Puppies normally reach puberty any time from six months old and their elevated hormone levels can adversely affect their behaviour, so seek help if you are having any problems. This behaviour will not ‘automatically’ be resolved by neutering despite advice you may receive to the contrary. Try not to worry – it soon passes!
Bitches are normally ‘in season’ for three weeks (and are fertile during this time) so they should not be taken outside (other than the garden) or allowed to mix with male dogs. You can tell your bitch is in season when her vulva swells and she exudes a discharge which may be blood tinged. This should happen about every six months, throughout her life.
As male dogs reach puberty they start cocking their legs, and you may observe an increased interest in other dogs, independence, mounting behaviour and ‘macho’ behaviour with dogs and/or people.
If you are not breeding from your dog then you may think about getting them neutered. Neutering your dog can have some health and behaviour benefits, but it can have some downsides too, all of which may depend on the age and breed of your dog. Each dog is an individual and you should consider the advantages and disadvantages of neutering your dog carefully. You may want to speak to your dog’s breeder about how neutering may affect your dog’s future weight and coat quality.
A Breeders point of view
We spoke to Philippa of Pasturegreen Bernese Mountain dogs about her thoughts as a breeder on the subject.
“In our breed we don’t encourage neutering, they must keep their hormones for at least the first two years to ensure they mature correctly as nature intended”.
“We have also found that Bernese, live longer if they aren’t neutered”.
“Nowadays it’s become popular in giant breeds to do key hole surgery for neutering, to tie off the tubes and not remove everything. However this is much more expensive and likely to cause problems in breeds like the Bernese who are prone to cancer which you obviously don’t want to encourage”.
“Good breeders are passionate about what is good and right for the dog, they want the dog to mature correctly and live a long, healthy and happy life”.
“We have it written into our sale contract that we don’t encourage neutering. Of course if the dog has to be neutered because they have issues, only has one testes or the males are far too over sexed then its better to be safe than sorry”.
“In Bernese you can give the dog joint problems by neutering too young. They get awful coats and are prone to becoming over weight too”.
Many people believe that neutering resolves behaviour issues and such, but it doesn’t unless those behaviours are hormone fuelled.
“Aggressive dogs aren’t always aggressive because of hormones, they can be aggressive because of environmental factors, confidence issues and past history. Neutering wouldn’t change this”.
Neutering should be done, if at all, at the right time and for the right reason and on the right dogs, thereby allowing your dogs to reach full maturity in both body and mind.
*With special thanks to Philippa Green of Pasturegreen for her input in this article.