My five-year-old Pointer keeps having phantom pregnancies and gets quite upset with them. We have been toying with the idea of having a litter, but are still not really sure. Do you think having her spayed would be better?

Graham Finch advises…

On balance, yes. You have reminded me of a case that required surgery to treat a nasty womb infection (pyometra) that we did only the other week. This dog was quite poorly and had what can only be described as a huge womb infection. She’s fine now and has recovered well, but neutering electively on a well individual is so much more preferable than doing so when they are ill.

The risk of pyometra increases with age, so at five this becomes a significant consideration – that’s definitely something to take into account. There’s no going back in terms of puppies following neutering, so I think that’s your main consideration – one litter then neuter, or neuter in between seasons now. There are other factors to take into consideration, such as the risk of weight gain and urinary incontinence in later life, but I’m certain your own vet will be happy to discuss these with you.


  1. We had a Lab/Ret bitch who had repeated phantoms, every six months, we found she was getting more and more depressed with each one, and so we had her spayed, best decision ever. She returned to being her funny happy self, and quite contented with a soft toy puppy to lug around with her.

    It’s a myth that bitches should have a litter, and there are SO many dogs in pounds, rescue centres and places like the Blue Cross and other charities, that people should be educated that a bitch can have a happy and fulfilled life, without having to resort to a litter of puppies…

    Certain breeds have health problems, and home breeders could be adding to those health problems, by using “a” stud dog, or someone they know having an entire dog.

    I think spaying should be in part of any contract a buyer has with a breeder IF they aren’t going to be showing that dog. Neutering male dogs too should be considered more by owners.


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