Can a spayed female dog still mate?

Neutering a dog is intended to prevent their breeding. But will a neutered dog still mate? To answer this question this blog article will talk about the “sexual” behavior displayed by female dogs after castration and the benefits and harms of spayed female dogs.

Can a spayed female dog still mate?

No, a spayed female dog cannot still mate. The female dog just accepts copulation of the male dog during a specific part of the estrus cycle. 

If the female dog was spayed, she doesn’t have sex hormonal influence, so she doesn’t get in estrus cycle resulting in the not acceptance of the copulation. But in some cases, we can see that male dogs can do the mate behavior in the female dog, and it can happen for several reasons: 

  • To demonstrate dominance;
  • To play with the other animal;
  • To behavior learned before castration;

Dominance behaviour

When a group of dogs tend to live together, they begin to demonstrate remnants of the genetics of wild animals that gave rise to dogs. The dogs in the pack have a leader who has the skills to lead others. Numerous rules are imposed by him/her on the group, the marking of territory, for example, is usually up to the pack leader.

The dominant posture is the one that leads, so the dominant dog will do what is necessary to reinforce it, imposing consequences on the members of the pack without hesitation. This often means a physical correction, a growl, an imposition like mounting on other dogs for example. 

If you have seen a castrated dog mounting other, independent of the sex, it could just be a demonstration of how dominant this is the dog over the other that is being mounted. No sexual intention or reproductive act as copulation in these dogs is observed.

Playing with other dogs

Most dogs demonstrate a natural behavior in the encounter of two or more dogs such as playing, running, biting, hunting and even mounting in order to climb as part of a game between the animals.

Behavior learned before castration

A study in 2019 conducted by Starling and colleagues suggest that the age of dogs’ spaying influenced numerous behaviors. This means that when suffering stimulation from sex hormones, dogs learn certain behaviors demonstrated and even after castration these behaviors continue to be done by some animals. 

Another study in 2019 conducted by McGuire in male domestic dogs, demonstrated that castration reduce frequency of sexually behaviors, such as mounting and roaming.

When the female dog accepts the mount?

The phase in which the female dog can copulate, allowing her to be mounted, is called estrus (heat). 

The period marked by bloody secretions from the is defined as proestrus, in which various hormonal stimuli must prepare the female dog body for reproduction. 

During this period the female dog starts to attract the male but still does not accept the mount. There is vulvar edema, the cervix is dilated, and the endometrium thickened. You can see bleeding in the animal’s vulva.

The female dog on the left has a small vulva as a dog in anestrus or a spayed female dog and the female dog on the right has edematous estral vulva.

In estrus, some symptoms of the previous phase become more subtle, such as vulvar edema. During estrus, the female dog also no longer has bloody secretions. 

A translucent secretion can be observed in the vulvar region and the female dog starts to accept the male’s mount. In uncastrated females it is the time when ovulation has already occurred.

There is the switch from the production of estrogen to progesterone, which are hormones produced by the ovary. It is the ideal time to carry out fertilization, thus ensuring pregnancy.

Why does a spayed female dog don’t accept to mate?

In castration, the uterus and ovaries are removed, which are the main gonads responsible to produce sex hormones. Those sex hormones that lead to the demonstration of heat. Without the hormones there is no preparation of the female’s body for reproduction and so the female does not accept the male’s mount.

However, if the female dog accepts the male’s mount, we must observe the physiological signs such as swelling and bleeding in the region of the vulva. If signs of pre-estrus/estrus are observed. 

A possible disease called remnant ovarian syndrome should be investigated. Where parts of the ovary remain in the cavity even after castration. Thus, keeping the sexual hormone production resulting in the animal’s heat.

Why spay a female dog?

Castration is a surgical practice that is widespread among veterinary clinicians, but with few discussions about the benefits and the real recommendations, disadvantages, and contraindications.

Some benefits of female canine castration:

  • population control;
  • reduction of breast tumor cases;
  • prevention of reproductive system pathologies such as pyometra, endometritis, among others.

Some harms of female canine castration:

  • Increased occurrence of tumors such as osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma and others;
  • Increased incidence of orthopedic diseases;
  • Favors weight gain in animals.

Castration can be a useful tool in reducing the incidence of some tumors of the female reproductive tract in addition to breast tumors. 

Also, through castration we can prevent the development of pyometra in female dogs, and of course the most common benefit, population control, since one of the main objectives of neutering is to prevent animal reproduction.

However, recent studies show some points against castration, such as the possibility of increased risk of orthopedic problems, the possibility of recurrent vaginitis, obesity, increased incidence of some tumors such as hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, among others, in addition to the risks of the surgery itself, including problems with anesthetics and the ovarian remnant syndrome.

Even knowing the benefits of castration for female dog, its harms must be considered. Guardians and the veterinarian must agree on the animal’s general health status, the owner’s breeding intention, breed, age, and location. Thus, the veterinarian can help the tutor in deciding whether or not to castrate animals.

Conclusion 

With this article we were able to understand that female dogs do not reproduce after being spayed. Because these animals do not have estrus and without the physiological preparation of their body for reproduction, acceptance for copulation becomes impossible. 

However, some animals maintain some behaviors, such as the act of mounting, which can occur without the intention of reproduction. Finally, we discussed a little about the benefits and harms of castration and how important it is to decide for castration with veterinary assistance.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs): Can a spayed female dog still mate?

Neutered female dog comes into heat?

No, this is because castration removes the internal reproductive organs responsible for inducing heat. In this way, it is not possible for a castrated female dog to show heat. If the female dog is in heat a possible disease called remnant ovarian syndrome should be investigated.

Can a neutered dog still be attracted to an unneutered dog?

Yes, dogs can be attracted by the pheromones exhaled by unneutered dogs. But this does not indicate that there may be copulation between them.

What are the benefits of neutering a female dog?

The benefits of neutering a female dog are:

  • population control;
  • reduction of breast tumor cases;
  • prevention of reproductive system pathologies such as pyometra, endometritis, among others.

References

Beaver, B. V. (2001). Comportamento canino: um guia para veterinários. Roca.

de la Riva, G. T., Hart, B. L., Farver, T. B., Oberbauer, A. M., Messam, L. L. M., Willits, N., & Hart, L. A. (2013). Neutering dogs: effects on joint disorders and cancers in golden retrievers. PloS one, 8(2), e55937.

Hart, B. L., Hart, L. A., Thigpen, A. P., & Willits, N. H. (2016). Neutering of German Shepherd Dogs: associated joint disorders, cancers and urinary incontinence. Veterinary Medicine and Science, 2(3), 191-19

McGreevy, P. D., Wilson, B., Starling, M. J., & Serpell, J. A. (2018). Behavioural risks in male dogs with minimal lifetime exposure to gonadal hormones may complicate population-control benefits of desexing. PLoS One, 13(5), e0196284.

McGuire, B. (2019). Effects of gonadectomy on scent-marking behavior of shelter dogs. Journal of Veterinary Behavior, 30, 16-24. 

Reichler, I. M. (2009). Gonadectomy in cats and dogs: a review of risks and benefits. Reproduction in Domestic Animals, 44, 29-35.

Starling, M., Fawcett, A., Wilson, B., Serpell, J., & McGreevy, P. (2019). Behavioural risks in female dogs with minimal lifetime exposure to gonadal hormones. PloS one, 14(12), e0223709.

UF College of Veterinary Medicine. (2015) The Visual Guide to Canine Reproduction. Available in:<https://visgar.vetmed.ufl.edu/en_canrep/vulva/vulva.html>

Witsberger, T. H., Villamil, J. A., Schultz, L. G., Hahn, A. W., & Cook, J. L. (2008). Prevalence of and risk factors for hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament deficiency in dogs. Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, 232(12), 1818-1824

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