When our young dogs get to sexual maturity, we dog owners start looking at spaying and neutering.
This is a big step in the metaphorical responsible dog parenting handbook as (certainly in the united states) most people have been told to spay and neuter their pets (Bob Barker started that in 1982!), meaning that our dogs are surgically sterilized and cannot contribute to the reproduction (and subsequent pet overpopulation) of dogs.
And whilst this sentiment is fantastic (no one can argue that!) recent studies have associated a number of problems with getting our dogs ‘fixed’ and the early removal of hormones to our dog’s development [1,2] commonly having affects on hip dysplasia.
The concept of saving the testes is not a new concept, and was actually first discussed in 1972  as a sterilization option, but it’s certainly far from common in American society (or any society for that matter).
Nancy Kay from SpeakingforSpot says “There is no “Vasectomy 101” course being taught in veterinary schools (yet). Most veterinarians who perform vasectomies are somewhat self-taught.”
(We will be discussing Ovary sparing spays in another article!)
What is a Vasectomy for dogs?
The vasectomy procedure for dogs is incredibly similar to that for humans. Essentially, the journey of the average dog sperm is from the testes in the scrotum, to the vas deferens between the scrotum and the prostate gland, which then goes through the bulbus glandis, the urethera, and then out of the penis. 
The process of the vasectomy involves your dog undergoing general anesthesia, a small incision is made (the vasectomy surgery incision tends to be smaller than the gonadectomy surgery) and then a small portion of the vas deferens is removed. This does mean that the testicles stay in place. The veterinarian will close up usually using stitches of glue, and your dog will be given post-operative care, usually some pain relief and sent home as normal.
It’s good to note that a male who has had a vasectomy will look like an intact male (aka, the ball sack will not shrink back like it doe in neutered males) as the pet’s testicles will still be in their scrotum. Their sex hormones will still be intact too, as will their testosterone production so they will present and act much like intact males, so your daycare or walker might want to see evidence that your dog has been neutered or sterilized, because there’s no other way they can verify that a piece of the spermatic cord has been removed from your dog.
What is a “gonadectomy” or a traditional neuter?
This is the surgical procedure that removes the reproductive organs, namely the gonads, or the testicles! This surgical removal of the testicles is a relatively easy surgery that hundreds of thousands of dogs get done every year. The lack of testicles is what renders your dog ‘sterile’ and unable to breed. It has been said in the past that this comes with a risk of obesity, but modern society tends to believe that that mainly comes from the fact that our dogs learn how to switch off whilst they’re in recovery.
Needless to say, that your sterile dog is rendered unable to breed.
What Are The Benefits Of Vasctomies for male dogs?
There are a number of health benefits and behavioral changes that we do need to discuss that will occur with vasectomies, and these differ from those of gonadectomized (traditionally neutered) dogs. 
- Lower risk of Heart & spleen cancers
- Lower risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer)
- Lower risk of bladder cancer
- Lower risk of prostat prostate cancer in intact male dogs compared to gonadectomized dogs.
- A reduced incidence of cranial cruciate rupture
- A reduced incidence of hip dysplasia compared to pediatric neuters
- A decreased incidence of cognitive dysfunction
- Less fearfulness, noise phobias
- Less undesirable sexual behaviors compared to intact males
Are there risks associated with vasectomies for dogs?
Assessing the risk associated with vasectomized dogs is not necessarily easy. Because the traditional spaying and neutering is very much the predominant option in veterinary medicine, and even though there are some serious health problems associated with the act, it’s not often the case that the veterinary community will be forth coming with alternatives.
There is an increased risk of testicular cancer for males – because these organise remain present.
- Increased risk of testicular cancer compared to gonadectomized dogs*
- Risk of unwanted pregnancies if a vasectomy is not performed
- An increased risk of prostatitis, benign prostatic hyperplasia, prostatic cysts and squamous metaplasia of the prostate
- An increased incidence of perineal and inguinal hernia and perineal adenoma
- Inter-dog aggression may be due to competition for available territory or availability of cycling animals
- Increased risk of wandering and being hit by a car in intact dogs
- Increased incidence of urinary marking
- Ongoing sexual behaviors
- May develop some scrotal dermatitis (usually temporary)
- Potential risks of anaesthesia.
* it should be noted that testicular cancer has a very low mortality rate 
When Should A Dog Get A Vasectomy?
I can’t really give you a year of age, or a month of age that is better for your dog to get a vasectomy, mainly because that data doesn’t exist, but, second to this is the fact that truthfully there should be minimal difference between a vasectomised dog and an intact male dog.
Because the vasectomy leaves male hormones intact, my main concern here would be the presence of any other problematic behavior your dog may have and the recovery period after the surgery. This is typically when behavioral problems occur.
For example, if your dog is struggling socially, then it’s highly likely that if you get a canine vasectomy (or any surgical sterilization) then as your dog goes into recovery, and is then allowed back to the dog parks (eventually), we expect them to pick up where they left off! And what we forget is that a lot of the time, our dogs are still sore.
That whilst “recovery time” is over, that our dogs might still be feeling pain. So when they return to the world, they quickly learn that playing with their furry friend that they once loved, suddenly hurts. Which can create or encourage undesirable behavior such as “aggression” cases.
But, I’ve already gone into this here, and the same will apply to vasectomized and neuter dogs.
How much does a dog vasectomy cost?
Given that this is still a surgery that required general anaesthetic, pain medications, and all the same sort of care and staff involvement as a regular neuter for pet dogs, then it’s not going to cost significantly different.
However, I did contact (place) who said that their costs for a vasectomy were as follows as an indication.
Shih Tzu (15lbs) $
Border collie (35lbs) $
Golden Retriever (70lbs) $
Which hopefully gives you an indicator!
I was thinking about leaving my boy intact, is a vasectomy better?
That’s very much down to preference and risk management. Intact males and vasectomized males have the same risk of testicular cancers, and have the same hormones. The main reason pet owners will elect for a vasectomy over leaving their dog intact, is to mitigate the risk of unwanted pregnancies. Because even though a vasectomised dog is unable to breed, your vasectomised dog doesn’t know this and will retain his interest in the local girls heat cycles, unlike a traditionally neutered dog.
Will my vasectomised dog continue urine marking?
Yes! without the removal of the gonads (testicles), all sexual drivers and behaviors will remain the same. The good news is if it’s in home marking? There is absolutely things that can be done with this in behavior training, and you don’t necessarily need to opt for a full castration.
Can males and females get vasectomies?
For female dogs this tends to be called an “Ovary sparing spay”, which similarly remove the reproductive status of the female.
My Vet Won’t Perform A Vasectomy On My Dog, What Do I Do?
Pet parents should be allowed to pick the procedure that has the best end result for your dog, for their breed, their temperament and their behavioral issues, because we shouldn’t have to sacrifice our dogs wellbeing for the sake of population control. Standard castration is always an option. But I really do encourage you to look at all the facts and assess for yourself what it is that you want to achieve with your dog.
As my personal insight on my plan for my next dogs that get to this age? For health status reasons I will either be opting for a vasectomy, chemically castrating or leaving them intact. This is not my recommendation for you, but it might give you some insight as to my stance.
As always, I’m not a veterinary professional, but this is what the research shows!
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!
 Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0055937
 Long-Term Health Effects of Neutering Dogs: Comparison of Labrador Retrievers with Golden Retrievers
 Belfield WO. For a more normal life for a pet: a partial spay (hysterectomy). Vet Med Small Anim Clin. (1972) 67:1223–4.
 Fossum TW, Hedlund CS. Surgery of the reproductive and genital systems. In: Fossum TW, editor. Small Animal Surgery. 3rd ed. St. Louis, MO: Mosby Elsevier (2007). p. 702–44.
 V Grieco 1, E Riccardi, G F Greppi, F Teruzzi, V Iermanò, M Finazzi. Testicular tumours: a study on 232 dogs https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/18295787/
 Momont, H. W. The Gonads and Genital Tract of Dogs. MSD Vet Manual https://www.msdvetmanual.com/dog-owners/reproductive-disorders-of-dogs/the-gonads-and-genital-tract-of-dogs?query=gonads
 Kutzler, M. Gonad-Sparing Surgical Sterilization in Dogs. Front. Vet. Sci., 12 June 2020, https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2020.00342/full
 Zink, C. Vasectomy and ovary-sparing spay in dogs: comparison of health and behavior outcomes with gonadectomized and sexually intact dogs. https://avmajournals.avma.org/view/journals/javma/261/3/javma.22.08.0382.xml?