Rocky a thirteen month old Leonberger

This family have kept large and giant breed dogs for many years, including a Rough Collie and Bernese Mountain Dogs. They enjoy the larger-than-life personality that these breeds often seem to have. Living in the countryside, the family have the extra space that’s needed to look after them.

In recent years, they have kept mostly male dogs, and they have always taken an individual approach towards having them neutered, deciding what to do depending on the characteristics of each dog. They have two dogs just now: as well as Rocky, they have Bobby, a four year old Bernese Mountain Dog, who was neutered a year ago.

They love Rocky’s personality as he is: “crazy, boisterous, lively, exuberant and happy”. However, he has recently developed a few behavioural complications. They decided that they wanted to deal with his these issues while keeping his personality just as it is: after discussing this with me, they decided that neutering was the best answer.

behavioural complications

First, Rocky has begun to be more aggressive towards Bobby, trying to push him around, and jumping on top of him. Bobby is big and bossy enough to put him back in his place, but Darragh was concerned that as Rocky’s male hormones began to make him more masculine and more territorial, this could lead to increasing conflict between the two animals. Neutering (castration) removes the main source of testosterone in the body, which reduces the level of dog-to-dog aggression in males.

Second, Rocky has recently begun to develop a habit of wandering away from home. He’s only allowed out into the families fenced-in back garden, but in recent weeks, he has found a way out, and he’s taken to visiting a neighbour down the road. Darragh has tried blocking up his exit points (he was managing to wriggle through a gap below a fence), but Rocky is a smart dog, and he keeps finding new ways to escape. Darragh was worried that if Rocky got into the habit of wandering away from home, it might be difficult to stop him. Living in the countryside, there’s always the worry that he might frighten livestock,which would be a really serious problem. It makes sense to do everything to nip the wandering in the bud.

The family decided to take a two-pronged approach: first, they have called in a fencing expert to securely block up any small gaps in their garden perimeter. And second, they decided to have Rocky neutered. Male hormones are a significant cause of a dog’s desire to wander away from home. Once Rocky has been neutered, he’s far more likely to be contented staying in his own garden with the company of the other dog.

the neutering operation

The neutering operation – castration – is a routine procedure, done in one day. Rocky came to our clinic first thing in the morning, and by lunchtime, the operation had been completed. Darragh came in to collect him at 5pm. The latest operation technique was used, meaning that he only had a small incision, with no external sutures.

The healing period takes around ten days: during this period, Rocky is taking it easy. He isn’t having any long walks, and he isn’t allowed to play in his normal vigorous way with Bobby. By the end of November, he’ll be able to return to a fully active life, but hopefully there will be two differences.

First, he should be getting on better with Bobby, and second, he should be staying put in his own garden.

Some owners don’t like the idea of having their male dogs neutered, but if you want to have a dog that fits in well with your household, neutering is often the “kindest cut”.


  • Neutering of male dogs has behavioural and health benefits
  • It makes dogs less likely to be aggressive to other dogs
  • It lessens the urge for dogs to wander away from home

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