"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

"Ask the Dog Guy" with John Wade

Puppy and Obedience Training Without Food or Fear

Spay Neuter Advantages

– Posted in: Columns, Mastiff, Molosser, Newsletters
spay neuter advantages

I’m looking for your opinion regarding spay neuter advantages. Including the best age to spay and neuter a large breed dog. (Specifically a Cane Corso). I know that medically, there is little benefit to neutering, but can’t find actual evidence for behavioural benefits. Anecdotally (I work at a vet clinic) I would say there is an increase in aggression in intact males but that may be due to the training/expectations of their owners.  (Although it seems more pronounced in small breed dogs.) I certainly know some well-behaved intact dogs but are they more difficult to handle for the average owner?

My opinion is that a spay should be done between 12-24 months. As a reasonable balance between reducing risk of mammary cancer and pyometra. Also, allowing proper bone growth and reducing urinary incontinence and adrenal stress. What do you think?

– Emily York, ON Canada

Spay Neuter Advantages

spay neuter advantagesHi Emily,

If it’s going to be done at all, I’m on the same page with regard to the spay neuter advantages with regard to physical health. However, keep in mind, mine is an opinion. Not even a particularly educated one, as my area of expertise is in behaviour. You’re better off to turn to the resources in your veterinary clinic. I would also recommend reaching out to your professional peer group to learn of concurring and dissenting opinions. There’s a good link in this column – http://www.askthedogguy.com/health-pros-cons-resulting-spay-neuter-dogs/

With regard to behaviour. There have been three research papers that I know of that found an increase in aggression amongst some female dogs post spay. I would take that with a grain of salt though. However, not because the results aren’t to be taken into consideration. It’s because of the countless number of spayed females dogs in North America that don’t appear to be similarly or significantly impacted. File it under possible rather then probable.

Consternating

The neutering of males as a means to making them more malleable for handlers is an area that I do find somewhat consternating. Unless I’m all out options, I would no more neuter a a dog to make it easier to handle, then I would a human child. If in an intact state, a dog owner fears the dog they purchased is going to more then they can handle, they have very likely have purchased the wrong dog or dog breed for them.

Somehow in North America spay/neuter has been packaged as being synonymous with being a responsible dog owner. Population control aside (although an argument can be made in this area that just be responsible and your dog won’t breed), in the area of making a male dog easier to handle, it is my opinion that the responsible thing to do is to buy a breed you can handle.

I’m not saying that it won’t impact a male’s dog behaviour in regard to some of his natural instincts and behaviour. However, there are other variables that can be addressed, that in my view would make the surgery unnecessary. First and foremost, is in getting the correct breed for one’s handling experience and ability as well as the lifestyle they project for themselves for the future decade or so.

Essentially, I’m saying that rather then reduce the horse power in the Ferrari, so that the owner can “handle” it, don’t buy a Ferrari in the first place. Buy a mini-van. Far less returns to breeders, sent to rescues and euthanasias will result. This is particularly true with Cane Corso dogs and other Molosser breeds.

– John

2 Comments… add one
Merritt Clifton

Readers of this post will find a great deal of additional relevant information & historical perspective here: “Does castration really alter male dog behavior?”, http://www.animals24-7.org/2015/08/14/does-castration-really-alter-male-dog-behavior/

Emily

Excellent information, thanks for that link. Unfortunately most of veterinary professionals I know don’t even question the recommendation to neuter by 6 months, a few will advise waiting till full growth is reached.
I dare say that may in part be due to the fact that we see many many owners who are unable or unwilling to properly handle the dog they already own.

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