What you need to know about sexual maturity, neutering & spaying

Just like us, puppies have to mature, grow through adolescence and then mature into adults.

Many changes will take place in this time, from emotional and behavioural changes, to signs that your dog is reaching sexual maturity.

Like with humans, this is not a set time frame - your puppy may not develop at the same speed as another from the same litter, so don’t worry too much about comparing!

These changes can vary a great deal based on the breed and size of your dog, too. 

What can I expect as my dog reaches sexual maturity?

For female dogs, reaching sexual maturity means going ‘into heat’ for the first time. This can happen any time from six months, but in some cases, it may not be until after one year. 

What Are The Stages of Being in Heat? 

1 - Proestrus - At this point your dog’s vulva may appear more swollen, she may lick the area more and you may notice some bloody discharge, a bit like a period. She may also display changes in mood, such as being more on edge or more clingy towards you. 

2 - Estrus - Now your dog is ready to breed. You might notice her ‘flagging’ which is when she will move her tail side to side as a sign that she is ready to mate. She will attract ma

3 - Diestrus - At this point, your dog is no longer likely to show signs of wanting to breed. The other changes such as discharge will stop and her vulva will return to normal. 

In male dogs, reaching sexual maturity can occur from as young a five months old, so it is important to know what to look for and bear this in mind when socialising your puppy or dog. 

What does sexual maturity look like in male dogs?

For male dogs, reaching this point of maturity can look like: 

  1. Starting to lift the leg to urinate - this might include marking territory.
  2. Mounting furniture, or legs - be sure to discourage this behaviour and aim to distract with a toy or similar.
  3. A small amount of discharge may be apparent. 

About spaying and neutering

When these changes occur in your dog, you may consider spaying or neutering to help manage behaviours and some health challenges that can be associated with being sexually active. 

Spaying is the removal of the ovaries and uterus; while it sounds like a huge operation, it actually requires minimal hospitalisation and dogs usually bounce back very fast. It is believed that this procedure can reduce the incidence or certain types of cancer. 

Neutering is the removal of the testicles, which can help manage behaviour in dogs and also ensure no unwanted breeding. From a health point of view, neutering can reduce the risk of certain diseases and removes the desire to roam. 

Remember, if you’re worried about any signs of symptoms to check with your vet. You can also always chat to the Puppy Club community, too.