You’ve trained your dog practically their whole lives to this point to compete in agility competitions. After years of blood, sweat, and tears (not all literally), you would hate to do anything that could impact their future success. That’s why you’re uncertain whether you should spay/neuter your agility dog. Is this the best decision for them?
By getting your dog spayed or neutered, they can still participate in agility competitions according to the American Kennel Club. The dog must also have all their vaccines, be in good health, have an AKC registration, and be at least 15 months old to join agility events.
If you’re still debating whether spaying/neutering your agility dog is a good idea, we encourage you to keep reading. In this article, we’ll discuss the many benefits of spaying/neutering and whether these basic procedures can even help your dog perform better at agility.
Should You Spay/Neuter Your Agility Dog?
If you’ve ever looked into spaying/neutering a competition dog, you may have been under the impression that you can’t. That’s because a lot of resources out there lump dog shows–officially referred to as conformation shows–and agility competitions together.
While the two events share some similarities, such as traversing obstacle courses, that’s about where the sameness ends.
There’s also a very big difference between dog shows and agility contests, and that’s with the former, you’re encouraged not to spay or neuter your dog. Luckily, that’s not the case with agility events.
The American Kennel Club or AKC defines agility in three different ways. The first is “group trials for dogs of a specific breed group such as herding, working, and so on.” The second classification for agility events includes “specialty trials for dogs of a specific breed or varieties of one breed.” The AKC also considers these agility events: “all-breed agility trials for more than 150 breeds and varieties of dogs recognized by the AKC.”
According to the organization, the above is the most widely used definition of an agility event, but the other two definitions do apply as well.
Then, the AKC lays out the guidelines any dog must meet to be part of an agility event. We touched on these in the intro, but we’ll reiterate now.
For one, your dog must have all their most recent vaccinations. That means everything from vaccines combatting Leptospira bacteria to Borrelia burgdorferi to rabies, canine hepatitis, distemper, canine parvovirus, and anything in between.
Next, your dog must be “in sound health”, which means no injuries, diseases, or medical conditions holding them back from competing. Also, as we’ve talked about before, there are age limits for participating in agility events. The AKC says the youngest your dog can be is 15 months, which is a little over a year old.
Then, you must get your pup an AKC registration. Some dogs are eligible for AKC’s Indefinite Listing Privilege program or ILP. For mixed breeds, there’s the Canines Partner program for registration.
As for spaying or neutering your dog for agility competitions, the AKC has this to say:
spayed or neutered dogs are eligible to compete.
Reasons to Get Your Dog Spayed/Neutered
Alright, so we’ve established that you can spay/neuter your dog and they’re not prohibited from joining agility events, only conformation competitions or dog shows. If you need yet even more convincing to get your dog this basic surgery, here are some benefits of doing so.
If you bought your dog real agility tubes, tunnels, and other equipment so they can practice in your backyard, then you know this is not a cheap venture. If you can save money in any way, you’d like to.
Luckily, by getting your dog spayed/neutered now, you can pocket a lot more cash later. Should your female dog get pregnant, taking care of a litter of puppies proves very costly. You need more food, bedding, pee pads, toys, and treats for each puppy, not to mention all the vet bills as they get inspected and vaccinated. The mother will also need a lot of care and frequent vet trips while pregnant and after.
You may not intend to keep the puppies, but you still have to take care of them until they’re at least seven weeks old and can be adopted. That time can seem like an eternity if you’re underprepared.
If you’re worried about the cost of the spay or neuter surgery, there’s no reason to be. These procedures are priced at around $10 to $20 on the lower end, and some animal welfare organizations may even do them for free.
Fewer Homeless Pets
If you adopted your dog from a shelter once upon a time, then you know how many other animals are also waiting to find their furrever homes. Sadly, this doesn’t always happen, and these animals are often euthanized to make room for the countless others that are coming in.
When your dog reproduces, you’re directly contributing to the overpopulation of dogs. If your pup’s litter ends up in a shelter, there’s no guarantee of their survival. Plus, they’re pushing out other animals from the shelter, ending their lives early.
This is probably one of the most convincing arguments for spaying/neutering, and we hope it’s one you seriously think about.
Helps Your Local Community
Did you know your decision to get your dog spayed or neutered can expand to a community level as well? It’s true! By preventing your four-legged friend from reproducing, you reduce the rate of stray animals in your neighborhood.
The effects of this trickle down. There are now fewer stray dogs wandering around town, terrifying the kids. Also, these animals won’t ruin fauna and other nature, nor will they eat wildlife and disrupt the natural food chain. Further, with fewer unclaimed dogs running around, there’s a slightly reduced risk of automobile accidents from the dogs jumping out into the street.
Your Dog Lives Longer
We saved our best argument for last. By getting your agility dog spayed or neutered earlier in life, you can ensure you have more happy years with them. Males may be at reduced risk of prostate issues and even testicular cancer through neutering. If you have a female agility dog, her risk of developing breast tumors and uterine infections decreases.
Everyone always wishes they had more time with their dog. Why do anything that would limit their already too-short lives?
Can Spaying/Neutering Help with Your Dog’s Performance in Agility?
There’s also the little added perk that your dog may act and thus compete better in agility contests after a spay/neuter. Let’s look closer into how and why that is now.
Improved Behavior in Both Genders
Part of prepping your dog for an agility competition is making sure their basic training is impeccable. With that out of the way, you can then focus on new skills like running through tubes, weaving along poles, and ascending/descending hills or ramps.
Your training sessions can get derailed fast if your dog begins exhibiting unwanted behaviors like humping or spraying. The humping issue is a sexual one that is driven by the dog’s need to reproduce. Once you get your canine companion spayed or neutered, the humping should go with it.
Urine spraying is a means of the dog marking its territory. This is sexually driven behavior as well, as the dog is trying to keep other canines away, especially if he has a female he’s interested in. Once again, it’s possible to curb and possibly even erase this behavior through spaying/neutering.
That said, these procedures are not a magic bullet. If your dog has serious behavioral issues, such as aggression, then spaying/neutering probably won’t help. Also, some canines do still mount, hump, or spray urine even after these surgeries. In that case, you might want to consider some professional behavioral training for your dog.
Less Running Away
Male dogs that are unneutered are always eager to find a mate so they can reproduce. Even if you take very good care of your pup and provide a great life for him, his instincts take over and he tries to get out of the house when he can.
While he’s gone, one of the bigger risks, of course, is impregnating other females and contributing more to the homeless pet population. Unfortunately, your dog might not come back alive. He could get into a deadly fight with another male dog over a female. He’s also at risk of getting hit by a car.
Once your male dog is neutered, his reputation for running away at any chance should be a thing of the past. In keeping him around, you can reliably enter him into more agility events.
No More Distracting Bouts of Heat
What if you have a female dog instead? Don’t worry, as her behavior could change for the better as well. When breeding season begins, your female tends to go into heat. This is a time when she’s more sexually receptive to breeding. Reoccurring on a three-to-five-week basis, your dog will likely act differently when she’s in heat. She may tuck her tail nearer herself, lick her genitals a lot, behave sexually, and shed bloody discharge.
Through spaying, heat cycles stop in female dogs. She can then practice, train, and compete in agility with far fewer distractions.
The American Kennel Club welcomes spayed/neutered dogs to compete in agility events. If your four-legged friend hasn’t already undergone one of these procedures, that’s something you’re going to want to change sooner than later.
Spaying/neutering can increase a dog’s lifespan, cut down on homeless pets and unnecessary euthanasia, and even erase some behavioral problems that make training your dog for agility harder. We sincerely hope you consider spaying/neutering for your dog if you haven’t already!