Why I Did Not Neuter

So, why is Kyuss intact? Many of you sussed it out in my previous post.

The reason I have not neutered Kyuss is, well, because it wouldn’t change a thing!

Neutering does nothing to change behavioural problems. It may lessen some behaviour, (such as wandering) but if your dog wandered before being neutered, he is most likely going to wander after neutering.

I knew when I got Kyuss I would not be getting him neutered until 18 months at the earliest. I had already learned that neutering should be postponed until after a dog’s growth plates have closed. I’m not sure where I picked up that bit of information; but I knew many vets preferred to neuter at or before 6 months. Thankfully, my vet agreed that it was best to wait.

When Kyuss started approaching 18 months, I decided I wanted to research on the pros and cons of neutering. So far, Kyuss was a pretty well-behaved dog and had no behaviour problems I was trying to fix. I was still under the impression that neutering was a fix-all solution to puppy problems back then. Once I started reading up on the procedure; the more I read, the less I wanted to do it!

The first con I discovered, was that neutering did nothing to fix behavioural problems; only training could do that. I then came across quite a few studies that showed that neutering wasn’t all it was cracked up to be, and in fact, might be worse than I thought. I was shocked; all my pets I had as a child had been neutered, and I just assumed it was the thing you did when you had a pet.

As far as growth was concerned, one study showed that dogs that were neutered early had their growth plates continue to remain open longer than those left intact. This resulted in the dogs being taller. [Source] This poses a problem if the bones continue to grow, yet the ligaments don’t. Another study showed that castration of male and female dogs prior to a year increased the risk of developing hip dysplasia. [Source] Dobermann as a breed are already quite prone to hip dysplasia and I didn’t want to do anything that might increase the chances of Kyuss developing the condition. This last study, suggests that there is an increased risk of injury to the anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) in castrated male and female dogs. [Source] 

 When I delved into the tumors and cancer aspect of castration, I was even more surprised. This first study showed that spayed female dogs were 5 times more likely to develop Hemangiosarcoma (HSA) [cardiac tumors] vs. intact bitches; and castrated male dogs were 2.4 times more likely to develop HSA vs. intact dogs. [Source] That’s a huge increase! With the Dobermann being so prone to DCM; the thought of increasing Kyuss’ chances of another heart issue was out of the question. Another study I came across showed a twofold increase in bone cancer (osteosarcoma) among castrated dogs [Source], while this study pointed to an increase of approximately 1 in 4 when dogs were neutered prior to 1-year-old [Source]. What about prostate cancer you ask? After all, it’s one of the most commonly cited reasons for castration in male dogs, aside from pet overpopulation. Well these last two studies show that there was no increased risk due to being left intact. [Source] & [Source]

 My mind was changed.

However, not everyone can just decided not to spay or neuter; I understand that. Most people don’t realise there are permanent alternatives available.

For male dogs, a simple vasectomy can be performed. This allows a male dog to retain his testicles and with them, the proper hormones. He will not, however, be able to reproduce. The surgery is less invasive, only requiring a small incision be made, less painful, less expensive and just as effective . The problem is, most vets refuse to perform one.

Why? Well it’s simple; they aren’t taught how to perform a more simple, less invasive procedure in school. All I can assume is that veterinary schools have the ‘if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it’ mentality. Plus, I’m sure they would make much less money from a procedure as simple as a vasectomy!

For bitches, there are a few different options vs. the traditional spay (Hystero-oophorectomy); the first is having her fallopian tubes severed and tied (Tubal Ligation) the second being removal of the uterus only (Hysterectomy) and the third being removal of the ovaries only (Oophorectomy). Of course, there are pros and cons to each.

With tubal ligation and hysterectomy, the bitch will still come into heat, and allow dogs to mate her. She will not, however, get pregnant. The benefit to having only tubal ligation is the smaller incision; with having a hysterectomy however, you eliminate the chance of pyometria.  

Having a Oophotectomy performed is, in my own opinion, a less desirable option. It would be wiser to just go with a hystero-oophotectomy as the whole point of an alternative is to leave the hormone producing organs, which in a bitch are her ovaries, behind. Also, leaving her uterus in place just allows for the possibility to contract pyometria. If I were going to have a female’s ovaries removed, I would prefer to eliminate the chance of pyometria by removing the uterus as well while they were ‘in there’ so to speak.

For Kyuss, I have called a number of vets in the area questioning a vasectomy, and so far I’ve had no luck. Those who agreed to performing the surgery would only do so for outrageous prices.

So it seems for now, Kyuss will stay “all-man” but as soon as I can find a vet willing to perform a vasectomy on him for a decent price, he will be heading under the knife.

38 comments

  1. Thanks for the thoughtful post on this topic. Sterilizing, period, is imperative to stemming the pet overpopulation problem. However, it is unfortunate that most people are not aware of or able to access all of the alternative solutions. This isn’t the first post i have read on this topic, and i hope it is not the last.

    1. Yes, I was surpised, to say the least, at how many vets refused to perform a vasectomy on Kyuss. Only 2 out of 20+ agreed, but asked for 1000’s of dollars. =/

  2. You have made very valid points. Early spay/neuter can lead to increased risk of many diseases. However, the risks decrease if the dog is desexed once it reaches adulthood. I have tried to do my part to educate people on the risks of early spay/neuter, to no avail.

    We plan on having our male neutered, (probably at 8) to lessen the risk of reproductive cancers. Likewise, once our bitch is done breeding, she will be spayed. At some point the risks of not having it done outweigh the benefits in my opinion.

    1. I’m a huge advocate for late castration for both sexes. I always say, if you can afford to wait, do it.
      I would just like to see more vets offering alternatives to the traditional spay/neuter.

      For some reproductive cancers, such as prostate cancer, there was actually no increased risk by leaving a dog intact.
      For testicular cancer, however, obviously, you can’t get it, if you haven’t got any lol.

      I’ve pondered the idea of castrating Kyuss once he gets up there in age, even if I manage to get him a vasectomy. For now, I’m just going to keep trying to find a vet who will perform one. =]

      1. I can’t speak for all vets, but I think part of their thinking may be that if you are putting a dog under for a limited surgery and then you may need to put them under again to do the more extensive one, it may not be the best thing for the dog. At least that would probably be our vet’s thinking. There are risks to anesthesia.

        I know dogs that have died from testicular cancer and that risk increases with age. Also in females there are repro cancers that increase with age so it is not just pyo.

  3. If I had a male golden retriever, he’d have his balls for much of the same reasons. Golden bitches are prone pyos, so I would have every nonbreeding female spayed.

    1. I’m not too sure what I would do if I had a female dog… I’ve really never had one, other than a pup my sister had for a few months when we were children. I’ll be honest and say I didn’t research too much into the bitch side of things…
      I think I’d probably go for the hysterectomy route and only remove the uterus. She would still have her heat cycle, which would be annoying, but no resulting pups. =]

  4. Elka was spayed before her first heat. She short and simple answer is I didn’t want to deal with handling/managing her in heat, but there’s always a can of worms, isn’t there?

    Your answers for why not are good ones, thoughtful and backed up by research. Should I get a male dog in the future, I think that vasectomy would also be what I sought out, though as in your area, it’s a tossup whether it would be available.

    1. I can understand why you wouldn’t want to deal with a bitch in heat. I wouldn’t want to either!
      If I got a female in the future, I think I would research a bit more into it, as I didn’t research too thouroughly on the female aspect of it.
      I’m still searching for a vet for Kyuss, but it looks like I might be off to the next largest city nearby, which would be Montreal. =]

      1. I am not at all sure what people mean when they say “deal with a bitch in heat’.. what is there to “deal with”.. we do not tell young girls that we cannot “deal with” them menstruating.. so what si the big deal about having a female in heat. there are many products that will keep you couch clean.. many bitches bleed very little when in heat.. and they only come in every six months if that and bleed for a few days.. big deal.. if you keep your dogs confined and on a leash there is no problem if that is “managing” your dog.. everyone should do it..regardless of sex..

        1. It’s not the bitch I’m worried about dealing with, it’s the rest of people’s dogs; especially in this area. People let them run loose all the time so I could well imagine the entire neighbourhood’s male dog population sitting on my doorstep once she came into heat.

  5. The first part of this post concerned me greatly. I was thinking “how can this person be advocating that people not spay and neuter!?” But I kept reading, and I’m so glad I did. I did not know that these less invasive options existed. All four of my furry family members have been spayed or neutered but I will consider these options if/when we get another animal and will encourage my friends and colleagues to do the same. Thanks for a thoughtful and well researched post.

    1. Thanks for commenting! I’m a huge advocate for controlling the pet population, I’m glad you kept reading.
      I just don’t think there’s one right answer for everyone out there. Everyone should choose what is right for them and their pet and what might be right for Kyuss and myself, might not be for anyone else.
      I’m glad I could enlighten you to some alternatives to the traditional spay/neuter. =D

  6. I found a vet who agreed to do the vasectomy on my male however, she botched the job and ended up removing one testicle and could not return it to the sack thus she called in the middle of the surgery wanting to do a full neuter which I would not allow because that is not what I wanted. In the end, he ended up with one intact testicle and one that had been senselessly removed. I would make very sure that a vet KNEW how to do this procedure properly in the future.

    1. Oh that’s horrible! I’m glad he still got to keep his last testicle. Is your male a small breed? I ask because the incision for a vasectomy should be very small, perhaps half an inch? (I’m guessing based on a human vasectomy) I find it hard to believe a testicle could pop out of a hole that small unless they, themselves are very small.

      I never thought something like that could occur! Thanks for letting me know, I’ll be sure to talk to the vet and know exactly how they plan to do the surgery!

      Also, do you are to share your experience with owning a male who’s had a vasectomy?

  7. Interesting to read all your research on this topic.

    My Mum also discovered last year that there is an injection that can be given too instead of surgery, she can’t remember the name of it, but the cost is very minimal and she is hoping it could be the way forward? If she finds it again she’ll let you know about it :)

    Big Wags to all,

    Your pal Snoopy :)

    1. neutersol.. if it is widely available you can bet that many dogs will be given the injection against the owners will. This is a dangerous product in the wrong hands

      1. Thanks for commenting alice, I could imagine the implications if someone happened upon this product! Scary stuff.

  8. Great article! I no longer neuter my male dogs unless there is a REAL medical indication, and I wait until females are older before I spay. I have always been told that “older unspayed females who have never been bred” are at greater risk for pyometras. Even so, I have had females live to 12 and 15 with no medical problems, and never having been bred either. A lot depends on the individual animal, immune status, overall health and soundness. There is no “one size fits all” solution to anything. EXCEPT! The real “one size fits all” solution to unwanted breeding and undesireable “breeding related” behaviors is: responsible ownership, management, and training. Animals that are not allowed the opportunity to breed or be bred will not reproduce. You are right on in saying that a dog that roams before being neutered will roam after being neutered: IF he continues being allowed to roam! There is a solution to “roaming” behavior in a dog whether intact or not: a securely fenced yard, supervision at all times. Again, the key is responsible ownership and management. Surgical sterilization of animals is quick fix solution to unwanted breedings and breeding behaviors. However it should be a matter of choice on the part of the owner, in communication with a knowledgeable veterinarian, and take into account the individual animal and owner/management situation.

    1. “The real “one size fits all” solution to unwanted breeding and undesireable “breeding related” behaviors is: responsible ownership, management, and training.”

      I couldn’t have said it better myself M.E. Papin. Thanks for dropping in and taking the time to comment. =D

  9. I do have females and all are intact. Yes, it’s a bit of a bother (mostly messy) when they are “in season”, but I do believe that the estrogen remaining in their systems is healthier overall. Many spayed bitches have incontinence issues, and those stem from lack of estrogen, or in some cases, actual damage to nerves during the procedure. Also, in my large breed females (Great Danes) they are susceptible to DIC, which is a bleeding/clotting disorder that is brought on by stress, and far too many of our females are lost in or directly after surgery due to bleeding issues. Lack of estrogen also leads to unstable growth plates, and osteo issues as they age. Also, it does require daily interaction with your females to insure than any growths or any behavior that may indicate the dog not feeling well, are IMMEDIATELY checked out by the vet. The only female that I lost early was a Rottweiler that I rescued from the shelter and who was spayed early in life, around six months. As she grew, she had lifetime issues with one shoulder, and also died from hemangiosarcoma at the age of seven. I’ve never lost any of my females that young. Our Weim female passed at age 15, and I currently have an 11 1/2 year old Pug at home. I have two five year old females, a Dane, and a mix as well. ALL extremely healthy. I believe that there are pros and cons to either decision. And spaying or neutering is NOT a wrong decision, but neither is the decision to leave intact, if the person is informed, and responsible. When my females are in season, IF they are outside, they are leashed. They are also contained for the duration of their “fertile” period, which is about a week to ten days, depending upon the individual female’s cycle.

    1. Thanks for sharing your thoughts! I’m on the same page as you in regards to their hormones. I believe we shouldn’t be interrupting the way their bodies naturally develop, as it seems it can cause a whole wealth of problems. I’ve heard so many people’s dogs having problems with spay incontenance lately. =[

  10. An interesting post. Thanks for sharing. I think the rumour that neutering will calm a dog down is crazy. I could rant all day about this subject!
    But I suppose, everyone has their opinions!
    Imagine if Dogs ruled the world and decided our teenage boys were too much to handle … If dog’s ruled the world .. .I bet they wouldn’t be so cruel :-)

  11. My own Lab was neutered at barely six months. Back then I had only ever heard the “spay and neuter everybody” side of things. The vet we went to wanted to do the surgery even earlier, before his testicles had even descended! I was a minor at the time, so the ultimate decision fell on my parents, who went along with the neuter just after he turned six months and after his testes had dropped. He had some surprisingly delayed normal dog behaviors, like hiking his leg, and I don’t know whether or not that had anything to do with his early spay.

    If I was going through the same experience now, I would probably do the same as you and try to find a vet would would do a vasectomy.

  12. Well said. I am glad to see that more responsible pet owners are learning the truth behind spay and neuter, that it’s not always the right choice for every dog. I am all about spay/neuter in homes where the owners cannot assure that the dog will not be accidentally bred, but I hate that the health risks in spaying and neutering, especially early, are almost never discussed by vets.

    It’s traditional to spay/neuter at six months. It’s RESPONSIBLE to spay/neuter. Period. Why think further?

    I altered my Border Collie at 19 months. He only had one descended testicle, so he really did need to be done. The pup sleeping at my feet right now will probably also be done late. It is of utmost importance to me that he be allowed to keep his hormones through his development. Beyond that, well, we’ll talk.

    I do wish more vets would consider vasectomies. It’s definitely healthier for the dog. There are some medical issues where neutering is indicated (testicular tumors, perianal fistulas, serious prostate issues), but the heightened risks of things like hemangiosarcoma (what both of my dogs’ grandfather died of) is way scarier to me.

    1. Hello Katie!

      “It’s traditional to spay/neuter at six months. It’s RESPONSIBLE to spay/neuter. Period.”

      Exactly!

      I really don’t understand why vets don’t offer vasectomies. It’s a much simplier procedure, and would probably cost a lot less. If anything, the cheaper cost might actually make more people choose to sterilize their pets who wouldn’t have otherwise.

  13. Wow, I really agree with your post and I love your Dobermann. I’ve noticed that another argument is that “intact dogs don’t live as long”. I’ve had four dogs in my time; three are deceased. Our intact male Lab lived till he was 15 years and 9 months old – on the contrary our two spayed female dogs; one a Rottweiler and the other a Toy/Mini Poodle lived till 11 years and 9 months old. My current dog is a Dane mix, and he is a neutered male (not my choice, but I was only 11 at the time) and I’ve noticed he’s very puppy-like, even know at the age of six and has very weak legs, he falls over when playing fetch and walks almost sideways. He was neutered at six months old. I can say that for my next dogs I will definitely wait until they full grown, and may not even do it at all – I don’t see the point if you can control your dog.

    Obviously since he’s Dane he will have bone and hip problems, but they probably would have been intensified by the early neutering. And I completely disagree with early-age desexing. Let’s cut body parts out of/off of dogs when the dog is the equivalent of a seven year old! Fantastic idea – not. That’s why I couldn’t adopt young dogs from the RSPCA.

  14. Fascinating! I had always thought you should spay or neuter right away, but after even simple biology classes and one in forensic anthropology I began to think that it didn’t make sense to “stunt” natural growth by removing hormones. So I thought neutering after a year or so and having a discussion with my trusted vet would be worthwhile. I was concerned about possible behaviour issues (but perhaps some of those ‘warnings’ online are more about trying to get more people to neuter/spay). Reading your previous article about Kyuss and finding he’s a normal dog, not a wandering, aggressive, or obsessively mounting things – like some websites claim intact dogs do – is food for thought. I opened up tabs to read all those articles you linked, I’m definitely going to read those, and really appreciate the scholarly articles! Three cheers for the educated dog owners!!

    1. I’m all for spaying and neutering when appropriate, but I really wish there were more options out there for the average dog owner.

      Kyuss still isn’t neutered, and he’s now 4.5 years old. I do have some trouble with him mounting other dogs on occasion, but it’s infrequent and usually only a specific dog he’ll choose; male or female doesn’t matter.

      I honestly find the public to be speuter fanatic here in North America. I’ve lived in the UK for a number of years and I rarely encountered an altered dog. In fact, we had two intact JRT’s; a male and female and they never bred.

      Thanks for commenting!

  15. Great post! I have an intact Vizlsa girl who just went through her 2nd heat at 16 months old. People keep asking if we’re going to breed her (as if that’s the ONLY reason for keeping a girl intact). She is shorter than all of her female siblings who were spayed at a young age, but she is more muscular, faster, and has a deeper chest. I’ve also noticed she acts much more mature. We have a 10 month old male rescue Vizsla pup who was altered at the tender age of 4 months. He seriously won’t stop growing taller! He acts like a puppy most of the time. I think he will probably always be like this. I wish more people kept their pups intact until they were fully developed. I’ve been trying to find a place that will do a tubal ligation for Riley, but no luck so far. :-/

    1. Good luck with your search! It’s surprising how many people are quick to judge someone for not altering their dog at an early age.
      I get it all the time.
      I hope your boy has no problems with his ligaments in the future. <3

  16. I love this. Thank you. I’m about to get a wolf hybrid (I’ve done all the research, no worries!) and I’m now wondering whether to spay or neuter. I will do more research into it for wolfdogs specifically, but this was very helpful! I generally have the policy when buying any animal that if you don’t love it the way it is born, don’t get it! This goes along with tails and ears I think. Which I see your doberman has his ears and I’m delighted to see that. He’s beautiful! But I feel that if I can’t handle having a dog the way nature intended, I have no business getting one. I do want to look into fixing for the reason of not bringing more puppies into this world, but other than that, I will love him or her, behaviours and all!

  17. Wondering if you ever did find a vet in Montreal (or maybe Ottawa) who would do vasectomy? The only one I know of is apparently on sick leave, and it would be nice to have one to refer people to.

    1. I actually did find a few in Ottawa. Kyuss is going to be scheduled for his vasectomy in a few months once we’re settled in our new place.
      E-mail me at dobermanndaze(@)live.ca and I’ll forward the info to you. =]

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