Should I Have My Labrador Castrated?


Having your  male Labrador castrated is a common choice. Many veterinarians recommend you have this procedure carried out on your pet at a young age. As a general rule, I prefer not to castrate my own male dogs. I’ll explain a bit about that below.

There are benefits and downsides to neutering both male and female dogs, some of which are not often discussed. But I think it’s important to take the time to look at the pros and cons before carrying out an irreversible surgical procedure.

I’ll be looking at the potential effects of castration on the long term health of your labrador and on your ability to manage and train your dog.

Easier to manage?

The truth is that castrating may change your dog in ways you do not expect,  and may not change him at all in ways that you do expect.

People often tell me that they hope and expect that their male dog will more biddable and relaxed after castration.

And they may be disappointed. Many of the changes that sometimes occur after castration, only occur with about half of all castrated dogs.

The success rate of castration in  curing a whole range of perceived problems is not very impressive. Here are some of the things that might happen if you have your male dog castrated


If you have your dog castrated before he is mature,  he is unlikely to develop in quite the same way as an uncastrated male.  He may in fact look a little ‘feminine’.

He may also grow a little taller than he would have if you had left him intact. This is because the testosterone that is produced in the unaltered male dog, plays a role in telling your dog’s bones when to stop growing.

And while it doesn’t really matter if your dog grows taller than he otherwise would, the changes that castration makes to bone growth is now known to increase the risk of joint problems. I’ll talk about that in the health section below.

Stopping to pee

One thing boy dogs, including mine, love to do, is anounce their presence by peeing on things. Constant stopping to mark with urine during walks, may be reduced by castration and probably is  in about half of castrated dogs, but there are no guarantees. You can also train a male dog not to do this until they are let off the leash.

Occasionally you hear of an entire male dog that likes to urine mark indoors! In many years of keeping and breeding dogs, this is not a problem I have experienced with my male dogs, but it’s something to consider.

Unruly behavior

I have to tell you that bouncy, lively, and generally boisterous behavior is most unlikely to be reduced as a result of castration. 

Labradors may become calmer as they mature,  but don’t assume this is down to castration.

Boisterous adolescence is normal in male and female Labs and can be challenging. But neutering is not an effective solution.


Roaming is one behavior that is significantly improved after castration, because roaming tends to be powered by the testosterone fuelled drive to procreate.

And because roaming is associated with accidents, neutered dogs are less likely to be injured than entire males.

However, this increased risk of accidents is entirely preventable by secure fencing.  I appreciate that if your yard is the size of a baseball pitch that could work out expensive,  in this case a smaller enclosure for your dog might be a solution.

Unwanted pregnancy

Male dogs that are allowed to roam are more likely to father unplanned puppies than males dogs that are kept under supervision. And this simple fact lies at the heart of most of the recommendations I see for mass neutering of all dogs.

Both unwanted pregnancy and accidental injury are associated with uncastrated males, but the statistics are misleading here. It is the lack of supervision, not the presence of testicles that lies at the heart of both these problems.

Dangerous behavior

Some people have their dogs castrated because of concerns about aggression. Aggression can be complicated. Aggression towards people that is based on ‘fear’  is unlikely to be relieved at all by castration.  If your dog has this problem you need to seek help  from an experienced behaviorist.  Your veterinarian should be able to recommend one.

Aggression towards other dogs may be relieved by castration in some cases,  but not all.  If your dog is aggressive, again seek advice from a reputable behaviorist before lopping off his balls!

Health risks and benefits

Vets are often quick to point out the health benefits of castration. These include removing the risk of testicular cancer.  A risk which is actually fairly small in dogs.  And the reduction in prostate problems (not cancers) in older dogs. It surprises me that discussion of the health risks of neutering are often not discussed at all.

For the sake of balance,  it is worth taking some time to consider the potential health problems that have now been associated with this procedure.

Early castration increases the risk of a whole range of cancers in male dogs,  including bone cancer, bladder cancer, prostate cancer (four times the risk!),  of obesity,  hypothyroidism and dementia amongst other things.  A recent study also showed an association between epilepsy and castration.  Though this relationship is not necessarily a ‘causal’  one,  it is food for thought.

Several studies have shown that there is a significantly increased risk of joint disease in dogs that have been castrated. This can be a very big deal, especially when you consider the high cost of corrective surgery for cruciate ligament repair and hip dysplasia in dogs. This is the main reason that I choose not to neuter my dogs. And if like me, you are interested in engaging in any kind of sport with your dog, then I strongly recommend you look closely at this research and at the risks to your dog before booking that operation.

A 2013 study looked at the outcome of neutering on 40,000 dogs.  You can read about it here.   The findings are interesting and may find it helpful in deciding whether or not to go ahead with neutering.

Your own circumstances

Obviously castrating a dog will render him infertile (though not immediately)  which may be very important to you if you own or are intending to own an entire female dogs as well.  If you have a male dog and a female dog,  neutering the boy is probably the least invasive option.

The Labrador Handbook by Pippa Mattinson(paid link)

If your dog is an only dog,  and your property is secure,  it is not a straightforward decision.

Making a decision.

As you can see, castrating your  dog is not necessarily the best thing for him, it depends very much on what you are trying to achieve. Talk to your vet,  get a second opinion if you are still not sure, take some time to do your research and you  will be able to  make the right decision for your dog.

How about you?  Have you noticed benefits or disadvantages to castrating your dog?  Share your thoughts in the comments box below

Further reading

The Labrador Site Founder

Pippa Mattinson is the best selling author of The Happy Puppy Handbook, the Labrador Handbook, Choosing The Perfect Puppy, and Total Recall.

She is also the founder of the Gundog Trust and the Dogsnet Online Training Program 

Pippa's online training courses were launched in 2019 and you can find the latest course dates on the Dogsnet website


  1. My Lab Quinn was intact until he was a bit over two. His adolescence was a nightmare of humping and distraction. On the other hand, he was and is a gentle boy, never looking for conflict, great with puppies and children. Because I am involved in dog sports and have grandchildren, I opted to neuter him in part to give him a rest from the intense single-mindedness his balls induced and because his occasional day-care provider reported that he was humping everybody and everything. He bounced back quickly from the surgery, the humping stopped immediately, and he became a more well rounded companion and athlete. There is no doubt that intact male dogs now harass him. My breeder says this is because he is definitely an omega male. His interest in sex was reignited when my new girl was in season – but he was never pushy or out of control about that, just a happy guy!!

  2. I’ve had 3 black lab males 2 were neutered and my last one wasn’t. When we went in to have Delaney done the vet decided to do a hormone test as Delaney was a bit on the small side, it came back that his growth hormones were quite low so the vet advised not to have him neutered. Delaney grew to be probably the soppiest lab I’ve ever had lol, he caught up with his growth and he was never a problem with the ‘ladies’ and never roamed, he lived to be 12 and a half the same as my 2nd lab Caffrey. I believe that it all depends on your dog if you find a good vet like we have they will advise you correctly.

  3. My vet advised me to get my nine year old black lab castrated the worst thing I’ve ever done he’s not been the same since he’s now limping with after an X-ray he’s got arthritis he’s my my boy and feel like
    I’ve ruined him he’s my third lab and he’s the only one that has been castrated .

  4. Thank you for this article, I bumped into it a month too late. I neutered my Lab last month even though I still had doubts. A few of my friends didn’t want to socialize their female dogs until I had mine fixed. Then I moved in with a roommate and I thought it would be appropriate to finally get it done, I hoped it would have lowered my Labs energy, his spotting, and aggressiveness towards people. Nevertheless, I was more concerned about his health. I did some research to see what were the benefits of neutering him. Still I had doubts! and now i realize I should have done some more research. After this article I would have decided not to neuter him after all, but its done now, unfortunately, and thank goodness his goofy, energetic, and “protective” personality didn’t go away or I would have regretted it more. Everyone advises to castrate your dog, but it should be advise to look more into the pro’s AND CON’S and the environment your fury friend is in. Base the decision on what is really best for your dog first.

    • Try not to beat yourself up over having had your dog castrated. The issue of potential long-term effects on health appears to be very complex with outcomes seemingly differing between breeds and being influenced by the age of neutering. For example, age of neutering was *not* considered in the 2013 study that was based on a data for 40,000 dogs. It is also important to differentiate between correlation and evidenced causality. If you are interested, check out this link to a 2014 article that compares the long-term health effects of neutering on Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers:

      One thing to bear in mind is that neutering reduces a dog’s metabolic energy requirement, therefore quite a few dogs gain weight following their neuter. Your vet may have given you a rule of thumb figure by which to reduce your dog’s daily ration. In my opinion it is a good idea to observe your dog’s body condition closely anyway and even more closely in the months following his neuter (particularly if he is at an age at which he may still need more energy to grow or fill out). If you make a point of checking his body condition weekly, it is easy to adjust his ration slightly downwards or upwards as needed.

  5. Comment:hi , i am Ram nandhu.. My 2 1/2 years old male labrador is suffering from INGUINAL HERNIA now.. we met with vet, and the vet says ” neuter him to avoid recurrence in futute” .. but we r breeding labradors.. i prefer his health is first and must.. its must to neuter him??

  6. My black lab is 5.The most beautiful English block head i have ever seen and such a sweet loving boy. He is unaltered and has a lovely personality until company arrives. I have to say he tries to hump the smallest of the bunch of guests . Embarrassingly enough the children! I have not bred him though this was my best intention as he has a fantastic pedigree.Is this sexual frustration? Its just expensive to do all of the test for his full pedigree release. Love our breeder she is very responsible. This issue always arises as holidays come with the arrival of company. It has me thinking that altering him might stop this behavior . I don’t want to shorten his life span if that is the reality . I simply won’t do it .However have I waited it out by letting him grow to maturity before neutering , or is it too late to neuter ? Is he too old? Will this shorten his life most likely? Please help 🙁

    • Just adopted from a local shelter the sweetest male black Lab ever. He’s about 4 yrs old was found abandoned/lost in a remote area, so don’t know anything about his past history. He’s all there downstairs but have an appointment with a vet for the procedure. Having a lot of second thoughts about it. He is a constant marker of every bush or post in sight. Worried to let him off his leash because on the couple of occasions I have he loves to run and he runs far and fast and won’t listen then. It’s obviously dangerous around where I live because of regular traffic in the area so need to avoid that at all costs. The workers at the SPCA kept telling me he’s aggressive and what not, haven’t seen that side of him yet but have been very wary of him around other dogs. Mainly because he gets so excited to meet all humans and animals alike. Just really concerned to think he’s not going to be producing testosterone anymore and what kind of long term health effects that might derive from this decision. I know if I ask him he’s probably going to say he wants to keep them, but I figure I have to decide. Some advice would be great.

  7. Hi

    I have a 15 month old chocolate lab, he’s extremely friendly and never been aggressive. However when he does get excited chasing other male dogs and tries to hump them, he will stop if they tell him off. I’m more concerned about the fact that the other day a small child was bent over, bobby sniffed his bum, then pushed him over and started humping him. Is there anything I can do to stop him doing this apart from castration? After lots of research I don’t want to get him castrated until he’s at least 2 if I can help it, thanks

  8. I have a 3 month old white lab male. My vet has suggested to have him neutered at 4 months. My son has the brother to my dog and his vet suggested at least 9 to 10 months because his vet said the puppy’s bones need to be developed first on larger dogs before neutering. Unsure what to do? Thanks for your help. Kathy

  9. Hi there I have a 3 year old miniature schnauzer and he is not neutered and we have never had problems, however recently he has started running off to another house in the village which has a female dog on heat. Would getting him neutered stop this behavior?

  10. We neutered our rescue, Elvis, at 11 mos.; I had hoped to wait until 18 so his growth plates would be closed. We had worked thru marking in the house, were improving his apparent attraction to human females, and were dealing with having to restrict his interactions with neutered males since they seemed to want to attack him. But when our erstwhile sweet natured pup started to show signs of aggression toward other dogs, especially puppies, that did it. Within a couple of wks after castration, all signs of aggression were gone, and he is now much better accepted by the other “castrati.”

  11. My 2year old Black Labrador hasn’t been done. He humps my leg then gets nasty after he is scared of other dogs won’t play with them when they go away he plays with his frisbee? he is also scared of the vet he licks his balls a lot? Any advice? Michelle

  12. Hello I’m just wondering, I have a almost 2 year old male golden lab. When I’m out walking him he is the most annoying thing ever. He wees on anything and everything and his behaviour is starting to become a problem on walks. He’s sarted jumping and barking at other dogs when they approach him (not in an aggressive way he’s just extremely friendly) and I’m worried incase another dog gets cautious and attacks him for it. And also he poops everywhere. Literally everywhere. He will have one ‘normal’ poop and then during the rest of the walk he strains out sloppy poop. It’s annoying. He doesn’t do this at home or when we take him to a field, it’s just when he’s walking constantly. Does anyone else’s dog do this? And if so do you know why

  13. Hi, I have a black lab that’s just turned 2 years old, such a great dog always happy, full of energy and well behaved. But jut recently when I take him out Walks he starts pulling me on the lead very strongly, normally when he does this it’s because he needs a number 2 and wants to rush to find a spot where to do it. But this is not the case now as recently when he pulls me about till we get to the park then once I let him off the lead he’s started running away ? Doesn’t answer to my shout whistle treats or ball as if he’s only got one thing in his mind !! Even when I just take him out for the toilet I used to take him without a lead and he would be great walk with me do his thing then walk home beside but again recently he has been running off ! Really concerned now as he is running away crossing roads ect in these dark nights. Now I wonder if this is anything to do with him trying to find a female ? And if so would getting him castrated solve this ? It’s never like him to run away until this recent week where he has done so 5 times !! ?

    • Not sounding nasty but by letting him drag you to the park and then you letting him off the lead your actually praising him for bad behaviour. I had same problem with my now 15 month old lab constantly pulling so now with a lot of further training and a halti he now walks brilliantly. His recall is still ridiculous so I’m still training him on a lunge lead until I’m confident he won’t run off. I don’t want to castrate him as his pedigree is top notch so would like to carry the line on. Hope this helps a little

  14. I have a 2 and a half year old lab who is neutered. For me there was simply not a good enough reason to get him done. I still keep an open mind and if the time comes then I’ll do what us best for him. I must admit the more I felt pushed into getting him done the more I decided not to. I had one trainer tell me that ‘ all lad males are dominant and they should all be neutered’ Well that was enough for me to prove her wrong. He was 18 months old at the time and so in his prime of adolescence, testing boundaries of what I would accept and generally being a bit cheeky. A year later he has definitely calmed down and is much calmer than two other neutered dogs of a similar age we meet up with on walks. He gets a bit growls at puppies who come bounding up to him but will move away from them on his own accord. He’s always been a bit choosy who he plays with. He still tries to jump up when either of us start to jog or run but doesn’t mind anyone else running past. He is a happy confident dog.

  15. Hi,
    I have a 7yr old choc lab that was neutered at just under 3yrs as he was being attacked all the time. Things were a lot better but he now has the problem that other male dogs are continually mounting him….it’s causing him to get annoyed and will get aggressive to the other dogs. Any help/advice as I’m now worried about letting him off the lead….
    many thanks

  16. I just left a message about Bandit, 5 y/o lab having seisures. I do not know if you received it because I had the wrong email?

    advise is received?

    thank you

  17. Hello, Bandit is a 5 y/o male, blk lab.
    He has had seisures three times, 2 yrs ago, last month and last night 9/19. He is fine afterwards BUT what should we do and who should we believe? Bandit was a “drop off” pup and my son has had him for 4 1/2 years. I live 1700 miles away and would like to be of help. He is in Colorado. And people think they can just “drop off” dogs in the mtns and they will be fine. My son has Bandit and I have Doc Holiday, agreat shepard mix – now 12 Y/O that we have resqued from the coyotes.

    2 yrs ago Vet said Bandit’s issue was an alergy, charged a small fortune for the dog food, no other explanation, but the food recommended did not help. Bandit has had a spell last month and last night. What can we do and any spedific place or contacts available? thoughts or suggestions, . Thank you so much for your time.

    Joanne please respond to email if you can.

  18. I have a chocolate lab who is nearly 17 months old and still intact. He first started to get aggresive with puppies when he was 11 months old. He has also started getting aggressive with other adolescent dogs after playing with them first. He is absolutely fine with older dogs. A behaviourist advises I should have him castrated would this reduce his aggression or make him worse?

  19. I have a Black Lab who is 13 months old. He has been in Training classes since he was 12 weeks and was doing really well. But this last 6 weeks his hormones have really kicked in and he has become so environmentally aware he cannot focus in class. Every smell and dog is a total distraction and he is becoming so strong when he lunges forward he almost pulls me over. He knows what he is supposed to be doing as at home he is a sweetheart and obedient. I don’t want him to think his current behavior is right and be that dog that everyone dislikes. Will castrating bring his brain back into the game. My trainer has said it needs to be done now as he can be quite disruptive and it would be a shame to spoil what he has already been taught. I don’t want to do it too soon and am wondering if I need to wait longer or get him booked in. I would really like to do obedience and dog agility but right now he will not listen once other dogs are about or the smell of other dogs are around. Please help!!!

    • This sounds more like a training issue to me, than a hormone issue. Proofing heel work is a challenge, especially with a friendly dog that wants to meet and play with other dogs. Castration is not likely to address this issue at all. Check out the information on proofing in the training section.

  20. we have a 6 yr old black lab,up till now hes been ok ,had a few fights pees everywhere all the usual stuff, but the last 6 months or so hes been running away at least once or twice a week,sometimes comes back and sometimes gets picked up by a dogwalker who brousse has tagged along with till they realise hes lost.the last few weeks hes been acting very perculiar and has run off twice in one day hasnt eaten his food for 3 days and is pining and howling when he gets left on his own and just wants to run off at the first is distressing to see as he is distressed about something big time and is wearing us all out,poor lad,i can only guess hes found a female doggy on heat and is desperate to get to her,i have considered castrating the boy for a few months now but after seeing him so distressed im tempted to get him done.he will be 7 in september

  21. Thank you for another interesting article.

    My male Lab is 2 years 3 months and intact. His brother was castrated at one year for reasons other than health or behaviour (he was stolen, another story). Anyway, my intact male has calmed down a lot more than his castrated brother, although they both share the same personality: ultra friendly to other dogs, not an ounce of aggression, very loving. I never thought my Lab would calm down — he was incredibly boisterous as a puppy — but I was told that at two years I would see a difference… and it was if a switch had been flicked and he matured. I do miss the puppy days although he still entertains us from time to time. It has been interesting to see that his castrated brother has retained more of his puppy characteristics.

    I, too, am made to feel irresponsible for keeping his balls — by people I don’t know that I meet at dog parks. People tend to be frightened, too, of an intact male, as if he will start a fight.

    As many have said, it comes down to training. And socialising with friendly dogs. And I also don’t let other dogs behave badly towards him — I am there in an instance, and my dog knows that he does not need to react because I am there to defend him.

    The one problem I do have, however, is that he goes crazy around two neutered males (a Lab and a Beagle), wants to lick their penises and hump them. The only solution is to take him out of the dog park when this happens because he will not leave them alone. I am told by those owners that their dogs are mounted by many other dogs, too, so at least I know it’s not just my dog. I often wonder if neutering would stop this behaviour — does anyone have experience with this? He also goes crazy for spayed miniature Schnauzers, their scent drives him crazy and he will cry until he can near them and then also licks their genitals for as long as he is allowed to, he won’t stop unless taken away physically. (Miniature Schnauzers are popular around here and I always enquire if they’re spayed.) I wonder whether being intact causes this?

  22. One more thing. My mastiff lived his whole life intact and died from issues unrelated to his testicles. Yes, he was always a bit more amorous towards lady dogs than I would have liked, but other than that, no issues.

  23. When we brought home our male lab pup we had a two year old intact male mastiff. We kept our lab intact until he was a year old. I decided to castrate him at a year because things were getting dicey between him and our mastiff and also because I wanted to take him to daycare.

    Our Airedale was two when we got him fixed. I didn’t expect it to change his behavior. The problem was that dogs we met on walks (loose dogs – ugh, different to
    topic) would go after him for no reason and it freaked him out. The castration helped with that.

    I’ll likely neuter my next dog, but never before he or she reaches physical maturity. And I admit that it would be for my convenience (less roaming, availability of daycare, etc.).

    I’ve always said that neutering is less healthy for dogs than leaving them intact. I can understand why shelters do it, but people need to get real about the whole “neutering makes your animal healthier ” thing because it’s hogwash.

  24. Our previous Lab was castrated at 9 months. He did get taller and stayed more feminine looking than a male Lab should. We lost him at 9 years to lymphatic sarcoma. I don’t know whether the two are linked.

    My current Lab is two and will remain intact. He has some fear issues, he doesn’t like being approached by some strangers. Our vet, a vet behaviourist and our trainer have all advised us to keep him as he is and if we ever want to know how castration would affect him, we should go down a reversible chemical route first.

    We have a secure garden and now his testosterone is starting to level out, we have no issues with him being the way he is.

  25. My Labrador Moose The Goose is 16 years 3 months old. He will leave this the earth the same way he came, balls and all.

    Orginally planed to have him help make pups but he didn’t get a good enough hip rating.

    I have heard the whole testicle cancer thing….

    He has never been agressive and as far as I know hasn’t had any deadly cancer. Last year he did have a cancer growth on his growing area was removed and they think they got it all.

    16 plus is a true gift for any labrador owner. I love my Moose Dog and for him I think leaving him intact was the right decision.

    Some folks get prissy at dog parks…. oh he’s intact and is upsetting my dog. If someones dog is agressive because my dog is intact I don’t rhink thats my fault or problem. Control you dog. Woof

  26. We have a 6 year old lab who’s been neutered. Nothing much pros and cons happened after that. We spoke to many about it, and my own humble conclusion is that the dog’s behaviour has more to do with training (once a week for a full year since here was 4 month old, Ollie has a trainer working with us) than anything else. As for the way he pees, well, he pees like a girl, but both vet and trainer said it has nothing to do with genitals, but rather the behaviour he was able to observe while out and about, learning the doggie way of life – and he was surrounded with plenty of female dogs then. He was as boisterous as you would expect a lab to be, but definitely on the mellow side (nothing destructive anywhere) due to lots of training.

  27. I have a nearly 5 year old male chocolate Labrador, I had him castrated when he was nearly 9 months old because I had no plans to breed him, even though I had and still do get loads of people wanting me to stud him out, I also chose to do it for the health benefits.
    My Lab is very well trained and behaved, he gets good long walks everyday and goes hiking and biking and does tracking.
    I have not regretted getting him castrated at all, I knew I was going to get him castrated even before I bought him, before I got him castrated he never once tried to mount another male or female dog or person or anything. He’s always been a balanced and well mannered dog and friendly and polite with other dogs, he hasn’t put weight on because I am strict with his food intake and castrating him hasn’t changed him. He got attacked a couple of times before I had him castrated, and he has been attacked many times, twice badly, since he has been castrated and he is forever getting mounted by other intact and castrated males, one time he had an intact male lab on his rear and another castrated lab on his head!
    I do get annoyed with people who own intact male dogs sometimes, in my experiences when out walking my lab, all the intact males we have come across have mounted my lab and even when I pull them of because the other dogs owner seems to think that nothing is wrong, they carry on trying to mount him, the only time my lab gives a gentle warning to other dogs is when they try to mount him, I don’t tell him off for that because the other dogs owners don’t do anything with their dogs, also in my experience when out walking, dogs who have been castrated late have still retained the mounting behaviour and try to mount my lab, the only male dogs that haven’t tried to mount my lab have been ones who are trained and also have been castrated young.
    Also, even before my lab was castrated, he was a laid back dog, and is still laid back, but you can get him revved up when you like and he can walk and run all day, he’s a cross between the field type lab and the show type lab so has equal qualities of both!

  28. We had our 8month old black lab pumba castrated just over a week ago now, after the vets constantly bringing it up and reading lots of articles of its benefits. We were made to feel it would calm pumba down as the vets have commented on how mad he is especially for a black lab, and he is the craziest dog I’ve had by far. Although it takes 6weeks for the hormones to dissipate, since castration he is still mad, has ripped up the floor in our conservatory, still goes crazy when you tell him off and he still cocks his leg every few minutes on a walk. I wish I’d read this article before we decided to have him castrated, as we were against it but thought we would be helping his health in the long run.
    All in all pumba is our baby, balls or no balls he’s still our mad, destructive loveable boy 🙂

  29. The main problem we have with our 3-year old male lab is that when I let him outside the yard into some empty lots we have out back, he is more focused on marking his territory than doing his business. He seems to be running off further and further. Do you think that castrating him would help this?

  30. Tag is a beautiful strong yellow english lab male. I am six two and he can throw me to the ground. I have tried all the training mechanisms including clicker training. I have also tried several different leads. He still pulls. I think I have gotten too close to him and need to be more assertive. I had planned to hook up with a breeder because his line is extremely strong. Bothe parents grand champion breeders. I am really conflicted about having him neutered. He is so sweet and close to me I dont want to change his personality. However, he is humping everything in site. I wouldn’t want someone castrating me! Obviously he cant show or breed if he is castrated.

    • Good articles. He almost pulled me into the canal this morning going after a duck! As you say, he heels perfectly on/off leash when it is just him and me. We went through three months of clicker training. What is awful is getting him into the dog park. He starts whining the minute we enter the parking lot and then goes nuts. He will flip in the air pulling forward while crying. I have tried standing still and walking the other direction. I have tried making him stay in the car with treats until he is quite. The gentle lead was a nightmare. I followed all the instructions and got him to walk with it, but he kept dragging his nose on the ground and in bushes until it started bleeding. This happened even though I made every effort to keep his nose up. I think my mistake was not rewarding him enough while he had the collar on. My breeder suggested the prong collar but I don’t want to do that. Also, we just moved and he used to have acres of woods where he could run off leash. Now he is on leash all the time. I will take a step back to minor distractions with rewards. However, I have to take him to the park for running and swimming every day. Should I forego the dog park until he conquers minor distractions? It is never the dog;always the trainer!

        • We had to move to California and there is no land. We have to walk across a bridge to the dog park. I haven’t been able to find a place they can run. However, they really work out swimming. He is not on the leash at our apartment. If I let him off leash outside he would be on the freeway in a minute. I tried special raw meat treats tonight and once he got the scent of the other dogs and saw the water he went nuts. Wanted them more than the treats. I may have to try a prong colllar. If I had the heart, the best for him would be an open farm I just cant do that.

  31. We have a intact 3 year Silver Lab and have no plans to breed him. Our problem is he sticks his nose in the crotch of our 2 granddaughters age 4 and 6 plus about every woman that comes for a visit. Will castrating him stop this behavior?

    • I read an article last year that said that it is common for larger dogs, not just labs, to greet you that way because of their size. I have a spayed female lab who does the same exact thing and it doesn’t matter whether it’s a male or female….your crotch is fair game. My male was neutered and my daughter was very young when we got him. I never had an issue with him doing this to her or any adults. I agree with Pippa in her comment below that it’s probably more behavioral. I’m still trying to get my girl to stop too so I feel your pain!

  32. I caved into my husband and the vet and let them neuter our lab. Our back fence separates us from a park, and unfortunately there is a guy with 2 female retrievers that he kept bringing to the park in heat. This meant we had to be careful leaving him in the yard as he can clear the fence easily. I so wish I would have stood my ground and refused. Ever since he has been afraid of everything and he has “unexplainable” seizures. After reading this, I will inform the vet they are not so unexplainable after all.

    • Well you would think so, my friend Rog who’s had dogs for years agreed he didn’t think that was possible just as Phinn the flat coat successfully tied with her too – hussy! Rusty tried occasionally but I think it was more because Barney was in first than real lack of interest that he didn’t try harder. All very stressful, definitely the chop for her in September!

  33. I had my dog castrated at 4 years old and never regretted it! It didn’t alter his personality, he didn’t put on weight, and he lived to the ripe old age of 14. The one major effect it did have was that other dogs stopped picking fights with him! Maybe his smell was different but whatever the reason they no longer felt the need to challenge him. It made life SO much easier!

  34. Hi,
    We had our boy fixed at thirteen and a half months.I waited until he was a bit older.It has made a huge difference for us.He was peeing and spraying and had started to become a bit naughty chasing after other dogs and was a little aggressive as his testosterone kicked in.He is so calm and chilled now,other dogs really like him and he has become one of the best Labs we have owned.We have had all our dogs done ,boys and girls.I can certainly tell the difference between Benson and dogs who are intact.So summing up ,we are so far a success story.

  35. hi,

    very good article. I have read a lot over the months and vets advise to have my boy done. he is 8 months old and a very strong big lab.

    he is great natured and brilliant with my 3 year old. great with other dogs. yes a bit hyper at times and I have been told by others to have him done. however nearly all labs I have met who have been done seem withdrawn. probably traumatised. I know I would be if it was me.

    also very barky. I know each dog is different but if you google there is a very interesting study carried out at a university in America which tested healthy labs. labs are actually better according to the article I read to not be done as it can causes other health issues. if I got cancer I would get them removed. same with my boy.

    my own opinion is that people do it because of training. they get a lab and don’t realise that they have a lot of energy and need to burn it off and require a lot of mental stimulation.

    do this and you will notice a difference rather than getting him the chop.

    just my thoughts on it.


  36. I’ve got an 17 month golden boy lab. He’s really strong and powerful, he’s getting better at recall, he’s very loving and gentle natured. I’ve been advised by people to have him done as he’s soooo strong and I’ve been told if he smells a dog on heat, it could be dangerous and that I wouldn’t be able to control him if he wanted to go off. It does make me think an I being responsible, the vet advised against it when I asked when he was younger saying labs tend to become over weight. I have 3 children, not overly young but I wouldn’t want his personality to change , thoughts please .

  37. I was horrified to learn that having our other dogs castrated before age one was probably what caused their early demise. After doing my own research and one straight talking vet I now have a better understanding of the facts and make my decision on the individual dog.

  38. It was suggested to me the other day that a neutered dog may be less likely to face aggression from other dogs. Does anyone have view on this?
    We walk in quite busy dog areas and so far have been close enough to sort out any aggression by other dogs and their owners have been quick to act too. Riley is generally overly friendly but also pretty submissive when put to the test out and about….plenty of hackles at home if he hears unusual noises (or the postman)

  39. My black lab puppy Oscar is seven months old and coming along very well. (He lives outside with his dad, Ned (a trained and experienced dog), and they’re great pals.) However, only one of his testicles has descended and the vet thinks that’s unlikely to change. Because of the cancer risk, she strongly recommends castration – but only when he is essentially mature, i.e. at around 12 months.

    It seems I have little choice – although frankly I’m reluctant to go through with this. But, assuming I do, is it at all likely to reduce his skills/effectiveness as a gundog?

    • Hi Robin, I have not seen any evidence to suggest that castration will compromise a dog’s working potential or ability. I have personally only had one dog castrated and his working ability was not affected at all.

  40. Thanks for that,
    He will be going in a kennel while we’re out as of this week. We should have crated barney as soon as we got him but we were a bit naive as it was our first dog and our first experience of a Labrador.
    He’s generally in the house alone around 5 hours a day during the week., but he is walked before and after that period.

  41. Hi
    My vet has today told me to have my dog castrated. I’m a little bit
    Worried and always thought I wouldn’t do it to the lad.
    Barney is 1 and a real charachter, however when we are at work he is sometimes a bit naughty, he paws the walls until the plaster is coming off.
    Does anyone know if castration will
    Cure this?

    • Hi Andrew, I have not seen any evidence to suggest that castrating will reduce destructive behaviours in young dogs. Crating the dog whilst you are out will prevent him from scratching at the walls. Many labradors are quite destructive until they have passed their second birthday.

      You don’t say how long you are at work but it may be that Barney is being left longer than he is able to cope with at the moment.
      If you are only leaving him for short periods, a Kong filled with food and then frozen will help keep him happy and amused.

    • Hi Andrew,
      I was reading this post and was minded os the last good advice from this site with regard “naughty” pups.I think if you read it ,you will understand that the pups are not being naughty when left for hours at a time.The Three Rs of Labrador Puppy Education.We are lucky enough to be retired now and have never left our pup for more than an hour a time when very young and now he is two and a bit ,we only leave him two to three hours at the very most.He usually comes with us and loves the car .He thinks the back is his space!He did have a chew as a pup as they all do.The skirting board in the kitchen got it a bit!We have had him fixed and it hasnt changed his wonderful character(he makes us laugh everyday)but he is so chilled and has never barked since we got him at nine weeks old.I suppose he has never had too.Good luck with Barney he sounds lovely.Understanding Labs is half the battle .I read everything I could and this website has been invaluable to me.

  42. Hi Interesting article. Neither of my two boys is castrated – both less than 2 years. The vet raises it every time we visit and I often feel made to feel irresponsible by vets and some other dog owners.
    But for us ( dogs and people!) it seems right. They are both very good natured with no aggressive tendencies to people or dogs – quite the reverse ! One is quite shy and I wouldn’t want to exacerbate that – the other is very energetic and bouncy – I could be wrong but I feel this is his personality not his genitals !
    We do sometimes have recall issues with the more outgoing dog if there are ‘interesting ‘ distractions but are persevering and I know he knows what he’s supposed to do. Never say never but for now I have no intention of castrating.

  43. PS I can’t make the article linked at the bottom of your article work..Not sure if my computer but is coming up as Error 404.

  44. Yes they were really helpful as I didn’t realise that having him castrated could cause problems but couldnt take the chance of him turning aggressive he’s such a lovely dog that I was 100% sure after having a long chat with the vet about the problems it can cause not to have him done especially with 2 young children in the house not a chance I could take 🙂

  45. Hi!
    What about the girls? Mine is due to be done next week, at 6 1/2 months and before her first season. It’s not too late to cancel. Am I doing the right thing?
    Thanks for all the great help and advice in here btw. 🙂

    • Just to add Rosamund, that there isn’t really a right or wrong here, it is a question of weighing up what is best for your dog. There is more research being done all the time, but so far, it would appear that there are pros and cons on both sides of the debate. It is a difficult one.

  46. Went to have my lab castrated but vet strongly advised against it due to bailey being a very nervous dog they advised me that he could be getting his confidence from the hormone and taking that away could make him go aggressive we decided that as he wasn’t a problem to leave Him as a full male

    • That’s interesting. Unusual to hear a vet advise against castration. Sounds as though he really has your dog’s best interests at heart 🙂

      • My vet mentioned that if my Hector had been a nervous dog she would advise against castration but as he was not she recommended it for him! He has just had done last week (he’s nearly 8 months). Vet said he was ready for it. He’s a yellow lab!