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.

Running

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.

 

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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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There are 138 Comments

  1. 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.

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    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.

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  2. 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.

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    Minette Reply:

    a first heat doubles her risk for mammary cancer

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  3. 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
    Thanks

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  4. 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.

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  5. 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.

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  6. 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.

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  7. 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.

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  8. 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.

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  9. 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.

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  10. 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

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  11. 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?

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    Minette Reply:

    spay

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  12. 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’

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  13. 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.

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  14. 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.

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  15. 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.

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    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.

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  16. 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.

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  17. 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 ?

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    Minette Reply:

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

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  18. 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.

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  19. 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.

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  20. 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.

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    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.

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  21. marion says:

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

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    Minette Reply:

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

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  22. 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.

    [Reply]

  23. Janice Mahoney says:

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

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  24. 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.

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  25. 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?

    [Reply]

    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.

    [Reply]

  26. 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.

    [Reply]

  27. 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

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  28. BEVERLY DIXON says:

    I HAVE READ ENOUGH ARTICLES ON THE DANGERS WHEN SPAYING A DOG AND DECIDED NOT TO SPAY, BUT HAVE HEARD THAT ”STERILIZING ” A FEMALE DOG IS NOT RISKY.I WOULD LIKE TO KNOW MORE ON THIS PROCEEDURE. FINDING A VET WHO DOES THIS …THE COST, ETC.
    CAN YOU TELL ME WHERE TO FIND THIS INFORMATION PLEASE.
    I LIVE IN SACRAMENTO CA.
    BEVERLY DIXON
    E MAIL beverlyadixon@gmail.com

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Speak with your vet

    [Reply]

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

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Speak with your vet but I would recommend it right away

    [Reply]

  30. 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?

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Speak to your vet

    [Reply]

  31. 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.

    [Reply]

  32. 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!

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  33. 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.

    [Reply]

    Minette Reply:

    Hormones often lead to learned behaviors which are hard to break

    [Reply]

  34. 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.

    [Reply]

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

    [Reply]

  36. 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)

    [Reply]

    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.

    [Reply]

  37. 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!

    [Reply]

  38. 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.

    [Reply]

  39. 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?

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  40. 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.

    [Reply]

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