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Discussion in 'Dog Health and Nutrition' started by Prakash, Aug 7, 2018.


To neuter or not to neuter

  1. Yes, why and what age?

    0 vote(s)
  2. No, why not?

    1 vote(s)
Multiple votes are allowed.
  1. Prakash

    Prakash PetForums Newbie

    Aug 7, 2018
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    Hello Pet forum,

    I am Dr. Prakash Pania, Consultant Endocrinologist and owner / dad to a nearly 8 months male English Cocker Spaniel. Based on dog owners advice in my community and speaking to a couple of vets, I was set to neuter my pup. I did further research, and even saw videos of notable vets / dog trainers. Got enough evidence for / against and have cancelled / postponed the castration procedure, at least for now.
    Being an Endocrinologist, I understand the importance of hormones and the role testosterone plays in human life and can't underestimate its importance in a dog's growth, development and behavioral pattern.

    Points favoring neutering:-

    1. Prevents unwanted puppy population, thereby increasing the burden on over burdened shelter homes. I am a responsible owner / dad and do not want puppies from my puppy and am not going to leave my dog unleashed for an accident waiting to happen. I am sure owners of bitches 'in heat' would again be careful enough to guard them too or have them spayed

    2. Reduces the risk of Testicular cancers, prostate cancers and prostate hyperplasia and perianal fistulas (only in certain breeds)
    Risk of testicular cancer is only 7% - I will take my chances, get his testicles examined periodically by the vet and do an orchidectomy at the earliest, if evidence suggests early cancer
    Prostate hyperplasia is benign and not life threatening

    3. Prevents behavioral problems
    Testosterone causes dominance, aggression, mounting / humping, marking / cocking the leg up, wandering, roaming in search of mates, can lead to fatal car accidents and crippling injuries - is that reason enough? Mine is a corner villa No. 1, just next to the park, with my neighboring villa chronically vacant. Car traffic, near my villa is almost non existent besides my car and the occasional guests. Mine is a gated villa and a gated community with negligible chances of a break out.
    At nearly 8 months, my puppy has attained puberty and I do see sudden bursts of aggression in him (as if suddenly possessed by a spirit) and an occasional mounting on my preteen son (fortunately not yet in the park with other dogs). He is very friendly and plays with all dogs, scared of a very few big ones and not aggressive to any dog / anyone.
    Evidence shows that neutering calms a dog down and 'fixes' the aggression in a third of the dogs, partly reduces it in a third and does nothing in a third. Even the mounting and humping may not completely stop. To really the fix the aggression / behavioral problems, prepubertal (before 6 months) desexing is recommended, before these patterns set in. But these may lead to other issues, which I shall discuss later.
    Sterilization and not castration would be the ideal choice, however, these procedures are rarely performed. Good training, either self {after reading books or watching videos) or through a professional trainer and regular exercise is the key to tame the behavioral issues and aggression.

    4. Prevents him from getting picked up and entering into fights with other dogs who see his intactness as a potential threat and a rival and also prevents him from getting into embarassing positions with unspayed bitches in heat.

    5. Increases longevity which could be a big plus considering the emotional bond that develops after more than a decade of living together in most cases.

    Points against neutering:-
    Supported by a 10 year study conducted at University of California (Davis) and published in 2013

    1. Triples the risk of obesity as the metabolism decreases and the food intake remains the same.Obesity increases the risks of diabetes, heart problems, arthritis and pancreatis. Definitely remediable by decreasing calorie intake and increasing exercise, but as in humans, it may be difficult in some dogs to lose weight

    2. Triples the risk of hypothyroidism, which again slows down metabolism and leads to obesity. Remediable with life long thyroid hormone supplement. May also increase the risk of atypical Cushing's syndrome and some other adrenal disorders (due to compensatory overproduction of adrenal androgens), which are not commonly tested by vets and hence remain undiagnosed.

    3. Increases the risk of hemangiosarcomas in some species and osteosarcomas(4 times risk, if neutered very young) in big and giant dogs - best avoidable by neutering at the 'right' age

    4. Increases the risk of senile dementia as testosterone helps maintain the cognitive function. Dogs react strangely with their own household members, forget their training and may lose their way in their own yard or may become urinary incontinent.

    5. Neutering at a very young age before 12 weeks may lead to 'leggier' (more taller or bigger) dogs, increases the incidence of hip dysplasias and torn ligaments

    6. Testosterone contributes to muscle mass, energy levels and contributes to the sheen on the coat. Desexing male dogs make dogs less energetic (which may be fine if the owners are sedentary themselves and don't exercise their dogs) and takes away the sheen from the coat. Testosterone also contributes to the bone density in humans and hypogonad males humans tend to have osteoporosis. This couldn't be further from the truth in our furry friends as well.

    In my nearly 8 months puppy,
    There is very occasional phasic aggression. Mild, occasional mounting, negligible wandering, no offspring puppies needed, exercises regularly, reasonably trained, almost fully grown to normal adult height. Has a good muscle mass, is normal weight for age (probably a tad heavier) with a lovely, shiny, attractive coat of fur. My 11 year old doesnt want his puppy neutered.

    The decision to neuter or not to neuter should be individualized to each dog, including the timing of neutering and the circumstances pertaining to his caring family. "One size does not fit all" and if not neutered, the dog or the owners should not be looked down upon or frowned at in disgust.

    I have put forth my arguments for and against neutering and have decided at least not to neuter for now, unless I come upon some compelling medical evidence or medical / behavioral issues to neuter him.

    I end by asking the members and senior pet owners for their valuable advice for -----


    If so, why and at what age?
    If not, why not? (I know my reasons, want to hear from you)

    Thank you for your patient reading;

  2. Blackadder

    Blackadder PetForums VIP

    Aug 25, 2014
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    1. Prevents unwanted puppy population.
    2. Reduces (actually, Eliminates) the risk of Testicular cancers.

    The above are the only certainties, all the rest are pretty much a roll of the dice & depends on each individual dog.

    I've never had a male dog castrated, the negatives far outweigh the positives IMO.
    Prakash and Owned by a dog like this.
  3. Rafa

    Rafa PetForums VIP

    Jun 18, 2012
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    Not really.

    A responsible owner keeps his dog under control and doesn't allow him to wander in pursuit of in season bitches.
    Prakash and Owned by a dog like this.
  4. bumbarrel

    bumbarrel PetForums Member

    Feb 23, 2017
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    I have owned a total of 8 male dogs (currently a show strain Cocker aged 18 months). I have only ever had one castrated, and wished I hadn't bothered.
    So much depends on the individual dog. If I saw a good reason I would have a dog neutered.

    I see no reason top have my current dog put through an operation so he remains entire - he lives with a spayed bitch.

    I don't like the fact a lot of vets now assume you will neuter all dogs. My daughter has a 2 year old Dandie Dinmont terrier and keeps being asked by one particular vet when she is going to neuter him. Like me she is of the mind that unless necessary it isn't going to happen.

    I am also aware of the difference it can make to the coat of some breeds.
    Prakash and Owned by a dog like this.
  5. Laney_Lemons

    Laney_Lemons PetForums Senior

    Mar 23, 2016
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    I had my pup neutered around 8 months old - this was the request of the Dog trust however which is fair enough

    My old family dog suffered a great deal with prostrate cancer (i was about 6yo when he passed) therefore my family have drummed it into me re pro neutering

    However this is probably an outdated thinking like the 'let the pup cry it out at night' which they were advocates for and wished I never listened to them
    Prakash likes this.
  6. Jamesgoeswalkies

    Jamesgoeswalkies PetForums VIP

    May 8, 2014
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    Neutering as standard is a relatively modern concept - really came to the fore in the 1970's due to over population in the rescues so reverting to not having dogs neutered is fine. Non of our farm dogs were ever neutered or are now, as it was thought it may effect their working capacity. I don't spay young either.

    However, even though I think that it certainly should be up to individual owners who purchase a puppy whether they wish to neuter, I fully support the concept that rescue dogs are automatically neutered/spayed as whilst we on this board may be 'responsible' and not consider breeding from a rescue dog, I suspect that is not always going to be the case with all owners. In fact we know it isn't, as we get plenty of posts on here about pregnant bitches and dogs being used as stud just because they can.

    I also think that for many people purchasing a puppy, neutering should still be an option as having an entire male or an unspayed female does come with responsibilities, which again for most members on this board are obvious but for many general pet owners are not. Too often on here we read about accidental pregnancies or the classic from the 1970s' 'my dog got out' or has been mated by multiple males.

    Actually I think you will find the fun is yet to come. Dogs reach the height of their Testosterone and around 10 months of age and retain this for their adolescent months. Social maturity follows at around 2.5 years of age which is a common time for a change to adult behaviour.

    StormyThai, Fiona M, Prakash and 4 others like this.
  7. Linda Weasel

    Linda Weasel PetForums VIP

    Mar 5, 2014
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    I don't think there's a neutering 'one size fits all' list of criteria. It so depends on the individual dog, the capabilities of the owner and the circumstances in which its kept.
    My dog isn't neutered because when I got him he was a fearful, reactive box of frogs.
    I have no problems arising from this decision. If there were then I would have a re-think.
    Prakash and Owned by a dog like this.
  8. O2.0

    O2.0 PetForums VIP

    May 23, 2018
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    Aggression - IME the vast majority of aggression in pet dogs is fear based, not because of testosterone.
    Mounting - some of the worst dogs I've known for humping are neutered, and were neutered at a young age. Humping is often excitement and not knowing how to handle arousal appropriately. Training greatly reduces humping more reliable than surgery - again, just my experience.
    Marking/leg cocking - my neutered male marks if I allow it and cocks his leg. Always has.
    Wandering - plenty of neutered dogs wander too if not property contained and stimulated at home.

    All that said, I'm not against neutering. If you're not up to the responsibility and small hassle of an intact male (and I don't blame people at all for not wanting to deal with it) go ahead and neuter once the dog has reached physical and social maturity.
  9. Happy Paws2

    Happy Paws2 PetForums VIP

    Sep 13, 2008
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    I have a 8 year old intact male, never felt the need to have him done and I'm not put him under the knife unless I have to.
    Prakash and Owned by a dog like this.
  10. Burrowzig

    Burrowzig PetForums VIP

    Feb 18, 2009
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    If there's a problem with behaviour or a disease such as testicular cancer, you can get him castrated when there's a proven good reason to. Until then, I see no good reason to neuter a male dog; as you say, the hormones have wider functions than reproduction. I think I read something recently that also implicated neutering in auto-immune conditions.
    Prakash and Owned by a dog like this.
  11. Blitz

    Blitz PetForums VIP

    Feb 12, 2009
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    Back in the 70s I was taught that you only castrate a dog if it has behaviourial problems that could hopefully be sorted once it has reached at least 18 months. I think that has stuck with me. I have only owned 3 male dogs and for convenience have had them neutered. All 3 were adult rehomes and so were done at a mature age. I hate seeing the leggy dogs with soft coats that are done at about 6 months as so many vets recommend.
    Prakash likes this.
  12. Magyarmum

    Magyarmum PetForums VIP

    Apr 27, 2015
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    I live in Hungary and own two dogs - a male and a female. With the female it was taken for granted by my vet that she would be spayed at a suitable age which was around the age of 18 months. The subject of neutering my male has never come up for discussion, because over here the majority of male dogs are left intact, as is my own male dog.

    Humping is not a behaviour exclusive to males. My last three female dogs went through a phase where they humped each other, something my male has never done!
    Prakash likes this.
  13. Fiona M

    Fiona M PetForums Newbie

    Jun 15, 2018
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    Answering as the parent of a now 2 yo ECS. I had him neutered at 15 months. I wasn't at all certain I would have him castrated until shortly before that time. There was a lot of pressure from vet to get him 'done' early, but I wanted him to be fully grown beforehand, so I resisted. Like you, I did all the research.
    Around 12 months of age he started to get very 'frisky' with other dogs, people and inanimate objects. Behaviour, generally, became an issue - stubborn, poor attention, little obedience, occasionally a bit stroppy with other male dogs - and, even worse, males were very aggressive towards him. There was 'an incident' where he was off lead, which prompted me to take him to a gun dog trainer for some help, and although she was very much of the mind that 'it's your decision', she suggested he would be much more biddable if neutered.
    By 14 months, I was certain it was the way forward, and I booked the appointment.
    He took a couple of months to settle down (behaviour wise) afterwards, but he's back to his lovable self and his behaviour is much easier to manage. I'm pleased I had him neutered.
    #13 Fiona M, Aug 8, 2018
    Last edited: Aug 8, 2018
    Jamesgoeswalkies, Prakash and Blitz like this.
  14. Fiona M

    Fiona M PetForums Newbie

    Jun 15, 2018
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    Forgot to mention that, from the age of around 10 months, everywhere he could smell another dog, he would scent mark. Never a problem in our own home, where he was the only one. However, he embarrassed me three times in other people’s homes, and once in a dog friendly cafe, by performing a full on fire hydrant demonstration!
    When we go on holiday abroad, he stays with a home boarder, and her main conditions are that only neutered and friendly dogs can stay in her home, which was another big factor in my decision. We usually take dog friendly holidays in the UK, but I needed to know there was an alternative available and I would never put him in kennels.
    Jamesgoeswalkies likes this.
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