Q: Will my Labrador retriever calm down once it gets neutered?

A: Although neutering your Labrador retriever won’t calm it down 100%, it can tone down its energy. Hence, this surgery is an excellent option for hyperactive lab retrievers. But remember, neutering will only be helpful if your lab retriever is acting up due to its hormones. 

Q: Is neutering a Labrador retriever worth it?

A: If you aren’t looking to foster pups anytime soon, having your Labrador retriever is worth it. Aside from that, this surgery has many benefits, such as prolonged life. After all, neutering reduces your lab retriever’s risk of testicular cancer. So, if you want your lab retriever to thrive and live happily, have it neutered.

Final Words

We all know neutering comes with many benefits for our labs, so here comes the burning concern what is the best age to neuter a Labrador retriever? As long as your lab is in optimal health, you can have it neutered as soon as it hits puberty. Most vets recommend having Labrador retrievers neutered between 9 and 15 months. But it’s up to your vet to determine the safest time for your lab to have the surgery. So, consult them before you have your lab retriever undergo the operation.

About Tom Thorpe

Tom Thorpe has overtime interacted with different species of dogs mostly through breeding and training; according to him, man’s best friend is yet to find solace in the company of man, as they are continuously mistreated. He, therefore, runs a rescue center that provides shelter to stray dogs, and has been advocating for the rights of animals; the Golden Retriever dogs are among his favorites, the reason he came up with the extensive excerpts to help educate the society on the right treatment and care of the respective breed. Tom spends most of his time running his dog shelter; he is a husband and proud father of two boys and loves to go fishing during his free time.

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