Posted by: Jessica | March 31, 2011


I read this great and snarky article regarding intact dogs thanks to my friend Courtney. I still haven’t decided if we’ll neuter Reed, but mostly leaning towards no. When I got him I knew we would not even be making that decision until after he turned 2, and he’s not there yet. He’s still not fully grown, his chest needs to fill out a lot more. He still looks like a puppy. Those growth hormones provided by the testosterone will still make a difference. There are many, many reasons I am not interested in neutering him any time soon, and probably not ever, even though we have decided he will not be breed due to the epilepsy diagnosis.

The biggest reason is that it’s major surgery! I realize that most dogs in America undergo this surgery, but that doesn’t make it less risky. Many dogs have problems because of it. Sadie has problems from her early spay, and if I could undo anything I did with her as my first puppy, I’d have waited until she went through a heat first. (Second thing I’d do is have socialized her with kids earlier, but I digress). There is absolutely no reason to subject my dog, the dog I sleep with and consider a part of my family, to this major surgery.

Neutering is a great option for the average pet owner, if it’s done at an appropriate age, and the owner is aware of the risks and benefits. For the responsible, educated and “some-might-call-us-obsessed” owners – neutering may not be a good option. It’s NOT an option for potential breeding dogs, and if you really think no one should be breeding dogs, you can’t be much of a dog lover 😉

Let’s look at some possible benefits for neutering Reed. I’m going to leave out the “prevent unplanned pregnancies” card, because whether my dog is intact or not, he’s not running around the town loose, and he’s not going to cause an unplanned litter. Before the epilepsy, we would have liked to have a PLANNED litter, but unfortunately it’s not in the cards for Reed!

1. He’d be able to go to doggy “day camps”. Right now, there is one day care/day camp that lets him play with other dogs, and it’s 1 hour drive from my house (fortunately, it’s near my work.) They are careful, and they only allow one unaltered male at a time in the group (which I think is a little overkill but I understand them doing what they are comfortable with), and never allow females in heat to play in group. So maybe once a month there’s a day where Reed only plays half the time so another unaltered dog can play. Sometimes, Reed humps the other dogs, and gets put in time out (sent to a crate away from the play group). They’re really good about getting him 20 minutes later and letting him try again. After a few weeks, the humping was much better. Is the humping because he’s intact? Well it’s possible that’s part of it. But at home, Sadie, the 20 lb spayed female dog humps Reed more than I’ve ever seen Reed hump any other dog. There are lots of reasons for humping, and it’s never just intact males.

2. We’d be able to go to the Dog Park without incidents like the one in the article. As it is, the dog parks here do not allow intact dogs. I’ve never actually had a problem with a person (a few people ask me about why he’s intact and when I have explained my reasons no one has had a problem with us) but I have had problems with neutered male dogs. I gave up going because the parks are always chaos as it is, and too many dogs were attacking Reed.

These are CONVENIENCE reasons. I’m not going to put my dog through major surgery so that my life can be a little easier. I knew what I was getting into when I got the dog.

3. Removed Risk of Testicular Cancer. Well, he’d also have decreased risk of eye cancer if I removed his eyes, but I kind of like him being able to see. I don’t believe in surgery to decrease already very minimal risks. The highest risk comes from dogs who are Cryptorchid (testicles did not descend). After that, the risk is quite small. Not to mention, if he did develop testicular cancer, it is successfully treated by castration (neutering) in 85-95% of cases. So there’s a small risk he’d get it, and a way smaller risk that neutering wouldn’t be enough to treat it.

Sidenote: Reed’s tail is docked, true. However, the risk of him breaking his tail and needing it amputated if it was left long, is much more than ‘minimal’. If it were up to me, I’d have a very hard time making the decision whether or not to dock the tail, but I think as more and more breeders in Europe stop docking and/or move towards less dock and longer tail, we’ll see good numbers on whether or not it is hurting or helping the dogs. If tails produced hormones, I’d definitely want the tail left alone. I am against ear cropping.


What are possible risks, or cons, for neutering Reed?

1. Increased risk of prostate cancer, osteosarcoma and other cancers. While the risk of testicular cancer is low, the risk of prostate cancer is already higher, and neutering triples the risk. Risk of osteosarcoma (cancer in the bones) quadruples. That’s 400%, btw. Incidence of Cardiac cancer doubles. Countless other health problems are linked to spay/neuter. Imagine how children would grow if we removed their reproductive systems at age 2. Not very well…

2. Behavioral Problems may be linked to early spay/neuter according to Margaret V. Root Kustritz, a veterinary reproduction specialist at the University of Minnesota. Early Spay/Neuter is linked to aggression and noise phobia (Sadie?).

3. Major Surgery! The surgery requires anesthesia, which can cause a lot of problems. Surgery requires healing time, and any surgery carries risks of problems that can happen during or after the surgery. If Reed needed surgery to save his life, we’d do it. Neutering Reed would cause more harm than good.


There are no significant health benefits to neutering Reed, there is no need, and the convenience factor is about to disappear anyway, as we look at buying a house on a few acres, where I can have plenty of fenced in yard to play frisbee in. 🙂 So I don’t see neutering in Reed’s future any time soon.


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