Adrienne is a certified dog trainer, behavior consultant, former veterinarian assistant, and author of "Brain Training for Dogs."
You may have spent quite a good chunk of money to spay your dog, but she's still attracting males dogs. What gives? Isn't she supposed to no longer be interesting to male dogs? If this attraction started out of the blue, you are right to wonder.
An intact female dog is a dog who is capable of reproducing. She is intact by definition because she is still equipped with ovaries, oviducts, uterine horns, and the uterus. A female who is spayed has undergone a medical procedure known as an ovariohysterectomy (OHE). This surgery basically removes her capacity to reproduce. Since her reproductive organs are removed, the production of hormones such as as estrogen and progesterone is also halted. These are the hormones responsible for triggering the dog's heat cycle.
Most males are not particularly interested in females sexually until she gives signs of going into heat. Blessed with over 220 million olfactory receptors in their noses, a male dog's nose certainly "knows" when a female is in heat. Indeed, a female dog gives off very powerful pheromones which help advertise her availability. There are countless stories of male dogs capable of detecting the smell of females in heat from a distance. Many of these pheromones are released in the female dog's urine, which is why male dogs are so obsessed with smelling any places where intact female dogs have urinated.
So if your dog is spayed (and as such, not capable of going into heat), how can she be attracting males? Great question! There are some explanations for this that we will look at in the next paragraphs.
So things definitively are not adding up: your dog was spayed, her reproductive organs removed, and her capability to produce hormones associated with the heat cycle halted, so why is she attracting males out of the blue? First, it's important information to know if she attracts only one specific male or all males in general.
Let's look at three possible explanations.
Perhaps the pheromones are not your dog's. Indeed, if your dog was spayed correctly, she should never go into heat or act as if in heat. In this case, we're talking about some neighbor's dog in heat. Indeed, if you own a spayed female and now suddenly your male dog is obsessed with her, it could be there's a female dog in heat in heat somewhere in your neighborhood. This is what happened once to a client at the vet's office, her male suddenly was obsessed with her, and after obtaining a clean bill of health, she casually noticed one of her neighbor's dogs was in heat. Unable to gain access to the dog in heat, her male dog redirected his pent-up frustration towards the spayed female dog!
If your dog is spayed and is now acting as if in heat and your male dog is interested, yes, you are right to be concerned. In some rare cases, a dog's spay may go wrong. In this case, it's likely that during the spay surgery, small parts of ovarian tissue were left behind. Left in the body, this tissue grows and then triggers the brain to produce the hormones associated with the heat cycle, explains veterinarian Janet Tobiassen Crosby. In this case, if the uterus was successfully removed, your dog technically cannot get pregnant, but if in doubt, go on route to your closest vet's office to have your dog checked out!
So there are no female dogs in heat nearby, but male dogs have shown some definite interest in your dog. What else can be the problem? In some cases, medical conditions may cause your dog to smell a bit like a dog in heat. What medical conditions cause this? We're probably looking at a possible bladder infection, an infection of the cervix or vulva, or a case of vaginitis. In some cases, the anal sacs may be also to blame. All these conditions can sometimes make a female dog attractive to males. The reasons though aren't still entirely clear, explains veterinarian Mike Richards.
Question: Even though my dog was spayed three years ago, she still releases the hormones meant for her to go into heat. I know this because our male dog humps the life out of her for about a week every six months. What can I do?
Answer: This is interesting. Have you by any chances also noticed any swelling or discharge during these times? Sometimes, when dogs are spayed, it can happen that the vet accidentally leaves some ovarian tissue behind. When this happens, dogs go still in heat when spayed and can even develop pyometra (it's called stump pyometra). I would talk to the vet who spayed her and ask and describe what you're seeing.
Question: When I got my dog the person that gave her to me told me that she was spayed, but my male Chihuahua is trying to make with her. What could be the reason?
Answer: There are several possibilities. 1) The person who provided you with this dog gave you wrong information 2) she is spayed but the vet accidentally left some ovarian tissue behind (quite rare), 3) she is spayed but there is another female in heat in your neighborhood and that is exciting him, or 4) she is emanating some smell due to some health issue.
Question: My spayed female cat is attracting male cats that have not yet been neutered. They typically do not mount her, but they constantly follow her around everywhere with their noses as close to her bottom as possible. What could be causing this?
Answer: Sometimes a piece of ovarian or uterine tissue is left behind during the spay surgery, and this may cause her to go into heat and attract males. Not saying this is the case, but it may be a possibility.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 15, 2020:
It could be some ovarian tissue was left behind. I would get a second opinion by another vet.
Teri underwood on June 03, 2020:
My uneutered male is always whinning and acting crazy around my female dog. My female was spayed around 9 weeks of age and when she was almost a year old she went into heat. I took her to the vet and they had messed they spay up and had to respay her. She is now 2 and our male is still acting like she is in heat but she is showing no signs if it. She does go and put her butt by him like teasing him and he goes nuts! What could be the problem? Could the vet have messed up twice on her spay and she isnt showing signs? She doesn't act like anythings wrong so I dont think shes sick. Please help us because our male is driving us CRAZY whinning all the time and wanting to hump her.
Wendy on February 29, 2020:
My son adopted a female dog from the pound 2 years ago they told us she was fixed spayed but she is always sticking her but in our male dog face and trying to mate with him and so forth we have an appointment to get his shots and to get him fix but now all the male dogs in the neighborhood are trying to get to her she is leaking a clear fluid we never seen this before.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on February 25, 2020:
And your Rottweiler is spayed correct? Was any testing done to confirm or rule out a possible ovarian remnant syndrome? Can it be there is some female dog in heat in your neighborhood?
Deborah Neilson on February 25, 2020:
My 11yrs old intact male dauschund is acting as if my neutered 2yrs old Rottweiler bitch is in season....He’s just not giving her any peace... no other male dogs are attracted to her... I’m really confused and not sure what to do... she’s been checked by vet for infections etc and is totally fine?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on June 02, 2019:
More than an extra ovary, I think what your vet is implying is that perhaps some ovarian tissue may have been left behind. An ultrasound can be used to visualize the ovarian tissue, if done while the dog is in heat. However, this may not always be accurate.
Kimt95 on May 29, 2019:
I got my Labrador Retriever (9 months old) desexed three months ago and the past seven days i have noticed that she is bleeding, has swelling of the nipples and vagina and has been attracting male dogs to my house. I have taken her into the vets this morning and they have told me that she may have an extra ovary laying around somewhere or she could have an infection. They have given me antibiotics to try and see if it stops. However I want to know if it’s possible for her to have an extra ovary and would the infection be causing her to show symptoms of heat? How can a vet know whether or not they have desexed her properly without putting her back under?
Theresa on December 15, 2018:
It would be interesting to hear back from some people who have found out the issue, but I guess they no longer google it when they no longer have the same issue.
My two intact male dogs are relentlessly bugging my spayed female and she's getting so fed up she's at the point of viciously attacking them every time they come near. She is smaller than them so is not injuring them so they just ignore the behaviour.
Alison on August 01, 2018:
Can a male dog still have sex with my dressed female pup
My Dog on November 13, 2017:
My Dog is Spayed but a other dog is mateing her is this going hurt her
Sue on November 03, 2017:
Why does my dog give of a strange smell one a month when she was spayed 6 months ago
Kimberly Drennan on October 31, 2017:
I have a 16 yr old boxer... she is definitely old and has been fixed since she was 3.... I have 2 3 yr old labs and are now driving her crazy by licking her and won’t leave her alone... what gives!! Why are they licking her all the time?
John on September 19, 2017:
I have a 8 mo spayed female and my fixed male is mounting on her and doing that stuff...?
Kelli Contreras on August 07, 2017:
Hi again! I am thr one who messaged you sbout my daughters lab terrier mix snd my Rat Terrier. I did not see you had messaged me back until now. So it had been several months since the dogs had been together. We are all now living together as of yesterday.
Well I dprnt snother sleepless night because he is so frustrated he can't get to her. I am going to have her checked. I need sleep! He won't even eat!
LadyNightmare on April 12, 2017:
Great information! My Pit Bull is about 18 years old now and my male dogs have been all over her! It started a few months ago, and although I have 3 other spayed females, the boys seen to only want to bother her! I will take her in for a check to see if she has an infection as she is quite old now.
Marc Bush on October 11, 2016:
I guess this has to be some of the reasons why my little male miniature York Shire terrier that is only right at a year old and has been all over my 7/8 year old.female buff colored.cocker spaniel. Thanks for the helpful info.....gladly appreciated
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on August 24, 2016:
Has your daughter's dog been checked for any medical condition? I am assuming she is spayed.
Kelli on August 22, 2016:
Thank you for this article. My daughters dog 18 month old black lab terrier mix comes to visit now and then. My dog Chico, 14 year old in tact male rat terrier goes absolutely crazy when she comes. She lived here when my daughter got her at 8 weeks old. She has been fixed. He just won't leave her alone! She sspent the night last night. He kept me awake all night wining because he couldn't get to her. Is he too old to get neutered? Thanks!
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 13, 2016:
At least until the issue that's attracting him in the first place is resolved.
Derek on May 13, 2016:
Will my male dog eventually lose interest in her and stop trying to get at her?
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on April 18, 2016:
The article above explains it. Fixed and spayed are the same thing.
Victoria Lawence on April 15, 2016:
What makes a male want a female that's been fixed
Reta on March 19, 2016:
In my case the male lives in my house also and for the last week he chases her constantly so we have to keep them separated most of the time.
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 05, 2013:
It does happen every now and then, even though not that often. It often leaves owners puzzled and that's understandable! Sometimes though, the mystery is never really solved;)
Adrienne Farricelli (author) on May 05, 2013:
Thanks Storytellersus, I am happy to hear you like my writing style and found the article interesting, thanks for stopping by!
wetnosedogs from Alabama on May 05, 2013:
I have heard of this happening. Thanks for clearing this up. Now only if the male dogs would get their scents right!
Barbara from Stepping past clutter on May 05, 2013:
Interesting! I like your casual writing style as well...
Do you know at what point in her cycle she was spayed? Was she coming into or going out of estrus when she was spayed, or was she completely out of season?
There is some evidence to show that bitches who are spayed while they are in a heat cycle will continue to attract intact males for a while. This happened to us when we spayed our oldest female. She was coming into season at the time, and for several months afterwards our intact male continued to show interest in her, to the point where we had to keep them seperated as if she was in heat. So, it's not unheard of.
Another possibility is with the actual spay itself. If the vet who performed the spay left behind any ovarian tissue, it is possible for her to come into a true estrus (heat). The only real way to check for this is to have your a vet draw blood and send it to a lab for a hormone test.
Thank you very much for the explaination! I do not know where she was in her cycle when the was spayed since the rescue had her spayed. I also do not know if any ovarian tissue was left behind. I will definitely ask her vet when I take her in next week.
So am I understanding correctly that the "interest" at the dog park will eventually go away? While we have a large fenced yard for her to run in, I really want to take her to the dog park to socialize with other dogs since we are a single dog family, but I don't want to risk her well-being to do so.
It really depends on her individual situation. If she is in a true estrus due to remaining tissue, then this will reoccur each time she comes into season. If it's the previous issue, where she was in season when she was spayed, the hormone will eventually clear out and she'll be fine.
If it is neither, and the situation was due to dogs being dogs and they were just trying to establish dominance, then it's really going to be hit and miss. Dogs mounting isn't always a sign of sexual interest, and the fact that the ones doing the mounting on that particular day being intact males could have been an unfortunate coincidence.
The practice of spaying and neutering dogs has increased significantly in the last 3 decades. According to the 2014 data referenced by the US National Library of Medicine, 83 percent of all dogs are sterilized, usually before 6 months of age in the United States alone. This is highly advocated for by veterinarians and animal activists.
Here are 5 benefits of spaying your female dog:
It goes without saying, pregnant pets are expensive to care for. The cost of veterinary, health care, and supplementation with vitamins will go high. You will also need to start buying high quality dog food to take care of your expectant female dog. All these can definitely be avoided by sterilizing the pet.
The primary cause of false heat symptoms is a condition in female dogs known as "ovarian remnant syndrome," in which a spayed female continues to exhibit signs of estrus or being in heat. Usually this occurs because a portion of an ovary was left in the abdomen during the spay surgery. The presence of ovarian remnant syndrome does not necessarily mean that the vet has performed the surgery incorrectly.
A dog whose ovarian tissue was not completely removed during spay surgery may show signs of being in heat, including swelling of the vulva, bleeding and sometimes false pregnancy signs. These usually occur at the same interval as estrus periods, roughly every seven months. Remaining ovarian follicles that produce estrogen cyclically will attract male dogs to your dog and your home.
You have to pay to have your pet spayed or neutered. However, you will save money in the long term by preventing many serious health problems. If the expense is preventing you from spaying or neutering your pet, check with your local shelter. Many have low-cost or no-cost options available.
Millions of cats and dogs end up in shelters every year. Having your pet spayed or neutered will help decrease the number of animals in need of shelter. This helps stretch shelter resources.
Dogs reproduce 15 times as fast as humans. Cats reproduce 45 times as fast. Euthanasia rates are much higher in areas where there are no options for spaying or neutering.
AHAA: "WHEN SHOULD I SPAY OR NEUTER MY PET?"
ASPCA: "Cutting Pet Care Costs," "Spay/Neuter Your Pet."
blue pearl specialty and emergency pet hospital: "Testicular Tumors in Dogs."
Cornell Feline Health Center: "Spaying and Neutering."
HUMANE SOCIETY INTERNATIONAL: "Why Spay/Neuter is Important."
THE HUMANE SOCIETY OF THE UNITED STATES: "Ending Pet Homelessness," "Why you should spay/neuter your pet."
VCA: "Estrous Cycles in Cats," "Estrous Cycles in Dogs."