How JustAnswer Works:
  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.
Ask NancyH Your Own Question
NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
Category: Dog
Satisfied Customers: 31958
Experience:  30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
Type Your Dog Question Here...
NancyH is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Does spaying your dog change temperment, and cause fighting

Resolved Question:

I have 2 pit bulls that are 1 years old. They are brother and sister. They mated and had puppies last October. We now kept 3 puppies (2 males & 1 female). I want to fix the Mom but my husband says they will start fighting. I don't want anymore dogs. Are there any other options?

Optional Information:
Age: 1; Female; Breed: Pit Bull

Already Tried:

Submitted: 10 years ago.
Category: Dog
Expert:  Brooke Knox replied 10 years ago.

Spaying the female can change the temperment but I don't foresee it causing the male to fight with the female. If anything, it will either make the female have a calmer temperment or it will make the female's temperment some what better because she no longer has to deal with the pain of going through a cycle plus she has no chances of some of the cancers and other problems that come along with the reproductive organs as female dogs get older. For the male, it may also calm him as well be cause the female will no longer go into "heat" and so the male will no longer go crazy trying to get at her.

I hope this helps, let me know if you have anymore questions. :)

Customer: replied 10 years ago.
What if we don't fix the male, might that cause tension?
Expert:  Brooke Knox replied 10 years ago.
No, although sometimes spaying the female can change temperment, it should not affect how the two canines see each other. Since the female would be spayed she would no longer going thru the heat process which keep the send the male from going out of his mind trying to get at her. It has been my experience from clients to hear this and to discribe my own experience, when I got my dog spayed, she begin to have a more playful and cheerful temperment. Basically, I could tell she just felt better. Also, you eliminate any chances of potential uterine cancers the generally occur in females later in life. Neutering a male is also a good thing to do, if you do not plan on breeding because it cuts back on the overpopulation of strays and it too eliminates the potienal for testicular problems later in life. So, for the most part, the tension, would most like be erased either way because the males doesn't have to deal with the sexual urge/tension that he would if the female is not spayed or if he is not neutered and around other intact females. I hope this answers your question. Is there anything else I can do for you? :)
Customer: replied 10 years ago.
My Husband and I are trying to find a middle point. As of now we decided to kennel her while she is in heat. Can you give me your professional opinion on the results of this? Common sence tells me this could be worse because the male will be going crazy trying to get her. My main goal is to explain to my husband what may have caused our other two pit bulls to fight previously. They were fine until we got the female fixed. Then they started fighting. To him, that is the reason, therefore he doesn't want to get our current female fixed. Can you help?
Expert:  NancyH replied 10 years ago.
No spaying does not change temperament in a dog though it will change how they smell to other dogs and it will potentially change their pack ranking.
A change in odor can trigger a fight. If the other dog was spayed really close to a heat season that could have triggered hormonal changes and pheromonal changes that pushed the dogs into fighting.
I would expect the males to fight if they are close in size or age or dominance levels just from smelling a female in season.
The female puppy can also come in heat triggering more fighting and the young male pups will also get beat on by older males.
In this breed you cannot run an intact pack together. Sometimes you cannot even run a pack of them together when they are altered because this breed was designed to be willing to fight other dogs.
Some breeds can be kept together in pack situations but usually those dogs were bred for different kinds of tasks. Most terriers are quarrelsome and particularly so if there is a female in season.
Your best bet actually will be to first spay the females and then neuter the males but as the pups mature you may still get pack status fighting going on unless you have very strong obedience controls on them all.
Part of this the breed, part of this is the sexual tensions and the drive of the pheromones, and part of it is maturity levels that causes dog to dog aggression and fighting.
I'll be happy to answer more questions if you have them.
I keep a mixed pack of intact and altered animals as housepets because I both show/breed and rescue. In such situations you are bound to get altercations even with a mild breed (and I don't have a mild one!) because that is normal for dogs. I've seen the big difference in how spaying or neutering works to change dog's roles in the pack structure and some don't handle the usual demotion well. Males can get confused when the packmate smell changes from 'she who must be obeyed' to 'spayed girl' and the hormone flux can set them on edge causing quarrels.
However as it stands now you are at risk for real war to break out and for father to breed daughter and even kill sons to maintain pack dominance. I do think altering everyone is your safest course.
Right now all your dogs are under two years old and still essentially puppies. As they mature contention will get worse not better. might help you find a trainer to work with too.
Hope this helps you!
Expert:  Brooke Knox replied 10 years ago.
I was speaking on how the male sees the female; not how the male sees another male after altering a female. I just spoke to my boss and DVM and we both totally disagree with you that in some cases the temperment can change in the female as do other experts. When I say that I mean as far as more play, feeling better, a more general happier attitude. I am not talking about aggression. You can think as animals in a human aspect, if our reproductive system were taken out and we didn't have all of the female problems, wouldn't it make us feel better and happier? That is the point I am trying to make. Now, the male, as long as she is in heat, will try to get at the female because he can smell her. No matter what you do, he will not stop until she is out of heat or the smell is eliminated completely from around the male. If infact you have 2 males, they will indeed compete for the in cycle female. If you alter the male and not the female, that doesn't mean they loose interest. The male will still try to get at her. If you don't plan on breeding them, and cannot deal with the seperation headaches, your best bet is to atler them all or atleast the female and 1 male. I hope my insight helps you out a little. I guess it goes to show medicine has different opinions and seen differnet things. Thanks for letting me express my knowledge anyhow.
Expert:  NancyH replied 10 years ago.
Dogs do not change in temperament after spaying or neutering. They retain the base characteristics of their personality which do not change with the shift in their hormones.
Humans do not change their temperament when 'altered' but that does not apply in this situation.
In the situation you are in with these dogs there are two steps that need to be taken altering the animals to change their sexual responses and training to ensure they do not feel they are the ones in charge.
With the number of dogs of this breed you have as they mature (which they are still 1-2 years away from doing) you are going to have issues within the pack as it is. If you add in competition for being the top dogs in the pack who mate I think you will be in real trouble based on what you have already seen.
With 30 years of behavior modification practice and training I'm making an evaluation based on your choice of breeds, the situations you have seen previously and outlined here and the normal behavior of a dog pack, and extensive work with running a dog pack in the home, rescuing dogs and modifying their behavior, and helping others resolve their issues in multi pet families.
Spaying does not change temperament. It does not make a dog better and happier it simply removes the sex drive and changes the pheromones impacting pack ranking. If you have a friendly affectionate dog with a high prey drive before altering you will have the same afterwards. While hormones drive sexual impetus they do not control personality in dogs.
Expert:  Brooke Knox replied 10 years ago.
Customer after speaking with my boss (vet), I decided to be totally sure on what I told you. So, I did some research of my own. I consulted my old veterinary text books and internet resources. Some of those resources have confilicting opinions as you see here, but I do have a few sites for you to visit. I picked out the small highlights in each of them. But it may be beneficial to you to read them. Thanks again.

*According to Dogs Obedience Training. com...

American research has shown that there is a 70% improvement in behavior after castration.

* According to Veterinary

Spay/neuter helps produce healthy and good-tempered purebred dogs. An in tact male will have hormone-related behaviors, including urine marking in your house, aggression toward other male dogs, territorial aggression, and escape-oriented behavior in order to roam. A female with estrus, may show erratic behavior, signs of pain that may be similar to cramping in humans, and a greatly increased propensity to get out of the house or fenced yard. Spaying the dog prior to ever getting pregnant can spare both her health and her temperament from sometimes dramatic deterioration.

*According to Peninsula Humane Society & SPCA Resorce Library

  • FACT: The only changes in behavior you'll see are positive ones. Male cats tend to reduce their territorial spraying depending upon the age they are neutered. If neutered young enough, before they begin spraying, they may never develop the behavior. Neutered male cats and dogs fight less, resulting in fewer battle scars, contagious diseases and abscesses. And since they aren't interested in pursuing females in heat, they also wander less, greatly reducing their chances of being hit by a car or getting lost.

    *According to

    Behavior problems are generally reduced, including roaming, interdog aggression, and anxiety or fear-related problems.

    *According to

    Reduces or eliminates intermale fighting, irritable aggression of females in heat, and dominance aggression. *Neutering does not affect guarding behavior.

    *According to

    Some undesirable behaviors may also be avoided or improved by spaying and neutering. There is quite a lot of individual variation in this, because other factors (training, socialization and so on) are at work here. Neutered males are less likely to roam off in search of female companionship, less likely to fight with other dogs.

    *According to Program For Companion Animals Behavior, School of Veterinary Medicine......

    One study showed that male intact cats exhibited less affection to humans than neutered cats.

    There are plenty others. Let me know if this is not what you are looking for and I will see what I can do. Thanks again.


  • Customer: replied 10 years ago.
    Relist: I still need help.
    I've talked to my husband and we've decided to kennel the female while she is in heat. My issue is there are 3 males in the pack, and I know they will fight. Because my husband is completely ignorant and stuburn on this matter, I'm ready to let them fight and them present the ultimatum to fix or put them down.

    My final question is once they fight, will fixing them fix the fighting problem?
    Expert:  NancyH replied 10 years ago.
    This can create real emnity and dogs could get injured to the point of being killed.
    They may never get along well together after a big fight.
    While altering will help that it won't cure it.
    You might want to crate or kennel all the dogs individually and only let them out one at a time while she is in heat.
    Thats probably the safest thing - and the girl pup will be in season to cope with soon too 6-8 months is when they usually come in.
    Customer: replied 10 years ago.
    Reply to Nancy Holmes's Post: That sounds like a good idea. On another note, what are your thoughts on an electric fence? We have a very large lot, almost an acre. We were thinking instead of kenneling the dogs everytime they go in heat, we could just separate the yard into four sections, keeping the 3 males separated and the females together while in heat. To prevent digging under the fence we would put an electric 110 volt shock, is this dangerous?
    Expert:  NancyH replied 10 years ago.
    I think you would end up with pregnant dogs.
    This breed is extremely tolerant of pain to the point of ignoring if a goal is in sight. I doubt a shock fence could prevent lust from triggering them to cross the line.
    Bear in mind females in season will also fight with each other. Its as important to them to determine who will breed as it is to the boys. In a dog or wolf pack usually only the top two animals breed and the rest are not allowed to produce pups.
    If you want to do seperate quarters I'd do 5 runs with 3 one one side and 2 on another and roof and cement floor them.
    Its so much easier and cheaper to spay and neuter though!
    NancyH, Dog Expert:Rescue, Train,Breed,Care
    Category: Dog
    Satisfied Customers: 31958
    Experience: 30+ yrs dog home vet care & nursing, rescue, behavior&training, responsible show breeding, genetics
    NancyH and 3 other Dog Specialists are ready to help you