You don’t know what the future will hold for you and your Aussie, but one thing you’re certain of is that you’d prefer your dog not to have puppies. When should you spay or neuter your Australian Shepherd?
Large dogs such as Australian Shepherds should be spayed or neutered within six to 15 months. At that age, your dog is considered fully grown. Spaying or neutering can control unwanted hormonal behaviors and reduce the homeless pet population. Your Aussie could live longer too!
This guide to spaying or neutering your Aussie will provide all the information you need to make this important decision. We’ll talk about the timeline for spaying or neutering, what the procedure and aftercare look like, and the benefits.
This Is When You Should Spay or Neuter Your Australian Shepherd
Depending on who you ask and where you look online, you’re likely to see a variety of answers to the question of when you should spay or neuter your dog. You’ve heard that it’s okay to spay/neuter a dog as young as eight weeks. You might have also read that you should wait six months or longer.
The weight of your dog is the main factor that will dictate when they should undergo a reproductive procedure such as spaying or neutering.
The American Animal Hospital Association or AAHA and their 2019 Canine Life Stages Guidelines recommend that dogs that weigh less than 45 pounds should be spayed or neutered within five or six months. For larger breeds that weigh over 45 pounds in adulthood, the surgery should occur within nine to 15 months when the dog is fully grown.
Female Aussies weigh 35 to 55 pounds. Males are 55 to 70 pounds. If your Aussie is on the lighter side, then you might get her spayed within six months, but if she’s more than 45 pounds, you can wait nine months or more.
Male Australian Shepherds are well over that 45-pound threshold, even if they’re smaller, so you can always wait at least nine months to get yours neutered.
What If My Australian Shepherd Is Older? Can They Still Get Spayed or Neutered?
You hadn’t realized that you could get your Aussie spayed or neutered from such a young age. Your dog is several years old. Is it too late for this reproductive procedure?
There’s a common misconception that once your dog is older than one year that they’re no longer eligible for spaying or neutering. That simply isn’t true. Even if your Aussie is older than six months, nine months, or 15 months, they can still receive the surgery.
All that’s required for spaying and neutering is a healthy dog. Even if your Australian Shepherd is a senior canine, they can usually still receive this procedure. As we’ll talk about in the next section, both spaying and neutering are not considered intensive surgeries, so there is likely little risk for your senior pup.
That said, you should always schedule an appointment with your Aussie’s veterinarian and ask their thoughts before you book the surgery.
What Is the Spay/Neuter Procedure Like?
Your Australian Shepherd is more than just a pet, they’re a member of the family. You worry about them going under the knife just as you would your partner or your children (if you have any).
That’s why we thought we’d take this section and explain fully what spaying and neutering entail.
Spaying Australian Shepherds
The term spaying refers to one of three procedures a pet can undergo. These include:
Ovariectomy: An ovariectomy maintains the uterus but takes out your Aussie’s ovaries. In doing so, she will no longer go through heat, nor can she reproduce.
Hysterectomy: A dog that has a hysterectomy will have her fallopian tubes removed. Since her ovaries are intact, she will still have hormonal changes such as going into heat or estrus.
Ovariohysterectomy: Many pet owners opt for an ovariohysterectomy for their dogs. This procedure will remove your Australian Shepherd’s uterus, fallopian tubes, and ovaries. This ensures she cannot reproduce, nor will she go into heat. Her hormonal behaviors will stop too.
When your Aussie undergoes a spay–be it an ovariectomy, a hysterectomy, or an ovariohysterectomy–she will be anesthetized. The surgeon will insert a breathing tube into your Australian Shepherd’s throat, but since she’s not conscious, she won’t feel it.
Outside of the anesthesia, the surgeon will also inject your Aussie with medication to help lull her to sleep. The medication dulls the pain.
On a heated blanket, the surgeon will cut into your dog. The incision is right under her belly to access her reproductive tract. There, the surgeon will take out what should be removed according to the type of surgery the dog is receiving.
All along, the surgeon reviews the heart rate and oxygen rate of your Aussie as both rates are displayed on a medical machine.
Upon wrapping up the procedure, the surgeon will add under-skin stitches, at least two layers, to close the dog’s incision. The stitches usually dissolve in a few weeks, and the body will then absorb them.
Your Australian Shepherd’s spay surgery will take 20 to 90 minutes.
Neutering Australian Shepherds
Your male Aussie will receive one of two types of surgery, and they are:
Vasectomy: Dogs have vas deferens that send sperm to the testes. When your Australian Shepherd has a vasectomy, the vas deferens get taken out. Now your dog can’t reproduce, but hormonally-driven behavioral changes will continue since he still has his testes.
Orchiectomy: An orchiectomy is when your Aussie’s testes are surgically removed so his behavior is better and he can’t reproduce.
What is neutering an Australian Shepherd like? The procedure starts the same way as a spay. In other words, your Aussie will be anesthetized and intubated. He’ll also receive medication to lessen the pain and help him to sleep.
He’ll receive their surgery on a heated blanket. The surgeon makes the incision in a different spot compared to a spay, on the penis at the base close to the scrotum. Then the surgeon will take out the testicles.
They use the same kind of stitches that dissolve over time. Dog neuters take about 20 minutes at the longest.
Will My Aussie Feel Any Pain During a Spay or Neuter?
No surgery is painless, and that goes for spays and neuters as well. However, between the pain-relieving shot the surgeon will administer to your Australian Shepherd as well as the fact that they’ll be unconscious during the surgery, pain should be at a minimum.
What Kind of Aftercare Does a Spayed/Neutered Australian Shepherd Require?
Your Australian Shepherd just received their spay or neuter surgery and it was a success. Now they enter the aftercare phase. Here are some things you can do to ensure your Australian Shepherd begins their healthful recovery.
Know That Your Dog Won’t Be Themselves
Between the medications and the surgery itself, your dog went through a lot.
Anticipate that your Australian Shepherd might be moodier than usual, even irritable. They might not want to eat, even their favorite food, as they’re a bit nauseous. They could sleep more than usual, and they might have a hard time standing and walking. Their gaze can also look hazy.
This won’t last for long, usually only the day of the surgery and maybe into the next. If your Aussie is still exhibiting these behaviors several days to a week after the procedure, contact your vet.
Keep Your Aussie to Themselves
Your Aussie loves the other dogs or cats you have in the house, and they of course adore your family. However, now is not a time for your Australian Shepherd to be around any of them. For the next five days, you want to keep them isolated from all the hustle and bustle of daily life in the house.
Avoid Bathing for Two Weeks
Although the sutures the surgeon used to close your Australian Shepherd’s incision will dissolve on their own, the stitches are meant to stay intact for a certain period. By bathing your dog or allowing them to get wet (such as when swimming or splashing around in a puddle), the stitches could dissolve prematurely.
Forego any water-related activities with your Aussie for at least two weeks.
Prevent Your Aussie from Eating at the Incision
Curious dogs such as your Aussie might want to check out their incision, but don’t let them spend too much time there. Your dog should not be allowed to chew, scratch, or lick at the area.
Most surgeons will outfit your Australian Shepherd with a collar, which some dog owners call the cone of shame. Although your dog will give you sad eyes to try to get you to take the collar off, they should wear it for 10 to 14 days.
That said, if your Aussie is having a hard time eating or drinking because of the cone, it’s okay to remove it at mealtime. Make sure you put it back on when they’re done eating.
Keep Them Hydrated and Fed as Best You Can
For the next 12 hours, monitor your dog’s fluid intake. They won’t drink their usual amount of water, but even something is better than nothing.
As we mentioned, your Aussie likely won’t have much of an appetite.
Feed them their nightly meal as you usually do, but expect your Australian Shepherd to only pick at their food the first day of their surgery.
Their lack of appetite can continue for 24 to 48 hours, so don’t be concerned.
However, if more than two days have passed and your Aussie still hasn’t resumed their regular eating habits, check in with the surgeon or your vet.
No Physical Activity for a While
For at least five days, your Aussie has to be a couch potato. They’re not allowed to exercise, and you might want to limit activities like climbing and jumping as well.
On the first day of the surgery, your Australian Shepherd won’t want to do anything anyway, so it’s not too hard to keep them in one place.
Once the effects of the medication wear off though, they might be eager to exercise, so you’ll have to be good at restricting them!
How Long Does It Take for an Australian Shepherd to Recover from a Spay or Neuter Surgery?
Most aftercare routines continue for five to seven days after a spay or neuter procedure. However, your Australian Shepherd is not considered fully recovered at that point.
It takes 10 to 14 days after the surgery for the stitches to dissolve. Your Aussie’s incision should be healing too. Your dog will be back to their old selves and can be considered fully recovered.
As always, if your Aussie hasn’t followed that recovery timeline, consult with your vet or the surgeon.
The Benefits of Spaying or Neutering Your Australian Shepherd
To wrap up, let’s talk about the advantages of getting your Aussie spayed or neutered. If you were on the fence about this surgical procedure before, this section should change your mind for the better!
Reduces Behavioral Issues in Your Dog
As we’ve established, female dogs go into heat or estrus. Each period of estrus lasts about two weeks and might occur about every six to 12 months.
When your dog is in heat, she’s receptive to mating with males.
Your Aussie might want to go outside more often so she has a better chance of finding a mate. Her behavior, which is normally sweet, can become aggressive, agitated, or anxious. She may even hump people or items.
Male dogs are driven by hormones as well, especially when they’re unneutered.
They too can become aggressive. They might also spray urine inside the house and out, as their urine has pheromones that attract females.
Traditional spay and neuter surgeries will eliminate these hormonally-driven behaviors.
Shrinks the Homeless Pet Population
According to PETA, there are as many as 70 million homeless pets in the United States. That includes both cats and dogs. These pets enter homeless shelters throughout the country, where they’re then put up for adoption.
If prospective pet owners decide they don’t want a particular pet, then the shelter eventually has no choice but to euthanize (read: kill) the animal to make room for more incoming homeless animals.
Although dogs and cats are different, PETA points out that one unspayed female cat who has offspring can produce 370,000 kittens in just seven years.
That’s a lot of homeless animals!
We all wish we could adopt every homeless cat and dog, but that’s just not feasible. If you truly want to do your part, then get your Australian Shepherd (as well as any other pet in your house) spayed or neutered.
Saves You a Lot of Time and Money
Some dog owners, after their canine companion has unexpected puppies, decide to keep the puppies and raise them for a while, perhaps even permanently.
This is a very expensive and time-consuming venture! A 2021 article from Spruce Pets found that the average cost of a dog is anywhere from $1,400 to $4,300 a year.
Female dogs may have as few as one puppy and as many as 12, but the average litter size is five to six.
For example’s sake, let’s say your Aussie gives birth to five puppies.
The average cost per year for mom and pups is between $8,400 and $25,800. Ouch!
That doesn’t account for all the time you’ll have to pour into owning so many dogs.
In the beginning, you’ll be at the vet’s office all the time getting the puppies vaccinated. The shots might cost extra, and no, the price is not accounted for in the above tally.
Even once all the puppies are fully vaccinated, you have to feed them, take them out, and play with them every single day.
It’s a huge responsibility!
If raising that many dogs sounds too difficult for you (as it is for a lot of people), getting your Australian Shepherd spayed and neutered is the best way to go.
Could Help Your Aussie Live Longer
Getting your dog fixed could even help them live a longer, healthier life according to data from the University of Georgia published in 2013.
The researchers reviewed the death records of over 40,000 canines between 1984 and 2004.
After calculating averages, the researchers discovered that a dog that doesn’t get spayed or neutered lives an average of 7.9 years.
A spayed or neutered dog had an average life of 9.4 years.
There are many reasons for this.
Dogs that are fixed aren’t driven by hormones, so they’re less likely to get into risky situations such as being outside and possibly getting hit by a car or even in a fight with another dog.
Further, their risk of autoimmune diseases and cancer are lower, the data says.
If you’ve decided to spay or neuter your Australian Shepherd, there’s no time like the present.
At their youngest, you should get your dog fixed between six and 15 months, but even into their senior years, these surgeries are still viable options.
By doing your part to get your Aussie spayed or neutered, you’re reducing the homeless pet issue that continues to plague America.
You’re also ensuring a longer, healthier, happier life for your dog!