Spaying or neutering your dog has long been considered a beneficial surgery. After all, it controls the animal population — limiting the number of stray dogs and those in shelters — and has key pet health and safety benefits.
If you’re considering this surgery for your dog, you probably want to know how much it will cost. Depending on where you live, among other factors, spaying can cost as little as $10 or as much as $700 or more. Luckily, there are a few ways you can save money on the procedure. Some pet insurance plans may also help cover the cost.
Here’s everything you need to know about how much it costs to neuter your dog, including what the price includes and how you can save money.
Table of contents
- Approximate cost to neuter a dog
- What are the typical costs associated with neutering a dog?
- What factors affect the cost of neutering a dog?
- Should I get my dog neutered?
- Does pet insurance cover dog neutering?
- How to save money on your dog’s neuter surgery
- When should you neuter your dog?
- How much does it cost to neuter a dog? FAQs
- Summary of Money’s guide on the cost of neutering a dog
Approximate cost to neuter a dog
Many factors affect neutering costs, so the possibilities are all over the board, from about $10 to $700 or more. Some states even offer assistance programs that provide neutering vouchers to cover a portion or the entire cost (which we discuss later).
Here are the approximate costs of neutering your dog.
Approximate price range
Humane society or low-cost clinic
$10 - $300
Private pet hospital
$300 - $700+
Free - $125
State voucher program
Low cost or free (varies by state)
Tufts Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine
$70 - $200
What are the typical costs associated with neutering a dog?
The total cost billed for a neuter surgery usually includes:
- Pre-surgery exam fee
- The surgery itself (including anesthetic agents and monitoring)
- Dog pain medication to manage any discomfort at home
- Follow-up appointments
What factors affect the cost of neutering a dog?
The cost of your dog’s neutering procedure can vary depending on the following:
- Your dog’s health: If your dog has a particular medical condition — such as a heart murmur, brachycephalic airway syndrome or kidney disease — they may require extra precautions or monitoring during and after the procedure, which costs more.
- Your dog’s size: Neutering large dogs is more expensive because they require more anesthesia. You may also incur additional travel expenses if you don't live near a clinic equipped to do surgery on giant dog breeds.
- Your location: In general, you can expect to pay more in a larger city where the cost of living is higher than a rural area
- The veterinary clinic: Veterinarians may charge higher rates for more in-depth or high-tech procedures that use state-of-the-art equipment.
Should I get my dog neutered?
Neutering (also known as castration) is a surgical procedure to remove the reproductive organs of a male animal so they are unable to reproduce. It’s called spaying for female animals and entails the surgical removal of the ovaries, uterus and fallopian tubes.
Veterinarians may also recommend neutering to address cryptorchidism in dogs, a condition in which one or both testicles fail to "drop" and remain in the abdominal area.
Getting your dog neutered — or “fixed” — is likely the first surgery you’ll consider for your puppy. It’s usually done when they are at least six months old, but it can vary. If your dog is an adult, neutering may still be safe as long as they are healthy. However, surgery complication risks can increase as your dog gets older, so discuss it with your vet.
The procedure itself is usually very quick, only taking up to twenty minutes. However, your dog must go under general anesthesia, which involves preparation before and recovery after the anesthesia wears off. You can expect your dog to be at the vet from a few hours to the whole day, depending on how busy the vet is with other surgeries.
Vets usually recommend neutering your dog because of the community and health benefits it provides. However, as with any surgery, there are some things to keep in mind.
Benefits of neutering a dog
Getting your dog neutered has the following benefits:
- Controls the dog population - Shelter Animals Count, a national database that tracks animal shelters and rescues, estimates that around 2,000 animals are euthanized in U.S. shelters daily. While some animals are euthanized because they are suffering from an illness or injury or are unsafe, another reason is pet overpopulation and overcrowding in shelters. Neutering your dog can help limit the number of dogs in shelters.
- Can increase your dog’s lifespan - Neutering has the potential to help your dog live a longer life. According to a University of Georgia study based on the causes of death in more than 40,000 domestic dogs, sterilization increased the life expectancy of male dogs by 13.8%.
- Decreases or eliminates the risk of certain health conditions - In male dogs, neutering can lower the risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia (enlarged prostate glands) and eliminate the possibility of testicular cancer.
- Decreases or eliminates certain behaviors - Neutering can help reduce or eliminate certain mating and territorial behaviors related to hormones and breeding instincts. The behaviors can include roaming — leaving home in search of a mate — and marking their territory with urine. Roaming can be dangerous because of the risk of injuries, diseases and more.
Risks of neutering a dog
While neutering is one of the most common routine veterinary procedures, like any surgery, it still carries some risks:
- General surgery and anesthesia risk - Any time your dog goes under anesthesia, there are risks of vomiting or more severe complications like cardiac arrest or stroke. However, the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) states that anesthesia-related deaths are rare. Your veterinary team would closely monitor your dog during the surgery and recovery to limit complications.
- Increases the potential of your dog becoming overweight - Neutering can increase your dog’s risk of becoming overweight or obese because it affects their hormone balance, which can slow their metabolism. If your dog experiences this issue, your vet can help you create a plan to get their weight under control.
- Increases the risk of orthopedic conditions in large breeds - A study by the University of California, Davis, found that mixed-breed dogs with a full-grown weight of 44 pounds are at a higher risk for joint disorders as adults if they are neutered before age one. Smaller dogs under 44 pounds showed no significant increase in joint issues.
Ultimately, the choice is up to you, but when done properly, the risk of complications is typically low, according to the AVMA.
If you're on the fence about neutering your dog, discuss it with a veterinarian. They can address any concerns and questions you may have and help you decide if it’s suitable for your dog. If you decide on the surgery, they'll examine your dog to ensure the procedure is safe.
Does pet insurance cover dog neutering?
An important detail to remember regarding neuter coverage is that insurance providers couple this benefit with dental cleanings. That means you can only get reimbursed for a neuter surgery or a dental cleaning in any given year.
Fortunately, it's highly unlikely that you'll need both services in the same period, especially if you enroll your pet in a policy while they're still young. Neuter surgeries are generally done during puppyhood and veterinarians typically recommend the first dental cleaning once the dog turns two.
Check out the table below to see which insurers reimburse you for neutering expenses if you add a preventive care rider.
How to save money on your dog’s neuter surgery
If you don’t have a pet insurance wellness plan that covers neutering, there are other ways to save money on the procedure.
Here are some options:
- Friends of Animals certificate - Friends of Animals, a nonprofit organization, administers a nationwide program that issues certificates to help pet parents cover the cost of spaying and neutering their cats and dogs. Not all veterinary offices participate in the program, but you can find a list of those that do on the Friends of Animals website.
- SpayUSA referral service - SpayUSA, run by the North Shore Animal League America, is a network of about 5,000 veterinarians across the U.S. that offer affordable spays and neuters. You can visit the SpayUSA website to search for options near you.
- State vouchers and certificates - Some states offer other vouchers to low-income pet owners to help cover the cost of sterilizing their animals. Check your state’s website or animal control office to see what’s available.
- Payment plans - While this might not save you money, many pet hospitals have payment plans that allow you to pay the cost of the surgery over time instead of all at once.
Low-cost neuter clinics
Your local humane society or other animal organization may offer low-cost clinics, which can be found through SpayUSA’s network, or mobile vets that can travel to you. The surgeries may be cheaper for pet owners because the cost is subsidized by donations or state funds. These clinics aim to help pet owners afford the surgery and prevent overcrowding in shelters.
It’s important to note that this doesn’t mean the procedure will be low quality, but you should do your research and know what’s included. For example, you may not receive as involved follow-up care as you would at your primary vet. Ask questions about their procedures to make sure you’re comfortable with them before deciding.
When should you neuter your dog?
Many pet medicine organizations say there’s no correct age to neuter a dog. It can vary by dog, so it’s best to consult your vet.
In general, the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA) suggests neutering small-breed dogs (under 45 pounds as full-grown adults) around the age of six months. Larger dogs may need to wait until their growth stops — usually around nine to 15 months — to limit their risk of developing joint issues. However, the right age will still depend on your dog’s circumstances.
According to the AVMA, the best time depends on your dog’s:
- Role (working dog or household pet)
- Home environment (e.g., an area with other unsterilized animals that can lead to reproduction)
- Overall health
Your veterinarian can examine your dog to determine if and when neutering is appropriate.
How much does it cost to neuter a dog? FAQs
Will neutering a dog help with aggression?
The best way to manage aggression in dogs is through behavioral modification. A veterinary behaviorist can help identify the root of the problem and develop an appropriate training plan.
At what age should I neuter my dog?
In general, smaller dogs can usually be on the younger end of that range, while larger dogs may have to be a bit older. Your veterinarian can help you determine when neutering is appropriate for your dog.
Is it cheaper to spay or neuter a dog?
Why is dog neutering so expensive?
Summary of Money’s guide on the cost of neutering a dog
- Neuter surgery is a standard procedure that eliminates your male dog’s ability to reproduce.
- Veterinarians recommend neutering because it helps control the pet population and can increase your dog’s lifespan, decrease their risk of benign prostatic hyperplasia, eliminate the risk of testicular cancer and reduce mating and territorial behaviors.
- The cost of the procedure can vary significantly based on your location, vet and your dog’s age and size. While your primary veterinarian likely offers neuter services, it may be the most expensive option, costing a few hundred dollars.
- Some states offer financial assistance to help cover some or all or the cost of spay/neuter surgery. You can also check with other national organizations — such as Friends of Animals — that may offer assistance.
- Another way to save money is to have the surgery done at a humane society or low-cost clinic.
- While accident and illness pet insurance coverage doesn’t cover neutering, wellness plans typically do.
- You can purchase a wellness plan as an add-on pet insurance coverage or buy it on its own to cover preventative care such as vaccinations, microchipping and parasite screenings.