Neutering and Behavior

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2/4/13

Dr. Rob

 

Neutering Dogs and Behavior.

 

When someone purchases a new puppy they have been conditioned throughout the years to take the puppy to the vet, get their series of boosters, get their rabies shot, and then schedule their dog to be neutered.  The first question that I always ask, much to the owners surprise is “Why are you deciding to castrate your male puppy”?  Many times people don’t even have an answer and reply, “That’s what I thought I was SUPPOSED to do”.  Other times people do provide a reason ranging from health benefits, which I can usually quickly dispel, to preventing unwanted behavior.  In this post I will deal solely with the behavior modification issue in male dogs.  The issue of behavior modification is far from clear cut and may surprise some people.

Often times people fear that owning an intact male dog in their house will come with unwanted behavior.  Typical behaviors that people associate with intact male behavior include mounting, straying and wandering from the homestead, aggression towards humans and towards other dogs, and marking.  Many people feel that neutering their puppy at an early age will prevent these behaviors from occurring and will make their dogs better pets that are more suitable for the household.  Does this not create the same moral hazard that declawing a cat to prevent unwanted scratching creates?  Many veterinarians who will not perform declawing for ethical reasons tell owners that they should not own a cat if they cannot deal with unwanted cat behaviors like clawing furniture, but they routinely neuter pre-pubescent dogs to curb other unwanted behaviors.  The procedure is just as aggressive surgically and if done at an early age, comes with many unwanted health complications that are beyond the scope of this post.  In Europe castration is largely considered tantamount to declawing, tail docking and ear cropping.

Putting ethics aside for the moment,  what are the behavioral effects of neutering male dogs?  A retrospective study of only 42 dogs studied just that and the results were mixed.  The behavior that is best controlled through neutering is roaming.  Castration eliminates this behavior in 80 to 90% of dogs.   Locking your gate would also accomplish the same thing.    Urine marking in the house was controlled in only 50% of dogs and urine marking around or outside of the house where other dogs had marked was not affected at all.  Mounting of people or other animals was reduced in 67% of the dogs.  Lastly, aggressive behavior was only altered in cases involving inter-dog aggression and declined in 62% of dogs.  Territorial, fear-induced aggression, and food aggression were not altered in any dogs 1.  In another report dealing with aggressive behavior in dogs, prepubertally castrated male dogs were just as aggressive as noncastrated dogs 2.

There is at least the potential for some behaviors to worsen after castration.  Testosterone is known to affect anxiety behaviors; for example, hypogonadal men with lower levels of testosterone are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression disorders.  Treatment with testosterone alleviates these symptoms.   Preliminary studies in mice were performed where mice were presented with stressful situations and their ability to process this fear with both contextual (same environment) and cued fear (an audible stimulus preceded a shock) were tested before and after castration.   The results were mixed and showed that castration did inhibit contextual fear memory processing, supporting the fact that the processing of contextual fear memory within the hippocampus area of the brain is testosterone dependent.  It is established that men tend to develop post-traumatic stress disrorder less frequently and of a less severe nature than women due to this inhibition of contextual fear memory inhibition3.

Would it not be reasonable to conclude that it is at least possible that neutering dogs could increase fear behaviors through inhibition of the dog’s ability to explore its environment and to process and/or extinguish fear memories correctly?  Renowned behaviorist Parvene Farhoody looked at this possibility in her Masters thesis at Hunter College in 2010.  The study was based upon a 101 question survey called the Canine Behavior and Research Questionnaire (C-BARQ) to collect information on 7 different behavioral characteristics for over 10,000 dogs.  Their data showed that neutered dogs were more aggressive, fearful, excitable and less trainable than intact dogs 4.   These data were not peer-reviewed or published, but it is my understanding that they are continuing work in this field and that a larger study’s data is currently being compiled and will be submitted for review and publication.  A similar C-BARQ questionnaire’s data involving a sample of over 6000 dogs was compiled and presented to the Third International Symposium on Non-Surgical Contraceptive Methods for Pet Population Control and showed neutering to worsen behaviors including:   dog-directed fear aggression (breed dependent), begging for food, fear behavior and sensitivity to handling, aggression towards people and other dogs, decreased energy, excessive barking, and rolling in and eating feces5.

Castration  may also contribute to the myriad behavioral issues that arise later in life,  grouped under the category of cognitive dysfunction.  Cognitive dysfunction is basically doggy Alzheimers and signs can include disorientation, housesoiling, aggression, wandering and confusion.  It has been shown that neutered dogs progress much more rapidly from mild to severe cognitive dysfunction than intact males.  The investigators state, “This finding is in line with current research on the neuro-protective roles of testosterone and estrogen at the cellular level and the role of estrogen in preventing Alzheimer’s disease in human females” 6.

One more interesting thing to note is that in behaviors where it is generally considered that castration can improve behavior (The above data sheds doubt on even some of those dogmas.) there is no benefit to early neutering.  It has been shown that the improvment of behavior through castration is not age-dependent.    There is no rush to hurry up and “fix” your dog while he is still growing both physically and mentally.  It is important to choose your puppy wisely.  You must consider the inherent energy and potential for aggressiveness when selecting a breed of dog to join your family.   Proper training, setting of rules and boundaries and exercise is imperative from day one.  If problematic behaviors arise you must identify and work to rectify them quickly before they become habitual, and it is imperative to utilize the services of a behaviorist and/or trainer when problems arise.  Castration should be considered as a last resort and expectations for its success should be reasonable.  Castration should not be performed on a pre-pubescent dog as testosterone is vital for skeletal and brain development.

 

1. Hopkins et. al. Castration of Adult Male Dogs:  Effets on Roaming, Aggression, Urine Marking, and Mounting. J Am Vet Med Assoc 1976; 168: 1108-10.

2. LeBoeuf, B.J.: Copulator and Aggressive Behavior in the Prepubertally Castrated Dog. Horm Behav, 1, (1970): 127-36.

3.McDermott, C. Role of gonadal hormones in anxiety and fear memory formation and inhibition in male mice. Phsiol Behav. 2012. 105 (5). 1168-74

4.Farhoody, P. Behavioral and Physical Effects of Spaying and Neutering Domestic Dogs. Smmary of findings detailed in Masters thesis submitted to and accepted by Hunter College in May 2010.

5. Duffy, D. et al. Non-reproductive Effects of Spaying and Neutering on Behavior in Dogs. Power Point presentation to the Third International Symposium on Non-surgical Contraceptive Methods for Pet Population Control.

6. Hart BC. Effect of gonadectomy on subsequent development of age related cognitive impairment in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2001 July 1; 219 (1) 51-6.

Questions

Comments

  1. Tegan says:

    This is so timely, thank-you! Recently, the government in my state has started to look at mandatory desexing. Urgh! For more details you can see the Saving Pets blog here: http://www.savingpets.com.au/2013/02/guilty-until-proven-innocent-sas-dog-cat-mgnt-boards-next-grand-plan/ I look forward to using this article in my arguments against mandatory desexing. Thanks!

    • DWTrainer says:

      Hmmm. So a study shows that neutering reduces marking and inter-dog aggression in excess of 50% and you are citing this as a good reason NOT to neuter???? I own a daycare with 70 to 100 dogs in a cage free environment- not breed exclusive, with no fights in 3-1/2 years. All (except young puppies to 6 months and medical reasons) are spayed or neutered. Do you seriously want to go where there are 70 unneutered dogs? Your second reference was a group trying to promote their product- always a reliable source for facts and figures. It comes down to this- get responsible owners and the above is OK- In this society it is a bad idea.

      • Angry Vet says:

        they have no product to promote

        • Mary Starling says:

          Precisely. It is really fantastic to see the arguments some of us have been looking at critically for years be supported by a vet. Thank you.

      • Sharon says:

        I SERIOUSLY would not ever leave my dog in your care DWTrainer, are you serious ? 70 to 100 dogs in a cage free environment? No dog of mine would be put with such irresponsible daycare people !!!!

        • GWPguy says:

          I hate to be the guy who “marks” in your Cheerios, however you’re killing me. Dogs are pack animals, please disagree. Many, if not all, gun dog trainers use this aspect to give the dogs the desire to chase birds. Also, you cannot find one dog trainer who does not run his dogs together. Other than keeping males and females separate (and only because not all of the dogs under their care are fixed). To add insult to injury, dogs came to be because of what? Wolves. Hilariously, wolves and coyotes are all what? Pack animals. They’re in a cage free environment called the wild. It works because they understand the order of the pack. Unless you have some foo foo dog who rides around in your purse and eats vegan nastiness. Also, if they’re in a cage free environment (however contained in a secured yard) but are frequently supervised, what’s the problem? I’m sorry, it’s obvious that you do not have a working dog that’s been properly socialized. We all can’t have our dogs freaking out in the duck blind because they’ve never seen a black lab before. Now, do you still feel okay about insulting someone’s business? Now go take your dog to a kennel that keeps them in a 4×4 cage and only plays with them for an hour a day! I’m sure DWTrainer doesn’t mind not having your business.

          Hugs and kisses,
          No one cares

        • Charlotte says:

          Seconded. 70-100 dogs is idiotic and terrifying.

          • Dog Whisperer Dave says:

            I don’t like doggy daycares but I have 40 unaltered dogs in my pack and THEY ARE ALL FULLY WELL BEHAVED. (then again, this is what I do and the power of the pack is beautiful)

      • Lara Croft says:

        Any environment where there are 70 to 100 dogs (as you say uncaged) is BY DEFINITION AN UN-NATURAL ENVIRONMENT for ANY dog…, therefore i fail to see the relevance of your reply to the essay by the vets. Your reply doesn’t relate to any of the points very eloquently put by the vet’s essay.
        The argument is about responsible ownership and if someone cannot handle a dog the way God sent them to us someone should opt for a gold fish….but not 70 or 100 of them lol.

        I am a K9 trainer myself (and come from a military dog training background due to my family…not always a good type of training i agree..the military bit i mean), but i am breed-restricted due to my handling dog training experience limited to GSDs, Rottweilers, American Bulldogs, Staffies and crosses of the above breeds. On this basis what the vets wrote totally reflects my 35 years experience of training, rehabilitating and caring for the above breeds (and my colleagues’) what you are saying doesn’t…at all.

        God bless Angry Vets for delivering us from ‘demagogy-evil’ (lol) and reminding us all EXACTLY what an animal/dog is all about….and to help us steer away from ‘human convenience’. Bottom line: a dog was created and intended to be functioning at his/her best INTACT….unless there are serious health considerations to be taken into account such as prostate cancer in progress or similar…but to castrate a dog due to human inadequate ability to ‘hold the dog in place’ (or dodge liability issues) via proper training is a poor excuse for a reply to the essay.

        • Lara Croft says:

          I would like to add that like many other K9 trainers my packs consisted mainly of full males. I never had a problem…as someone said “the power of the pack is infinite”.

          HOWEVER, I NEVER HAD AN UN-NATURAL PACK i.e. too large….to be a natural environment.
          My un-neutered males all ate, drunk, travelled, slept and played and worked together (like they do in a pack when they need to work for their meals)…so i guess it is really true what Dr Carl Semencic (AND NOTABLY OTHERS TOO) says when he wrote: “Dog trainers are born…not made”…if it were true that practice and experience made perfect, we would have tons of Einsteins, Mozarts and Beethovens..and Jimi Hendrixs….but we don’t do we??? ;-)

          Therefore the level of ‘perfection’ in dog training is a highly individual performance task, in the sense that individual variation is HUGE….but when it comes to science and the fact that testosterone (AND/OR estrogen for females) is OF PARAMOUNT IMPORTANCE for the overall wellbeing of your dog is SIMPLY A FACT….and anybody who has had neutered and un-neutered dogs will have experienced it first hand.

          There is no 70 to 100 dog pack ANYWHERE IN THE UNIVERSE. What a kennel does to any dog (call it day care if you like but at the end of the day having 70 to 100 dogs together is a kennel and a far too large one too re: psychological effects on the dog…but i am sure it is a very good business venture…) is documented extensively in the academic and practitioner world.

          To provide individual and one2one attention to 70 and 100 dogs require a mammoth manpower effort…a dog per person really…therefore i have always been dubious about comments made in the context of HIGHLY UNNATURAL ENVIRONMENTS.

          The causal relationship between AGGRESSION and TESTOSTERONE HAS NEVER BEEN PROVEN…because it cannot.

          A serious study performed on highly dangerous inmates (i.e. max security penitentiary for the criminally insane) carried out in the 80s showed clearly that such relationship is spurious…in fact what was observed in any case is that the more aggressive the male (the inmate) the lower the testosterone level proved to be.
          Well….all i can say is that freedom of speech is exactly what should be…so if you believe that your dog is healthier without his testicles…or better behaved…more fool you but good luck….if you belong to the real K9 handling/training/loving portion of the population then i am preaching to the converted :-) .

      • Lara Croft says:

        The difficulty in finding a distinct correlation between testosterone and violence is that data does not state whether testosterone or social experiences are more important in affecting behavior (Banks & Dabbs, 1996).
        “….It is a possibility that testosterone and social experience work together. Social control is usually thought to be powerful enough to repress the effects of testosterone, but some types of social forces can strengthen the effects of testosterone (Banks & Dabbs, 1996). Testosterone could affect other types of behavior more considerably than it affects violent acts (Banks & Dabbs, 1996).”

    • Katharine Balbar says:

      As an animal behaviourist, I have not had a “sexually” connected aggression case yet. In fact, most of the clients within my practice, have come to me BECAUSE the neutering did not correct the problem. ALL aggression is FEAR based at its lowest common denominator and requires training, dedication and often, counter-conditioning methods- neutering has NOTHING to do with fear or the control there of! The only true “intact” aggression issues would be sexually motivated and would require a bitch in heat to be present or if a past experience of fighting has occurred with a bitch in heat present . Dealt with those when I works as an officer in animal control.

      Thank you for this article!
      Katharine Balbar

      • Ivan Stewart says:

        Well said Katharine, I noticed he ignored your comment.
        This is article is classic straw man and circular reasoning, with cherry picked studies to back it up.
        I am an animal behaviourist and have been working in applied behaviour for over 30 years, and I have never seen a behaviour problem caused by (or cured by) a dog being in-tact or not.

        Logical fallacies aside, your world view on spay & neutering is clear and you are entitled to it.

      • Tanya Aldred says:

        Dear Ivan/Others,

        Please I need your advise. I have rescued male dog, mixed shepherd. He is very affectionate and gentle to me and my friends, but obviously has been abused by men in the past and he is trying to protect me from every man he does not like when they are passing by close by, he growling, barking, trying to jump at them and sometime trying to nip theirs legs. He bitten 3 people so far, also very aggressive to all large dogs, but very gentle to all small. Many people advised that I should castrate him, taking off his testicles to come him down. His is very bossy and like to dominate as well. Today I have read many negative articles against male dog’s castration. All his aggressive behavior based on fear, he is afraid of some man and large dogs.

        • Angry Vet says:

          you should neuter if anything to protect yourself from a future liability…not saying it will help with the aggression…may not but better cover your behind

  2. lynn says:

    With all the over population neutering has become important. At what age is questionable but unless you plan on breeding wouldn’t you say it is wise to stop over populating? Coyotes are breeding with dogs around our area and giving birth to mixes that are far more aggressive than normal coyotes too.

    • Angry Vet says:

      population control is the issue that is most salient and if you can’t control your own dog from wandering (which I would argue you should be able to do…I control mine) then neutering is of value. It is of value to the society but NOT to the dog as is promoted. I would certainly wait until your dog matures before neutering him and would consider zinc neutering which at least offers testosterone preservation to the animal but will render him sterile.

      • Ron H. says:

        I have been in the dog business for over 40 years, and have not neutered any of my Working make dogs. But I know where they are and they are always under control at all times. Kennels and fences are made so that the dog can not climb out. And as a trainer fro Forensic type dogs, I have yet to see any male dogs if trained properly to mark anymore than a neutered dog or neutered female dog does, as this is by nature what dogs do to note an area or mark there bounds. Would have to say that owners are the problems not the dogs.

      • Dear angry vet!
        I hope, all americans will read your post. You are absolutely right, and it is a moral crime to castrate dogs, which ist nothing less, than an amputation. It is easy, to take care of the dogs, if people are responsible. If they aren’t, they should not have dogs. But if people want dogs, they should look at them as creatures with same rights as ours. We have the protection of our pets written in our basic laws, and a castration of healthy dogs are forbidden lby law. It only is allowed at a medical indication. We don’t have strays, people, who abandoned their pets and get cought, become punished up to 30.000,- Euro. ( Nevertheless, we unfortunately also have vets, who castrate ), but most of our dogs are intact, and healthy, no social problems, no temper problems, no population problems. This is Germany.

        • isa says:

          You are right. In the US, the responsibility of caring for dogs is taken from the owner. Instead, the dogs suffer castration so the owners don’t have to “bother” with and are not inconvenienced by normal dog behavior. In short, they don’t have to do their job as dog parents.
          Breeding should be restricted to licensed professionals; this would drastically reduce unwanted dog pregnancies. Just as with children, if one can’t or doesn’t want to deal with normal “growing up” behavior, one should not have dogs.

        • mike says:

          As a responsible dog owner, I know dogs have “inconvenient” heat cycles, and so do women. So, if we’re going to castrate female animals to eliminate this problem, why don’t we castrate humans, too.

          • Jenna says:

            Many women, myself included, would eagerly jump at the opportunity for a complete hysterectomy. Your analogy is flawed. It’s also extremely misogynistic.

          • Kavod says:

            Yes I agree, let’s remove the testes of all women immediately.

            Oh wait….it appears that some mysterious force has already done that, for not one of them has any.

          • Lara Croft says:

            I don’t find you a misogynist at all, and i am a woman :-) .

            What you wrote is so true. And as others said: if you cannot handle the problems that children bring especially when adolescents don’t have children…or have them and at the first sign of liability or hard work required you give them up? to the care system?…Equally if you cannot handle what owning a dog entails, if you cannot be worthy of the special bond with any K9…then go buy that gold fish..pronto! :-) .

            As many have said: the problem is not the dog or his testicles/testosterone..the only problem is the owner.

      • Dawn says:

        I find your assertion that accidental breeding can only occur if an owner is irresponsible arrogant and patently incorrect. Working in rescue, I’ve seen the good, bad and ugly, and I can promise you that no matter how responsible the owner, stuff happens. Additionally, no matter how thorough the screening process, no rescue would – or should – release an intact pet. To dismiss neutering as unnecessary is as irresponsible as allowing your pet to wander.

        • Ellen says:

          Dawn, I completely agree with you. I, too work in rescue. It is a reputable rescue’s responsibility to ensure that a dog in their care is not adopted for the sole purpose of breeding. People (potential adopters) can be pretty wily these days and even a home visit doesn’t always show their true intentions. They can also sell an adopted, intact dog to a mill, etc. even if your contract says the dog must come back to the rescue, and now just because the dog is intact, it becomes a prisoner for the rest of it’s life, creating more and more puppies.

          • Science! says:

            For those working in rescue situations, there are other ways to permanently sterilize an animal without removing the sex hormones (vasectomies and partial spays/hysterectomies). This is win-win, as the individual dog keeps the benefits of sex hormones without the risk of being used as a breeding animal.

            Furthermore, realize that by working in rescue, you may be incurring a sample bias in both dog and human populations.

            Let’s also point out that a responsible owner should be, by definition, responsible for any accidents that might occur, and therefore you shouldn’t run across too many in your rescue dealings. As others have stated, it’s not *that* hard to keep your dog from contributing to an unwanted litter. That’s not arrogance; Western Europe seems to be able to do it just fine.

        • Oldlongdog says:

          “I can promise you that no matter how responsible the owner, stuff happens.” Nope, sorry but I have had five intact males over 20 years (mostly three of them at the same time) and I can guarantee no ‘stuff’ has happened with mine. No wandering, no fighting and no marking inside the house. You live and work in a very distorted world, Dawn. If you want to prevent unwanted pregnancies with male dogs then you should have them vasectomised not castrated (mutilated). And the last two were brought up sleeping on our bed for the first 6 months with no accidents (Hint; I set the alarm for every two hours when they are tiny and put them outside for a pee. As they get older I stretch it to three hours and then four. After that they wake you if they want to go out.) If you’re not prepared to put the time in with your dog then don’t get one.

          • Lara Croft says:

            Absolutely beautifully put! thank you for being one of those dog owners/trainers who actually barks up the RIGHT tree lol.

            And thank you to the commentator who finally put in perspective the ‘i have worked in a rescue kennel for years so i know what i am talking about’…..cos they don’t and as someone pointed out they seem to have a rather DISTORTED view of reality…..i feel sorry for the dogs in their care. However, luckily enough NOT all rescue workers are of that fallacious persuasion.

      • Sue McGauley says:

        I have a female rottie who is now 1.5 yo and has had 2 heats. We do not plan on breeding and are very careful for a 4 wk period during her heat. While it would be wonderful to eliminate that worry, the thought of anesthesia and surgery worries me – as well as the thought that I am depriving her of important hormones. On the flip side I have been told that by not spaying I am leaving her open to and increasing her chances for pyometra which I am told can be fatal. Comments?

        • Angry Vet says:

          Sue,

          There are no easy answers. If you spay her, there is the anesthesia of course. There is some work being done to determine the effects of spaying in growing dogs, but the jury is out on whether or not spaying adult dogs causes any problems. I suspect it’ll be a long time before we have any definitive answers. To be sure, pyometras are common in middle aged and older female dogs, and when they occur, surgery MUST be done ASAP. So, while spaying your dog now is frightening, having to do it under adverse circumstances if a pyometra occurs is worse. Of course this doesn’t mean that if you don’t spay her that she’s guaranteed to develop pyometra at some point.

          Like I said…no easy answers. If it helps at all, I spayed my dog when she was 4.

          Dr. Mike

          • Lisa Hart says:

            Oh so it’s okay to spay a female due to pyometra or mammary tumors(which you failed to mention) but what about prostate cancer and testicular cancer and prostate infections so awful that the dog has to get enemas every other day because it can’t have a bowel movement because the prostate is so enlarged??? Do you not know of a well documented study that took 25 years? There were 40 dogs, all the same breed, exactly half male and female and of those, half of males and females intact and other half neutered. Dogs that were neutered lived on average 2-4 years longer than intact dogs. Intact dogs had more incidences of cancer. All dogs fed same food, received vaccines, htw meds, etc. at the same time. Does doing it for health reasons not count for anything? Oh, and they are soooo mutilated! Whatever…a surgery that takes all of 30 minutes maybe unless you have a year old Great Dane, they don’t know the difference. I guess you’d be one of those people that if they just had to neuter their dog, you’d probably insist on Neuticles! And not the old ones, the newer “real feel” silicone pair! Way to go Mr. Angry Vet!
            Oh yeah, dog bite statistics = unneutered males are #1 reported biters!
            Also, lots of field trials don’t allow females in heat because the males will wander and not listen to owner/caller… And those dogs have much more schooling than the average dog.
            Ugh
            Lisa H.

          • Angry Vet says:

            no reason for sarcasm…and prostate cancer has a higher rate in neutered dogs

      • Patricia says:

        Dear Angry Vet,
        Thank you for this article. I just wished I was able to find more of this support two years ago. I have a beautiful chocolate lab. He is now 10. We got him when he was 12 weeks old and not from a breeder or puppy mill, but from a friend that had the mother and the father belonged to an extended family member. He was and is simply beautiful and came to me soon after I lost a family member and he brought joy back to me. So he is very special to me.
        We resisted the “call to neuter” him from the very first vet visit, which recommended we have it done at 6 months. We declined each time we went in. At around 7 months we needed an orthopedic surgeon for our pup (whole other story), and we found a great one, also owned some labs, so we asked his opinion and he recommended we wait to neuter to at least 24 months. Something about allowing the testosterone to help develop him. Also he wasnt terribly hung up on the whole neutering thing. So we felt a little vindicated and continued to resist. Who knew this would be rare to encounter this opinion? And who new there would be years of the occasional criticism, dirty looks, and implied commentary that we were either just plain ignorant idiots, irresponsible pet owners, rednecks, unsophisticated animals ourselves. Other pet owners were the worst, walking in parks or on the street, (always on leash) as soon as they saw he was not fixed, was like we had leperacy. bizarre. mostly because their male dogs would freek out. And I cant tell you how many times people, some we know, some we didnt actually would comment on his testacles…… these were rare to see these days in neighborhood walks or at the park. Was really quite something. I have had intact male dogs pretty much my entire life. It had been several years since our last pet passed, but I had never experienced this “push” to sterilze before. And it felt totally unnatural to even consider it. So we did not conform, we put up with the insults and the suggestion of neutering for each and every time my dog sneezed or panted just a little too much, “oh, you should have him neutered”. “If you arent going to breed him, then why dont you get him neutered”. “That is cruel not to neuter him if he cant do the act” (this one used to bother me, I wondered if he was in a bit of torture at times).
        We controlled our dog and our dog did not have the behavior problems that many people complain of and reason they pursue neutering to resolve. He did mark outside on our property (we called it his perimeter check and found it quite noble), not inside, and not anyplace we visited. He did not hump. He was not aggressive, was a vibrant, playful BIG lap dog that bounced towards other dogs, but other male neutered dogs would freak out when encountering him. He was a gentle but distinct protective ALPHA, which again we admired in him. WE controled his presence and where he was, he did wander once or twice and we quickly remedied that escape plan he found. All in all we had no complaints of behavior of him. We love dogs and their behavior is all part of it, and he acted just as he should.
        So a few years ago he began to have some health issues all within a small window of time…. he was diagnosed with PRA, Progressive Retinal Atrophy and would be blind within that year, his thyroid stopped working properly and he blew up, and he starting having trouble with his prostate. He was just 7 or 8 years old. We have quite a bit of property and prior he would run it often and was very fit. Now he was less active, more nervous around unknowns, and more sluggish/resistant. We were getting pressure again from our vet to neuter him. She thought it would resolve the prostate issue, and that it was somewhat cruel to frustrating since we were not breeding him, and also now that he had the PRA gene, we should neuter him. We continued to resist. We decided to adopt a companion dog for him. The thought of him blind at home a good part of the day alone bothered us. We wanted a female lab. He had a very gentle affection around female dogs. He turned to butter. I went through this locale rescue. Did all the paperwork, waited the 6-8 weeks to be processed and confirmed, and just before the home visit was to happen, they called me. Normal process was for them to check with my vet on reference and also on my current dog medical history. They said my vet said we were loving, caring and responsible pet owners. Then the rescue said there was just one thing, my dogs records show him still intact. I said yes that is correct. They said they were sorry, but until that was resolved I would not be able to adopt. Seriously!!! I said, but I dont understand, I will be adopting a spayed female. There will be no heat, no procreation, no adding to the overpopulation. What is the problem?. They said it was their philosopy. The woman was very nice. I simply said well that is too bad. I have 8 acres of land, a big home and means and love to give an animal that is just living in foster care now, and you find me unsuitable?. I said what do you think my next step will be? She said, I dont know, I dont understand. If you have your dog neutered we would be happy to place a dog with you. Then she began to question why I would not neuter my dog. I ended the call by telling her we would not be neutering my dog, and that we will simple now go and look for a puppy either from a breeder or elsewhere. That they in their philosophy were adding to the puppy mill problem. In the meantime I found this great dog place that had dog care right on the way to work. I thought maybe one day per week I would drop him off and he could hang with the other dogs for several hours, and keep him a little motivated. The other days he would be at home. Same drill, did the paperwork, had a phone interview, not welcome if he was not neutered. other dog owners object, so I could bring him there, but he would be isolated and not allowed to play with the other dogs. I kid you not. Obviously, that defeated the purpose. didnt need the care, needed the play time for him.
        Several months later we found our female, and we had not neutered our male. He began to lose eyesight much quicker, and continued to have the thyroid and prostate health problems. At this time he also had a hemotoma on his right ear, and was on steroids and very agitated and aggressive, completely not his nature. Because the eyes were going , he was more anxious too when I brought him places. The vet for one. Now Im seeing her about once a week, for thyroid testing, the hemotoma draining and stiching, and prostate. Different medications, reactions to meds, etc. Each time …….pressure to have him neutered, one of the best things I could do for him and the prostate and possibly will help with other issues. Started to actually feel like a BAD and selfish pet owner. Between the vet, and the dog parks and dog centers, and dog walks, and other pet owners, and friends and family, pet adoption, I actually lost my bearing and felt incompetent. And upon a snap by my male dog upon the new female (provoked by taking his bone and she was still new to the home) where he cut the skin, I relented. I caved. I thought I am just frustrating the heck out of him, and he cant see, he cant run his energy out, and why am I standing on this priciple. I argued my husband into the decsion (no easy task ). We scheduled the procedure.
        I felt they cant all be wrong. Worst decision I ever made. I was assured by much reading and by the vet, that his personality would not change. This is simply just not true. He is not the same dog. He is still uniquely bonded to me and I love him dearly, but he has changed. I took something away from him that I cant seem to explain. Maybe it was the loss of sight, or his sluggish thyroid, (the prostate is better) that has changed him, or the neutering. I will never know for sure. But there is a definate void now, where there was once vibrance. This was two years ago, and my husband and I were talking today about this and how he changed, which prompted me to search this online today. As I said, I just wish I found your blog two years ago. Keep up the good work and thank you. ! I will NEVER go against my gut instincts again.

        • J Koes says:

          Patricia, thanks so much for sharing this story. sorry you had to go through that with your dog! i moved to Vancouver from Europe recently, and back at home very few dogs are spayed/neutered which doesn’t stop us from enjoying dog parks and group obedience classes. in Norway it’s illegal for a vet to spay/neuter without the dog’s health issue calling for it. they think spaying/neutering a healthy dog is “for the sake of owner’s convenience” and they find that reason for spaying irresponsible. ironically, in North America it is considered irresponsible to spare your dog from surgery and to keep him/her supervised at all times instead.
          to me spaying/neutering just because the owner will presumably fail to keep the dog from breeding is almost like removing dogs’ teeth when adopting them out, just in case the owner doesn’t look after them and they end up roaming about and butt-biting. my female dog developed severe incontinence a year after she had to be spayed for medical reasons (pyometra). she had been somewhat reactive/easily aroused before the operation, but spaying made her a lot more nervous and dog aggressive, and much compromised her ability to focus (probably, due to anxiety). another thing that visibly impaired her quality of life was increased appetite. she got obsessed with food. we kept her on a very strict diet to keep her weight in check and she would pick up everything she could find on the street (she was traied to never pick up food before the operation, but then she just went food-insane). her incontinence also upset her immensely though we never reprimanded her of course. while it wasn’t preventible in her case, i’ve seen research suggesting all her issues are common side-effects of spaying. so why put a healthy animal under risk of developing all these problems?

          culturally as well as personally i am used to supervising my dogs at all times. i’m beginning to apprenticeship course on training and preparing to take on a young dog to practice on. my senior dog is a male so i’m looking for a female to reduce the risk of conflicts. although i don’t find it ethical to buy a dog from a breeder when there are so many unwanted animals already, i will certainly look for an intact female who needs to be re-homed because of the owner’s circumstances rather than take a spayed one from a shelter. i am totally in favour of making owners accountable for irresponsible breeding, but i want to have a choice whether to spay or not, and it bewilders that so many people here in North America criticize my choice of responsibly keeping an intact dog. they presume i’m against sterilizing in shelter situations/in communities where stray dogs are an issue — but i’m not! just like you said, i’m relying on my gut instincts and i believe i’m making an informed decision.

      • Jen says:

        I have been saying for years that by fixing your dog male or female you are screwing with a perfect design. I can understand with today’s society and the lack of ownership and responsibility that altering is truly only benefiting the situation of unwanted pets and the burden this causes. But isn’t there a chemical or other method that can be done such as a tubligation or vasectomy in human available for dogs?

    • You guys should close your puppy mills in the States!!! Leave the responsible breeding at responsible breeders, who are organised in the AKC or other clubs, where they have roules.
      If that would happen, no PETA, who kills 95% of animals, they get a hold of, would have a chance. This kind of cynism is unbearable.

      • Ellen says:

        It’s very hard to close the puppy mills in the U.S. because the AKC SUPPORTS puppy mills, Ariane. They got rid of sponsors that support shelter dog placement. You are way off base in your thought.

        On a different note, the article is not stating not to neuter dogs at all, only that waiting until they are mature would be better for their health. If rescues now make allowances for female dogs until they are six months old, then why not make the same for males?

        If you trust someone enough to adopt out your dogs to them from your rescue, why do you not trust them enough to spay/neuter them at an appropriate age? Plus, I think more rescues and shelters should be looking into Zinc Neutering. It’s cost-effective and seems to be a healthier alternative.

      • Lara Croft says:

        The AKC???? Oh my God……as their sister organizations in any Country (i.e. ANY OTHER KC) these are the organizations that set out the ‘breed standards’…..these are the guys that produced the highly genetically faulty bulldog…and others ….and are responsible for the mass production of genetically faulty animals ….by creating their standards in the first place….oh my god the AKC…..poor dogs…..

        These are the people who never understood the difference between working dogs and show dogs…and created more show dogs…to increase the market….the AKC??? oh my God ;-)

  3. Dana Gary says:

    Personally, I believe far too many people have bought into the ‘spay/neuter’ campaign because they then think (maybe unconsciously) that they will not have to train the dog to prevent unwanted behaviors. Simply castrating/spaying a dog will not change ‘who’ they are!

  4. Janeen says:

    Bravo Angry Vet!

    I’ve had sexually intact dogs (male and female) for many years and never had a single litter or breeding. The popular idea that ‘responsible’ owners spay and neuter their dogs has always confused me. As you correctly point out – truly responsible owners don’t need to rely on surgical interventions to control their dogs.

  5. Laura says:

    “In Europe castration is largely considered tantamount to declawing, tail docking and ear cropping.”

    And this is why we in France have a HUGE problem with feral cats and stray dogs. The cat population in many areas has to be routinely culled and the pounds are full of ‘mistakes’. I certainly agree that one should neuter at the best time for the dog if at all possible, but IMO neutering and sterilising dogs and cats not intended for breeding should be always on the cards.

    • Angry Vet says:

      we have HUGE problems here as well despite s/n programs. We need to teach responsibility

      • Laura says:

        Completely AGREE – an added problem here as well is the latin temperament though ! Those Frenchies are a damned sexy bunch!

        • Anne Marie says:

          I live in Italy and I think here it is even worse with the temperament… Our neighbours ‘foster’ stray dogs, meaning they (sometimes) feed them but other than that they don’t do anything with them.
          As a result we see litter after litter of puppies where the father is also the grandfather etc. Every time the bitches are on heat the neighbourhood is dominated by this!

          I only wish I could have all these dogs neutered overnight, as the people here are too stupid to even consider thinking about a fence!

          In theory you are right, Angry Vet.
          In practice it will not work as there are too many stupid people…

          • Lara Croft says:

            The problem you described is not limited to latin Countries….my neighbours in non-latin UK feed the stray cats…..and pigeons…so the rat population snowballed…
            What you are describing is ‘human nature’ not ethnic practice-findings lol
            “.. there are too many stupid people… “>>>you said it!

    • John R. says:

      Yes, some parts of Europe do have major issues with stray dogs and cats. However, in other parts of Europe spaying or neutering is just as uncommon and there are much fewer problems there. If you go to the Scandinavian countries, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, then I do not think that there are more de-sexed dogs. Nevertheless they keep the dog population in check, in part by picking up EVERY stray dog immediately and if no owner is found housing it in a shelter. I have never seen groups of roaming dogs in those countries, not even in the country. It is much frowned upon and not tolerated. Only people who want to be responsible dog/cat owners will have their pet spayed or neutered and this is precisely why this method does not solve the problem.
      We have owned intact dogs without being a breeder (predominantly females) for many years and none has ever had a litter – and I have been accused of irresponsibility for just owning intact dogs by some people. The thing is simple: if all owners of intact females take good care of them during the max. 10-12 days A YEAR they are fertile then there is no problem with overpopulation. Males can father unwanted litters, but that cannot happen if they find no mate.

      • Lara Croft says:

        ABSOLUTELY, thank you for being a caring, understanding, experienced and ‘with your wits about you’ dog owner :-)

  6. Kelsi P says:

    I am hesitant to buy into the spay/neuter “craze” simply because it is pushed by fringe/extremist groups like the HSUS and PETA. It also does not address the personal accountability issue: people who have animals and neglect to care for them, train them, keep them from producing unwanted litters, etc., will continue to do so regardless of what the law or society says. Laws and legislation forcing otherwise responsible pet owners simply makes it more difficult for said responsible pet owners to manage their pets’ health the way they (and their veterinary staff) they see fit. It also creates an atmosphere of critical judgment, i.e., getting dirty looks and snide/rude comments about what a bad pet owner you are because your dog still has his testicles, etc., despite the time and money you’ve spent on obedience training, care and the fact that your dog is displaying perfect manners in public and around others.

    Needless to say, I am grateful to see veterinary professionals such as the ones here vindicating my feeling that I should not be altering my dogs just because all the popular kids are doing it….

    • colliemummy says:

      I totally agree!! I had tia done partly for health reasons for female dogs and also because shep hasn’t been done and trying to keep them separated while we were at work would be awful!! shep is now 5 coming up 6 and still hasn’t been done. he is quite boistrous n suffers typical collie excitement but most of his behavior issues came from not being trained as a puppy until i got him at a yr and a half. he is a bugger when dogs are in heat near us but as mentioned above, as a responsible owner i keep him on lead, they have their offlead time too but in safe controlled areas. its all about being responsible and training properly instead of looking for a quick fix. training shep hasn’t been easy but I’ve done it by myself at home, same as rehabilitating tia myself with no qualifications except common sense. tia never went to a rescue centre first she came to me but with training love and research i managed to turn her right around. Same as shep its been a long process still continuing but its worth every minute!!

  7. Matt says:

    I think it would be worth your while to watch this excellent video by Victoria Stilwell before reaching any conclusions about whether or not to spay or neuter.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6x_DzIxj5iY

  8. Robin C says:

    We lost our previous Great Dane (who was neutered before 6 months of age) to osteosarcoma. After being educated about the problems of early neutering, we chose to wait to neuter our current Great Dane. We were also considering showing him in confirmation, but due to busy schedules, we haven’t done that. So, now that he’s fully grown, is there a benefit to neutering him? All his annoying behaviors that I thought would be taken care of by neutering him have gone away with training and maturity (as our breeder kept telling me they would).

  9. Pam says:

    Is there any health benefits to neutering? I always hear about decreasing cancer.

    • Kathy says:

      I have been reading more studies linking cancer to spayed and neutered dogs vs those left intact.

    • S says:

      There are decreases in the chance for cancer simply because the organ is no longer there to get cancer. So, wouldn’t it make sense then for women to just remove their breasts so as not to get breast cancer??

      • Angry Vet says:

        correct! and neutering DECREASES chances for other cancers like osteosarcoma and hemangioscarcoma…much deadlier tumors

        • Carly smith says:

          Shouldn’t that be INCREASES the risk of hemangio? My breed is very prone to hemangio, I’ve lost two of three Aussies to it. From what I’ve read, neutering will increase that risk. I decided long ago that I’ll never neuter another boy, and the research I’m seeing out there supports my decision.

          As far as pet overpopulation, the problem is the owners, not the presence of reproductive organs.

      • Ellen says:

        Some women do, believe it or not, as prevention against breast cancer if the gene is there and they have several generations of breast cancer in the family.

        • John R. says:

          Yes. But not all female dogs have generations and generations of breast cancer in their families.
          I have had females with mammary gland tumours and those were removed early while still very small and never spread. I make it a habit of checking them regularly during grooming-cuddling. Many of the complications associated with this type of cancer and surgery in humans do not apply to dogs (lymph problems, psychological problems).

    • Angela Pitman says:

      Yes Pam, it prevents testicular cancer….but then again you can’t have cancer in something that isn’t there.
      It also ‘reduces’ the risk of prostate problems.
      18yrs ago I had my Jack Russell Terrier neutered, he became a very anxious boy, spooking at all sorts of things, as I worked through one problem another one would arise, in hindsight, I would never have him neutered.

    • colliemummy says:

      Pam I’ve only heard this referenced to females as they can suffer female cancers

  10. Me says:

    I don’t trust most pet owners to be responsible and prevent mating while waiting for their male to become mentally and physically mature. So for the greater good, I’d avocate early neutering to save lives. Zinc neutering, like mentioned, is a good compromise, isn’t it?

  11. WONDERFUL article! With the reams of pro-spay/neutering garbage being spread around, it’s a true breath of fresh air to read something intelligent on the subject. By the way, Pam, neutering increases the risk of cancer. It does not decrease it. Too much to go into here but the pet overpopulation is a myth and there places in the country with a shortage of dogs. Transportation groups are a whole new business these days. And why, may I ask, is it assumed that every intact dog will reproduce? Females generally go in season twice a year and actually getting pregnant is not as easy as it seems. And as the author says, a gate is a wonderful preventive solution. I am a law-abiding citizen and yet, with so many mandatory spay/neuter laws being passed, I sometimes feel like a criminal. How I treat my dog is no one else’s business, and certainly not the government’s (other than abuse and neglect of course). One other thing, mandatory SN laws have been a complete disaster everywhere that they’ve been passed. Do the research, it’s out there. In closing, I sincerely believe that my 12 year old Irish Setter would not be here today if I had had him neutered. He has beaten intestinal cancer, without chemo, and I am convinced his intact hormones had a lot to do with it. Do NOT do a knee jerk castration/hysterectomy on your dog. You will NOT be doing it any favors. Just the opposite. Thank you so much for writing this article.

  12. Jill says:

    Seriously? They studied 42 dogs! How in the world does anybody consider that a study? I have worked with more male neutered dogs than that study and I have found just the opposite results in almost everything mentioned above. I have found that neutered males are much easier to train than intact males. The neutered males in 99% of the ones I’ve worked with do NOT mark in the house or outside. This study said that neutering does not stop marking outside. Mounting of dogs and people is NOT a sexual behavior but a dominance behavior. I’ve seen female dogs mount other dogs. Yes, a few of the things listed are behavior issues and can be changed through training. However, once a dog starts to mark there is NOTHING you can do to correct that behavior outside. I think that this SMALL study was used to try and uphold a position. Find a larger study please.

    • Angry Vet says:

      problem is there ARENT larger studies. Parvenes study involves over 10,000 dogs is that large enough?

    • Mark Strauss says:

      While you might consider 42 dogs a small study I have seen ones done with as little as 2 be considered adequate. Small studies are good if given an a sufficient range of the targeted material. Once you see what your results are then you can broadened the data base and run it again to see if the larger population supports it. Sometimes the results you expect aren’t what appear. This is how most, if not all, studies are done. Start small and then expand.

    • Ellen says:

      Of course you can correct marking behavior outside by not letting your dog pee on every tree and shrub you pass, and structuring your walk. Any dog free to do whatever it wants on a walk will mark – that’s natural – but we’re supposed to be the leader, remember???

  13. Tonya says:

    I often wonder what pains and other issues the pets experience after surgery. I has a total hysterectomy and have so many side effects from losing my ovaries. HRT is not helping most and now causing other problems. Dogs and cats can’t tell us, my joints ache, I have depression, that lump is related, I have no energy, etc. we can only guess. Over populations and irresponsible pet parents are why I think it is a good idea. Waiting for my nine month old Aussie growth plates to close before spaying.

  14. Avery says:

    Why spay then?

  15. Kathy says:

    As someone who had raised and well- trained (obedience classes) a Golden Retriever, and never allowed him to roam, we loved him for nine years as a family member. We didn’t think neutering was necessary in his case either. But we lost him to testicular cancer after finding a tiny pink discoloration during a routine brushing; I had him neutered within the week, but the cancer had already spread and he was gone within 3 months. I always advocate neutering to my family and friends; you think these things won’t happen to you, but they do!

    • Angry Vet says:

      If the dog is having proper examintions yearly it is EXTREMELY rare to have aggressive testicular cancer. If palpated and removed early they are cured in almost all cases. However proper palpation and exams are a must! Don’t want to sound insensitive however and I am sorry for your loss

  16. Cheryl says:

    THANK YOU !! I have this fight with owners and their new puppies MANY times, because I don’t want to males to be neutered young. If you don’t want male behaviors then don’t get a male, if you can’t control you dog and keep him home then you don’t need a dog. It is likely to get stolen, hit by a car, picked up by the pound and many other problems. Over population is a HUMAN problem – NOT a dog problem. If we kept our males and females safe while they are able to be bred, then “accidental” breeding’s would not happen. In 20 years of breeding, I have NEVER had an accidental breeding.
    JMO, and appreciate reading your view. I did have a male get testicular cancer at 11 1/2 – we got him neutered then – it did not affect his life span at all. Actually the vet that did the surgery said testicular cancer rarely metathesizes !

  17. Debbie says:

    I am a breeder of Rottweilers & Labradors and have been breeding since 1998.

    I am completely 100% in agreement of not neutering or spaying your puppies at such a young age. I believe that is does alter the growth of the puppy to it’s fullest potential. Approximately 8 years ago, I had 2 male litter mates (Rottweilers) at my house for boarding, one of the clients neutered their male at 6 months of age and the other client neutered at 28 months and I could not get over the difference in the size between the 2 brothers, the male that was neutered at 6 months never developed correctly, his head was small, chest never filled out, his body was lanky, the other male’s head was fully developed, his chest was in proportion along with the rest of his body.

    Ever since then I have that written into my puppy contract that the “BUYER agrees not to have their dog neutered or spayed until the dog physically matures, preferably by the age of 18-24 months of age”.

    People need to put the time and effort into training & socializing their puppies the first year of it’s life. If you give your dog a good foundation, there should not be any issues.

  18. Peter Goslett says:

    I agree that it may not always be a good thing to castrate or spay a dog. However, there may be times when it is better to do so, and the prime example of that is when you do not want to pass along a trait that should not be replicated. We have an absolutely wonderful German Sheherd Dog, who is five years old, and whom we would love to have progeny from. However, he also suffers from EPI [Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency.] Nobody knows why this condition occurs, and until it becomes known, everyone with whom we have spoken agrees that it is better for dogs with this condition not to be bred.
    I also strongly agree that not dog should be neutered until about 18 months of age, when they have completed their development as hormonal insufficiencies could drastically harm the dog.

    • Leosrme says:

      One should never neuter or spay a giant or large breed dog before the age of 14 months to 2 years. There lies madness and problems in the future. Sadly, rescue organisations continue to neuter and spay puppies as young as 10 weeks, regardless of whether they are large or not. As someone who is a giant breed person, this concerns me greatly. Large or giant breed dogs are significantly more likely to develop certain cancers, osteosarcoma being one of them (and in my view one of the nastiest), if neutered too young according to research that I have read.

      Though there may be lots of responsible dog owners out there – there are also probably an equal number of irresponsible dog owners who let their in tact dogs wander at will, don’t have a proper fenced yard, or think that it would “be fun to let their dog have some puppies because they are cute.” In my experience, in tact males often end up in fights with other in tact males or indeed with neutered males. The in tact males often don’t get on (on meeting out on a walk or at the dog park) and neutered males often don’t like them either. Females often have a problem with in tact males whether the females are spayed or not. In tact males DO mark in the house and that’s a fact.

      Speaking as someone who works with dogs as a trainer and who also boards them in my home, I do not board in tact males or un spayed females. I ALWAYS recommend to clients that they neuter and spay their dogs if they do not wish to breed from them. There are too many dogs in shelters and too many dogs euthanised every year due to owners not taking responsiblity and neutering and spaying.

  19. Estevan says:

    Personally, why are you only speaking of male dogs? Why not make a case for not spaying as well? Why? Because you are a male. You can justify ANY behavior that threatens your male parts on the chopping block with ill-researched articles. There are MANY articles that support BOTH points of view, spay/neuter. The reason for both sides being supported by research is that big business has PAID FOR THE RESEARCH to find things that support their pockets, and simply keep people anesthetized.

    If you were Honest, the question is really regarding over population, lack of funds in poor communities to do what is right for the being that they want in their lives, and medical care over the long life of the pet. So, who PAYS for those unwanted pregnancies? Usually the female’s owner. It takes TWO halves to make more babies. Why are you placing all the responsibility on the female’s owner? Why? Because that is what this culture does to females. Why are you, as a supposed ‘vet’ promoting the dominance of an un-neutered male? Is it really okay with you, as a supposed ‘vet’ to have an irresponsible ‘father’ walking around humping on every female he sees? You probably chuckle as your un-adjusted dog humps your lady friends’ legs. I question your ethics, where you went to school and your actual ‘vet’-hood.

    • Angry Vet says:

      I went to school at Cornell …is that good enough for you? Where did you go? If you read the site you would undestand where we stand on spaying. This was one general post about neutering. There will be others on spaying….it is simply a different topic and can’t all be summarized in a single article. The general principles however are the SAME there are just more potential complications and pros and cons to discuss

  20. Kimberlyn says:

    A few questions then, when is it ok to neuter/spay a dog, and why do fixed dogs seem to have issues with in-tact males? What about day care places, they say your dog has to be neutered/spayed if they are to stay there for boarding/day camp? :)

  21. Luvabull says:

    What about reality? Although I don’t dispute the validity that may exist in your position, it won’t work in our world. In theory, yes. But as a dog trainer and owner of a large commercial boarding kennel and breeder, I can tell u that there most definitely is a difference between neutered and in tact dogs. For one…they r highly destructive! They only want to escape and they are more generally aggressive towards the other dogs. There is always the exception to the rule but this is the pattern that I have witnessed. Even if there wasn’t a difference, to think that the general population of dog owners are going to be studious in controlling and managing and training their in tact dogs is dilusional thinking. When the vast majority of dog owners can’t even walk their dogs without having their arms pulled from the sockets, it seems ludicroua to think they will be able to Manage an in tact dog I’m not inferring ur delusional. I’m just saying that there’s a perfect world and reality. Sadly, our is not one in the same.

    • Mark Strauss says:

      If I’m reading the post correctly, you are advocating spaying and neutering simply because the owners are irresponsible? It’s not the animal’s fault. Perhaps we should be spaying/neutering the owners since they seem to be the cause of the problem.

  22. Lisa says:

    I expect your readers to mostly be responsible dog owners but there are, simply, too many unwanted dogs. Even owners who are given free vouchers to have their dogs desexed, for various reasons, don’t do it. Also there is trsticular cancer and pyometra to cause serious worries.

  23. Jana says:

    Dear Sirs:

    I have read your article Neutering and Behavior and I find it very interesting. I my opinion, similar information is missing in the cynological literature in my native language, which is the Czech. I would like to ask you for your permission to translate and publish it on my private web. I would really apreciate very much your consent as I am sure the article could shed the light on the topic of neutering for those who are considering to neuter their males. Thank you, Jana

  24. Kim says:

    I have had quite a few unaltered males and I also worked at a boarding facility where dogs must be spayed/neutered. Out of all my males only one has ever been same sex dog aggressive and aside from that I have never had any issues. My dogs are better behaved than 99% of those neutered males at the boarding facility. None of them have ever been destructive, I have never had an issue with indoor marking but have seen it time and time again with the neutered dogs at the boarding facility, I have never had a male try to hump a human or a female dog that was not in heat but I saw that all the time with the neutered boarding dogs, and my dogs have always been more in control than the dogs at the boarding facility. My males have never had any training, and they have never been in any classes. I used to get my dogs spayed/neutered but after losing a dog I started to really research spaying/neutering and I will never do it again. Yes spaying/neutering eliminates testicular and mamary cancer but it increases the rist of many other cancers as well as other diseases. The only reason to spay/neuter is to control the population of dogs but as stated above, if you can’t control your dog from wandering and/or breeding then maybe you should not have one.

    • Luvabull says:

      Kim, remember Tiger, GSD, in tact that always wanted to kill other dogs. Or baron, in tact, who jumped me and Rachel and his owner and all her viaitora endlessly every time we entered his run. Remember chewie, in tact, who marked absolutely everything. The chocolate lab, female in tact, who broke out of two kennel runs and ate through my chain link fence because she was in heat? Maybe u have forgotten? The list goes on and this does not include the examples since u left. I personally don’t disagree with leaving dogs intact. But I do not believe that enough study has been done to irrevocably state with absolute certainty that desexing or leaving dogs in tact is the core reason/cause for agression/marking/etc. Personally, I believe it has to do with the quality if the dog’s pack leader (u r amazing) as well as training. U don’t so any for
      Al training but ur sog’s know the rules and have been trained to behave appropriately. Look at my desexed dogs. They r no better or worse behaved than my intact dogs. Like most issues regarding behaviors, I fully believe the people are the issue. The study in question has far more merit, at this point, with regard to health and growth issues. Jmo.

      • Kim says:

        Sure I remember all those dogs but the altered dogs with behaviour problems far outnumber them, or do they not count? Pagett, Killer & Godzilla, Cash, those 2 chi’s that constantly mark and mount everything in sight, the Border Collie that destroyed the kennel every time it rained, Gucci, the Sharpei that no one could get near but me because of how human aggressive he is I think his name is Max, Sasha the Cocker Spaniel, then numerous chocolate labs that are absolutely insane, this list of altered dogs with issues is endless. I do not think neutering a dog will make him have behaviour issues, but it won’t solve any behaviour issues either which is evident in all the dogs you see daily. Like you said, the people are the issue in the majority of behaviour issues. IMO it is the health risks associated with spaying/neutering that is the problem.

  25. Jackie Toth says:

    The other down-fall of early neutering is that a dog’s head is the last part of his body to mature, this process can take up to two years. Early neutering does not allow the head to fully develop and the dog’s head will reach a certain point and stop growing, giving the look of a feminine head on a male body. Compare an adult male show dog to his get that were neutered early, the difference is stunning.

    • txchick57 says:

      Same thing with a cat. I love a cat with a fully formed head with the big cheeks. They try to neuter cats at 8 weeks old! I got into a fight to the death with one rescue group trying to stop them from neutering a cat I adopted until he was at least fully grown. I won.

  26. Art says:

    It seems to me that even though the study you base your thesis on is small and an argument could be made against its statistical relevance, its results don’t support your argument. 80-90%, 67% and even 50% represent significant change of behavior statistically speaking. It is a better discussion to have as to when, not if, a dog is neutered. Especially, when you factor in that those people buying dogs from responsible breeders are contractually obligated to neuter if they are buying a dog as a pet not intended for showing or breeding.

  27. Karen says:

    My male GSD has only one testicle. I don’t want to neuter him any time soon. Is that ok?

  28. This was a great read, thank you. I was severely beaten down into neutering my last GSD, by so many. I finally succumbed and did it at 14 months, but always regretted it. I ended up doing so because he was my Service dog, and they’re “supposed to” be altered. It like a “rule” that nobody questions. I’m in a wheelchair, and most of the arguments are the dog will get big, will become aggressive, and how will I handle that. He died in August of hemangiosarcoma, and it broke my heart. I have a new 11 week old GSD puppy from working lines, that I will NOT be badgered into neutering. Though already I’m hearing the same old arguments. If I can handle a high drive large male dog from working lines, I really don’t think testosterone is going to be an impediment!

  29. sara matters says:

    Haven’t read all the comments, but would love to read your analysis of spaying. Early neutering and spaying has been bothering me for some time.

  30. Elizabeth says:

    Dear Dr. Rob,
    So I’m trying to keep an open mind here, but in your article you aren’t really addressing the issue of sperm. You have many many comments and I skimmed through quite a few of them, but I didn’t see this addressed from beyond a behavioral management. I would hardly expect the average trained dog to do a basic sit-stay for more than 15 seconds while a bitch in heat is around. (Many commenters sited their experience as working with service dogs, breeders, people who work for a living with dogs etc – and I don’t feel that these people should be compared to the owner of the average family dog). Are you evaluating each client who comes to you as an individual? Would you expect the same level of training from one of your service dog training clients as the client who got a puppy for his son/daughter and the extent of training will be a 8-12 week puppy class? Since this behavioral influence is based on testosterone, are you offering chemical castration?
    Lets just say one of these somewhat average trained unneutered dogs was a little naughty and impregnated their neighbors new bitch puppy (lets say the girl was 6 mo – it happens – I wouldn’t say the neighbor was irresponsible for waiting that long to get her spayed, or if the neighbor bought a breeding quality female) Anyways, hypothetically, would you do a c-section for free if she had a dystocia? Legally you may loose that case if you decided not to, its not specified, but I think it would fall under a tort law, in a similar situation to a negligence – you have the obligation of due diligence, meaning you have to know what owners of male dogs will be willing to build fences their dogs can’t escape from, and train their dogs well enough. This leads to a vicarious liability on your part, since the owner would have otherwise had their dog neutered, and under your advice they didn’t.
    So in conclusion, how do you evaluate and determine which clients are good candidates for electing not to have a surgical castration? Can you share thoughts on chemical castration?
    Sincerely,
    Elizabeth

    • Angry Vet says:

      Basically it is on a case by case basis. I don’t really concern myself with legal ramifications of not neutering…got other things to worry about in life! Yes I do offer chemical castration as well. I wrote another blog on it if you go back and look. There were plenty of times incidentall that I have seen dogs trained intentionally with bitches in heat present and they performed well

  31. Janet says:

    Dear Sir; I totally agree with you the issues with intact male dogs or inact males of any mamal (horses) is between the ears not between the legs. Being intact can amplify the isuses but can be managed thru training, and being always aware and responsible for the enviroment your dog is in. Any mamal benifits from early growth intact both physically & mentally. Thank you for your article.

  32. Brigitte says:

    Great article! And what about vasectomy? Doesn’t that offer the best of both worlds? Leaves the hormones intact while rendering the dog sterile.

  33. Bee says:

    Ok, so this begs the questions: What do we do about the pet population problem? and two; Isn’t it unhealthy and cruel to not let them mate if they are not altered?

    • Bee says:

      P.S. I’m a dog trainer and rescuer so my work depends on having confidence in my decisions if I am to promote these ideas. I’ve always said they should put birth control in the food or something. Mutilation is cruel no matter what the reason, spay/neuter has just become the lesser of two evils.

    • Angry Vet says:

      I don’t argue that population control is not a problem …IT IS. I hope that people as a result of reading these posts will consider the following…delaying spaying until maturity (after one or two heats) and being responsible pet owners while the females are intact and for the males not neutering but being responsible pet owners and watching that they don’t breed unwanted OR at least delaying neutering until there is a problem or they reach maturation. Also Zinc neutering needs to be adopted at shelters which will address overpopulation but will not remove all of the dogs needed sex hormones. Just some thoughts…

  34. margaret kuebler says:

    Is this the appropriate article/post under which to ask the same question regarding the neutering of male cats? We always wait until they are past sexual maturity, e.g., over a year in age and beginning to display interest in the opposite gender. My experience has been that a male cat with any outdoor privileges at all will get into one fight after another if left unneutered. The cat will have to be treated for abscesses every other month or so. Do you also not recommend neutering a male cat after sexual maturity? Regarding female cats: Living with one which goes into season is next to impossible, and unspayed adult cats seem to cycle every two weeks or so. What is your opinion with them?

    • Angry Vet says:

      I am sure that not neutering male cats is healthier buttttt….who the heck wants to live with a spraying cat with horrible smelling urine…That’s the rub.
      Female cats I just don’t think that there is any data out there but the risk of mammary cancer is really a concern with keeping them intact.

      • Rescue Lady says:

        Have you not ever noticed that nasty male dog smell that intact males produce when they mark and that causes their penis and the hair on their legs and belly to reek when they get urine there? All my intact rescue males wear diapers (belly bands) inside the house. Once they pee on something it takes days to get that smell to go away no matter what I use. Why is it okay to castrate male cats to make humans more comfortable but somehow wrong if it is a dog (I rescue cats and dogs, adult males of both species have nasty smelling pee)? I’m sure some people think their dog’s pee doesn’t smell but they probably are just used to the odor. Our sense of smell is supposed to do that if we are around the same smell for a period of time.

        In your world, perhaps leaving intact animals would work but in my town tying out your dog is sufficient. A fence is not required. Owners tie out intact animals (females are bred, males end up aggressive or attacked by other dogs that get loose), ties out get broken regularly, the females have endless puppies that I may end up picking up out of ditches in blizzards or scraped off my lane after being dumped there and run over, all because they do not want to castrate their males and ruin them or take away their fun (my own brother finally had to castrate his shepherd/chow after his testicles froze to the ground one winter). This is not a perfect world. You can’t run it as if people acted responsibly, they don’t. Look at the numbers of animals killed in shelters every day. You cannot legislate responsible behavior. All my rescues are altered before placement, not because I think it will affect behavior, not because I think it is healthier or safer or even the very best thing for every dog but just to be absolutely 100% sure no more babies.

  35. Irene Sysak says:

    Dear Angry Vet,

    What are your thoughts on spaying female puppies? My vet had urged me to do it as soon as possible to prevent future “dangerous” infections of the uterus and that it’s the responsible thing for owners to do to prevent overpopulation, etc. But since my puppy is a toy breed living in the city, she would never wander around outside unattended anyway. Will her health be adversely affected in any way due to spaying? Thanks for your reply.

  36. Janet says:

    Thank you for your article I firmly believe that the problem is between the ears NOT between the legs however being intact can amplify the reactions being neuterd does NOT totally govern the reaction. Responsible owners do…!!!!!!

  37. Janet says:

    Hey WOW what about the vasectomery would that serve all concerns?? Janet

  38. Tracy says:

    I think the difference in opinion comes from people’s different experiences. Shelter/ rescue people see the horror of abuse and neglect and neuter seems like a viable option to decrease the occurances. I myself have a boarding and daycare facility and myself and other daycare facilities in our area are contemplating mandatory neutering after 1 yr. I have read some studies understand the concepts but I am being persuaded by my experiences. ALL my inter male aggression are because of the presence of an intact male. Not necessarily STARTED by the intact male, but the presence. Most problems are caused by middle management or adolescent males neutered and unaltered. I believe that most behavior issues that are supposed to be corrected by neutering can be trained out as well but perhaps that had to be emphasized to the new puppy owner. More than just sit stay and shake a paw. The reality of it is people may not have the time or skill set to take on the additional training required.

  39. Lorraine says:

    http://www.whole-dog-journal.com/issues/3_6/features/5105-1.html

    http://www.stca.biz/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=583:the-pros-and-cons-of-early-spaying-or-neutering&catid=322:reproduction-birthing-and-neonatal-care&Itemid=100

    Difficult to know who to believe! Studies seem to be available to support whatever opinion one might feel like holding but as far as my own experience is concerned every intact female I’ve owned has developed mammary tumours.

    • Angry Vet says:

      True – no easy answers for sure. That’s the whole point of this site. I can tell you that I’ve seen many intact older female dogs that never developed any mammary cancer or pyometra – but some have.

  40. Miki says:

    So I did neuter my male border terrier at 6 months, completely ignorant to anything mentioned in this article. Now at 1.5y I am experiencing issues with anxiety and aggression to other dogs, both fear based… Experts I speak with suggest the early neutering might be the problem and he was and is lacking sex hormones etc. my question is what, if anything, can I do now? One breeder suggested supplementation with a hormone?? But I don’t know if this is actually possible?

    • Angry Vet says:

      I wouldn’t supplement with hormones as there is NO proof that that is the cause of the behavior problems. I would suggest having your vet refer you to a veterinary behaviorist

  41. Kai says:

    I have a 7 1/2 month old male husky, who we haven’t decided whether or not to get neutered..I know you don’t recommend neutering him, but (hypothetically speaking) if we were to get him neutered, is 8/9 months still too young?

    He sometimes challenges our authority on walks when he is told not to do something (i.e stop pulling, or come on etc) by jumping up at us and mouthing at our hands/arms and pulling on the lead…and tends to do this more with females than males…we feel that he’s trying to assert his dominance over us, and have been advised that neutering him *may* stop this behaviour…which is why we are considering it.

    Also he recently attacking another younger (4 month) old puppy (also a husky) when on a walk. He has met this puppy before and been fine and has never been aggressive with another dog before (although he can be overly boisterous)…this puppy was also the first intact male dog he has met, so we were wondering if there may be a connection between them not being neutered and the agressiveness?

  42. Deviedra says:

    My family have, in the past, owned 9 dogs. All were either neutered or spayed over the age of 4 (when the majority are adults mentally), except our Jack Russell who was spayed at the age of 3. All of the dogs, other than the Jack Russell who unfortunately died of cancer, lived to be over the age of 17, the oldest reaching 24 in human years (but he sadly passed two years ago after experiencing some form of heart attack or stroke that caused paralysis). My great Aunt, however, had 3 unspayed bitches who all developed health problems from frequent phantom pregnancies to cancerous lumps in their teats, and all of them passed away before reaching the age of 12. We have not had any problems with neutered or spayed dogs (except the most recent edition), be they behavioural or general health, and only 3 of the 9 dogs were actually trained or corrected. The others followed the example of the trained dogs or had been trained before they came to live with us. However, we recently took on a dog who was neutered before her first heat and she has dog aggression with dogs outside of the house, which I am persistently trying to correct. The main reason for some of the alterations was that we did not want them for breeding purposes and could not monitor them 24/7 to ensure mating would not occur, nor did we have the space to separate them all when the females were in heat. The fact that my Aunt’s dogs experienced so many health problems, and the age they died, were also contributing factors.

    I believe that dogs should be neutered or spayed over a certain age, especially if 1.) they are not being used for breeding purposes as it can sometimes cause sexual frustration and depression (which was a frequent occurrence with 2 of our male dogs before they were neutered), 2.) the owner cannot put the time nor effort into keeping their dog under control and the owner allows them free roam of parks, streets etc. 3.) if they are at risk of cancers which are hereditary and can be prevented by neutering/spaying (providing you know of the parent’s medical history). I agree that dogs should not be altered simply as behaviour control because it alone does not work. Dogs need boundaries, mental stimuli, exercise, they must always respect their owners as the leader (or Alpha, if you believe in pack mentality in dogs) and they must not be spoiled excessively (feeding them from your plate, letting them sleep in your bed, constantly feeding them treats without having them work for them, letting them on furniture etc.).

  43. Tanzi says:

    I noticed you cited one Hart study, what about this one?

    http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9227747

  44. Andrea says:

    I think that before considering neutering we should first “follow the money”. Who profits from neutering dogs? First, the vets: the student debt for vets is huge and neutering is costly, so they can pay off their debt if they neuter more dogs. By neutering early, dogs might develop more health problems, so owners go to the vet more often (more money). Second, the food manufacturers who sell prescription diets (to feed during the recovery after surgery) and those who sell weight management food/ food for neutered dogs (to feed during dog’s life), which are almost 40% more expensive than regular dog food with almost the same ingredients. Third, the drug producers, because dogs will need anesthesia before surgery and pain killers afterwards. Fourth, the producers of surgical equipment (gloves, instruments, disinfectants etc.) because more surgeries will mean more income. Fifth, the breeders, because there will be fewer dogs available, so they can raise their prices and a puppy will cost more to buy.
    I think that female dog owners who anticipate they can’t find good homes for the puppies can consider spaying. Male dog owners whose dogs have testicular problems can consider neutering, if no other option is available to cure the dog’s illness.
    I think that male dog owners can buy a dog repellent to solve the territory marking in the house. And for other behavior problems, a basic obedience class might be better than neutering.
    If neutering was good for something, nature would have regulated the process in the millions of years of dogs evolution on earth; some dogs considered fit might have had sexual organs at birth and others not. Neutering is a man made intervention like air pollution and water pollution.

  45. matthew says:

    I live on ten fenced acres in northern nevada and there isnt another dog around for miles and miles my current german shepherd LD is getting up there in years (12) and id like to get another to help chase off coyotes and bobcats but all the breeders are requiring a contract saying I agree to nueter the pup. Is there any way around this do they actually follow up to make sure.
    I need the agressiveness and traits of an intact male to do his job I also find that nuetered males are more puppy like and overly freindly

  46. Mark says:

    Why just talk about male dogs? What about female dogs? Should the be spayed?

  47. dee says:

    angry vet, are you a licensed vet? the thought of spaying my baby makes me uneasy for some reason. i’m responsible, i’ll diaper her if i have to during heat. the only reason i’d do this is if it’s TRULY a health benefit, but from what i read it goes both ways. good and bad?

  48. Jane Carol says:

    Hi Dr. Foley

    Thank you sincerely for the work you do , as well as your excellent blog which gets information out to the public. My own eyes have been opened to the risks of neutering large breed male dogs. Osteosarcoma is a horrible disease . Too many people go by tradition and habit rather than the results of honest scientific inquiry about largely scientific matters. It’s nice to see that you look to the findings of genuine scientists since this issue is largely well within the scope of science.

    I also acknowledge the art part of medicine. :)

    Best wishes,

    Jane

  49. I read this paragraph fully concerning the resemblance of latest and
    preceding technologies, it’s awesome article.

  50. Kitty says:

    I fully agree on this, i’ve been training for over 5 years now…and I’ve always said alot of what was said above. My dogs do not get fixed unless needed. Female dogs only go in heat twice a year, making it so just 6 weeks out of the yera you can’t let your dog offleash or near unaltered males. there is alot of behaviours from spaying females that are caused.
    The females (the most common from what I’ve seen) will start to urinate in the house after spaying, no matter how often you bring them outside, They will pee inside. They will also eat feces, or run away. A un-spayed female will run away during heats.. but she usually stays around otherwise (depending on breed)
    Truly I do believe people should wait til the dog is 2 years old before fixing if they have to fix. I’ve had enough un-altered males, to know alot about how they are. same with females. really the shelters are stupid on how they believe fixing at 8 weeks is a good thing.

  51. Mary Starling says:

    Until now we have all been relying on this:http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongTermHealthEffectsOfSpayNeuterInDogs.pdf by Laura Sanborn. Its great, but too meaty for most. Fabulous to see this contribution. Do you do titre testing for core vaccines too? :-) Great to see progressive veterinary blogging, please keep it up!

  52. Natalia says:

    Thank you so much for this post!
    It’s hard to find some opinions against neutering and real pros and cons.
    I have a bitch and am considering spaying her solely for health reasons but it got me thinking, are they really that great?
    Because I really don’t mind avoiding her near males during heat season or having herds of dogs follow us.
    I know that vets are vets because they love animals and wish to help them but I also know it’s a business and they need to make money so they perform surgeries such as declawing cats (just why would you have a cat to ban it from its own claws?) or the way they also cut dogs’ vocal cords so they’re not “annoying” because of their barking (WTH?)
    Because I’ve been considering neutering my bitch solely for health reasons I’m trying to look for a real balanced argument and see whether or not those benefits are that great and if it’s truly worth it. Could you please write a post about spaying bitches?
    Thank you so much!

  53. Marsha says:

    My German Shepherd is 16 months old. He has cryptorchidism. I have read that he could have serious health issues, specifically cancer, if he is not neutered. Is that true? We are continuing to research this and would greatly appreciate your advice. The idea of that bothers us somewhat ethically, however his health and happiness are most important. Any feedback you have for us would be helpful. THANKS!

  54. Stephanie says:

    I just scheduled my 2.5yr old male border collie mix’s surgery for early next month. I’ve had him since he was 5 weeks old (“rescued” him from a puppy mill in Missouri) and I’ve been avoiding this since day 1. My vet in Missouri wanted to neuter him at an early age and I kept saying no. But now… I don’t know. I feel horrible doing this to him but I just cannot handle the thought of him getting cancer. He’s my whole world and I want to keep him healthy and happy. I’m totally freaking out about getting him “fixed.” His vet and other people keep telling me that having this done will help with his fear/aggression toward male dogs. And that it will lower his risk of cancer. And that it will help when I start socializing him. (Long story short – I have a terrible ex-husband that didn’t allow us to have friends so my dog never dog socialized.)

    We don’t have a big problem with marking in the house. Even though we moved a lot and lived in pet friendly rental property he only marked in one house and it was after we were homeless for a few months. He was confused and trying to readapt to having a real home. Otherwise he has been housebroken since day 1, with only 1 accident, and that 1 accident was my fault. In the yard he is usually off leash, and he comes when I call him, and if not then he responds to our “emergency recall” word. He has never been fenced or leashed until recentl and he has never run away. He did try to chase a dog away from our yard once but he came back when the stray crossed the street to the other side away from our house.

    I guess I’m trying to give you enough background info to ask you: did I do the right thing by waiting until he was 2+ to neuter him?

  55. nathalie says:

    My uncle has 3male dogs between the ages of 7 and 11.. The pompek is about 8 and he is the pack leader between the other two dogs. However he seems to instigate all the fights with the other big dogs. The vet suggested castration he went ahead with it. Its been two days since the procedure has been done and he’s not himself not as active as before I think he’s depressed is there anything to help him back into the way he use to be before??

  56. marsha says:

    My unaltered 4-year-old border collie is a very friendly and super happy fellow, but he has an independent mind all his own and doesn’t really like to listen to me (or anyone). He doesn’t hump people, but did drop out of sheep herding class because he became amorous with the sheep – the shepherd said he never saw such a thing before! Other than that, him being unaltered is not too much of a problem. He rarely marks indoors. He never EVER tries to wander or run away from home, in fact, he has the opposite problem; he is a clinger and dislikes being alone outdoors without me (often appearing to have panic attacks) and will just sulk or scratch at the back door. However, he goes into obsessive “sniffing frenzies” and has to smell every thing he sees in public and gets so excited that his teeth start to chatter. He does this everywhere and it is getting very annoying. In dog obedience class he’s only interested in looking around at other dogs, so he can smell them or play. This is the only reason I’m now considering neutering him – but is it a good enough reason? I know some of his problems are the breed, with the border collies strange obsessions. On the other hand, maybe he’d have a better life if neutered, as I have to limit his social activities with other dogs due to his annoying love of aggressive sniffing. I know all dogs sniff at other dogs, but his is extreme and he loses all his manners. Again, he was never a particularly obedient dog, even though I’ve raised other (neutered) champions and therapy dogs – this one is sort of just a goof ball. On the other hand, I like his calm confidence and friendliness towards all, but he is my first unaltered dog. Can anyone tell me if some of these problems is related to him being unaltered, or just undisciplined? I tried to do a lot with him and took him to basic obedience 6 times. Even the trainers didn’t know what to do with him, he just wants to play and have a good time – a border collie who can’t find his life’s work. Would neutering help him?

    • Liz Smith says:

      Marsha, I do not believe neutering will fix his behavior of incessant sniffing and greeting other dogs while out in public. Unless these bad habits are sexual, it is highly unlikely neutering is a solution. I used to have an issue with my husky wanting to play with other dogs and stopping to “smell the roses” on our walks, but with daily training you can correct this behavior. Try to help your dog discern the difference between being on a leash and play time. If your dog is on the leash, do not allow him to even look at other dogs or people, because you want him to focus on you and you alone. It’s a pain at first, but once you are consistent he will get it. Sometimes you’ll have to turn him around to face the other way. When you’re dog stops or slows down to smell or mark, just walk faster to make him keep up with you, and if he speeds up your pace and “pulls” then slow down and make him follow you. Call his name and encourage him to come, and if he’s a clinger he’ll gladly follow. If your dog is off the leash and in a secure area, then let him play and greet people. The leash is a sign that he is in “work” mode, which is great for working dogs like yours. Think of it as a mission, and eventually you both will be able to enjoy your walk without the hassle.

  57. Vicki W says:

    Hi angry vet,

    I am a BSc student in England doing my dissertation on the procedure of castration reducing the lifespan on dogs. Ultimately I hope to educate as many people as possible with my paper, and would appreciate any help that you could supply in regards to previous research and statistics, or use of any correspondence with yourself so that I can back up any claims in regards to the topic.

    Kind regards

    Vicki

  58. Katherine says:

    Because over population is a horrible reason to spay and neuter your animals! Let’s promote not getting our pets sterilized so that there may be more accidents and possibilities of one getting out for even a moment so that the shelters can kill more, the hoarders can endanger more, the fighters and feeders and use more as bait…..

    Where I agree that spay/neuter should not be done for behavioral reasons necessarily, (although I have seen a great number of animals that changed 100% for the better after a surgery), the main focus should be to prevent even more over population and unwanted litters.

  59. Julie says:

    Given that 5000+ dogs a day are killed in shelters in this country, I think advocating against sterilization is irresponsible. Many things have to change in order for the killing to stop, and one of those things is the prevention of accidental litters. You may be able to control your intact dogs, but all it takes is 1 person who can’t. That dog finds his way to your female in heat and there you go. Determined intact males can and will jump and scale fences when they smell a female in heat.

    That said, I am totally on board with waiting until the dog has matured. It is a risk / reward assessment, and if waiting until the dog is 1 – 2 years of age greatly decreases health risks then that is important to consider. I also am a strong advocate for zinc neutering. The male dog will still be in search of the female in heat, but no litter will result. And I know many men who refuse to neuter a dog, but when I explain zinc neutering they are ok with it. That alone makes me love this procedure, as more people will be WILLING to alter their male dogs. If only there were a simpler procedure for female dogs…

    I think the one thing that I have only seen mentioned once in this post that does bother me a bit is the idea that when we leave a male dog intact, but do not allow him access to females as the means of preventing unwanted litters, that must be frustrating. Can you imagine never being allowed to have sex, even when your hormones are telling you go go GO! Neutering is the only answer for that.

    All of my dogs have been rescues, and all have been altered. I honestly don’t believe this had any negative impact on them. The youngest was 8 months old, and he didn’t even seem to notice a difference. I noticed no change in his personality, either. The 2 dogs that have passed on lived to 13 and 14. They lived good lives.

    So much has to change to end the killing of innocent animals, I think until the problem has been resolved we need to do everything we can to lower the numbers, including spay and neuter.

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  62. Liz Smith says:

    Thank you so much for presenting this information online! I feel I am alone with the belief that neutering is not the true solution to any behavioral problems. Most encounters I have, because my male husky is not neutered, is that he will become aggressive, will mark the house, will wander, and become uncontrollable. He is already past a year and has not been aggressive, doesn’t mark the house, and is well-trained. Wandering is a joke- being a responsible owner is making sure your dog is safe IN YOUR YARD and not wandering. Neutering is a lazy excuse for owners to not take take responsibility and try to fix the issues with training and exercise. I take my dog for runs, walks, and disc golfing and always comes when called. If I didn’t work with him daily or give him enough exercise, then perhaps he would be prone to such bad behaviors. No one ever checks the pros vs. cons of neutering, they just blindly believe what others tell them. I refuse to put my dog in surgery if it isn’t necessary, especially when the cons far outweigh the pros in my opinion.

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  64. kurt says:

    why would a full grown adult unneutered male dog try to mate a full grown adult female spayed dog?

  65. queenofkings says:

    What about families with male and female dogs living together? How would we live as a family unit and still be “responsible” owners of intact dogs? Should a multi – dog household have only same sex pairings? Perhaps it would be simpler than I imagine to avoid an unintentional litter. I’d like to know your experience or opinions on this.

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  72. heather says:

    I am against neutering male dogs. I had no say in it when my husband chose to do it. He thought that Joey would stop getting attacked & growled at & would be able to play with the dogs at the park like he did as a puppy. Not so. After the surgery, he became aggressive toward other dogs. He has become the instigator. We have to now keep him far away from other dogs on walks.
    He is now terrified of fireworks, sudden movements, loud noises, etc.
    He is showing signs of dominant behavior with us! And almost seems to be reverting back to pre-training.
    This is all after neutering. Nothing good came of it. I regret what we did & now this is the dog we have.

    • Ellen says:

      Please seek out a professional who can help you get back on track to that relationship. You can look on the IACP website canineprofessionals.com in their search option.

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      • annon says:

        I have an extremely insecure rescued St. Bernard (14 months old) that I got at 8 weeks old. He was badly picked on as a pup as he was put in with 3 month old pups that terrorized him before the “breeder” separated them. When I got him he was covered in scabs and only 6 lbs at 8 weeks! I almost booked an appointment for neutering, since I held off so long I thought it was time. I left him intact this long as I thought the testosterone would help him with confidence (just my gut feeling, no research was done, till today!). He still has issues, but is very well trained so we get through tough times (have him trained to give me his attention when passing people and dogs on walks). Thinking maybe it was time to neuter, after reading your article i am thinking that it would zap any confidence he has gained over the last couple months via lots of training. I am holding off on the appointment. Thank you.

  75. Chris LaCoste says:

    I have a 5yrs old male schnauzer. I have had sent he was a puppy. My dog does NOT try to run out or get out of the yard. He listen and mine very will and love to play with everyone. I’m 55yrs old and have been a dog owner all my life. He did have a kidded stone 2 months ago. My wife and our Vet keeps asking to cut him. It will help him form getting more stone or pass the next one ez. I want to help him, but I hate that it may change him at the same.

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  1. [...] info on Neutering…. Interesting article: Neutering and Behavior | Angry Vet Jen and ~ Hudler, Maddy, Grace, Jack, Jed and Grizz! Reply With [...]

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  3. [...] Neutering and Behaviour from the Angry Vet. This entry was posted in Dog Breeding, Dogs and Politics and tagged aggression, breeding, D&CMB, dog, dog and cat management board, dog bite prevention, dog bites, dog breeding, dogs, government, laws, legislation, proposal, temperament, temperament testing, temperament tests on February 7, 2013 by Leema. [...]

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