When to Get a Toy Poodle Neutered or Spayed?

To Neuter or not to Neuter-- that is the question. There are so many different views on when to get your dog, or more specifically toy poodle spayed or neutered. After alot a research and discussions with different vets and dog owners there are a few conclusions or main points I'll note:

- On average dog these days are neutered/spayed right at 6 months

- Vets now feel like it's pretty much never too early to get a dog spayed/neutered, especially male dogs, they've found that there is little harm done. Many say you can do it as early as 4 months, some even say 3, and quite a few feel like even 8 weeks is fine. (some of this advice is quite questionable, I would not recommend neutering a dog that early)

- Females should not be neutered until they have gone through their first heat (so after their first period)

- Males should not be neutered until their balls, both balls, have dropped (are fully visible)
(There was once a case of a woman getting her male dog neutered, but then her dog still had behavioral issues w/ marking, he still had his male "fluids", and would constantly try to have sex with female dogs. It got out of hand and she took the dog to another vet and discovered that the dog was just given a vasectomy of sorts b/c the first vet couldn't find his balls (that hadn't dropped yet), so he still had the same sex drive, etc, but he was just "shooting blanks". It's very important that you can very clearly and consistently see both balls on your male dog before getting him neutered.)

- Dogs go through stages, and depending on what you read they have 1-2 fear stages. Sometimes when dogs get neutered during a fear/imprint stage it may change their personality for the worse b/c its a traumatic experience-- this is especially true with the first fear imprint stage. 

The first fear imprint stage-- 8-11 weeks  (2-3 months)
The second fear period-- (6-14 months)

The first fear imprint stage is much more impressionable and the traumas of this time period are more lasting and can potentially affect your dog for life and directly affect his personality going forward. 
The second fear stage is moreso about a dog growing into sexual maturity, it's like their "teenage years" of sorts, they'll be apprehensive, they'll test you "try you", they may become a bit more aggressive, or become more shy. Its said that it's best to let dogs work things out on their own in this fear period, you shouldn't coddle them and reinforce any fears. 

- Dogs that are neutered earlier will sometimes end up being a little larger due to the hormones. If a dog is neutered before they go into puberty they will grow a little bigger than those neutered after puberty because testosterone is involved in bone growth. This varies by breed and size, usually smaller dogs mature faster so their size won't be greatly affected, larger dogs mature later so they might be more affected. Depending on your preference this could be a positive or negative. I would assume to most people owning a toy breed, like a toy poodle, this might be a negative... since they're often chosen because of their size (otherwise a miniature poodle would have been chosen or standard poodle). 

So with all this in mind I decided I wanted my toy poodle to go through all his stages before getting him neutered. After watching his interactions with other dogs and because of his size and general quiet and stoic nature I wanted to make sure he gained full confidence. I don't want to do anything that could make him even more reserved or fearful. Plus he's a well-behaved, calm dog showing no real signs of behavior issues... I also don't want to mess that up. The plan is to get him neutered at about 1 year and a half, but if he's doing well I may leave him intact (depending on if I begin entering him dog shows or not).  

There's alot of pressures from society to get your pet neutered, which I understand, but this can be annoying. When you're out in the park or at the vet, strangers seem to judge you when you don't have your dog fixed. Initially, I was self conscious of this, but now I'm not. I feel like each person needs to make a decision on their own, of course all cats should be neutered and most dogs, but it has to be decision you consciously make. I don't want to do something just b/c I'm told to, it's important to do research and be thoughtful about it. If its your second, third, etc dog you already you already have experience in this area so getting your do neutered is probably no-brainer. And if your dog is aggressive and has behavior problems (and maybe too excitable and energetic) neutering will surely help with these issues.

If Huxtable was marking, humping, aggressive, barking all the time, I would most certainly get him neutered, but fortunately none of the above is going on so I am able to wait it out.

So to answer the question: When should I get my toy poodle neutered / fixed? It just depends. The common answer is 6 months. But more specifically after your poodle has reached sexual maturity, for males toy poodle this is about 6-7 months -and- between 7-12 months for females. 

Side note: One of the drawbacks of keeping your dog intact is that Dogs are generally more aggressive towards intact dogs. They will often try to hump an intact dog to show dominance, if not just outright attack them. It's sort of like an innate insecurity type of thing that some neutered/spayed dogs have, the dog will try "prove" himself as an alpha, it's sort of like a human male trying to prove he's a tough guy. So definitely be careful... and don't let another dog hump your dog, responsible dog owners will not let their dog hump another dog, but some dog owners unfortunately don't care and will laugh at it-- which is rude and irresponsible. Always remove your dog from uncomfortable situations, try to remove them in a natural way of course, but definitely remove them. 

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