Cocker FAQ > Cocker Frequently Asked Questions



Jane S:
The purpose of this article is not to tell you whether or not to neuter your dog - that is for you to decide.  It will however list the advantages and disadvantages of neutering in order for you to make an informed decision and decide on the correct course of action for you and your dog.  It is also important to remember that all anaesthetic procedures do carry a risk to the animal involved and this should be discussed with your vet if you are concerned or have any queries.


Castration involves the removal of the testicles, thus removing the source of male hormones.  This operation will normally be carried out from 6 months of age onwards although, if possible, it is better to wait until the dog is at least 12-18 months old so that he is fully mature.


* Prevents escape attempts and roaming in searches of bitches in season - some males can be badly affected by this.  They can go off their food and become severely agitated.

* Eliminates a variety of illnesses such as testicular cancer, prostate cancer, bladder problems and hernias (however, it should be noted that entire dogs can go through their entire life without suffering any of the above problems)

* May help with behaviour problems. There is a common misconception that neutering a dog will solve all behaviour problems but this is rarely the case.  In reality, neutering will only help with hormone related problems such as hypersexual behaviour which goes beyond adolescence, dog to dog aggression and roaming after a bitch in heat.  Even then, it can take up to 6 months for the effect of castration to become apparent due to the existing hormones in the dog's body.  If you are thinking of having your dog castrated for behavioural reasons, it may be worth considering the implant, Suprelorin, which is a contraceptive implant that blocks testosterone (and thus may be helpful in some behaviour issues) and  makes the dog temporarily infertile. The implant takes up to 6 weeks to take effect and lasts for 6 months.

* Weight gain - this need not be a problem if food intake is reduced after neutering.  A neutered dog does not utilise as many calories as an entire dog so the excess calories will be stored as fat.

* Change in coat - in a cocker, neutering will most probably make the coat a lot thicker and woollier and will make it more difficult, if not impossible, to handstrip.  This will not be evident straight away but within 6 months you should notice the change.  Using a Coat King (coat stripping tool) or clippers will help to keep the dogs coat neat but the owner needs to be prepared for more frequent grooming & trimming once their dog has been neutered.

* Castrating a shy or nervous dog will almost certainly make them worse as removing their main source of testosterone can make them lose what little confidence they had.  Some male dogs can also become attractive to other males once they have been neutered.SPAYING

Spaying involves the removal of the ovaries and uterus in the female which are the source of female hormones.  Again, this operation can be carried out from 6 months of age.  However, it is always best to avoid spaying a bitch whilst she is in season because of the delicate state of the organs at this time.  It is recommended to have a bitch spayed 3 months after her season. If it is done just before  a season, there is an increased blood supply to the organs making the surgery more risky .  This is one of the reasons why it is a good idea to let a bitch go through her first season.  If you spay her at 6/7 months, you don't know how close she is to coming into season. If spaying is carried out too soon after a season when the bitch may be showing signs of a phantom pregnancy, the surgery can increase the severity of the phantom & make it last much longer.


* preventing seasons and pregnancies - this is one of the most common reasons for having a bitch spayed.  in doing this, pregnancy related problems such as mastitis or caesarean sections are also prevented.

* Eliminates a variety of illnesses such as cancer of the womb, ovaries and milk glands, polyps and ovarian cysts.  As the womb is removed during the operation, it also eliminates the possibility of the bitch developing pyometra.  This can be a very serious, sometimes fatal, condition which usually occurs 4-6 weeks after a season.  Symptoms include excess thirst, frequent urination, abdominal distension, vomiting and loss of appetite.  If it is a mild case then the bitch should respond well to antibiotics but in a sever case, an emergency operation will have to be carried out to remove the infected womb. If you suspect your bitch is suffering from pyometra, contact your vet immediately.

* Weight gain and change in coat as previously mentioned with the male dogs.

* Bladder incontinence - this affects approx. 1 in 200 and will vary in severity.  It can be successfully teated with medication.Hopefully, this article will have answered a few questions for you and helped you reach a decision regarding neutering.  It is a difficult subject to cover as everyone has their own opinion on it -even vets have differing ideas on when it should be carried out, if at all. A lot of vets promote neutering at a young age ie 6 months but if you have not yet decided yourself what you would like to do, don't feel pressurised and rush into it as once done, it can't be undone.


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