German shepherds are curious and intelligent dogs who can also be very active, especially when they’re young.
When he is young, from birth to about six months of age, your dog’s testosterone levels (testosterone is the hormone produced by the testicles) are low, but as he reaches puberty at about six months old, the testosterone levels increase and your dog’s behavior is likely to change as well.
According to the Hillcrest Animal Hospital, when male dogs reach puberty you can expect them to change, taking increased risks, becoming more aggressive or dominant, and roaming in search of mates.
It may seem to you that your German shepherd goes into overdrive as he begins to exhibit these and other behaviors.
Neutering your german shepherd can help to calm him down, but the amount of change you see in your dog and how fast you see it will depend on multiple factors.
If your dog is already past puberty it may take a long time for him to calm down, and you may see other problems instead.
Some dogs may continue to be hyperactive despite being neutered, but you can help him to make the changes you’d like to see by spending time training him.
How to Calm Down Your German Shepherd so You Can Live with Him
You can’t expect to neuter your dog to change him from a wild child into a canine good citizen all by itself.
Your dog is smart, and he’s learned over his life how to act, and he’s likely to continue to keep acting the same way whether you want him to or not.
You can help him by training him to behave, and insisting that he acts the way you want him to at all times.
How effective your training is will depend in part on how old your German shepherd is when you start training him.
It is possible to use positive training methods to get excellent results from very young puppies, as is demonstrated by the video by the trainers at Assertive K-9 Training.
Find a good puppy training class to get involved in. If he’s older, look for something suited to his age.
Training your dog young to behave will go a long way toward giving you a dog you can live with, but if he’s not neutered you may still find that he is overly active.
It may take a combination of neutering and training to give you the results you seek. You need to be consistent in your training so your dog will understand your expectations of him.
What Are Some Benefits of Neutering My German Shepherd?
One of the biggest benefits to neutering your german shepherd is that he will lose the drive to seek out a mate. Instead, he’ll stay home. He won’t be digging, climbing, crawling, or sneaking out of your yard to fulfill his drive to breed.
This means your dog won’t be at high risk for the dangers that the world at large may hold for him.
He’ll stay home, safe from fighting with other dogs, safe from cars that can easily kill him, and safe from people who might throw things at him or even shoot him with BBs, shotgun pellets, or bullets.
Your german shepherd also won’t howl or whine if a neighbor’s female is in heat, something that can sometimes happen even if the female lives some distance away.
A neutered male won’t focus solely on his awareness of a receptive female and lose touch with everything else in his life until her cycle has passed. He will be calmer in general and easier to live with.
Neutering means that your dog won’t be contributing to the problem of pet overpopulation.
According to the ASPCA, millions of animals are euthanized in the United States each year because there aren’t enough homes for them. Neutering helps to cut down on these numbers.
What Other Behavior Changes Can I Expect to See in my Neutered Dog?
Your dog is far less likely to display sexually-related behaviors such as mounting other dogs, humping your leg or the furniture, and frequently marking his territory.
If you delay neutering until he has passed puberty, he may learn to do some of these things, and he may not quit once he’s neutered, but the urge will decrease. Over time, and with training, these habits can disappear.
Your neutered german shepherd is likely to be far more docile around you and other people, but he will still keep his drive to protect his home and family.
He will also keep his personality, so a dog that was sweet and friendly before neutering will be the same afterward.
How Old Should my German Shepherd Dog be When I Neuter Him?
The question of how old your dog should be when he is neutered is one that experts are divided on.
Some insist that your german shepherd should be neutered before puberty so that he won’t develop any of the bad habits that come with reaching a certain age.
Other experts suggest that there can be problems associated with neutering your dog too early. According to the American Kennel Club, there have been findings that show that dogs neutered before puberty may end up shy and insecure.
Several large, long-term studies agree and indicate that very early dog neutering is not a good idea. Psychology Today detailed several negative effects of neutering, such as increased aggression and anxiety.
Neutering also did not resolve many bad behaviors, but instead made them worse. The younger the dog at neutering, the more problematic the behaviors were.
The best thing to do is to talk to your pet’s veterinarian and discuss any concerns you may have. Your dog’s vet knows him the best, so he should be able to discuss with you his thoughts for when to neuter your dog and why you should do so at that age.
What if I Want to Breed My German Shepherd Before I Neuter Him?
It’s not a good idea to casually undertake to breed your dog. You may think he’s wonderful and there should be more like him, but that’s usually not a good idea unless you know what you’re doing.
Dog breeding should only be undertaken by people who know what they’re getting into. There’s a lot more to it than just putting two dogs together and welcoming a batch of puppies 63 days later.
When you breed your dog, you’re contributing to the millions of unwanted pets that fill the shelters at any given moment.
Your dog shouldn’t be bred before you neuter him, either. You may be teaching him to desire breeding even after he’s neutered because he’s learned that he likes it, contributing to his problem behavior.
Without a clear understanding of the potential genetic problems of any puppies your dog might produce, such as hip dysplasia or spinal degeneration, you may end up helping to create puppies that carry on these negative traits instead of helping to breed these traits out.
You also need to have a solid grasp of what your dog’s ancestry is, what the strong points versus weaknesses in his background are, and whether or not he’s likely to pass those down to his progeny.
What Other Benefits Can I Expect for My Dog from Being Neutered?
According to author Michele Welton, your German shepherd is less likely to be a target for other males if he’s neutered.
Even if your dog is not aggressive, if he’s not neutered, known as being intact, he’s at risk of other males attacking him. Once he’s neutered that risk is far less since other males won’t see him as a threat.
He will also gain some health benefits from neutering. Non-neutered males have a risk of developing prostate problems or testicular cancer. These can be treated if he gets them, but neutering minimizes or eliminates the risk of these diseases.
Another nasty problem that can develop in intact German shepherds, as well as other breeds, is a perianal fistula.
This appears as boils all around the dog’s anus, and it is tough to treat. If he’s been neutered, he’s unlikely to have this problem.
Summing it all up: Should I Neuter my German Shepherd or Not?
If your German shepherd is hyperactive, you may need to neuter him just to be able to live with him. A large male dog that is active all the time and always seems anxious to get out, to run, or just has trouble settling down can be hard to live with.
If this describes your dog then neutering is likely needed and should help to calm him down.
However, be sure to consider the studies that indicate that automatically neutering all dogs, particularly at a very young age, can be harmful to them.
Spend time with your dog, play with him, and train him. You may find that you don’t need to neuter him for him to be an awesome companion.