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Can Neutered Pets Still Have Sex?

Posted December 18, 2014 in Dog Surgery A-Z

Dr. Sophia Yin discovers that some dogs' libido doesn't always disappear after neutering.   

When you think about Valentine’s Day most people think about love, but this story is more about libido and lust.  Luckily, unlike most stories of uncontrolled animal instinct, this one has an ending and a moral that will make many people, especially men, happy.

It was a seemingly ordinary day in August and my friend and dog class co-instructor was visiting with one of her foster dogs, a little black and tan Chihuahua mix. She’d just gotten the dog and the previous owner had stated that the Chihuahua had been in heat several weeks before but was out of it now. Well, according to my neutered Jack Russell Terrier Jonesy, she was still ripe and ready for picking.

Just as a backgrounder, Jonesy historically likes to try to hump every visiting female and some neutered male dogs who smell pretty. And he knows this X-rated behavior is not allowed. So sometimes he’s covert about it. If he looks interested I’ll call him over and have him lie down which he’ll do willingly, but when he thinks I’m not looking, he gives them amorous looks, sidles up next to them and attempts to hop on.

Now for those who quickly jump to the conclusion that his behavior must be “dominance,” let me clarify.  Jonesy always backs away when these dogs if they snap at him rather than attacking them like he would if his mounting were a sign that he was trying to establish higher rank. Additionally, he exhibits his frat-boy behavior even when the female is definitely higher ranked than him and he knows she can kick his butt.  So his mounting behavior is driven by his libido. In some dogs this mounting can also be a displacement behavior, like nail chewing or twirling their one’s hair, that is performed when they are anxious in social situations or socially inept.

Usually I watch Jonesy like a hawk because it’s bad form to let him practice this rude behavior. In this particular situation I wasn’t paying close attention because Melissa and I were focused on work and because even when Jonesy does try, after several jilted attempts he usually stops. But this time, just several minutes into the visit we suddenly heard a piercing yelp.  Like something really bad had just happened. And it had! Jonesy and

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Sophia had several years of experience as a veterinarian, applied animal behaviorist and author. She was also a founding member of IDEXX’s Pet Health Network team.