Does Allowing a Dog to Have a Litter Make a Better Dog?

Numerous Health Risks plus Overpopulation Make Spaying the Right Choice


A friend recently got a lab X puppy.  When I asked if he was going to spay her – he said he wanted to let her have a litter first because it makes a “better dog”.  I’d like to be able to argue that point.


Dr. Nichol:

It can be tough debating folks who are sure of things that aren’t so. Start by explaining that mixed bred puppies (and often their purebred brethren) can be difficult or impossible to place in good homes. It’s easy to get excited when considering how the “investment” in a shiny new dog will pay off when those gold plated puppies are ready for sale. But reproduction is unpredictable; veterinary services can be costly if mamma needs a caesarian or if the babies get sick.


That’s just the start of it. People get busy and can forget to confine their dog in heat. Multiple fence jumpers, with no hint of American family values, spread the word and the social diseases. Transmissible venereal tumors and brucellosis are two examples of canine STDs that are potentially fatal.


Heat cycles occur only about every 6 months in dogs, so it can be easy to procrastinate about spaying. Some people think they don’t need to spay small dogs because they stay indoors. But as unspayed dogs reach middle age they can face breast cancer (3 times the human risk) as well as major infections of the uterus. Diabetes is more common in unsprayed females too.


Shall I go on? Interdog aggression is much more common in dogs of either sex who are not spayed or neutered. And unneutered males face their own midlife health issues: prostate disease, testicular cancer, and tumors and hernias of the rear end.


Spaying and neutering sets the right example. Having a litter won’t make a better dog. If your friend needs more convincing invite him to visit the shelter while they euthanize dozens of healthy pets every day. Maybe that will make a believer out of him. OK, I’m done now.