Spaying and Neutering
It's a sad fact that there are too many dogs and puppies in this world. Millions of adoptable dogs are euthanized in our nation's shelters every year. Unless you are a part of a responsible breeding program, you shouldn't breed your poodle. And if you don't plan to breed your poodle, you should spay her or neuter him.
When a female dog is spayed, her ovaries and uterus are removed. It's akin to a hysterectomy in a woman. The procedure is perfectly routine, and your poodle may or may not have to spend the night at the veterinarian's office.
When a male dog is neutered, his testicles are removed, though the scrotal sac is left in place. It's usually outpatient surgery — your dog won't have to spend the night at the hospital. He might be a little sore and have to be kept quiet for a day or two after surgery, but neutering is generally considered a routine and safe procedure.
Not only are there benefits to having your puppy spayed or neutered, you may actually be obligated to do so. If you buy a pet-quality poodle puppy from a reputable breeder, your contract may include a clause requiring you to spay or neuter your puppy by a certain age. If this is the case, be sure to uphold your end of the agreement.
Benefits of Spaying
A big benefit to spaying early is that it reduces the chance of your poodle developing mammary cancer later in life. Research shows that spaying a female dog prior to her first heat virtually eliminates her chance of getting breast cancer (her relative risk is reduced to only 0.05 percent). Spaying after the first heat, but before a second, leaves her with an 8-percent risk of breast cancer. If she goes through two or more heat cycles before being spayed, her chance of getting breast cancer rises to 26 percent.
Spaying also eliminates the risk of uterine and ovarian cancer (since those organs are removed), as well as uterine infection, which is not uncommon in unspayed females.
The other benefit to spaying your poodle is that you don't have to deal with your bitch going into season every six months or so, attracting the attention of all the male dogs in the neighborhood.
It's a good idea to spay and neuter while your poodle is young, but you might want to wait until your pup is at least six months old, so that he or she can have the growth and maturity benefits of the hormones. It's certainly an issue to discuss with your veterinarian and breeder before making a decision.
Benefits of Neutering
Neutering your male dog eliminates the possibility of testicular cancer. It also calms down the feisty male, since the testosterone in his system is greatly reduced. Unaltered males tend to get into more fights than their neutered counterparts. Even if they're not bullies themselves, they tend to be the target of negative attention. Intact males are also more likely to lift their legs in inappropriate places (though neutered males certainly do mark, too).
An intact male will go to great lengths to get to a female in heat. Your otherwise perfectly behaved male poodle might actually escape from your yard if tempted by a female in heat within sniffing range.