Author Topic: Spaying and Neutering  (Read 1404 times)

Spaying and Neutering
« on: August 08, 2012, 09:03:07 PM »
I'd be interested in hearing people's opinions on spaying/neutering for performance dogs, and support for their opinions as to why they feel that way.
Sheila & the Shelties

dmadrid

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Re: Spaying and Neutering
« Reply #1 on: August 09, 2012, 07:58:26 AM »
An interesting question. 

A while ago, I was researching spay incontinence in female dogs, and I came across this paper: http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongTermHealthEffectsOfSpayNeuterInDogs.pdf

It is basically a collection of available research on the risks/benefits of spaying & neutering dogs.  The recommendation of the author is that there is no compelling case for neutering male dogs (based on health concerns only... behaviour issues would be a different concern), but that the situation is more complex for females.

After reading through it, I think that I would be less likely to neuter a male dog in the future, but would probably spay a female after 2 years.  Of course, I've never had the option yet... all my dogs so far have come pre-neutered from rescue groups. 

This is one of the quotes in the paper that I found compelling:
Quote
Spay/neuter of immature dogs delays the closure of the growth plates in bones that are still growing, causing those bones to end up significantly longer than in intact dogs or those spay/neutered after maturity50. Since the growth plates in various bones close at different times, spay/neuter that is done after some growth plates have closed but before other growth plates have closed might result in a dog with unnatural proportions, possibly impacting performance and long term durability of the joints.[/quote

Best,
Danielle
Danielle

Kyle

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Re: Spaying and Neutering
« Reply #2 on: August 09, 2012, 09:01:04 AM »
Sheila - you brought up one of those "hot and sticky" topics!  ;)  Usually I would not say anything, but since the immediate reply you got was about "early" (and note I use the word "early") spay/neuter and growth plates. When we read articles about "early" spay/neuter we need to look *carefully* for what each author calls "early". After reading many of these types of articles each author seems to have their own definition of "early". Sometimes it's 6 weeks, sometimes it's 6 months, sometimes it's a year or more, so *please* be cautious when using the word "early", and if you do, be specific about the age you're talking about.

Having gotten that off my chest... ;D...I will offer my extremely subjective opinion on what Sheila asked - about spay/neuter (she *never* mentioned "early"!) for *performance* (nothing else!) dogs. I'm an addict. There, I admit it. I'm addicted to competing with my dogs. And, since the dogs I like to compete with are usually female (because I like them) they have this totally normal hormonal "problem" once or twice a year that makes it impossible to compete in some venues during those times. Invariably, the hormonal thing happens right before or during the BIG trial I want to compete in...it just seems to happen that way...and then we don't get to play...neither of us are very happy then.  :(  Some bitches also seem to go a little "off" (moodiness, crankiness, dullness - there's all sorts of things they feel) just before and many go "off" during their seasons which makes training or practicing difficult...we lose a bunch of time because of it. Due to my addiction I am unwilling to *not* go to any trial whenever I want to. There, I said it. I'm greedy for trialing.  ;D

I also feel sorry for my girls when they are in season because they *don't* act "normally" because they don't *feel* "normally". I hate the muss and clean-up, but what I really hate is all the confinement to make sure they don't get bred by same fence jumping hormonal neighborhood male dog...it's just a complete pain. There, I admit it. I'm lazy and a worrier. So, for all those reasons plus all the health reasons, I spay (and spay and spay). My girls (and there have been many) have never had mammary tumors, uterine infections or any of the other icky things intact bitches get (like false pregnancies, etc.).

Intact males are for other people in my opinion. I don't want to have to use an excuse like, "oh, there must be a bitch in heat around here" for when my male is busy thinking of other things rather than me and what we're about to go do (like compete in a trial). To me, that's kind of a lame excuse but some folks just say, "boys will be boys". Not me and my neutered guys. They are ready to do what I want to do when I ask - girls or no girls. Good boys!  ;D  And then, there are the health reasons for neutering - prostate issues, etc.

So there you have my completely subjective personal opinion, Sheila.  ;D  I know you have a new pup and must be considering this option. Whatever you choose is up to you and you *only*. It's all about what your future plans might be for this pup and what you are willing to live, or not live, with.
Kyle
Leona Valley, CA

dmadrid

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Re: Spaying and Neutering
« Reply #3 on: August 09, 2012, 02:54:52 PM »
Kyle,

I feel like you might have misread my reply - I didn't mention early spay/neuter either...  The author of the paper I linked to also examines risks/benefits of spay/neuter at a range of ages (before one year, before 5.5 months, before 2.5 years, etc). 

At any rate, the reason I quoted the quote I did was specifically because it did relate to performance dogs.  The author cites research that suggests that spay/neuter before all the growth plates are closed (the age of which varies depending on the size/breed of the dog) can possibly have a negative impact on the dog's overall structure, performance ability, and joint function... definitely concerns for the performance dog!

Based on what I have read (and this article is not the only thing I've read), I would hesitate to neuter a male in the future, and my females would be spayed probably around 2 or so... of course, this is assuming I get the option. 

Best,
Danielle
Danielle

TheQuestKnight

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Re: Spaying and Neutering
« Reply #4 on: August 09, 2012, 04:40:08 PM »
Hi Sheila . . .

I don't have any "hard" data; but I'll willingly share what I've learned over time from trusted vets and specialists . . .

As it regards spaying a female . . . spaying a female PRIOR to her first heat cycle reduces her chances of mammary cancer by over 50% . . . spaying a female after ONE heat cycle reduces her chances of mammary cancer by 25% . . . spaying a female after TWO heat cycles does NOT reduce her chances of mammary cancer at all when compared to females that have not been spayed.  The important factor to consider is that most canine mammary cancers are AGGRESSIVE and tend to metastasize rapidly to the brain and to bone . . . both of which tend to be fatal in the short term.

Neutering a male . . . there is some evidence that it may SLIGHTLY reduce the risk of prostate/bladder/urethra cancers . . . most of which tend to be fatal; but also tend to occur at the end of a male dog's "normal" life span, as it did with our Flurry, who was neutered at 5 months of age.

Some folks that I know like to have a female whelp a litter because it gives them a bit more confidence and attitude . . . NOT worth the health risk, IMHO because I am NOT interested in breeding, nor do I know enough to do it correctly as far as the puppies would be concerned.

ALL of our dogs, male and female, have been neutered/spayed between 5 and 6 months of age.  We LOVE dominant, attitudinal, take charge dogs . . . so we really don't need "boylie" or "girlie" attitudinal hormones circulating in their bodies and imprinting upon their brains any longer than necessary! <G>

We do a great deal of imaging to monitor our kids (BCs now) musculo-skeletal development; and at NO point have we or our vets/orthopaedic vets noticed ANY problems with their skeletal development or closure of their growth plates or the timing of the growth plate closures.

MUCH has been written about the pros and cons of early spay/neuter.  From my experiences, I'll keep on neutering and spaying EARLY because it fits us and the dogs that we choose.

My girls are STILL obnoxiously charming FLIRTS . . . and my boys are still as HORNY as college freshman on Spring Break . . . they are all dogs that could REALLY get into "casual sex" just for the FUN of it! <LOL>

Spay/neuter is a VERY personal decision and one that needs to be decided on a personal level.  There are pros and cons . . . there is "hard data" to support both positions; but I don't have links to them to offer to you.

Soooooooooooooooooooooooooo many other factors, such as genetics, diet, etc. are all VERY important "moderators" that need to be taken into consideration as well.  Spay/neuter does not exist in a vacuum . . .

All that I know is that early spay/neuter works for us and so far, without any negative health consequences . . . and all of our dogs are performance/working dogs.  They've all lived/are living LONG, HEALTHY, appropriately and reasonably PAIN FREE/PAIN MANAGED lives.

Sheila, there is NO "one best answer" . . . you need to take into account a number of factors beyond spay/neuter or not . . . and then make the decision that you are comfortable and at peace making for you and your "kid" . . .

It's NOT up to anyone else to pass judgement on your decision . . . if it's right for you, then it's right . . .

Hugs & wags,

Al & Pelli
Castle Camelot: Al, Barb, Dred, Gael & Pellinore . . . and from The Bridge Grill & Pub,  Kali, Flurry, Promise, Chico, Romulus, Trix and Tony.

Re: Spaying and Neutering
« Reply #5 on: August 10, 2012, 07:45:33 AM »
I must say that this is an interesting discussion.  I do a TON of rescue work and the dogs that I have from there as well as many of my other dogs have been spayed/neutered early.  My 2 dogs at the bridge were spayed/neutered early both lived to be 15 and 16.5 years old and were both very healthy all of their lives.  My 3 current agility dogs are all spayed/neutered with no issues to skeletal development and one of them is a beagle.  Most beagles are prone to back issues, but my Cee Cee is 6.5 years old and has none.  The main reason is that I keep her thin and in good shape.  She was spayed at 12 weeks old.

Along with my myriad of dogs, we also have 4 pure bred, hunt-line, brittanys.   These guys/gals are not spayed/neutered.  The main reason is, that the current AKC lines that we see of the brittany doe not fit our hunting purpose.  They are flashy and very long ranging, not close workers like is necessary for upland game work.  We like our hunting line and want to make sure that we can have a new pup in the future.  That being said, I HATE that they are not spayed/neutered.  As Kyle said, the girls just don't act normal.  They don't feel good, etc.  They have to be constantly kenneled so they don't get bred, and we are constantly on edge during that time.  Then if they go into heat just as hunting season approaches, we lose training time, and hunting time.  A few years ago, we had to leave one of our girls home from a Nebraska hunt because she was in heat. 

I am with Kyle in the reasoning, if not for health issues, then for performance issues.  I would hate to leave one of my girls behind to any trial, much less a big trial because she was in heat, and I surely don't want to deal with one of the boys, if a female in heat is within a few hundred miles.  Plus, if I do have to leave one of my girls behind, now I am putting a huge responsibility on someone else to make sure she doesn't get bred. 

Now let's talk about the boys.  They are just out of control when our girls our in heat.  We have to keep the males separate so they don't fight with each other, they hang around the girls kennels panting and drooling, and they don't eat.  Our males lose an average of 7-10 pounds.  This is not conducive to the stamina necessary for long hunts.  Let's not forget to mention my own lack of sleep due to their howling day and night.  Since the girls tend go cycle one right after the other, it makes for a miserable 2 month, twice a year.  Ugh!

Let's add to this conversation, the rescue aspect.  I have had more than 500 dogs pass through my house as fosters in the past 6 years.  Why???  Mostly un-spayed females who show up pregnant.  Most of the litters I welp consist of between 10-13 puppies!  My smallest litter in these 6 years was a beagle with 5, of which Cee Cee was one of them.  So, if you don't spay your female and she mistakenly gets pregnant, as can happen even to the most careful person, where are those puppies going to go????

So, as Al said, I am not going to pass judgement, I am just giving my honest opinion of someone who lives with both.  I much prefer the spay/neutered dogs as their personalities are more even tempered.  I have never had any of the issues that many of these articles talk about nor have any of my friends who also have early spayed/neutered dogs.  I have also not heard of any of these issues from any of the shelter alumni.  You, however, need to do what you feel is best for you and your canine partner.

Audri, Lily, Cee Cee and Toto, Calypso

Maureen deHaan

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Re: Spaying and Neutering
« Reply #6 on: August 13, 2012, 08:14:21 AM »
I went to a talk given by Dr. Chris Zink last summer - she is one of the top people who has done research in this area and might be the one that Danielle is quoting?? She USED to say spay / neuter at 12 months or after the bitch's first heat.. she has now changed that to DON'T spay neuter - for many reasons behaviorally and physically. The seminar was a whole day and much too much for me to summarize here....

Personally, I would rather spay (I only have females) my dogs as I am not a proponent of breeding at all and I rescue all my dogs. However, that being said I wait as long as possible to spay them (up to the first heat cycle) for the same reasons Danielle quoted as far as joint growth and growth plate closure is concerned - specifically the stifle

My first dog - a Malamute/ GSD was spayed at 6months b/c I didn't know any better and she did end up having double ACL tears and subsequent repairs. don't know if that was due to her genetics or the early spay... she also had a leaky bladder and I was told that was due to the early spay - but who knows and it did resolve itself as she aged.

My second dog - a Siberian Husky - was spayed at about 10 months b/c we got her off the street and we didn't know if she was pregnant or not -  she is built like a brick sh&t house and at almost 12 years old can run and jump and play with the best of them -

My youngest - An All American - was spayed at about 10 months also (didn't want to deal with a dog in season in my house and she was getting close)  - I was lucky to get her at 6 weeks unspayed from rescue which is very rare these days - as rescue usually spays them asap  as early as they get them which I find horrifying!

If you look at how the endocrine (hormone) system works you can see how the research can be supported... the pituitary gland controls all the other glands - and they all turn each other on and off via a feedback mechanism. If you remove the ovaries or testes too early, then the hormonal signals that need to be sent to other areas of the body get all screwed up. Ovaries and testes are not JUST reproductive organs - they are endocrine glands as well and do help regulate maturation in other parts of the body - thus effecting growth and development elsewhere.

So , personally I will always look for pups who are NOT altered and then alter them around 12-18 months if I have a pack that can tolerate a female in season - when I got my last dog - that was not the case so she was altered before she came in to season.
Maureen, Nika, Kiva & Zoe
Play~Bow
Kingston, NY

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Cris Larson

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Re: Spaying and Neutering
« Reply #7 on: August 16, 2012, 07:38:18 AM »
I believe it is something that is a personal decision, but don't alter so young that you do damage to the dog's development.

Lars is 4 and is still intact and will remain so unless there is a medical reason to neuter him. He is not a pig and he doesn't mark in the house. He is very good around other dogs including other males. This spring, I showed him in open obedience right next to breed rings (where you can bet there are females in season) and he pulled off a high in trial. So, obviously, he isn't driven to distraction by in heat females.

I have a 9 month old male Rottie puppy who is intact as well. Right now, I also don't see the point in neutering him. That may change as he matures and his personality develops. But we'll see.

There have been studies on Rottweilers and the effects of early spay and neuter. For those who aren't familiar with the breed...they are quite prone to Osteosarcoma, which is a horrible disease.

Quote
Early Spay/Neuter Linked to Osteosarcoma

Research has linked early neutering and spaying before first cycle to significant increases in the risk of osteosarcoma in Rottweilers.

"The researchers found that 14.8% of the Rottweilers studied developed appendicular bone cancer. The relative risk was 1.65 castrated males, 1.34 in spayed females and 1.03 in intact females. The risk of developing bone cancer was significantly higher in animals that were neutered at less than 1 year of age compared with intact animals.  Dr. B. C. Beranek, Purdue University"

http://www.rottweilerhealth.org/rott_healthissues.html#EARLY

So, in my breed, there are significant benefits to leaving a rottweiler as is until at least a year old. More and more rottweiler fanciers I'm finding are leaving their dogs intact even longer than that, if they alter at all.  In both Lars and Ocean's contracts I have with their breeder, it states I am to leave them intact until they are 2 years old.

So, me? I plan on leaving my performance Rottweilers intact unless medically necessary to neuter them (or if the puppy becomes a royal pain in the butt with his overpowering manliness as he ages.)
« Last Edit: August 16, 2012, 07:42:32 AM by Cris Larson »
Cris and her rottweilers:
- URO2 UCD UCH Lars UD GN RAE NJP NAP NFP C-CD OCC OJC TG-E EAC O-WV-E S-TN-E APDT RL2 AOE-L1, L2 HIC TT CGC TDI
- Ocean RE OJP OAP XFP PD SPS SPJ APG SPR NJC TN-O APDT RL1 AOE-L1 HIC CGC

MoabDiane

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Re: Spaying and Neutering
« Reply #8 on: August 16, 2012, 11:53:18 AM »
I've always spayed/neutered my dogs, never EARLY, but am now re-thinking, some based on Zink's study (which she still hopes to get published one of these days....). 
DISCLAIMER:  *I have NO intention of breeding!* and will do everything in my power, assuming I had an unaltered dog, to prevent that! ***

But I do have a question for non-spayed female dog owners:  other than the obvious "issues" with cycles, how many of you notice a big change in "personality" during those times?  Obviously there are physical issues, male dogs, etc. etc. to consider.  And I appreciate the comments from Kyle and others so far.  Just looking for both sides of this one.

Good topic!
diane

Maureen deHaan

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Re: Spaying and Neutering
« Reply #9 on: August 16, 2012, 03:15:33 PM »
If you ever get a chance to go hear Dr. Zink present her research - I highly recommend it ... I only stayed for 1/2 of the talk (had to leave early for another commitment)  - but there was so much great information - I would love to go hear her WHOLE talk sometime.

However, I will say that as a person who prefers mixed breed dogs, I have to extrapolate a lot of what she says b/c she is VERY breed specific in her studies and presentation with regard to many things - and   IMO  a lot of the behavioral issues she speaks about MIGHT not be due to spay/neuter but to the environment the dog is reared in and what kind of relationship it has with it's owner  and the general genetic personality of the dog... When I asked about that at her talk I will say she really didn't have a good answer for me on that topic and did kind of brush off my question some - I totally agree with the physical but not completely on the behavioral...
Maureen, Nika, Kiva & Zoe
Play~Bow
Kingston, NY

"A great dog is not determined by its papers"

Re: Spaying and Neutering
« Reply #10 on: August 17, 2012, 07:21:39 AM »


But I do have a question for non-spayed female dog owners:  other than the obvious "issues" with cycles, how many of you notice a big change in "personality" during those times?  Obviously there are physical issues, male dogs, etc. etc. to consider.  And I appreciate the comments from Kyle and others so far.  Just looking for both sides of this one.

Good topic!
diane
[/quote]

I have 2 un-spayed female hunting brittanys.  I definitely notice a difference about 2 weeks before they go into their cycle.  They begin to get clingy.  We can't do a lot of training with them because of it.  They also seem to lose some self-confidence during this time.  They simply won't hunt properly.  During their actual cycle they are moody and snappy.  Some of this is because the boys simply won't leave them alone, some of it is because they have to live in a plastic bubble (they are crated a good portion of the day during their cycle so they don't get a lot of exercise) and some of it is because they simply don't feel good (they don't eat well during this time).  Forget any kind of training at all because we just can't have them that far out of our site.  Because they don't get a lot of exercise for the 3 weeks, we then run into they are absolutely "nuts" the first couple hunts or training sessions out of the box.  Not to mention we have to work on their stamina again. 
Audri, Lily, Cee Cee and Toto, Calypso