Is spaying your chihuahua the right thing to do?

Nothing causes opinions to flow like the subject of spaying your chihuahua. For some people it is a no brainier and they happily book their puppy in as soon as she is old enough. For others, like me, it has taken longer to arrive at the decision if they get there at all.

When we first got Minnie, I had no intention of getting her spayed. My thought process was, our male dog has been neutered before we got him, so why put her through such an ordeal. But advice on the right thing to do has come thick and fast from all directions. 

Making an informed decision

Spaying your chihuahua bitch is never an easy decision and the fact that research leads us one way and then the next makes the decision to neuter extremely confusing. We never want our chihuahuas to go through unnecessary pain, but at the same time, we want to prevent cancer and illnesses in dogs so that they can be with us for longer. We have scoured to latest research to give you the truth about the pros and cons of spaying your chi.

What is spaying?

Spaying is a veterinary procedure to remove the female reproductive organs in dogs (bitches) and the testicles in dogs. It has many names; desexing, sterilisation and neutering, to name a few. Vets will either conduct an ovariohysterectomy (removal of the ovaries and uterus) or an ovariectomy (removal of just the ovaries).

The procedure prevents female animals from becoming pregnant as well as eliminating heat cycles. It is a fairly short operation, and she can usually leave the clinic on the same day or the day after. Dogs can be given painkillers after the surgery and will usually return to their normal self quickly.

Is keyhole best?

With keyhole surgeries, vets remove just the ovaries. Because it is less intrusive and has three small incisions rather than a long scar it can be less traumatic and can heal with less risk meaning your chi can return to normal activities quickly.

The pros of spaying your chihuahua

Spaying will prevent unwanted pregnancies as well as eliminate heat cycles.

Without heat cycles, your dog may be calmer and will stop the advances of male dogs; it will also ensure a cleaner home, without the risk of bleeds or urinating in the house. Toilet training can go out the window during a season. 

There is a potential for uterine cancer and pyometra (infection of the uterus) while the uterus is still present. In general this does not become a big risk until your chihuahua is around 6. Although it has occurred in younger dogs.  

One of the biggest alleged benefits, which is why many choose to spay their chihuahua bitch, is an apparently healthier dog.

Spaying is said to reduce the risk of mammary cancer. But, recent research has suggests that this concern is largely theoretical and their is no real evidence to support this. It will prevent prevent pyometra as without a uterus she is not going to get an infection.

The cons of spaying

Spaying can cause weight gain in dogs, which could lead to health implications, although a reduced diet and more frequent exercise should be able to combat this issue. You may still loose the nice ‘tuck’ on a female dog.

As with any operation, there is always a risk in surgery and the chance of complications. In unfortunate circumstances, dogs can have a very adverse reaction to anaesthesia. While spaying is considered a safe procedure, there is always a chance of a negative situation.

Another disadvantage is that you may not be able to show your neutered chihuahua at events. While not applicable to all events, rules can vary. For any Kennel Club licensed events, you can show a spayed bitch, providing you have informed the Kennel Club in advance with all of their required information.

There are also other health issues associated with spaying and nueturing, your chihuahua’s uterus & ovaries or testicles are a major part of their endocrine system. With these hormone producers gone, the job falls to the adrenal gland which can get overwhelmed and cause illness later in life. There has also been some links to cancer.

Spaying your bitch too early can also result in hormone incontinence, and your bitch will be on hormone replacement for the rest of her life.

When to spay?

As with any argument in spaying, timing is a contentious subject. It is important that you wait for your chi to be a healthy weight, if your pup is undersized,  your chi may not be able to cope with the anaesthesia or operation, but your vet will advise you on this.

Many people believe that between 3-6months old is the right age for chihuahua dogs as it is before their first heat and puberty.

Some suggest that after the first heat, organs can become enlarged, making the procedure more complicated. As well as this,  some suggest the risk of developing mammary tumours increases significantly after the first season and rises with subsequent seasons. But, the link between mammary tumours and spaying has been largely dismissed by some. The link was only ever theoretical and no meaningful study has been done.

However, others argue that you should wait for them to become adult and have a season as this can affect their growth and bone density and that between one or two years of age is perfect. This seems to me to make more sense.

One thing my vet did say that seemed to makes some sense was ‘Your chihuahua does not have the emotional tie to her ovaries as women do.’ So there is a possibility that I am  projecting what could be my own angst onto Minnie.


But, for me my original problems with spaying was down to ethics. Is it ethical to remove parts of your dog so they fit into human life? I feel my dogs are sentient beings that have a right to live their life as naturally as possible. I have had several chats with different vets and asked one why they didn’t just sterilise (vasectomy in dogs and tubes tied in bitches) rather than totally de-sex them. The answer surprised me. They are not allowed to. This is considered unethical.

The reason they can preform a total spay or neuter is because of the considered ‘health benefits’ of the procedure. So, even though most owners get this done to prevent unwanted pregnancy that’s not the official reason on paper.

To spay or not to spay?

Unfortunately, there is no clear-cut answer, and it depends on you and your dog’s needs. Make sure to take plenty of advice before making a decision and consult your chihuahua community so that you can make the right decision for you. Although, I have found it hard to get a rational debate going without being accused of being a back street breeder and having pictures of euthanized dogs sent to me.

** As for us, ATOW Minnie is two and has now had her third season. I have decided against spaying her for the time being. I may re-consider when she is about six as this is the time that pyometra may become an issue. (see note)

There is more to read about spaying and neutering your chihuahua inWe need to talk about spayingFor a start, did you know that spaying and neutering in Norway is consider cruel and is illegal without a good medical reason. But in the UK no vet is going to advise that you don’t spay or neuter your dog. Most UK vets are fully behind the procedure. 

** To update this post, which was written a couple of years ago, Minnie has now been spayed.

New information suggests female dogs are better being spayed ( progesterone can play a part id difficult behaviours) and male dog being kept intact. I also had to make a decision because we took on Arlo who was a complete dog.

I was also constantly worrying at the end of each season about pyometra. It becomes more of an issue the older your dog becomes. She sailed through surgery and was up and about the next day.

Do I regret it. No not at all. I am pleased I took the time to read all the information I could and made an informed choice rather than just being told what to do. I’m also pleased that she wasn’t spayed too early and had a couple of seasons beforehand.

We would love to hear your feedback on the issue, please leave your comments below.

19 thoughts on “Is spaying your chihuahua the right thing to do?

  1. Helen Daff Reply

    Soon after I got my chi, she visted the vet and at that visit and every subsequent visit after that my vet asked when I was getting her spayed? My answer was…. I’m not. We’ll not yet anyway.

    I advised the vet I wanted her to have a litter. I’d already researched this and knew when the best time for that would be. (2.5-3 years). The vet went through the usual:
    “You’ll put her at risk ”
    “It won’t calm her down ” , she didn’t need calming down
    “Its best for her and you”
    But I had all the answers, as Id researched it.

    I then had to take her to the emergency vet one night as she was quite “flat” and unwell. She was due in season and the emergency vet went on and on about getting her spayed to stop anymore emergency visits to the vet. She didn’t know for definite that it was caused by her coming into season or not. She also went on about the risks of pregnancy and the cost of an emergency c section which would most likely be in the middle of the night.

    Soon after that I changed vets and was asked was she spayed. To which the answer was “no and probably won’t be”. The new vet was actually in agreement with me.
    Advised they don’t like spaying unnecessarily anyway.
    I was told they would give me all the assistance I needed in breeding when the time came. Since then there has been no more questions about spaying. She’s under the vet at the moment for a possible allergy and it’s great not to be lectured every time I visit on this subject.

    And yes I have looked into the benefits of spaying. The pros and cons of having it done or not having it done. The pros and cons of breeding my Chi (probably just the once like her own fur mummy).
    I have made my decision and I think once you’ve made a decision don’t be talked around to something you don’t particularly want doing.

    • Cathy Reply

      So glad you posted as my vet has been pushing to have my 3 spayed. I have read and read and feel that to not spay is the right thing on such small dogs. Thank you for your thoughts you have made me feel better about my decision. I’m sticking to my guns and keeping my girls just as they are

      • Anna Reply

        I have two girls they are sister’s. I have been agonising about whether to spay or not? I have decided I’m not going to as there is no way my girls will get pregnant, we are on private land and they run free in a secure environment. The thought of them going under the knife terrifies me! Two weeks twice a year with them in heat I can cope with. I think Norway has the right Idea not to allow this procedure unless it is for a strong medical reason!

  2. Sherry Reply

    For the first time ever, I allowed my vet to spay my chi before her first heat. I deeply regret it. Why? I knew many dogs gain a lot of excess weight if they are spayed before the first heat. Every female dog my mother ever had was spayed at that time and each one got fat. I, on the other hand, had always waited until after first heat and never had a fat dog. Now, my chi is fat and we’ve never been able to get the weight off of her. Special diets, more exercise, doggie weight loss tricks….nothing has worked. It’s a source of constant stress. I feel that whatever health benefits were gained from spaying have been obliterated by her being obese.

    • Deborah Reply

      Sherry all my chihuahuas have been fixed male and female and they never had weight problems and I have them on weight loss food to help. If nothing works have the vet check the thyroid I had a chihuahua that had thyroid problems and was put on medication for it and lost weight .

  3. Donna Glenister Reply

    Hello, my chi Athena had her first season at 6 months but got piametra a and had to see emergency vet so had to be spayed,to save her life.
    I am not sure what to do about my second chi Milly. I have been told she is too small and would have to have a section.

  4. Denise Ing Reply

    I have just had my baby spayed,my vet did not pressure me on my decision. She’s had one season back in February and since i had no intention of breeding her i felt it was the right thing to do for us. She is doing very well and almost back to her normal self. My vets are fantastic and took great care of her and myself since she’s my first chi and needed lots of advice about the breed. I now feel confident i made the right decision and she definitely won’t be the last chi i will bring into my home. It’s everyone’s personal choice whether to spay or not but with research and good advice i felt my decision was made clearly and easier to make

  5. K parsons Reply

    I just had my daisy spayed yesterday she is 9 months old and weights 2kg at 6 months she had her first season and never came out of it she had a bleed for 4 weeks and a high progesterone level for the rest of the time I thank my vets who have been so good and the advice was spot on I feel so sad seeing her with the after affects of the op but I know the pŕoblems she would of had in later years puts my mind at rest that it’s the right thing to do we all love our baby’s and what ever path we chose is our decisions

    • Louise Kirby Post authorReply

      Oh Bless, that must have been difficult to watch. I hope she feels better soon, when she is up to it send us a photo for the blog.

  6. Linda Van Dorn Reply

    I’d say the large cancer threat far outweighs any advantages of not spaying a dog you don’t intend to breed.

  7. Karen Hoolapa Reply

    I have Chis and when I first saw the article title, I thought “Oh, Lord, here it comes…” But just like the care I take in each decision I make concerning to spay or not to spay, to neuter the male or not to – it has always been taken on a case by case basis with each dog and each dog owner I deal with. It is a very personal decision and I believe that vets should do what we pay them for and not solicit income on procedures that are optional, unless we ask for advice. I’ve never minded any vet asking me if I’ve considered neutering my animals, because I do consider it and I’d like their opinion; but, only the first time that they ask me, lol! But I’ve found that just like us, each dog is different. Concerns about surgery on a small dog and the health concerns for that dog, should be priority one. Concerns about the history a breeder has with his or her line should be forthcoming, especially since dogs are sold as either pet or show quality. What a good vet can share with you about the medical aspect of a procedure they do, a breeder can share about your dog’s background. If you don’t have that information, you rely on what you have – information at your disposal, sound judgement, and a heart that wants nothing but what is best for our fur kids. Its hard to go wrong by keeping all that in mind.

  8. Dee Reply

    I took on a 13 month old chi in March. She came in season a month later and went from loving to down right evil as well as keep biting at her rest end and paws while crying out. Very hormonal
    She had to go to the vet for pain relief and I booked her in for 3 months after her season finished
    That was 8 weeks ago and she’s back to sweet ,loving and playful
    Definitely the right decision for her.

  9. Dee Reply

    I took on a 13 month old chi in March. She came in season a month later and went from loving to down right evil as well as keep biting at her rear end and paws while crying out. Very hormonal
    She had to go to the vet for pain relief and I booked her in for 3 months after her season finished
    That was 8 weeks ago and she’s back to sweet ,loving and playful
    Definitely the right decision for her.

  10. R Pena Reply

    It was the best this I did for my babies . They look happier and healthy.

  11. Marilyn Reply

    I have had Chihuahuas for many many years and I have never had any of them spayed .yes I have bred some of them but I have never had any of the problems that the vets go on about. I just flatly refused and ask them to put this on their records.

  12. Amanda Reply

    Thank you all for your responses. It feels good to know there are other chi mamas out there like me. I have had 3 chi’s and my little Mia is tiny enough that the vet was concerned at a year old about anesthesia. She is 3 now and has not gotten any bigger. At 3 lbs.. she’s very petite. I can handle her heat cycle as we do not let her out unattended & our male is neutered. However every year I battle the idea of getting her spayed. In my heart I feel it isn’t right for her… but I’d never forgive myself if she got sick because of my decision.

  13. Leanne Charles Reply

    I have a chihuahua who is 3 I am confused about getting her spay, but after reading the comments it has made me feel alot more confident I was worried about my decision but I think I will just wait and see thankyou everyone.

  14. Selena garcia Reply

    From someone who’s worked at shelters I can tell you all that there’s so many chihuahuas who end up there ( other breeds as well ) I think it’s selfish to not want to spay or neuter your dogs . That’s why a lot of male dogs end up leaving to look for female dogs and then somehow end up lost and at the shelter and don’t really get adopted fast . As for female chihuahuas they end up pregnant and then the puppies end up at the shelter . I also hope you all know that if for some reason you guys need to rehome your dogs . There’s a high chance someone won’t want to take them in because they aren’t spayed/neutered . I’ve seen that happen so many times .

    • Louise Kirby Post authorReply

      Yes, what you say is very true and tragic. this blog post is a couple of years old now and I have made some updates. New research suggests that boys are better left intact and it’s better to spay the girls. It’s a hormone issue, the lack to testosterone in boys can make them snappy and fear biters, the progesterone in the girls can lead to behaviour issues as they are pretty much always in pregnancy mode. So if we worked on ‘all girls are spayed’ then it wouldn’t be an issue and at least not so many boys would have behavior issues around fear biting. My feeling is that many of the dogs in shelters in the UK are either abandoned puppy farm girls or males dogs that are badly behaved and people can’t cope with them. It’s a tricky one and there is no one answer. But thank you for taking the time to respond to the post.

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