Let’s Tackle the Controversy to Neuter or not to Neuter


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I am not one to shy away from the occasional controversial topic.  Although it is not something I do all the time; I have done it from time to time in the years I have been writing for this blog.

I am also not ashamed to admit that I am human and make mistakes.  I also freely admit that dog trainers are not perfect, nor are we magical beings.  We make mistakes as a whole and so do our dogs!

So it should not surprise you that I am about to admit that, although I have worked in several veterinary clinics and I have learned much over the years, I am not an expert in veterinary concerns and health problems, etc.  Only your vet who has been to veterinary school and reads the latest vet journals and goes to constant CE is an professional.

I did not go to vet school.

When you are seeking veterinary advice, it is best to go to the experts, those who did go to veterinary school and are abreast of the latest medical studies.

We have all giggled at the commercial that says “Everything you read on the internet is true”, right?

After all, there is some ludicrous information that makes its way to the internet.  And, a lot of it is written by people who just have opinions, and no scientific data or information or educated experience.  Some of these people call themselves experts… but if I am researching dog health knowledge and information; I am only going to read those from the veterinary field.  I am not going to read any articles or information from passionate owners or others who have had one experience and do not have the diverse knowledge they need to make an educated stand.

If you want advice on behavior you should learn from either a veterinary behaviorist, or a longtime trainer who has years and years of experience dealing with dogs of all shapes and sizes and behaviors.

And, although I do not have veterinary knowledge from going to vet school, I do probably have more health knowledge from working several years in the field, and I also have over 20 years’ experience dealing with the behavior problems that can result from dealing with intact dogs and I will get into my experience with that later in the article.

I am also going to do a lot of the research for you and provide links so that you can make your own decisions.

There are a lot of highly emotional posts regarding this topic, and I don’t want mine to fall into that category.  Because sometimes I think emotions override facts and common sense, and when I read a highly charged emotional article or post, I have trouble separating fact from emotion.

Birth Control Pill ContainerI recently had a person go on and on about how we don’t and would NEVER neuter people.  But the truth is many, many women end up having problems with their female parts and need complete hysterectomies and oophorectomies.  And, many of us take medications to keep our hormones in check and to keep us from having children.  And, I have not seen any studies of these women dying prematurely from cancers or suffering from more significant arthritis (although the risk of stroke with the administration of hormones is higher).

I might also add for this person (so I hope he reads this) dating from BC times to 1912 Eunuchs (men who were either castrated and/or their penis was also removed) were common place in some societies.  And, studies show they lived an average of 13.5 more years than their counterparts with more testosterone.

And, today a number of men undergo elective surgery to remove their testicles and take hormones to be recognized as females. I also do not see studies where these individuals are dying younger or suffering from broad spectrum health problems.

I suppose doggy birth control is not in the works.  However there are more and more vets who are willing to leave female dogs’ ovaries and doing vasectomies on dogs, which only addresses the issue of breeding and doesn’t get into any of the behavioral issues.

I am a nerd, and I love research studies!  I could spend days just reading up on dog behavior or health studies.  But the truth is, most have very limited control groups.

Many of the studies I found online were done on only one or two very limited groups.  One was on only Rottweilers, one was on Golden Retrievers and an updated version was based on Labrador Retrievers.

There is SO MUCH diversity in dogs, and dog breeds.  A Golden is not the same as a Chihuahua, each suffers from different genetic and health disorders as well as behavior problems.  So to do a study on one and extrapolate that all dogs are equal is a long shot at best.

As humans we are also diverse, race, ethnicity and culture play a part in our health care as well.  We can also suffer from conditions and skeletal changes that result in Achondroplasia (dwarfism)  and Gigantism (giantism).  And, I am pretty sure we can agree that even as humans all of these things play a role in health and behavior.

Dogs and dog breeds are even more diverse, from the tiny 2# Chihuahua to the gigantic over 200# Caucasian Orvcharka, and the fragile framed Italian Greyhound,  to the thick frame of the 265# Spanish Mastiff.

It is difficult, then, to take one small portion and relate it to another.

And, I personally find fault in any research project, that projects to make HUGE changes either behaviorally or health wise that only samples a small group.

Yet, I also understand how hard it is to have a research project that will embody the whole canine world.

So Let’s Get Down To It

In 2002 a study was done on Rottweilers (which are 5 times more likely to suffer osteosarcoma also known as bone cancer than other dogs).

The study suggests that neutered dogs are more likely to suffer from bone cancer than their intact counterparts.

A questionnaire was mailed out in 1999 to 1,500 owners of Rottweilers who were picked out from 8 national specialty breed Rottweiler clubs.  5 dogs could be entered per household and 730 were returned and used by this study.  To read more click here

I hate to say it but I think that this study probably focuses on a small genetic pool and also focuses on a breed that is even more susceptible to bone cancer.

And before you think I have no experience in this area, you should know I had a male Rottweiler (who stayed intact for many many years because he was a conformation show dog and co-owned by the breeder, before we ignored our contract and neutered him anyway because his hip dysplasia was so severe.  And no we never bred him thank goodness) he died at 7 from bone cancer.  I also had a spayed female Rottweiler who died at 9 from brain cancer and a neutered Belgian Malinois who died at 8 from bone cancer.

I know how heart wrenching it is to watch a dog suffer from both dysplasia and arthritis AND osteosarcoma and cancer.

You can also find more information here http://www.ufaw.org.uk/OSTEOSARCOMAROTTWEILER.php.

SurgeryI work with dogs in the competition protection world and many of these highly trained dogs are related.  I have 3 dogs and 2 of them have a world renowned dog named “Rudie Pegge” in their genetics and pedigree to check out this amazing dog click here for his you tube video.  I venture to say that hundreds of dogs can trace their lineage back to him, which isn’t such a horrible things since he was an amazing dog and a great producer of champions.  But, if you took these hundreds of dogs into a study the genetic diversity would not be as broad as you might expect… which I foresee happened with those involved in the 2002 Rottweiler study, since those individuals were also a very specific group focusing on a very specific goal.

Golden Retrievers

In 2013 a study by University of California, Davis took 759 Golden Retrievers from their  veterinary teaching hospital of various ages and looked for the incidents and risks of neutering and hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear (ACL or knee tear), lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumor.

Interestingly, males neutered prior to one year were more susceptible to hip dysplasia, while females were more susceptible to ACL tears.  You can read more on the study here

I find it incredibly mesmerizing, and yet I wonder if weight and other factors were taken into account?  I wonder how many of these males and females were overweight at an early age (since many Golden Retrievers suffer from obesity as well as cancers and arthritis).

I take it with a grain of salt because it only focuses on one breed, and I think veterinary teaching hospitals see dogs with mostly severe and specific problems.  The average dog owner goes to his neighborhood vet and does not need to go to a teaching hospital unless there is something significant going on with his pet.

And, when UC Davis tried to run the same research on a group of Labrador Retrievers (which I think we can agree are very close to Golden Retrievers) the incidents of joint disorders and cancers were not nearly as significant as that seen in Golden Retrievers. For more on that click here

We Change Animals When We Spay and Castrate Them, Both in Good and Bad Ways---Dr. Margaret V. Root University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine

I think that is my favorite quote!!

So Let’s Talk About the Good Things Behaviorally

Decreased Marking

No, neutering your dog isn’t guaranteed that he won’t ever mark or pee in your house, but it certainly will help.

Intact male dogs reach an age when they get sexually mature and their hormones tell them to mark everything, from trees, to grass, to fence to maybe even your sofa or your laundry basket.

Neutering helps to decrease their desire to leave their signature everywhere they go.

I have had both intact and neutered dogs mark in my house, however, it was much easier to deter my neutered males from marking than to try and override the hormones raging in my intact males.

And, although the truth is harsh, people euthanize dogs for peeing and marking in the house, or these dog are rehomed over and over again being beaten and having their noses rubbed in their urine before finally ending up at a shelter.

I think for the average dog owner it is in their best interests to neuter early to stop the desire to urine mark.

I have a 2.5 year old neutered male who still squats to pee and has never marked in my house.Depositphotos_29890895_xs

My husband has a 4 year old intact male who has to be crated when we leave or he will mark everything he wants to be his, including furniture and walls.  He has learned not to mark while we are home, but he takes every opportunity to leave his scent when we are away.

After all, his hormones and instincts tell him to warn all the other males and females in the area that this is his house.

BTW females can also mark their territory, and some even lift their legs!

Decreased Fighting

Will neutering your dog ensure that he will never have an altercation with another dog? No, but it probably will decrease the chance and the severity.

Intact dogs have the instincts to procreate and other dogs of the same sex lessen their ability to do so effectively.  They desire for their genetic code to be passed on, this is how species survive and lends to all we have studied about survival of the fittest.

The instinct for procreation and survival of the fittest is why fights between intact dogs can be so severe and often deadly.

When comparing dogs to wolves (which I usually avoid because our dogs have been so domesticated, but in this instance I think a comparison is necessary because it is based on instinct), wolves are highly territorial and actively defend their territory from other wolves and domestic dogs and their territory can range from 100 square miles to 1,000 square miles (depending on where they live).  Their survival depends on keeping and defending their territory.

Even intact dogs that are non-aggressive are often not liked or appreciated by other dogs.

I work for a friend of mine at a doggy day care, and it is obvious to watch even neutered dogs interact with an intact dogs.  Often even neutered dogs can be reactive to those who remain intact and care must always be taken when socializing.

Professionals and breeders often have to separate their own packs and not allow interaction because certain dogs would kill each other if given the chance.

But the average dog owner doesn’t want to have dog “shifts” where one dog is in and one is out and they never, ever are alone face to face or even in the same room together.  It is too much work.

And, as a professional trainer I worry about the safety of dog parks as more and more average owners opt out of spay and neuter and keep their dogs intact.

Dog parks and social interaction can be dangerous as it is, but add a half dozen intact dogs and I think we will have much more heightened dog aggression and human bites as owners try and break up fights.


With all this talk of “territory” comes the next stage which is running and increasing territory.

Dogs that are intact and have their hormones have a desire to procreate and with that often comes fence jumping, digging out, and running the neighborhood.

I recently heard an acquaintance admit that while she was away and her husband was in charge of their “breeding” dogs, the male broke out of his crate, shoved his way out of the door, jumped two fences and bred a 1 year old dog that was in heat.

As professional breeders they had an “oops” litter.

Think how difficult it is for the average person to deal with an intact dog or dogs that have a desire to breed and procreate.

There are enough dogs that die in shelters every day due to over-population, it makes me sad to think the numbers are going to inevitably increase.

Decreased Aggression

With a decrease in dog to dog aggression, neutering often also decreases basic aggression and owner aggression.

Again, we are battling hormones and instincts to protect and defend territory.

I also think intact dogs are more reactive.  In the wild, they would have to “be on their toes” to everything going on in their territory.  I believe intact dogs are more aware of everything in their environment and have more protective and aggressive incidents.

Again, that is not to say than a neutered dog will never be protective or aggressive.  But I think of neutered dogs as being more blasé and relaxed about the goings on in their environment.

Most people want a dog that will allow friends and family and the mail man to come over without incident and are not apropos to dealing with territorial aggression.

Sure people think they want a “protective” dog, but when it gets down to it, most don’t and can’t deal with a liability.

Decreased Humping

Most dogs neutered at a young age don't start humping, although of course some can.

I was recently contacted by someone who had 2 Golden Retrievers, and one of them would grab toys, beds, and probably other things and then hump it to the point of ejaculation.  I got the impression that this happens often.

I personally would not want to touch, clean up, launder or have anything to do with something a dog ejaculates on consistently.



Decreased ActivitySnitch Futon

I know that sounds like a bad thing, ha ha ha!  But most people want a mellow dog.

I live with dogs that could climb walls and swing from ceiling fans.  They are a challenge to say the least.  I spend an incredible amount of time training, and playing and exercising them just to have semi-normal dogs around the house.

Most people want to come home from work, feed the dog, go for a short walk (maybe) and then snuggle up and watch TV until it is time for bed.

Or they are so busy ferreting children around to different sports practices and games that the dogs suffers long periods of time with no interaction.

If I crated my dogs for terribly long periods their exercise needs would escalate and they would likely chew out of their crates.

It is true that dogs with hormones are more active and desire more exercise.

Neutered dogs tend to mellow out a bit and can be at risk for putting on weight.

But I find that it is easier for most people to manage diet than it is for them to deal with an off the wall dog.

Weigh Your Needs

When it comes to spay and neuter, there are pros and cons just like everything else.  Weigh the things you desire most with your lifestyle, experience and expectations for your dog.

Some odds of cancers lessen, some increase.

Until I see more proof of a broad scale range of increased cancers across the board I will recommend spay and neuter, because I think most people don’t want to deal with the behavioral problems that often come with having intact dogs.


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  1. LYN MCDONALD says:

    Have always had our German Shepherds either spayed or neutered and they have been marvellous dogs – have never had one in a spat with another dog, get along with all animals including chickens, rabbits, donkeys and goats and the last two lived until they were 16 years of age neither dying of cancer, it was only the back legs failing…..BUT my last little dog who was never neutered nearly drove me up the wall, so unless you have an animal specifically for breeding, I think that ALL dogs should be desexed and keep the unwanted dog population down……its a much kinder option, apart from having a dog with problems.


  2. SHARON says:

    After owning dogs of many breeds all my 69 years I have come to realize our dogs need their hormones just as humans. Give a woman a hysterectomy and she must replace the hormones with hormone medications. castrate a man and you would be taking hormones for your health and manly appearance. Same with animals. God gave them these parts for a reason. I now have 8 dogs, 3 females and 5 males ranging in age from 5 to 11 years old. I really have mixed feelings about having dogs fixed. I think it depends on the dogs temperament and active personality. All my dogs are fixed except one tiny male Chihuahua. This Chihuahua has never been one to pee on everything or hike his leg. He pee’s like a female. The females I wish I had not fixed. I could have just used diapers during fertile periods. They tend to have more problems related to hormones than female dogs I have owned I the past. The males tend to gain too much weight even with small feedings. In my situation with 8 dogs it was necessary to have them fixed since they all live together. But If I just owned two or more of the same sex, I would not fix them. My other dogs that were not fixed in the past live more than 17 to 20 years. One male German Shepard live to be 18 years old. I doubt my current dogs will live as long. At 11 & 12 years old, a few are already showing signs to smaller problems related to hormones.


    Minette Reply:

    Not every woman wants artificial hormones.

    And, I assume the castrated males of the past were never given hormones, as that is a science that was not present at the time.

    I have had both… and I much prefer a happy neutered dog, to a dog that is constantly on the “make” to find a dog in heat.

    I might also mention, this is why many sports, doggy daycares and boarding facilities won’t take intact dogs or especially those in heat.


    Sharon Slater Reply:

    I WOULD LIKE TO ADD, IT IS EASIER TO SIMPLY CATRATE THE MALES. I encourage this for one reason. There are too many irresponsible dog owners breeding for the money. Until the number of unwanted dogs are decreased I think neutering of the males should be law. There are more complications with females and their health when spayed.


  3. Ann Temple says:

    Thanks. Great article. Being in rescue, I’m all about spaying/neutering, of course. Recently, I fostered a 1.5 year old intact male, pit bull / boxer mix. He was a lost dog, so I had no prior information on him. From my observations, he probably lived outside. He had no manners, no training and was starved for attention. He was cat agressive and very stubborn. He marked in the house and was hard to handle on leash, wanting to bolt in the worst way! He did get away from me once! We worked on all his behavioral issues, neutering him, first. He got adopted two weeks ago, to a home with a retired mom, a small male dog and two cats. He is doing great!


    Minette Reply:

    Only proof from others can squash the naysayers 🙂 thank you for your post!


    chris Reply:

    I would like to say not all male dogs mark their territory, I have had Dobermans since I left my parents home almost 50 years ago. I neutered my male after he fathered 2 beautiful litters and I lived in a community where I didn’t have the space for 15 dogs at one time, but after neutering my male my female became aggressive, and my male became so needy I couldn’t leave the house without him trying to follow me, this includes trying to open glass doors. It was not the simple answer to a complex problem and I will never neuter my male dogs after that. I think it would be a good time to mention that most of the dogs at the shelters are pit bulls or PB mixes, maybe the people who get these dogs should consider if the dog is right for them BEFORE they get it and breed it to everything with a pulse. I don’t understand why people have a dog if they are going to tie it, chain it, or just leave it outside to do whatever it’s urges tell it to? You might have guessed my dogs are house dogs and if I cant have them with me in the house I will not be living there.


    Minette Reply:

    not all of any dogs will do anything.

    Dogs are individuals. But some things are more likely than others and dogs, especially those who stay in tact for a period of time, are more likely to mark. It is part of their DNA and would keep them alive in the wild and as a means of keeping other males away. Simple as that.

    And, yes, some neutered dogs also mark

    Marilyn Reply:

    Chris don’t be so down on bull dogs. That is all I have ever had and when raised with love they are a very loving and devoted dog. My present bulldog is 10. Had to have him fixed last year. The vet said he had enlarged prostate which was the first signs of cancer so I had him fixed. Have not noticed a change in his behavior. On the other hand has been attacked by labs and had to have 19 stitches I his side when he was 3. He didn’t fight back, he probably co u l d have killed the lab but that was not how he was raised. All of this is just to say don’t lab label bull dogs as all bad. They grow up and irresponsible owners can’t handle them s o they are dumped. Its so not right.

    Teresa Juliano Reply:

    I have been in lots of Shelters where to many dogs are, so I’m all for spaying and neutering early and stopping the over population of dogs , animal’s that have done nothing wrong except being born, we can control this!! Proper training of our pets we can teach them where and when they can relive there self’s, and how to act in social group’s we aren’t trying to change there natural instinct’s, just helping them to make better choice’s, that’s our job as good pet parents!!


    Jan Schilling Reply:

    I have always spayed my females…whatever their breed was, and always felt i was helping decrease the pert population…it is something responsible for a pet owner to consider. All of my females, were gentle loving animals..with no needs excepts to be affectionate. My one male, I have now…a rescue Rottie/Dane/Black Lab, who was neutered before I got him at 18 months. He is a terrific dog…gets along beautifully with my older female Black Lab, and was docile and playful with another rescued female…Pit Bull/Dane/Black Lab. No territorialism, no aggression, …everyone is obedient, albeit he is a wee bit stubborn. They are inside/outside dogs with a doggie door…so house breaking was never a problem. I love them, and they love and respect me. I am for responsible Pet Ownership…till we never go to an animal shelter and see dogs for adoption there again!


  4. Tom says:

    Lots of exercise, training, obedience and making sure your dog is with you as much as possible are the most important things for any dog. Castrating male dogs for most of the reasons put forth in this article make no sense whatsoever. The majority of well trained and socialized intact males in no way need to be castrated to address issues that have another origin. As far as crate training, most dogs are safest and best kept in their crates in the absence of their owner. A well exercised adult dog has no problem spending a typical work day period in his or her crate, in fact when I say safe I mean according to he law. In Canada where I live if someone would break into my house and my dog dutifully protected the home which any logical person would think is normal, I and my dog would suffer if he inflicted injury on a criminal, in his or her crate this risk would be eliminated. I would also like to put forth that the most dangerous dog fights I’ve seen have often been between females, the amount of damage and intensity is higher than between two typical males where the purpose is more to show who is the leader, if a dog submits properly the skirmish is usually over quickly. If the dog is well trained the fight should not happen in any case as he would obey a commands to stop and report. To control homeless animals it all starts with responsibility and people realizing what dog ownership really entails. My dog is important to me and a part of my life, for many people dogs were an impulse decision. All said, no, castrating male dogs is not a solution to most of what is listed in this article but addressing a symptom for what many unknowing or irresponsible owners have not done with the their dog(s).


  5. I have Jack Russell that I rescued at 4 months of age & he was desexed when I got him. He will be 8 this year. I have 3 other rescue dogs, 1 male & 2 females & he will constantly mark his territory inside the house, so I have to close off all carpeted areas.

    I personally do not believe that neutering a dog makes any difference to his dominance. Also in the past I had a dachshund who was very aggressive so I had him neutered & it made no difference what so ever.


    Minette Reply:

    Testosterone creates a feeling of territorialness

    No one ever said or alluded to the fact that neutering would completely eradicate aggression.

    But it certainly makes a difference (spend 20 years training both neutered and intact dogs and you too will have data) and it keeps more unwanted dogs and puppies from being euthanized.


  6. Gerri Pankowski says:

    I was having my doubts about neutering my 7 month old Yorkie/cha ( also known as a chorkie. After reading your article I think I will go ahead and neuter him to avoid the problems you mentioned. He does have a problem with humping his stuffed lion every day. I would like to stop that. Your article was very interesting and helped me make up my mind on this issue. Thank you


    Joy Danielson Reply:

    I now have a Chihuahua who is 6 years old & is desexed. I have 3 other dogs 2 females & 1 male. He humps my other females numerous times per day & I would say it makes no difference to his dominance by having him desexed.
    I am talking from 40 years experience with dogs.


  7. Reena Cotton says:

    Hi Minette

    As a small animal veterinarian in a country where we have countless unsterilised dogs and cats, I enjoyed your article and plan to pass it around to my doubting (middle class) clients.

    Thanks for saying it so well.

    I have some more good reasons to sterilise our dogs – for example entire male dogs are enticed away from their homes by a bitch on heat, leaving their home unguarded to be robbed. We see a higher incidence of dog bites in un-neutered dogs which pose a threat to other entire dogs, and neutered dogs are less likely to be stolen for breeding or dog fighting.


    (Dr) Reena Cotton


    Minette Reply:

    Thank you so much Dr. Cotton! I appreciate you reading and the fact that you think I stated it well and will share it!

    You made my day 🙂


  8. Elaine says:

    Vet research is all about who is willing to fund it. There are no federal agencies that will fund animal research unless it relates directly to human health. Grants for animal research tend to be small and are aggressively fought over by hopeful researchers. Unless there is funding research can not be done. Reality of life is that nothing is free. The research study on
    osteosarcoma in Rotties was funded by the Rottweiler Health Foundation. They funded it because osteosarcoma is such a huge deal in this breed. Probably almost all animal research regarding problems with breeds of dogs will be funded by an organization with a great interest in that breed and they are not going to have a lot of interest in funding research on a disorder than doesn’t impact that breed. The results this study had were really outstanding and the bottom line is pretty clear. Do not neuter your Rotties until they are a year old! That does not guarantee they will not get osteosarcoma but it does give you better odds of avoiding it. Personally I’d treat any Rottie mutt the same way and a pure bred; Give them a 4th dose of puppy vaccines (maternal antibodies last longer in Rottie puppies and maternal antibodies block the vaccine from producing the needed antibodies) and neuter after they are a year old.


    Minette Reply:

    Then that makes all of those studies biased, just the definition of a study


  9. Dennis says:

    No, I do not believe in cutting on a dog is neither a solution for behavior problems nor for unwanted breeding. Being a responsible pet owner by behavior training and being in control (not allowing dogs to run wild, etc,.) is the answer to the animals safety, long life and security.

    Owners are responsible for animals being euthanized and that is a damned shame.


    Minette Reply:

    I wish it was that simple, but it just isn’t.

    People are busy and don’t always have time to maintain and make sure their dog is not out breeding.

    Not everyone is professional or a dog handler


    Dennis Reply:

    If ppl are too busy to see to it that their dogs are under control, then they should not be pet owners. A 10′ X 10′ dog pen will keep any dog from unwanted breeding.


    Minette Reply:

    dogs crawl out and dig out of yards and pens all of the time, especially to breed.

    You just haven’t lived with one of these dogs yet

    Dennis Reply:

    Just line both the inside and the outside perimeter of the pen with 4 X 4 landscaping boards – problem solved.

    Minette Reply:

    and climbing dogs? and dogs that eat wood? Not as easy as you may think

    Nancy Reply:

    We had two male Golden Retrievers, father and son. My husband would not consent to getting them fixed, despite the fact that we did not intend to breed them (said they got fat and lazy). The older one, who was only six, climbed the fence in his kennel and escaped. After being gone for three days, we found him after he impregnated a female St. Bernard down the road. He could not be let out without being on a lead or he would be gone in a flash. He was the gentlest, most easy going dog we have ever had. My one year old daughter would climb all over him and he totally loved her. He wound up getting hit by a car on the highway a mile and a half away from home. The younger one was hit by a car also, six months later. Never again will I NOT neuter- if only to keep them from running and a senseless tragedy!

    Angela Reply:

    Unfortunately, most of the general public is not responsible or informed enough to make sure their dogs do not breed either accidentally or on purpose. And others simply don’t care enough about that or the behavior or even health of their animals. We can all think that people like that shouldn’t own dogs/pets, but that’s no different than wishing crimals won’t break the law or kill. They will. So with regard for what is best for the general population of dogs and people, and the millions dying in shelters due to overpopulation, just fix them.

  10. Matisca says:

    I had my dog neutered 3 months ago (at 8 months) and it made the world of difference. Two weeks after the op he went from almost unmanageable (@50kg that’s quite a problem), despite having spent a fortune on training and regular exercise, to calm, friendly, loving and sociable. My parents had our dogs neutered growing up and it always had the same positive effects. My two cents…


  11. Valerie says:

    I think if you are not intending to breed with your dogs it is healthier for them. I have 10 dogs and they have been done all bar the last 3 but they will be done. I think what ever country you live there are plenty of dogs in the animal shelters about there are plenty here in Spain and also in the UK. There arevll shapes and sizes even some pedigree ones. I was thank full for your dog training tips as I needed it with all the dogs it is not such a mob if anyone comes. I thought I had a problem as one of the pups I have is deaf but with all the other it’s comming to the clicker she wonders what they are doing so ones and with a few hand signal also knows what to do, o thank you. My daughter in the UK is about to get a puppy so I have told her to look at your iChat for all the information on how to train her dog will be there. Thnk you.


  12. Eleni Constantine says:

    Thanks for this discussion. But it is about male dogs. Personally I would not hesitate to neuter my male dogs for the reasons you state. But why put a female through the spay surgery- which seems much more drastic than necessary to prevent breeding?


    Minette Reply:

    It isn’t just about male dogs, most of the studies found more of a correlation with males.

    Females also fight and mark etc.

    And, they get breast cancer when not spayed. Read this http://www.thedogtrainingsecret.com/blog/spay-neuter-important/


    Elaine Reply:

    Yes, neutering a female dog early–before the first heat– probably does decrease the occurrence of breast cancer in the dog. However, breast cancer is easy to detect–every time you rub that belly you are looking for lumps even if you are not thinking about it. Detected early, breast cancer surgery is relatively simple and bitches respond well to it. On the other hand, bone cancer is not detected until your dog starts limping. By then it is advanced and really too late to do much besides amputate and even that probably won’t work long. Osteosarcoma is VERY common in Rotties. Granted both options suck but if I had to pick a cancer, I’d take that easily detected, easily treated breast cancer over Osteosarcoma– and I have dealt with both in my own dogs. Bone cancer is an awful disease. It is no big deal to wait a year, neuter and then keep your fingers crossed.


    Minette Reply:

    No cancer is good cancer…. and plenty of dogs die of mammary cancer and other problems related to keeping their feminine parts.

  13. Harry says:

    Around a year ago my wife and I decided to get a Great Dane puppy,we are used to having large dogs.we found a breeder,made arrangements to visit and see a blue dane.
    As we were walking to where the puppy’s were housed we passed a pen with two male black Danes 7 months old,they looked very sad.
    Apart from being fed they had received no human contact,we decided to home them.
    Two big dogs 7 months old no human contact totally untrained.
    We now two terrific ,well trained dogs,but I know that should they be affroted with a aggressive dog,the red mist would come down and would not be able to control them ,even on a lead,as they each weigh around 70kilo.
    We have now after long discussions with our vet decided to have them castrated,so as maybe to avoid a seriouse problem in the future.
    I do accept that normally it is not necessary,in the past I have had even a pack of 4 German shepherds plus a Great Dane and never felt the need to have them castrated.


  14. rosa lugo says:

    hello i have my american pittbull neuter my koa is so active ,happy healthy he gain a little weight but that is spected he is so very playful got so much energy very happy cant say he ask for kisses obey gets really well with other dog wants to play all the time. im very happy that i have him neuter…


  15. Dave Ferguson says:

    My first Shar pei male was left intact. When you told him No, he obeyed the command. I lost him two years ago to cancer.
    My Shar pei bitch was sprayed at an early age as I did not want pups and she is flowered and as such non standard.
    My current Shar pei dog is just 17 months old but he has been neutered as he was trying to hump everything male or female and I was advised it would calm him down, am still waiting but at least he has stopped trying to hump everything.


    deborah Reply:

    I have had rottweilers since the 80’s and my females were the only ones that were fixed. I could hit my self over the head (I have many times). It was only after my last female was fixed did I learn about the study on rottweilers. No more “FIXING” for my dogs. Thank you for the enlightment and lively discussion.


  16. Pamela Kutscher says:

    I agree that there is not enough information yet to say that spay/neuter will shorten a dog’s life or bring on early infirmity or illness. There are just so many variables that are not accounted for in the study groups such as bloodlines (unknown in many rescues which are possibly ones more likely to be spay/neutered), demographics (diets, exposure to environmental triggers, etc) and so on. That said, I’ve had both spay/neutered dogs (of various breeds, large and small) that lived long, healthy lives and ones that didn’t and the same for ones that were intact. For every illness that a spay/neutered dog might be more prone to, there is one that an intact animal is more prone to.
    Life is a crap-shoot and you never know what you’ll end up with. I think the benefits of spay/neuter far outweigh the risks.


  17. Marilynn Wright says:

    I breed and train Shetland Sheepdogs. Most of the puppies I sell are on a spay/neuter contract. If you don’t want your dog to breed or get bred fix it. A 10×10 pen will not deter a determined dog. We had a stud that we could put him in any pen and he would stay. I had another that would get out any way he could. He climbed over a six foot fence made of no climb fencing. He made a leap from a the top of a doghouse to the top of a five foot gate. and pulled himself through the gap. the dog house was about four feet from the gate. I had a female that would climb any fence we had. The cure for both was rabbit wire loose along the top so that when they got to it, it fell toward the inside. I got this idea from someone that had a raccoon problem. I have also known of dogs to breed through a chain link fence. It depends on the dog. Some will stay in that pen, some won’t. If you don’t want to breed, fix it.


  18. Marilynn Wright says:

    I wonder if the studies done about cancer took into account what the dogs ate. In my opinion that would be more of a factor than if the dog was neutered or not.


  19. Have raised dogs for 60 years, when my girls and boys were six years old I had them spayed, also my boys, most of them lived till the age of ten a older, most were small dogs of all breeds, a few large breeds Boxer, Dobermans Collies,Afagans, Borzie Most of them fixed. I had no problem with them, before or after being fixed.but I would say to any one who does not want to breed to have there dog fixed as soon as possible. They make a better dog. My Vet will fix a small dog at 8 week old, not many vets will do this, I now have a pit bull fixed and he has turned out to be a wonderful dog.I said I would never Have a Pit bull but he has turned out to be a very good dog, all my dogs are trained to crates. They are put to bed at night and run, morning and night, in at out of the house.Please by all means fix your puppy as soon a Possible, from a Lady 82 years old. I do know a little bit about dogs.


  20. pradeep andrade says:


    I neuteured my labrador at 6 months on the advice of a vet.
    I regret the decision deeply and I ask God for forgiveness to not let him lead a perfect life.
    It has not had any change in behavioral impact. He marks his territory, humps when agitated. He has never harmed my daughter when he got him when she was five. He is now all of three and is the perfect gentleman around her.

    I walk him twice. Run him twice a day .
    1.He enjoys the macho man to man time.
    2. It keeps him very active.

    If you have your dog under control so as to not breed there is absolutely no reason to neuter him. My companion is super active, interactive but I have to make an effort to engage day on day. This however is a pleasure given the bond we share.

    Regards. Pradeep


  21. Margaret Whitelaw says:

    Hi I’ve found the comments displayed so far quite informative, however I would like to know what your opinion is in so far as at what age I should neuter my 9 months old German Shepherd. He has only 1 descended testicle and for health reasons down the line, it is clear that he should be castrated – after all I would not breed from him and pass on the genetic problem. He is not aggressive at all and is not showing any signs of behavioural problems related to intact dogs. If he is castrated now will this interfere or stop his growth pattern?………how long should I wait, if at all? I don’t see the point of not spaying and neutering if there is no intention of breeding from them.


    Minette Reply:

    The testicle that remains in his body cavity can cause him harm and increase his risk for cancer.

    I personally would have it done now. He will still grow normally, and at 9 months is very close to fully grown.

    I only worry about “growth” when people are speaking of true athletes like police dogs that are constantly running and competing and risking severe injury. They perhaps need their hormones longer. The average pet is just that, a pet and not at risk for injuries like a working dog.

    Speak with your vet, but I would get it taken care of before it becomes a bigger problem.


  22. I have an intact male standard poodle, 3 years of age. He is the sweetest dog and gentle and non-agressive,and lives with an unaltered female. both are breeding dogs. However, my 3 year old male, has come into his own and the last time my female came into heat, it was seriously scary to me his determination to breed her. He lost 10% of his body weight in 24 hours through stress in being crated while exposed to the scents of the female that was ripe. I had to physically remove the female from the home for a month and I am still trying to get his weight back up to normal though he is free fed top quality kibble and raw. His appetite and sleep and everything else was trumped by his biological desire to breed her. If I had not seen it for myself, I would not have believed it was my sweet Fenno. He will be getting neutered soon, simply because I cannot stand to see him go through that sort of stress again. He is biologically pushed to reproduce by hormones and nothing was going to get in his way. No 10 x 10 fence would have held him and his panting and stress was so high that I was afraid for his health, bloat, dehydration, etc. I know this sounds extreme and maybe it was, but he is by nature the most calm and laid back dog I have ever owned. I never want to see him suffer like that again. He was completely confused by his own behavior and I felt responsible for this. I thought I was prepared for this and had everything planned for this event, and still, I had so much trouble and he is such an easy dog. I also do have issues with maintaining weight and marking while walking him. It is a pain and I hate the way he is so focused on procreation that he is distracted from the fun things in life. I think taking this strong urge away from dogs that are not being used for breeding is a kindness. Why have them so focused on an aspect of their lives that is a moot point for most dogs. Let them have that brain space filled up with the joy of living. Dogs do not miss “sex” the way humans think of it. Dogs live in the moment and I do not believe they “miss” this overpowering desire to procreate that humans equate to how they themselves would feel being neutered or castrated. Dogs are not attached to their “parts” nor do they identify with their “virility” as it compares to other dogs, unlike human men. I am speaking solely of male castration, not female, due to experience. I have no doubt my dog will be a more attentive and focused and happier dog when he is neutered. He is a good dog now, he will be a great dog and a happier one when he no longer has to focus on spreading his seed!


  23. Christina Norberg says:

    I have always heard to wait until a female has her first heat before spaying. Never had a male dog until now. We have a female Golden Retriever that was spayed at age 1 1/2. She has always been a calm well behaved dog. Enter boy Golden puppy. He started humping her at 12 weeks. I have heard it is a pecking order kind of thing. My female humps him also! “You are not the boss of me!”
    My little boy is now 7 months and 60 pounds. He just a week ago, out of the blue stated lifting his leg. Outdoors only, thank goodness! When he pees to pee he squats. After the female pees, he will go over and lift his leg where she went. He has never seen another dog do this. Completely instinct. No aggression at all between them. My female is very submissive. To neuter now or wait until the 1 year?
    We also had a husky mix rescue dog that was spayed before 12 weeks of age. At age 3 she started having canine incontinence. She would get up and there would be a puddle. She was so embarrassed. Took her to the vet, checked for infection and put her on phenylpropanolamine, which worked magic until she died in a house fire. You did not discuss spay/neuter too early.
    I am thinking it is time to neuter Copper, as the humping is getting on my nerves. I can’t just say, {f you are going to do that, do it in your room!”
    Thank you for the article!


  24. Linda Hoffecker says:

    First of all; there are so many dogs in shelters, homeless, shot, biting, dying that we don’t need one more dog on this planet for at least 30 years.. I love dogs and I love specific kinds of dogs but for their sakes, whatever dog needs a home, it has a chance for one.
    Male dogs, I have understood, are more prone to testicular cancer and female, unbred dogs are prone to pyometria sp? which is infection in the womb… Fix these boys and girls whether it be castration, or vasectomy, leaving ovaries and taking the womb..This over population is out of hand.. Go to places where dogs and cats are just dropped in ‘drop boxes’ like mail boxes to fall into a room where they are all together, waiting for the gas chamber..


  25. I was a practicing veterinarian in the state of Idaho till a couple of years ago. My feeling on spaying/neutering is this…..only leave them intact if you definitely want puppies out of him or her. Altering the dog does slow down its metabolism some, but deal with it…ie more exercise, less fatty foods, etc. Some of my clients wanted the female to go through a heat cycle before spaying. I really didn’t see any difference (& alot of these dogs were my patients throughout their lives). I did not see a relation between spaying/neutering or not & cancer (bone or otherwise) or hip dysplasia. There is definitely a correlation between type of food, excess weight of the animal & dysplasia.


  26. unknown says:

    when i was looking for my puppy it was very hard to find anything let alone a breed i would want. I also agree that there are many dogs without homes. i think that if an owner does deside to spay it is there chois being the owner/caretaker. if although i think it is outragous to think that people give up there dogs because they make mistakes.


  27. I was a practicing veterinarian till 2 years ago. The ONLY reason I would advise not spaying or neutering dogs is if the owner wants to breed him or her. It is true that the metabolism changes some, but deal with it… exercise the dog more, feed it less or lower calorie food, etc. I have not seen that altering gives a dog more of a chance to develop bone cancer or hip dysplasia in any breed, & most of my patients were my patients all of their lives. Unaltered dogs have a chance of testicular or ovarian/uterine cancer. Hip dysplasia is possible in any breed (usually large breeds), but it is affected more by food types & age/weight than whether or not they were altered. I don’t have a problem with owners wanting to let their bitch go in heat once before spaying. I haven’t seen any difference.


    Minette Reply:

    Thank you for weighing in 🙂 since I didn’t go to vet school (although I wish I had) I don’t have your knowledge and I appreciate you reading and commenting on my blog 🙂


  28. Nancie says:

    Hi. I love reading your posts, they are always so informative. I have a male miniature schnauzer puppy who will be 5 months old on the 31st. He has started humping but only on me. He will get up on the sofa with me, wrap is front paws around my arm and start humping. Once he starts he refuses to stop no matter how much I push him away and yell “NO” to the point of me having to get up and walk away. Putting him on the floor does no good, he jumps right back up and quickly grabs my arm. I also have an 8 year old miniature schnauzer. The puppy has never tried humping on her. For now, the puppy is not allowed on the sofa with me anymore. I have spoken to my vet regarding neutering him. She won’t do it until he is 6 months old, so, we now have an appointment for next month to have his surgery and I’m praying this will take care of the problem.


  29. Jan Brocious says:

    I believe if the owner is not going to breed or show it is something to consider. I had a 19 year old shih tzu that we spayed at 6 months because we could not breed due to changing jobs and commuting. We never had any problems healthwise with her 12 years. We now have a 12 week old AKC full registered shih tzu puppy. I’m not planning on spaying her. I want to leave my options open to breeding .. I am now retired and have the time. She won’t make a show dog but I plan to train her for dog obedience and rally for local AKC dog shows. Time will tell on spaying in the future.


  30. Let me start by saying – the I have (2) female Aussies. One that is spayed and one that we breed – once per year. We offer the pups as pet quality only and try to be very careful about the new owners who get our puppies. That being said – I am all about neutering your dogs. Both male and female. All of my dogs in the past have been spayed or neutered. These aussies are the first I have done breeding with and I breed specifically for personal use dogs, some who are being trained as service dogs. If you don’t intend to show your dog or breed for specific purposes – I would say that you should definitely neuter, neuter and neuter again.


  31. nancy dively says:

    I did not read every comment in detail, however, I did not see any comments about the different types of surgeries that are available for male and female dogs, that sterilize them, but keep their hormones intact. With females, they just take out the ovaries. It is expensive compared to just doing the whole removal, so a lot of folks don’t use the methods that could kind of be the best of both worlds. If interested, check out Tufts University. Just a thought.


    elaine Reply:

    I wonder why someone would leave a uterus in after removing ovaries? What do they expect it to do? Grow a cancer? If your taking the ovaries then take that prone to lots of diseases, uterus.


  32. Ruth says:

    I am in favour of neutering for several reasons…if you are not “showing” your pet,then neutering is desirable to decrease his/her sexual desires. Also less interest in other animals while walking except for occasional sniff, and I think more sociable to other people. (my dog prefers people to other dogs!)


  33. Denise Hyland says:

    Thank you for this article. I have a 14 month un-neutered Rhodesian Ridgeback male. He is not being shown and we are not sure about breeding him. So far he loves playing with other dogs and is non aggressive to people or other dogs. He is participating in agility classes, is extremely well socialized, and becasue we live on 10 acres he gets alot of excercise. Our understanding from our research is that waiting to neuter, especially large dogs, allows their developmental hormones to complete making for stronger bones, and tendons. Since your favorite quote referrs to pros and cons of neutering, I was disappointed you didn’t include the cons…
    Could you please share the cons to provide a balanced perspective? Thanks!


    Minette Reply:

    There are both in the article.

    some cancers and you can read the other articles directly from UC Davis


  34. Briana Silva says:

    All dogs should b spade and neutered because aroumd where i live there are many dogs and living out in the streets dying of starvation. Most of them get run over and never have a chance at life. These are all animals i feel bad for but i can’t do anything for but the owner of those animals should get them spade and neutered to help prevent these cases!


  35. Judith Smith says:

    My German Shepherd was spayed when she was young but old enough.
    Unfortunately she started wetting the bed at night when she was asleep.The Vet said it was a hormone imbalance due to spaying. She now has to take a pill once a week. While I don’t mind this, it’s a small pill and easily mixed in her food,I think I should have been informed of possible side affects from spaying. I still believe the good out ways the bad though.


    Minette Reply:

    Lots of dogs leak, but spayed and intact.

    Just like older ladies can leak a little when they laugh or sneeze… just part of the biology


    Judith Smith Reply:

    She is only a young dog and it’s more than leaking her bed is saturated. The Vet said it was a result of spaying. As I said a small pill once a week prevents this.


  36. heidi says:

    Having worked in shelters & seen & assisted in euthanasing perfectly healthy animals I am strongly pro-neuter.
    ALL my pets are. Unless you are a REGISTERED breeder,
    there is no reason not to.


  37. Kerry says:

    If not planning on having puppies…absolutely fix male and female dogs.


  38. Noline Shaw says:

    I have 40 yrs exp of having dogs and neutring is a good idea


  39. Debbie says:

    Your dogs behavior reflects your feelings, just like a leash can transfer if you are nervous or not, if you are, it will lead to aggression. People think its funny or cute when their dog is acting a certain way…..be careful folks, it is very much akin to “out of the mouths of babes”.
    Bottom line.


    Minette Reply:

    Although I agree with parts of this… great people can still get aggressive dogs.

    Don’t think so, spend time working in shelters or with hundreds of puppies. You’ll see it is not always the humans fault.


  40. Angela says:

    Unfortunately, most of the general public is not responsible or informed enough to make sure their dogs do not breed either accidentally or on purpose. And others simply don’t care enough about that or the behavior or even health of their animals. We can all think that people like that shouldn’t own dogs/pets, but that’s no different than wishing crimals won’t break the law or kill. They will. So with regard for what is best for the general population of dogs and people, and the millions dying in shelters due to overpopulation, just fix them.


  41. Marci Perry says:

    It is with interest I read the commentary and the following comments as I recently had my older Boston Terrier neutered due to a prostate problem. The vet said that as non neutered male dogs get older they can and do have prostate problems.

    My boy who is now 10 is doing fine and has not gained weight at all. He was very territorial, but I have seen far less territorial behavior since he was neutered.

    I wish I had know about the propensity of non neutered male and prostate problems it would have saved my boy from surgery at a later age.


    Minette Reply:

    They do deal with surgery much better when they are young.


  42. Ed says:

    Have had dogs at the same time that were neutered and not, and there is a difference in the same or similar breeds. Had a golden that was neutered and a labrador that was not. The lab was very active and the goldie not so much. The lab was fit until he passed while the golden was overweight and developed a tumor that was inoperable. I now have two lab brothers, the second a later adoption who has been neutered by a previous owner. Again, the neutered dog is larger and slightly overweight and less active than the un-neutered sibling. As to marking, yes, the un-neutered dogs do tend to mark more than the others but our neutered schnauzer marks more than both of the labs together. And he is also a very active dog, does not gain weight and eats sparingly when fed. So different breeds do react differently.


  43. Rick says:

    Difficult to say from a medical point of view – however to travel through”squatter camps and see the mirriod of starving dogs, bitches inwhelp allrib n haunched bone. Puppies starving and can hardly walk, full of worms and desease etc etc etc.

    Then in the middle class suburbs “puppies for sale” signes on the public noptice bards.Dogs running rampant in the parks with no apparant home, crazey males scooting through traffic after a bitch onheat. It just goes on.

    No specific breading program – mix n match no matter if the “vicious” gene is being perpetrated or the displazia problem is being passed down.

    Us humans are simply not responsible. ALL dogs should be licenced and a fee paid. Fees go to the basic running of thedepartmentand therest to animal shelters. ALL dogs are to have successfully passe the “Good Citizen” course and at least 6 months of behavour training at a recognised dog training school.

    Poor darned things – mans best friend. Thoughts?


    Minette Reply:

    Making people meet criteria will never work. I wish we could do the same for people wanting children, or having children but not wanting them.

    It is up to us to educate, adopt, and help the ones that can be saved find homes, while promoting spay and neuter


  44. christine says:

    I have a three month old pyreenean mountain male puppy, I do not wont to breed form him, and I want to get him neutered but im not sue what is the correct age for large dogs can it stint his growth if I get him done to early?


    Minette Reply:

    No, that is kind of a misconception. Actually they think early neutering will cause them to be taller, but not as thick.

    For most dogs it doesn’t matter.

    Unless you have a true working dog, or conformation dog, there is no reason to worry about their growth.

    Avoiding the big issues is more reason for early neuter than a worry about size.

    I’ve never seen a dog euthanized because he was too tall or not tall enough… I have seen them euthanized for inappropriate peeing and aggression and territorial issues though


  45. Marion says:

    I had my female,pedigree Doberman spayed and she became incontinent and was on medication for the rest of her life (13yrs). My second Doberman also lived to same age but during the last couple of years developed large cancerous bumps all over her body. Euthanised to prevent more discomfort at vet’s recommendation. My male cocker spaniel was neutered at under a year and always retained his puppy coat but at 6 yrs he became ‘top dog’ and bit me. He no longer lives with me and is continuing his life with three other dogs on a farm. Completely different living situation for him and a happy outcome.
    I would always neurter simply because of the huge number of unwanted dogs trying to be homed.


  46. Robin Bowers says:

    I volunteer with dog rescue. I can not say enough about making it mandatory to have your dogs fixed. Unless you are going to be a “RESPONSIBLE” breeder. If you truly love your dog and all dogs PLEASE have them spayed or neutered. Those of us who volunteer with rescue and witness first hand the results of not doing so. The dogs just never stop coming. I volunteer with a no kill shelter but we can’t take them all. All the others go to a kill facility. Good homes come slowly so PLEASE PLEASE help us by spaying and neutering your pets. And please consider adopting from a shelter. The dogs will love you forever!


  47. Tom says:

    In some cases there is certainly a case for spaying or castration, however most of what is written in this article is in no way a reason for doing so. It is up to the owner to understand the breed they have chosen to own and supply the required amount of exercise and training necessary to ensure you have a well adjusted dog that listens and responds ALL THE TIME to your commands. That is key, if your dog is aggressive and does not listen to you that is your issue to correct and for anyone that uses a dog park they should be responsible enough to ensure that. I have a very active intact German Wirehaired Pointer male that I start every single day with at 5am, vigorous excercise is key as is continuing training, many breeds require regular challenges and need to be managed properly and with authority, super important they know their place. To think that you are going to avoid or fix problems through altering your dog is totally the wrong approach and in fact false. Owning a dog is a great thing, why not take the challenge and enjoy it 100%.


    Minette Reply:

    Actually that is wrong, there are a lot of behavior problems that will never start if a dog is neutered young enough!


  48. Denise says:

    Sharon, I strongly disagree. Male dogs can smell a female in heat from 3 miles away. First chance they have you’ve got a lost dog or hit by a car dog and the female if loose has several male dogs following her and they’ll fight and someone dies or gets hurt. It makes no sense to not neuter dogs when shelters are killing strays at alarming rates. My town alone kills over 350 dogs and cats a month. The loss of hormones may effect them at first but just like me, once they’re gone and the body adjusts they won’t need them. If they lose a year or two so be it. Stop the over population of dogs and cats by spaying and neutering!


  49. Vickie S says:

    I used to own and show Corgis. Therefore I did not spay/neuter. I lost my male to prostate cancer at age 7. I had my female spayed when I stopped showing but had breast cancer removed 3 times, 2 of those before she was spayed. I lost her to cancer at age 12. Since then, I’ve had my dogs altered at 6 months since I don’t show anymore. Nutrition, in my opinion, plays a huge role in health and longevity. Our last Corgi lived to be 13.5 yrs old and our Basenji was 14. We now have a 3 yr old Blue Heeler, male and a 2 yr old Basenji, female. Both were altered at 6 months. My Heeler is very active. I did reduce his food when he started to “chunk up”. Both are active, healthy and happy. He will still hump her when overstimulated in rough house okay but a “leave it” breaks it. I will never not alter a dog I own again. Just not worth the risk.


  50. Tom says:

    Hi Minette, again, neutering a dog is not a solution to preventing a behavior you or anyone else would not be aware of…meaning you are advocating altering an animal based on something you suspect could happen, that is nothing short of ignorant. Proper exercise, training and management of your dog will, as I mentioned in most cases prevent any undesirable traits, there are some cases were altering might be called for, but as prevention or a general recommendation, you are way off base. Dogs pick up learn bad habits from many sources which altering does not solve.


    Minette Reply:

    Again, I disagree! I work have worked with dogs for over 20 years and I see the difference! As do veterinarians and most dog owners aren’t up for the task of owning an intact dog!

    Have a wonderful day!


  51. Tom says:

    Not sure what difference you see, I sure don’t see anything different. My non altered dogs do not mark inside my home because they are house trained. They are not more likely to fight vs an altered dog and they listen to my commands which is the key to preventing all issues. Responsible owners make sure their animals are properly supervised and take responsibility, if you feel this is a task then I would respectfully submit the fact that you shouldn’t own a dog as altering them is not a guarantee and not a short cut to avoiding responsibility. I agree to disagree here! Enjoy your day too.


    Minette Reply:

    I am a dog trainer, my dogs are well socialized, well titled and very well exercised on a daily basis. However I am not the norm.

    The majority of people barely spend 5 minutes a day on training etc. they are busy working full time, ferreting kids around to sports and such those are the people with whom I am referring. And, it is simple to say that they should not own dogs… but then more dogs would die in shelters.

    You and I are not the average dog owner.


  52. Marie says:

    I would like to know the best age to neuter a female dog. I have been told I should neuter at six months before the first heat but I have also been told to wait until after the first heat to give the body a chance to fully mature. I know there is then a risk of an unwanted litter but even if you had a breeding dog you would avoid a pregnancy from the first heat. By neutering early (I think) the dog remains puppy-like which some people prefer.


    Minette Reply:

    a first heat doubles her risk for mammary cancer


  53. joan says:

    I have a saved female Chihuahua mix (deer type) about 3 years old when I got her — however never fixed. She also had heart worm – so after four years to get her clear of that, and dealing with her biyearly menses (which is difficult) I wonder whether it is good or not so good to have her spayed. Any comments. Is there a dog menopause? Is she too old? She may be older than I think


  54. Gail Giddings says:

    Very interesting article. I really appreciate the various sources that were referenced. As to the previous comments, I think that anyone who has been around dogs for a significant length of time understands how quickly even very well trained, intact dogs can become involved in a fight. In less than a second, they can be at eat others throats, literally. Why put up with that? It’s not the same as keeping a stallion, which the vast majority of the population should never own, but there are parallels. I have met people who refuse to neuter their dogs because they do not want to put them through the discomfort and pain of an operation. Vets have come a long way with regards to pain management in animals. Perhaps you could do an article dealing with those concerns. Thanks for the interesting reading.


  55. Sherry Tomsett says:

    I have worked as a Veterinary tech. A dog groomer/ handler, I also raised Siberian Husky dogs. I was an LPN nurse for many years. I do not disagree with spay/ neuter. I disagree with it being done so young. I have had two wonderful pets with serious orthopedic issues. They were both altered early due to veterinary recommendation. When I was younger people did not have animals with all these issues. I did not have animals with arthritis and skeletal issues like this until they were in their final few years. Altering animals this young is causing a lot of these issues. They are not getting the needed hormones for development. There are stages of development in animals and humans that require hormones at specific times. This affects the skeletal system, neurological system and many other things. Just think if you altered a human before they were even ten years old. They would not develop properly. Yeah I know, they are animals they are different, they still have stages of growth that need specific things that are deprived. It seems some veterinarians are thinking the same way. Just spay or neuter later is what I think.


  56. Bebe says:

    We have always had intact males; no marking in our house (though occasional embarrassing incidents at friends houses and the vet’s); only one enthusiastic humper, and we found it more funny than a problem; only occasional episodes of dog-to-dog aggression, and we rapidly found which types of dog were likely to provoke it, and practiced avoidance – we live in the English countryside, so they’re running around in fields and woods with only occasional meetings with unknown dogs from outside the village, and frankly it seemed more about dominance than sex.

    What we did find a problem with all but one of them over the years was an inclination to run off on walks, and sometimes stay away for hours. Occasionally we got a call to say our dog was sitting outside a bitch’s home hopefully – more often they were chasing deer or rabbits.

    One English Springer had to be done late in life due to anal growths – he was very much a beta dog, and no trouble to start with, and castration at that age made no difference to his character, though it ruined his coat – I don’t know if that’s a problem in other breeds, but I believe it’s common in spaniels. Went curly instead of silky. Food supplements helped, but it never went back to the way it had been.

    But now we have a new puppy, and obviously we’re getting older. He’s a Leonberger – the last time we had a giant (Pyrenean) was more than 30 years ago, and if he decided to go the only way I could stop him was to sit down; off the lead I could usually catch him up. Now I suffer from arthritis, neither of these are possible, and I’m worried that if we leave our new pup intact he may run off and cause mayhem when he’s older. He shows no sign of aggression, but few do at 10 months. He’s very calm as puppies go, something we hope will continue into adulthood (one reason for the choice of breed). We’re seriously considering having him done when our vet says he’s old enough (he suggests at least 1 year for the giants) as we hope it will make him less likely to run off. Obviously it’ll make him less interested in going after any bitch in heat, but will it also reduce any prey drive he has (so far only predates on moths and spiders) and therefore encourage him not to disappear?

    Incidentally, goldens and labradors are not closely related, bred from very different lines, one in Scotland, one in Canada.


  57. Donna says:

    i have 3 neutered males. One of them still trys to hump the two females I have even though both have been spayed. One female humps the males and the other humps pillows. The males pee in the house despite the fact that I take them out on regular intervals. They pee several times to “mark” their territory.


  58. Donna says:

    My two females have to be kept separated .. They both have been spayed but would fight to the death . I have had near heart attacks the 3 times I had to pull them apart.


  59. Susan says:

    I have an intact border collie. I have not had the problems that are associated with not neutering. However, we spend a lot of time together. He is well socialized and well trained. Although I am aware of the benefits, I have also heard that neutering can affect the behavior to the point where the dog is never the same. I didn’t want to risk changing my beautiful border collie’s personality.
    If he can put up with my quirks than I will make room in my life for his.


  60. Shirley Jaeger says:

    My husband & I rescued a male Terrier Mixed dog about 2 & 1/2 yrs. ago from the Animal Shelter. He was about 7 mo. old & weighed 35 lbs. He is now 3 & 1/2 yrs. old & weighs 72 lbs. You have to have them neutered before you are allowed to take them home. He was very bad to begin with, but now is a wonderful dog. We love him to death. His name is Cayenne. He sleeps inside in a kennel at night & spends the day in the fenced in back yard. He never has tried to either dig out or jump over the fence. I attribute that to him being neutered. Enjoyed your articles. Shirley Jaeger


  61. Tamara Bailey says:

    This article is geared for male dogs but I have two females, one that is spayed and 1 that is not and is a pure breed Yorkie that I want to breed. Our Yorkie is 10 lbs and 2 years old and my vet has filled my husbands head with the possibilities of having to have a cesarean section if we breed her and that we should have her spayed. Also, she is very anxious and busy. I also worry about our other dog (chihuahua and Terrier mix) and what she will be like with the Yorkie puppies. I will probably have to keep them separated as they fight when the Yorkie is in heat. So my question is, is it safe to breed my Yorkie with another dog as small as her or smaller? I would hate myself forever if anything happened to her or either of them or should I have her spayed and will that calm her down or will having a litter or 2 calm her down?


    Minette Reply:



  62. Venetia says:

    Great article, not being a dog trainer of the professional sorts, but one with simple commands to teach at-risk youth at the shelter with shelter dogs who usually only get a few days, I must say please spay and neuter your pets. I will admit years ago I was one of THOSE people who thought oh let the dog have one litter of pups it will make them a better dog. It usually did for me but, to see the what happens when dogs are brought in pregnant or just litter after litter of pups are brought in because oh someone dumped them, Breaks my heart to see healthy babies euthanized just because they need the room just because they were born or a pregnant mamma dog comes in is euthanized because …well she is pregnant, through no fault of her own but through irresponsible pet owners. So please spay and neuter. I was visiting my daughter one weekend and I took my grandsons to the park where they also have a dog park. I watched while different people took their dogs in and out. A gentleman comes in with a large white pit bull. (Don’t hate the messenger because I am a fan of pits) a very intact male he is letting is dog run loose and play no other dogs there at this time (I will clarify that), when three other people come in with two dogs, the pit runs up to them they are doing the smell routine everything seems to be going fine one of the dogs run off to play and the pit has the other dog by the neck and on the ground, with both owners trying to pull the dogs apart. (That is what gives the pit a bad reputation). Luckily no one including the animals were injured. The pit owner leashed his dog and went to another area of park. The other dogs the male was neutered and the other was a female. So please spay and neuter. Just sayin’


  63. Iaay says:

    I have always had my pets neutered, apart from the fact that I work and don’t have the capacity to look after puppies, I can’t guarantee that the progeny would always be well looked after. People’s circumstances change and pets are moved on. We obtained a German Shorthaired Pointer at 7 years old, he was neutered and was a perfect gentleman. He lived to 20 years of age with no health problems that impacted on his daily life. My dogs have been ; an adult that was going to be put down for the owner’s convenience, an abandoned puppy, a purebred Pom I had from a puppy, the abovementioned wonderful GSP who was given to us when his owners were returning to England, an Fox Terrier cross that was rescued from an abusive home, and my current pure Papillon (with papers) that I bought from an on-line advertisement. She was just over 3 years old, never been innoculated or had a collar and the hair of her ears was matted to the side of her head. She was frightened of everything and everyone and exhibited aggressive behaviour. She now has been innoculated, is neutered and completed an obedience course and is a pure delight and plays nicely with others, all of which has taken a lot of hard work and patience over 6 months. I dread to think what her life would have been like with some one who wasn’t prepared to work quietly through the problems. I have been in touch with the Papillon’s breeders regarding updating paperwork, and they were upset that the dog had been advertised online as they tell purchasers that they will always take back dogs that they have bred if the owners find themselves unable to keep them. My mother’s constant companion came from a dog’s home as an adult that had been surrendered to the home. Given the former lives of most of the dogs I have had I would never consider breeding indiscriminately and increasing the number of euthanisations. I feel very strongly about the issue of unwanted and improperly cared for dogs, and sadly the world is awash with them.


  64. Bud Pinger says:

    On whether to neuter or not. My Vet suggested not to neuter our Airedale until he is 1 to1-1/2 years old. He indicated that large breed dogs have leg ligament problems more often if nuetered too early. Our previous dog did have problems with his “knees”. He was neutered at 6 months.


  65. Sally Mohan says:

    My dog is an Irish Setter and being a show dog I will not castrate him. Nor would I even if he wasn’t. The coat suffers terribly and shorten their life expectancy. If a dog is trained properly it won’t wee round the house nor hump and won’t stray. There are other health issues too.Training is fun for both owner and dog and a well trained dog is a happy dog. I’ve never castrated any of my dogs over 50 years and never had any problems. It’s not down to just good luck but good training.


    Minette Reply:

    Actually, it has nothing to do with training. A well trained neutered dog is just as important as a well trained in tact dog.

    Neutering only takes care of removing hormones and the instincts that go with them.


  66. John Groat says:

    I have bred Champion Griffons, so know all about the problems of dogs and bitches in the same house.
    We were able to be more relaxed when we ceased to breed and now “just” enjoy our dogs as companions. It was good to be able to take our two current dogs (a griffon/shitzu cross and a Cavalier King Charles/Poodle cross to Church today for the Pet Blessing service. Over 40m dogs and no problems at all – including with the cats, rabbits, lambs etc present.
    An older person with a pet would be well advised to have their companion neutered.


  67. angel cuervo says:

    I do not like to neuter my Golden retriever now is 8 months old. If I have to make a final decision in the future what is the best time to do it and also do they recover without problems after the surgery ?


    Minette Reply:

    The younger they are the better they recover. If you want to wait, I would suggest about a year.


  68. Mary K. Romesburg says:

    I feel that the medium to large breed dogs should wait until they are at least one year of age to 18 months before Spaying or Neutering. The growth plates need that time to close before hormones change.


  69. Barb Pierce says:

    Yes, spay and neuter your pets and working dogs unless you have a safe and responsible breeding program. We have a breeding program and a service dog program. Some of our intact dogs also work as service dogs.
    Both male and female dogs are more focused and attentive when they are not distracted by heat cycles and scents blowing on the breeze. In tact females are messy and out of commission for about one month out of six. Even a stay at home dog can be bred by a roving male. Chain link fences, and even solid 6 foot fences are no match for a determined Romeo.
    The studies I have seen have been limited and short sighted. Spay/neuter recommendations have gone from one extreme to the other and back again. Dogs were rarely spayed or neutered, then we were told to spay and neuter after puberty. The shelter movement started to spay and neuter at 8 to 10 weeks old. Now we are back to let nature take it’s course. I believe there is a healthy balance somewhere in the middle.


  70. D Lovdahl says:

    I have a JRT that was neutered at 7 months and five years later he still humps anyone that will play with him and marks everywhere outside. I think the too early neutering destroyed his conformation and also leaves him with a tendency to gain weight. With his well socialized nature, I think he should have had a vasectomy. I also have a female Rat Terrier that was neutered at five years old after she was rescued from a puppy mill. She marks as much as any male and can be territorial and dominant with other dogs. I think the key to behavior is 24/7 affection, socializing and training for the first two years.


    Minette Reply:

    7 months old is no where near early for a JRT actually I would blame late neutering on the behaviors you speak of same for the rat terrier.


  71. marion says:

    my bischon is six years, and not spayed. I am concerding it. But maybe she is to old


    Minette Reply:

    better late than never. It will decrease her risk for mammary cancer


  72. Deborah P says:

    Normally I refrain from commenting on blogs but this was an issue that caused me distress. I have 2 Cavaliers aged 7 & 6 years old. Our Female was born with a multitude of health issues that would most likely resulted in any other owner have her euthanised. We allowed her to go into heat, which was not pleasant hoping this might assist with her urinary issues. It didn’t so we chose to have her spayed which was the best decision we have ever made. She had very suspect ovaries which the Vet took photos of to show us. She was referred to a specialist surgeon who established that she has 2 vaginas, 2 cervics and a uritha that was not attached and 4 cms to long. She could never have had puppies without putting her life and the lives of her puppies in grave danger. The surgeon said he had seen all of her problems as single issues in other dogs but never in all his years of being a surgeon had he seen all of her problems in one dog. So our sweet little girl had surgery that cost us $7000 and as far as I’m concerned it was worth every cent. She still has accidents every now and then in wetting herself or where ever she might be lying. But I simply clean her to ensure no urinary scolding and also wash whatever she may have urinated on. So having her spayed was the best decision we ever made. For all her problems she makes up for it with love and devotion and has the sweetest personality.

    A year later we got a little boy Cavalier pup who also had the sweetest disposition. It was a no brainer when we made the decision to have him neutered. He has absolutely no health issues or behavioural issues what so ever as a result. The two of them are so close to each other they lay down next to each other every day and show absolutely no aggression but mega love and companionship.

    The reason I have chosen to be involved in this subject is because go to any Shelter and see all the abonanded dogs surrendered. You know there time there will be short lived unless they are one of the fortunate ones that will be chosen and have a second chance in a loving and responsible forever home. It brings me to tears (literally) to see a healthy pregnant mother dog be euthanised simply because they don’t have room for her and her puppies. And then to look into the eyes of the other dogs in cages who somehow convey that they know the fate that awaits them in only a day in some circumstances. If these dogs had been desexed then they may very well not be in those horrible places. So I’m so sorry if I offend any reader of my post but I truly believe having either your male or female dog desexed is the most responsible thing we do as a dog owner. Just look at the number of dogs in shelters and Logic will tell you and certainly convince you that desexing your pet is the right thing to do. Any concerns with breed specific health issues can be addressed with vigilant health and wellness checks at your Vet regularly and the earlier an issue is identified allows your Vet to be proactive in the ongoing care associated with your furry loved one. Better still take out health insurance as we did and this gives you so many benefits regarding proactive care as well as peace of mind.

    I intend to embark upon Fostering dogs that need round the clock care to nurse them back to full health so they have a good chance of finding their loving forever home. All breeds have their specific genetic potential health problems. I truly don’t believe this is a sound enough reason not to have them desexed and at least do your bit to controll the issue of over population resulting in Shelters being unable to house them all and needing to euthanise otherwise healthy dogs that could be rehomed.

    Over the years I have been blessed with a number of breeds. I have owned a pure bred German Shepard, the most loving Golden Retriever, Border Collies, Golden Spaniels and now my adorable Blenhiem Cavaliers and they have all been desexed and NEVER exhibited any behaviour problems. It’s all about being a responsible pet owner and putting the required time in to train them from a young age. And I did this with 4 children as well who all have an extremely healthy respect for canine breeds.

    Your article was extremely interesting to read but at the end of the day I firmly believe desexing is both responsible and in no way interferes with the chronicle development of your furry loved one. Many readers may disagree with me and I respect their views but just ask those that are on the against side of the argument to go visit Shelters and the Pound and Look long and deeply into the eyes of those poor little ones who never asked to be in their situation. You would have to have a heart of stone not to come away affected.


  73. Janice Mahoney says:

    yes-definitely neuter. You have a better companion in both dogs & cats


  74. Vinice Curto says:

    To neuter or not to neuter, that is the question, as Shakespeare might have said. The answer is a resounding yes, for many more reasons than those against it would offer as alternatives. The point is to stop the random and unwanted birth of unneutered dogs and somehow reduce the number that have to be put down because they either aren’t manageable and/or there are just too many out there to be taken into homes and cared for as family pets, working dogs, rescue dogs or companion dogs In a word, “humane” and rational handling rather than emotional responses to the animal’s genitals. The problems cited by the anti-spay crowd are mostly the results of genetic anomalies, not neutering, Too bad this won’t change any minds but it is worth saying anyway. I’m 76, have had 8 dogs over time, have a 4 year old rescue female Smooth-coated Collie/Ridgeback mix I just adopted last September who’s very needy, and have been around literally hundreds of dogs in the parks of New York City over the last 45 years. Neutering and socialization should be interchangeable words.


  75. Bill Moulton says:

    I have a 6 month old Springer Spaniel, and scheduled to have him neutered, but the vet found that only one testicle had dropped, so instead of a less invasive laser surgery, he would either have to make a larger incision and go look for the testicle or have an ultra sound to locate it and then do the surgery, again more invasive than I had hoped for. At this point I’m wondering if I should give nature more time and postpone the procedure for a couple months and see if it drops in place. Any suggestions?


    Minette Reply:

    They rarely drop on their own, and the increased body temperature to the testicles often causes cancer. Plus this condition is genetic. I would go for the neuter.


  76. Rebecca says:

    I had a male yorkie that was neutered at about 6 months old. He was a very dominant dog and he did settle down some. He quit the humping and marking except for when we would go walking everyday he would mark everything along the route. He lived to be 15 and was a very healthy dog that we walked up until he was 14 1/2 due to the heat in Texas. I am about to have my male 5 month old yorkie neutered who is already lifting his leg and marking the trees and bushes in our backyard and anything he can find along our walking route. He also tried to mark a kitchen chair the other day and my son saw him and told him no but I’m hoping after he is neutered this desire to mark his territory will decrease. He also wants to chase cars .. Which I have never had one that does that so I’m going to have to work on this behavior. Hoping Chet has a training video on this! Anyway my 3 year old spayed female yorkie is very calm, submissive and quiet which is unusual for a yorkie. Bottom line is in our case neutering and spaying have been a good thing for our dogs but I enjoyed reading the article with the pros and cons.


  77. christina foster says:

    i have a 9 month old that whines all the time and i have left her in her pin and when she stops is a good or is that not right but i need to get help with the whining because it is driving crazy


  78. BEVERLY DIXON says:

    E MAIL beverlyadixon@gmail.com


    Minette Reply:

    Speak with your vet


  79. I have a 5month havanese puppy and wondering if I should have him neutered and at what age?


    Minette Reply:

    Speak with your vet but I would recommend it right away


  80. Melody says:

    I have a 7 month old female Vizsla. I worry about spaying her before she’s matured because of her athletic nature and how hormones are part of her growth. She is my running partner and I worry that spaying too early will affect her in a negative way. Thoughts?


    Minette Reply:

    Speak to your vet


  81. Bill Moulton says:

    Ok, thank you for your reply Minette, I will go for the neuter, but will wait until the end of April, he will be close to nine lbs. by then and 7 months old. Thank you again.


  82. Jeanne Fanning says:

    i enjoy my dogs/cats (no pedigrees here) and spay/neuter at about 6 months i would do nothing differently in the future. Better for their health and better for the relationships of us all!


  83. Darlene says:

    I had a dachsund that was neutered after several years. He always marked in the house and continued to do so. He also humped females in heat and females that had been neutered. Despite his misbehaviors, he was a wonderful, loving pet. We just were unable to correct him.


    Minette Reply:

    Hormones often lead to learned behaviors which are hard to break


  84. I’m not sure from reading what you wrote, but assume she whines when she is penned? Is she penned where she can’t see you? She is probably suffering from separation anxiety. She might do better if for a while if she is penned at night where she can see you. As she gets older, and she’s allowed to sleep in her own bed, maybe you can gradually move it to her own space. I assume you only pen her to prevent accidents? If she is walked regularly, she will not do her business in the home. The dog I currently have was 4 1/2 when I got him and had to be diapered. I took him out four or five times a day with my other dog and after a few weeks, didn’t need a diaper! He enjoys his walks and tells me by coming over to paw me on my foot or leg that he has to “go”. Now, I take him out first thing in the morning, around the block, and in the evening. At night, before bed, we take a short one in front of the house or across the street and he brings me home on his own. The walks are good for me too. Unless you really interact with the puppy, just letting them out in the yard is not giving them exercise, unless they have a playmate.


  85. Sorry, my reply was to the person with the 9 month old who whinned & nothing to do with neutering question.


  86. Arundi says:

    I am not against neutering, but I wish to let mine have just one litter before spaying her, if it is OK(She is 2 years old). I do not have much experience about dogs, but I had to spay several cats ,and all of them became fat and lazy and even stopped mousing. I have also noticed how having a litter improve the behavior of females, in both cats and dogs.(Don’t misunderstand, don’t let them have more than 2 litters. If your female was is a sickly one or if she’s old, it is better to spay)


    Minette Reply:

    Why oh why is your dog good enough to breed?

    Only the best of the best should breed. Otherwise you are condemning a litter of puppies to death in a shelter or worse.

    It is your job to make sure your dog isn’t lazy, it has nothing to do with having babies.

    Does that mean because I have never had children of my own I am more lazy than women who have?

    Or perhaps those with hysterectomies are more lazy because they have been “spayed”? Do you even realize how silly that sounds?

    Please don’t breed. It is one thing to keep your dog intact but it is irresponsible to breed because of some silly myths.


  87. Monika says:

    I definitely agree to neuter dogs and cats. First of all, there is solution how to decrease overpopulation of domestic pets, how many unwanted pets finishes abandonaded, abused, malnourished at the streets! Keep that in mind!


  88. Darlene says:

    I agree that while my male dog was intact, he learned the habits that continued after he was neutered, i.e., humping females-neutered or not, and continued marking. Perhaps earlier neutering could have made a difference. I don’t know, but hormonal driven habits make sense.


  89. Tray says:

    We have a 3 yr old female Westie Grand Champion show dog with great pedigree and who has produced two litters of which many of the pups are going on to be champion show dogs. So we regard her as among the “best of the best”. She is a beautifully behaved Westie (ok, she likes to dig and hunt and gets dirty!) with the only “drawback” being occasional marking which upticks when she is in heat and the inconvenience of having to keep her sequestered to avoid accidental mating. We are considering breeding her one more time before spaying her. What are the pros and cons in your opinion of that one more time? (her pups will be in high demand). Do health risks escalate with each breeding beyond the usual risk of having a litter? Will her digging and hunting nature (good for ground dog competition) be affected by the spaying?


  90. Susan says:

    My German Shepherd/Malamute mix is about to turn 4. We are not breeding him but he is intact. He is never off the lead. After 3, the vet stopped bringing it up. He is pretty big dog (130 lbs) but not overweight at all. He is not aggressive, does not mark, but has occasionally had his way with some pillows. The vet says if there are no behavioral problems we should leave him intact at this point. I really don’t see a reason to fix him.


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