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Your Dog Needs To Be Spayed Or Neutered – Right?

 

You need to neuter your animal, right? I mean, that’s just basic: there are too many unplanned pregnancies, too many euthanasias because of that, and you need to be responsible and just do this. Right?

black and white catsNot Black and White

What was once a very stock recommendation to all my puppy and kitty owners has evolved as new research findings have emerged of late. And, in fairness, as I’ve dug more into the seriousness of the outcome of neutering, I had to leave the comfort of “one size fits all.”

Damn inconvenient, grumble mumble… why can’t biology be more like auto mechanics?

My newer recommendation goes something like this now:

If you can prevent unplanned pregnancies, (and if you have a female and don’t mind living through heat cycles) you may want to keep your animal intact and not neuter.

Emphasis on “if” on the pregnancy question — I’m not wanting unplanned pups or kitties any more than those on the front lines in shelters and rescue groups who see way too many of them. Oops is not an option.

It’s interesting to note, however, “Everybody Must Get Neutered!” is a uniquely American notion. Probably born in the last 20 years, would be my guess.

Europeans don’t buy this idea. A Swedish study of 461 dogs revealed 99% were intact, not neutered. A Hungarian study showed 57% intact dogs, and a British survey found 46% intact dogs. Hmmm. Do they know something we don’t?

What Happens When We Neuter?

I like to call it “instant menopause.” You know how rough life can be in peri-menopausal or menopausal times, either from your own experience or from your mom’s or wife’s? Imagine that all being condensed into the flip of a switch. I know in my mom’s life, a hysterectomy was the beginning of a very significant downward spiral in her health when she was in her 50s.

Sex hormone production is mostly in the testes or ovaries, though a smaller amount is produced elsewhere, for example in the adrenal glands.

When spaying or castration (collectively called neutering) takes place, we shut off the major source of the sex hormones testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone. While neutering prevents pregnancy, you have to evaluate the risks against the benefits to decide where the balance point is for you and your animals.

Clear Benefits

The good that comes from neutering is:

  • Birth control
  • Cessation of heat or estrus cycles
  • Absence of behavior that goes with the sexually intact animal

Birth control is the main reason neutering is pushed. Once the male loses his testicles to the surgeon’s knife or the female her ovaries and uterus, neither can create offspring from that point forward.

Estrus cycles are those periods of time when the female is in heat, surging with sex hormones, and both attractive to and receptive to the male. Heats come typically every six months in dogs, seasonally in cats (usually spring and fall), throughout the year in cattle, and seasonally in early spring in the horse. This all goes away when a female is spayed.

Behavior accompanying heat cycles can be both annoying and downright dangerous. Annoying is the female cat who comes mmrOOWWWwwwing at all hours, keeping you up at night with her chorus of lust. Worse yet is the tom cat’s constant urge to leave his scent everywhere with a spritz of urine on doorways, furniture, or your shoes! Intact female cats will also “soil” your house with urine while going through their heats.

I was recently visiting my network chiropractor’s farm while her intact Dachsund was just going out of heat and her intact male Airedale was beside himself with desire, but locked up behind impenetrable fencing. Poor Lionheart! He didn’t even recognize me when I came up to rub him and say hello. It was like I wasn’t there, and I was told he’d missed eating for several days, he was so taken with the lusty hormones he was smelling from Frieda!

The dangerous side of behavior in this instance comes from running out into traffic in “hot pursuit” of a female or, like Lionheart, running through a barbed wire fence, lacerating his penis, and bleeding for days! Ouch. There’s data out there on animals hit by cars: far more are intact than neutered. And yep, it’s usually the guys.

Another danger is male aggression, though this is largely a cat issue, and in my experience much less likely in intact male dogs. Tom cats are prone to getting into serious fights when they are intact, and this can make for wounds, abscesses, and disease transmission, if they are wounded by a cat carrying FeLV, for example.

All of this behavior, the heat cycles, and the possibility of pregnancy are gone once you neuter. (I cannot personally imagine living with unneutered cats, unless you relish the scent of cat urine!)

Downsides and Risks

What’s become of greater interest to me of late are several studies showing the ill effects of surgical gonadectomy, or instant hormone-pause.

A study done in UC Davis and published in February 2013 revealed some startling health consequences of neutered animals, both male and female. The research tracked 759 Golden Retrievers, and looked at early neuter (less than one year of age) vs later neuter (12 months or older) vs intact dogs and five common diseases:

  1. Hip dysplasia (HD), the arthritis of the hip joint common to dogs
  2. Cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) damage, the “football injury” of dogs’ knees
  3. Hemangiosarcoma (HSA), a type of cancer that can be fatal
  4. Lymphosarcoma (LSA), immune system cancer, usually fatal
  5. Mast cell tumors (MCT), yet another cancer that can kill dogs

To summarize the researchers’ findings:

  • Neutered animals fared significantly worse in all five diseases.
  • Early neuter of males doubled the rate of hip dysplasia compared to intact males.
  • None of the intact animals had cruciate ligament disease. Zero. It only appeared in the neutered animals.
  • Early neutered males had three times more LSA than the intact males, while late neutered males had no LSA.
  • The percentage of HSA was four times higher in late neutered females than in either intact or early neutered females.
  • MCT was absent in intact females but present in neutered females. In males, neutering status made no difference.

So, in dogs of both sexes, neutering had significant ill effects in this large study, though it wasn’t uniform across the board.

The clearest loser: early neutering, which has always made holistic veterinarians cringe. (But, in fairness to how facts aren’t always clear cut [damn them!], you noticed how early neutered female Goldens had less HSA? Still not a good reason for early neutering, as you’ll see below).

Here’s an earlier study (2004) on cranial cruciate ligament injury that also showed an increased prevalence in the neutered dogs, male or female. 1

Early Spay: No Way!

We’ve known for many years that it takes intact sex hormones to grow naturally, with skeleton and ligaments and tendons all in harmony. The proponents of spaying or castration at a very young age, long before maturity, have ignored that in favor of some desperate “get ‘em while we’ve got ‘em” mentality.

steer-in-chuteThis is somewhat akin to what I call “steer in the chute” medicine.

Oh oh. You’re gonna do how many things to me at once?

If you’re a rancher and you only work your cattle infrequently, due to handling stress, manpower, weather, etc., you tend to do as many things to that captured animal at the moment he’s caught in your chute as possible. So, steers are commonly castrated, branded, vaccinated for multiple things, ear tagged, and fly treated before they are released. It’s convenience medicine, in other words. “We might not see him again for months, let’s get ‘er done now!”

So, shelters and humane societies got the bright idea some 20 years ago to start neutering dogs and cats when they were 8 weeks old. Imagine giving your 9 month old daughter a hysterectomy, and you’ll cringe appropriately.

And yes, giving vaccinations while under anesthesia is a common practice. No chance of struggle. Never mind that the immune system and all its defenses are asleep as well. “She’s in the chute, let’s do this!”

Crooked and Crazy

This study showed the disastrous effects early neuter had on development, when it occurred in either of the ages studied: 7 weeks or 7 months, vs intact. Bone conformation was distorted (radius to ulnar length), genitals and urinary tracts failed to develop properly, and both groups of neutered animals were “more active”, with the 7 week neuter group judged more “excitable” than the intact group.

Wait. What?

Ever see an ADD dog? One who can’t stay on task, easily distracted, over excited by most anything? This isn’t the only study that hints at behavioral effects like ADD in neutered animals. Here’s another, showing even aggression far more in neutered vs intact dogs in a large population study.

“Among the findings, neutered dogs were more aggressive, fearful, excitable, and less trainable than intact dogs.”

Damn. And clients are asking me regularly if keeping their male dogs intact risks them being aggressive. These data suggest the complete opposite.

The researchers above also measured bone lengths and found abnormalities in the neutered.

[Now, in fairness, a variable was not factored in here, one I see as significantly important in creating the excitable, ADD-like dogs who regularly grace my practice: vaccination. I asked the chief author of the last paper if vaccine status was taken into account. It was not.]

More Fuel for the Risk Fire

An earlier study on osteosarcoma showed twice the incidence of this deadly bone cancer in neutered vs intact dogs.

A study of dogs spanning nearly 40 years and over a million dogs (!) confirmed that female hormones are protective against lymphoma, a cancer that takes over the immune system. Their working hypothesis came from the observation that women don’t get this disease until after menopause. And yes, that’s the state we induce immediately after spaying. Bye bye, female hormones.

Hypothyroidism in Dogs — Highest Risk: Neutering

Here’s a study from 1994 of 66 dogs studied over five years, and the researchers found neutering was the “most significant … risk factor” in the dogs becoming hypothyroid. Vaccines are another, per Dr. Jean Dodds.

Leakers

We’ve known for many years that spayed female dogs develop urinary incontinence later in life. Until it was taken off the market for safety reasons, the standard treatment was giving estrogen replacement. Remember, ovaries are the main estrogen producers.

Obesity

The neutered animals tend to get obese more easily than their intact cohorts. This has been studied in cats as well as dogs. This has also been commonly seen in practice over many generations of dogs. I strongly suspect that this is due to carbohydrate laden foods (i.e. kibble) being fed to carnivores, especially the cat. You can have a big influence here by making good feeding choices in both species.

Beware: Red Herring

You’ll hear this argument in favor of spaying that’s based on real life observations by Dr. WhiteCoat:

Unspayed females (dogs) are more likely to get breast tumors than spayed females.

But wait. I’d ask you to put this in the only context that will shine a light on it: the wild model. Look tothe closest cousins, genetically, to verify this.

Are intact wolf bitches succumbing to breast cancer? Coyotes? Dingos? I seriously doubt it. This is a disease of man’s interventions, like every other chronic disease you can name in domestic animals.

These animals with breast cancer were likely multiply vaccinated, for years if not for life. They were likely fed kibble, a very species inappropriate diet, full of toxic byproducts, preservatives, and starches. They may also have been treated with the ever present flea pesticides. Add in the risky heartworm drugs given monthly, and you can imagine spaying was perhaps one small reason for their disease. Intact wild canines who live free of these influences would not be dying of breast cancer.

Pyometra, Red Herring II

You’ll often hear this argument for spaying as well: spayed females don’t develop pyometra, the infection of the uterus that can be life threatening.

Well, that’s true: one can’t get an infection in an absent organ. Duh.

But again, look at what’s happening in the real world. Do lynx and wolves die of pyometra or is this another man made disease? I’ll bet you can answer this yourself.

What’s a Thinking Pet Owner to Do?

Let’s break it down to four groups and I’ll offer my take on this neuter question as a guideline for you. Ultimately you have to answer these questions for yourself, in your living situation to decide which way to go for the animals in your life.

1. MALE DOGS:

This may be the easiest for me, having grown up with one male dog at a time throughout my youth, none of whom were castrated. Looking back, I realize now that we were careless some of the time, letting our guy out to eliminate on his own. There were a few times we’d not see Jake for the rest of the night, only to have him drag himself in, exhausted, the next morning. My dad would make a joking remark about “visiting girl friends,” and we moved on after a laugh.

That meant unplanned for puppies somewhere. Not good. Irresponsible.

None of our intact male dogs were aggressive in the least.  None were given to mounting or undesirable sexual behavior. N=4 (science term for the number in the study).

Q: Can you prevent your male dog from wandering the neighborhood?

Good fencing and/or leashing and supervision when he’s out to eliminate would answer that seasonal wanderlust. Wandering uncontrolled not only makes puppies, it can make for auto injuries or death.

A: If you’re confident you can answer yes, I’d recommend not castrating your male dog.

scar-face-tom12. MALE CATS:

This one’s also pretty easy. Having seen beat up intact male cats in practice, with a thick neck and a scarred face, and knowing that they, in their territorial imperative as breeding males, were also marking their territory (to include, but not limited to, their owner’s personal things and living space), these guys need to be neutered. When will come in a bit, read on.

The only exception would be someone with a carefully planned breeding program who is set up with a cattery.

3. FEMALE DOGS

The data here clearly show risk from removing the ovaries, which is part of spaying. So, we’re back to a couple of Q’s and A’s:

Q: Are you confident you can prevent pregnancy for a few weeks twice a year?

A: If yes, I would keep your bitch intact, not neutered.

Q: Are you comfortable with diapering for a couple weeks every six months to avoid blood spotting on your bed or floors?

A: If yes, not spaying may be appropriate for you.

Time Out for the Big Picture

An important BUT comes in here, however. If you aim to raise your dog the way I advocate, with no vaccinations after the initial couple as a youngster, and feed a species appropriate diet, and avoid the poisons foisted on you in the name of flea and heartworm control, you’re likely to avoid pyometra and breast cancer. If you go for the Dr. WhiteCoat version of “prevention” instead, you’re likely better off spaying.

Like so much of biology, health and illness is usually a combination of many decisions you make for your animals, all rolled together. Hence, the need to approach health holistically.

Have you found your holistic vet yet? Or better yet, your homeopathic vet?

4. FEMALE CATS:

Again, with the exception of those planned for a breeding operation, if you don’t relish amorous behavior several times a year with urine marking and the neighborhood toms hanging around spraying urine and fighting outside your dwelling, I’d recommend spaying your adult cats.

The data of ill effects of neutering are largely from the dog world. Cats may follow suit, but we don’t typically see bone cancer in cats, nor HSA, or MCT.

LSA, the cancer of the immune system is not uncommon, but it’s not been studied in intact vs neutered cats, to my knowledge. We can say there are protective effects of having one’s ovaries intact in both dogs and humans.

When to Do the Deed?

If you’ve decided to neuter, after weighing risks and benefits, timing is everything. Growing to maturity with one’s hormones fully intact is best. I’m speaking here not of sexual maturity, but the cessation of growth and the closure of the bone growth plates.

Maturity comes at different times in different breeds. In general, the smaller the adult weight, the sooner maturity will set in. That might be 9 – 12 months in the wee breeds, and up to two years in the bigger guys, like Danes and Mastiffs. This is even true in cats, with Maine Coons thought to not reach full maturity until they are two years old.

Here’s the trick: you want the hormones intact until growth to mature size is finished, but you don’t want unplanned for pregnancies, either.

Sexual maturity will very likely come before bone growth is finished. You’ve heard of teen brides, right?

You’re the Chaperone!

Pappy_Maverick_1959Once more, we’re left with messy old biology to deal with. Never one size fits all, nor simple black and white decision making, living beings are complicated! They are wired biologically to reproduce, you might say. While it’s ideal to let your female’s first heat (or two or three) go by before you neuter, you also don’t want the surprise of pregnancy! You have to be prepared for it and protect her from getting bred.

Doggy diapers can help, but ultimately, determined males can get through about any barrier except one: YOU.

If you have a male, it’s easier: don’t let him wander unattended. If he needs to go out after your bedtime, that either needs to be in a well fenced area, or you need to be there with him, leashing him so he’s not getting a whiff of biology from the female a mile away that sets him on a course to breed her.

I’m seeing more unneutered pets in my practice now, several of them up in years. I’ve cured a pyometra or two and am confident any practiced homeopathic vet can do this as well. If I were to shop for a dog at this stage of my life, it’d be a naturally raised intact male, and I’d keep him that way.

Will you choose to neuter or not? And if so, when? Hopefully you’ve now got more information to help you make these decisions.

1 Slauterbeck, et al “Canine Ovariohysterectomy and Orchiectomy Increases the Prevalence of ACL Injury” Clinical Orthopaedics and Related Research 429 (301): 5

 

 

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  • 90 Responses to Your Dog Needs To Be Spayed Or Neutered – Right?

    1. On flea and tick control- I noticed my dog feels really sick after being treated with Frontline or spotted, so I stopped using poison and rub small amounts of Diatomaceous earth (DE into her fur, behind her ears, and what’s left on my fingers gets rubbed into the inside of her ears.

      Fleas hop on, they get cut up, and they die. DE can also be used to deworm, 1 level teaspoon per 5kg body weight added to their food for 3 full weeks. Humans use it medicinally too. It is completely non-toxic. There is a very slight risk it could irritate your or your dog’s lungs if you produce clouds of the stuff, but you should be using it sparingly and rub it as close to the skin as you can get.

      Poisons that prevent the breeding cycle of fleas will also upset the hormone balance of a dog. That is also why the Bt toxin in GMO (GE, transgenic) plants designed to cause an insects digestive system to explode causes digestive problems in humans.

    2. I have a 6 year old unspayed very crossbreed bitch. She has not been spayed, and has never had pups. It is unlikely that she ever will, as the only time that I missed the cue and let her run in the park she was openly aggressive to other dogs, especially males. Oops. A large golden Labrador ended up with a nasty nip on his face.

      Normally she is very gentle and loving, and very sociable with other living creatures, but when she’s in heat she gets mawkish and sometimes takes some item of clothing I’ve been wearing out of the wash basket and chews it.

      I do not agree with automatically spaying a bitch any more than I agree with HRT in human menopause or hysterectomy where no cancer is present. Bitches that have been spayed are more likely to have porous bone that breaks and heals slowly (osteoporosis), along with a higher risk of bone and other cancers.

      I love my dog very much, and that’s precisely why I HAVEN’T had her spayed.

    3. Katie

      I have recently become involved in rescue helping whatever way i can to save these precious animals. All of my babies were rescued. My 2 yr old pit was fixed upon leaving the shelter. She was 1 and had puppies. 4 of our cats were from the shelter and were fixed after getting over uri. It is mandatory they be fixed before going home to adopters here.1 was 9 months and had kittens 1 other was about 5 months. My 2 10 yr olds were my husbands grandmothers. After her death the 1 child there was on drugs and not feeding them so they traveled back with us. They were both fixed probably young and may have received vaccines then but none after that we no of. What can i do to ensure everyones health? Also when i get a bigger place i would like to foster. Once that happens how can i keep mine healthy with new ones coming in from different backgrounds?

    4. Sarah

      I’m from the UK and this and many other articles have been quite an eye opener for me. Our family dogs have always been spayed on the advice of the vet, all but one died from spleen and liver cancer, one had cruciate ligament surgery in her lifetime.

      Our newest shelter dog is about 8 months old and just finished her first season. I’m trying to convince my parents not to get her spayed at least until she has fully matured at least. They insist on getting her spayed in 3 months time but I’ll do my best to get them to delay it and let her finish growing first.

    5. Angel Gouterez

      I really don’t think we can judge people on if they fix their pet. I am going to have my female fixed. Normally I don’t get females and don’t fix the males. However I have experienced two heat cycles. I have had male dogs chew through our wooden fence or did their way into the yard. This past cycle two males got into the yard. My small dog got trapped in the middle. I had to kick the males off of her, which made them leave, but my dog now has a broken front paw. I was playing fetch with her, so she was being watched. I cannot keep the male dogs out( I do fix the fence when it is broken and we have put bricks around the bottom of the fence does not work) and I’m worried that my dog will be hurt worse next time. I am going to fix my female dog, not because I am irresponsible but because in my current situation it is the best thing for me to do. Evey person’s situation is diffrent and they are making the best decision for their situation

    6. lyoungdvm

      The arguments that Dr. Falconer presents against conventional spaying and neutering practices touch on a number of different areas. Unfortunately some of those arguments are either based on conjecture and not on reality. I have been involved in small animal, wildlife and zoo animal medicine at different points throughout my 27 year career. Unlike Dr. Falconer, I have seen wolves with mammary tumors. I have seen far more exotic cats (jaguar, leopard, snow leopard, mountain lion, tiger) with these same tumors. They do exist in non-domestic carnivores. As with our pets,the majority of these were in elderly zoo animals, who by the way, were fed raw diets . Mammary tumors are less common in wild animals but only because wild animals have significantly shorter life spans in general than our pets or zoo animals do. They just don’t live long enough to get the tumors. For those that wish to compare the US tendency to spay and neuter to what happens in Europe, every Spanish, Italian, or French veterinarian that I have spoken to has told me that they do chain mastectomies for removal of mammary tumors extremely frequently. It’s just an accepted part of pet ownership to perform a very extensive, expensive, and painful surgery to remove all mammary glands on one side from the chest to the pelvis due to cancer. This is not the case in Great Britain, Germany, and Scandinavia where the pet owners have less hang-ups about their pets having “romance” and spaying/neutering is more common.

      As for pyometras, the author completely avoids giving any kind of a rational argument as to why this should be risked. The reality is that pyometras occur very frequently in unspayed dogs and cats. I have absolutely seen them in non-domestic carnivores. Any veterinarian who practices in an area with a significant number of intact pets knows and has experienced this. The majority of pets with pyometra have to be spayed on an emergency basis at much greater risk to the pet and expense for the owner than a routine spay. I can only assume that Dr. Falconer’s practice is so specialized and exclusive that he is too far removed from the daily experiences of the real world to remember this.
      The experiences of myself and my veterinarian wife bear this out. I own a practice in an upper-income suburb in southern California that has a similar demographic to Dr. Falconer’s home of Austin. Pet owners here are very proactive in their pet care with most people adopting shelter pets that are spayed and neutered before I ever see them. Less than 3% of the pets in my practice are intact. Due to that I have possibly one pyometra surgery and maybe two mastectomies per year. I have done one C-section in 7 years. I have never had a parvovirus case from a puppy from within 10 miles of clinic because of the few numbers of puppies being produced here and appropriate vaccination. My wife does relief work two days a week in a practice in a very blue collar town 90 minutes north of here. At least 40% of the pets in that practice are intact. They do pyometra surgeries and C-sections more than weekly there. There is at least one mastectomy every couple of weeks. Due to the vast numbers of puppies being born either intentionally or by accident and poor vaccination compliance, parvo cases come in daily with a significant number of these puppies dying.
      So that’s enough from me. I have less issues with neutering male dogs than not spaying females of either species, so leave your boys alone if you want. Early in my career I saw lots of male dogs hit by cars, shot or picked up by animal control when they got out of the yard to go after the local bitch in heat. Now that most females are spayed there is way less temptation. If you can stand to live with an intact tom, more power to you, but no one will be able to stand visiting your home due to the smell. Just get rid of those ovaries. Leave the uterus if you want but you are really not putting your pet’s best interests first if you don’t. Do it later if you want to, but just do it. Vets are not saying these things just to make money off of you. We charge far less for the procedure than what it’s worth to encourage people to do it. We have devoted our lives to animals because we really do care about them and our experiences contradict those of someone who’s practice is devoted to homeopathy at $250 an hour, not the in-the-trenches medicine of the real world.

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        Well, there’s the rub. The real world involves dogs who haven’t been healthy since the day they were vaccinated. Dogs who are cared for conventionally are walking toxic receptacles of mercury, aluminum and formaldehyde from vaccines, neurotoxins, pesticides, and synthetic, processed foods full of mycotoxins and aflatoxins, with immune systems that have been turned inside out with humoral bias, thanks to vaccination. Yes, you are right that these dogs are susceptible to bacterial infections like pyometra…not because they are intact necessarily, but because their immune systems are completely incapable of protecting them. Let me share a story of my experience with pyo….

        My naturally raised dog began to suddenly leak fluids nine weeks after her heat. I took her to the reproductive vet for an ultrasound and he urged me to spay her on the spot as she was full of pus. However she showed no outward signs of ill health, other than the vaginal leakage. I refused the spay and decided to hold off on the prostaglandins and treated her with two doses of Belladonna. Two weeks later, she had lost several pounds of fluid and there was no evidence of pyo on the ultrasound. The vet was mystified but didn’t even do my dog the courtesy of asking what I had done to treat it. She was successfully bred the next season without the antibiotics they assured me should need for a successful whelping. She had five healthy puppies. (Please don’t stoop so low as to question me as a breeder – I breed show champions, one litter every two to three years and have a two year waiting list of thoroughly screen puppy buyers who must pass very stringent requirements and must bring any dog back to me that they can no longer keep).

        THIS is the REAL WORLD, not your artificial, drug and chemical induced one. The immune system is a remarkable system that conventional medicine completely ignores and does its best to destroy. This is why you must be in the trenches; because conventional medicine robs our dogs of their immune systems. So you are forced to mop up the mess of cancer, digestive issues, pyometra, atopy, diabetes, and on and on and on. The sad and infuriating irony is that you are the one who has caused this disease with over-vaccination and an over-reliance on vaccines, drugs, chemicals and the removal of 1/4 of the endocrine system, all in the assumption that this will somehow create good health for our dogs. How on earth has it come to this?

        I have no doubt that you care about animals. But shame on you for treating a colleague this way on a public forum. And shame on you for refusing to open your eyes to the obvious: that over-servicing by veterinarians is causing an alarming increase in chronic disease and ill health in our companion animals. It’s not just dog owners who can be irresponsible – sooner or later, veterinarians will have to own up to the death and disease they are causing with over-vaccination, poor nutrition and toxic overload. Are you willing to take responsibility for that? Because veterinarians like the author of this article have, and this is why they’ve left conventional medicine behind forever.

        Dana Scott
        Editor in Chief
        Dogs Naturally Magazine

        • A

          I am now on my 4th male dog, he’s 6 months old and I will not be neutering him, ever. None of my dogs were neutered and having grown up in Europe, I didn’t even know that people ever even considered neutering dogs until I came to the US. None of the dogs back home were neutered and I’d never heard of any of them developing health problems because of that.
          I wish people were responsible enough to prevent unwanted pet pregnancies and I also wish that people would stop getting female dogs if they’re not ready to deal with their heat cycles.
          I also really disagree with people who say that neutering your dog will help with behavioral issues, again, if you’re not ready to dedicate the time to properly train your dog, don’t get one! Why is it that people don’t think it’s ok to dock tails and ears, but say it’s ok to cut a dog’s balls off?!
          I also agree with the vaccination part, they do nothing but harm our beloved pets.
          Thank you for your wonderful article.

    7. Samira Abraham

      My Golden Retriever came into heat when she was 7 months old and soon after got pseudo pregnant and it was very stressful for her, she started lactating as well and it was terrible seeing her go through this with her imaginary puppies and it lasted for a month. After the next cycle the same thing happened and it was worse than the first pseudo pregnancy.Once they do become pseudo pregnant, they have more chances of getting it and it can lead to mammary tumours and pyometra. Vet said either she should have a litter or she should be spayed. She was only a year and a half and I definitely did not want her to have a litter so young. Did a lot of reading up and finally decided to get her spayed. Zoe is so much more happier and active post being spayed. She’s back to her puppy self. My husband who was against spaying, after seeing Zo go through the pseudo pregnancy was convinced to get her spayed.

      Also, a friend’s dog, a Basset Hound, year and a half got pyometra. She like Zoe had got pseudo pregnant after both cycles and then she got pyometra. Another friend’s dog, Golden Retriver, developed mammary tumours and she wasn’t spayed.

    8. Jennifer

      I loved this article. I live in a large city in a home with a small fenced yard and have an intact 8 year old male catahoula leopard dog. I have had him since 8 weeks old and he has always been in the yard, on a leash or within sight while off leash, and so has not contributed to pet over population. He has the most wonderful temperament and I choose not to neuter him, out of a desire to treat my animal friend with compassion and kindness. I do have to say this article was not as fair to cats. I also own a 9 year old intact male domestic long hair cat. I have had him since an 8 week old kitten, and he is an exclusively indoor cat and as such has also not contributed to pet over population. I have not had an issue with him spraying, or urinating outside his litter box in almost ten years except for one time. Which was him spraying a brand new litter box the first time he used it, so I have just not purchased any new litter boxes for him since. He has the loveliest temperament; almost dog-like ( comes when you call his name, would be picked up and petted all day if it were up to him etc.) and given my experience with him, I would say it is quite possible to live with an intact male cat.

    9. Shelly

      Thank You Marilyn Evans
      I Def think this is something I will be doing with my Dane cross- makes so much more sense plus prevents unwanted babies- also waiting till she is 3yrs old.
      ovary-sparing spay
      http://www.parsemusfoundation.org/ovary-sparing-spay/
      http://www.ivcjournal.com/articles/the-pros-of-partial-spay/

    10. Andrea

      I have a 13 month old intact Doberman who is a cryptorchid. He is raw fed, not vaccinated and I am waiting until 18 months to neuter. I wish the article had covered this condition. Do studies support the commonly held truth that the retained testicle will become cancerous? What is the incidence and frequency? are there stats available on this? While I totally understand, and I’m just playing devils advocate here, I do feel there was a double standard for cats in this article. Yes they are harder to manage as people don’t usually walk them on leash and males get in fights, but it seems the article was saying the main reason to neuter cats was the inconvenience of living with intact cats. Which I don’t disagree with, but still feel this is a double standard. I have a female cat with chronic UTIs and urinating ALL over the house (desk, phone, counters, clothing, floors, carpets) so I know what it is like to deal with cat urine! Her problems resolved on a raw diet. And regarding people who have intact dogs who can live with other intact dogs and belittle others for not being able to do the same, yes it does work for some situations, but some breeds such as the Doberman and others cannot tolerate other males, even their male siblings that they have grown up with for years. I know a respected raw feeding, natural rearing doberman breeder who didn’t believe other breeders warnings and that that could ever happen to her two loving brothers but as they hit 2+ years she had to a lot of work and stress managing them separately in the house and yard. She eventually rehomed one of them. The story is on her website so others won’t make the same mistake. My puppies father is the most laid back gentle dog ever, is shown extensively and behaves well around crowds of dogs, but he would not tolerate living with another adult male. That being said, it does all depend on the particular dog as I’ve had an intact GSD and Golden at different times, with absolutely no problems, both lived in the country without fencing and no roaming. Neither were aggressive to other dogs and the Shepherd lived with my male neutered Doberman (neutered at the city shelter where I adopted him) for a year until he passed away at 12 of natural causes.

    11. Fabulous article. Thank you.
      We have a boxer bitch who is almost 3. We blindly trusted our vets advice and had her neutered at 6 months old. She is atypically tall which i put down to early neutering and has started to develop fearful behaviour, even though she has been very well socialised etc. She is raw fed and minimal vaccinated. I would definitely do things differently if I could time travel. Unfortunately for our baby girl I can’t. It just makes me so sad. Suzy, UK

    12. Jill Pearson

      Interesting article but it comes the night before my 8 month old cat is scheduled for neutering. I waited as long as possible but once he starts spraying it probably won’t stop. It happened to my mom’s cat years ago. so now what?
      I canceled the neutering once because I found out they would vaccinate him the same day. So i vaccinated him a week ago first. I wanted to wait until after but the neuter certificate I got for low cost required rabies vaccine BEFORE the surgery.
      I also found out they would give him Cap Star too. i told my vet forget it. NO Cap Star.
      I hate doing this but I don’ tknow what else to do. i live in the country with feral cats everywhere. My neighbors feel cats are to be fed enough to get tthem to stick around but hungry to catch mice. They just keep wild cats fed to stick around and breed. It’s sick.

    13. Amber

      Question: I love Mexico. The vets here often perform Vasectomies on males rather than castrations, siting lower incidents of issues related to neutering as the article mentions.

      Would castration be as beneficial as leaving them uncastrated?

      • Amber

        Sorry. Should read: I live in Mexico.
        :)

        • Michelle

          Excellent question, Amber!

    14. Seth A Borg, M.D.

      Thorough discussion but lacking an obvious question and answer. Why not perform hysterectomies but not oophorectomies, thus preserving hormone integrity in females?

      • Michelle

        Another excellent question! I’m guessing the answer is that’s the way it’s always been done and few are questioning it.

    15. Erica Christopher

      I couldn’t remember if our groomer requested vaccination documents or not and my dog hasn’t been back since his latest (and last) vaccination had “expired” after choosing to raise our dogs The Vital Way with Dr. Falconer a help. So, I visited their website to see if it was posted and what I found astounded me…

      They have a link that includes some local favorite businesses such as doggy daycares, dog walkers, concierge services, etc. I clicked on a few before stumbling on Dog Boy’s Dog Ranch. By the looks of the pictures, it truly seems like a camp for dogs. But it wasn’t long until I noticed their Spay and Neuter Policy. Erk! They actually pride themselves in being “Central Texas’ first All Spayed and Neutered boarding facility!” Hopefully, they are also the last!!! So, not only are the boarding facilities trying to dictate what we inject into our pets’ bodies, they are also trying to play hero in stopping the pet overpopulation problem by refusing our intact dogs to board there. If they did a little research, they would soon discover, it’s a human problem created by irresponsible dog owners, not an issue of gonads or not.

      On the surface, it seems like spaying and neutering is the obvious answer to our problem. But after a little research one will find out that European dogs are rarely fixed and Europe doesn’t have a pet overpopulation problem, as least not as extensive as ours. So how do they do it? They control their female dogs when they are in season. “By employing this strategy, a nation can have intact dogs, even free-roaming intact dogs, and not have a surplus of puppies.” I just finished reading Ted Kerasotes book Pukka’s Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs. He goes on to suggest, that our pet overpopulation problem is actually rooted in our social problem. He points out that among all developed nations, the US has the thinnest social welfare system and the most widespread poverty, and it kills the most dogs each year. Studies suggest that when people are on the edge of surviving, they choose to care for their children first and frequently the only way to do that is to surrender their animals even if the dog or cat has been a longtime companion. Nearly 20% of people who relinquish their dogs had lived with their dogs for 12-14years. And nearly 60% relinquished to shelter for euthanasia because of “old age” came from households earning less than $35,000.
      If they are truly concerned with females becoming impregnated under their care, I would think that requesting a progesterone blood tests should suffice? More likely than not, I think it’s about a caring group of ill-informed people who made a policy without doing their homework. I wonder if they know about the flipside of spay and neuter?… the increase in prostate CA, urinary incontinence, obesity, osteosarcoma, diabetes, cushing’s disease, bladder cancer, hemangiosarcoma, orthopedic injuries, weak rear ends, shorter life spans, increase in reactivity, the list goes on. They might know (as we’ve all been warned at the vet’s office) about the risk of breast cancer and pyometria in an intact females. Karen Becker puts it nicely, “How did my profession end up preaching that because ovaries can cause two diseases, they should be automatically removed, even when the mortality rate for the two diseases they cause-pyometra and mammary cancer-is small? Have all the wet dog kisses licked away common sense?” And moreover, a .09% incidence of testicular can in intact males, is hardly an argument.
      I would think, a responsible owner of an intact animal, willing to pay $45/night, would be an unlikely candidate to willingly drop of their in estrous female for boarding. Just sayin’!
      If you dont believe me, check it out! http://www.dogboys.com/spayneuterpolicy.php

      • Michelle

        Erica, have you considered a pet sitter? Prices are, of course, variable by region but my rates would be lower than the kennel’s you quoted above. I don’t ask about vaccinations but do ask if a dog has been sexually altered…just so I’ll know. Aside from that, you don’t have to drop your dog off anywhere and he’s there waiting for you when you return after being well cared for. Most sitters will also bring in mail and paper, water plants, and alternate lights so your residence doesn’t look unoccupied.

      • Becky

        In this case the day cares and boarding facilities aren’t worried about cancers and pyometria. I have met many well behaved intact dogs…but putting a bunch of them all together, in a strange situation where they don’t know each other is just asking for problems. In order for them to accept intact dogs they would need to keep each dog separately, not to mention the chaos that would happen in a barn full of intact males if one of the females were to go into heat early!

        For them it simply isn’t worth the risk.

        Ditto for the vaccination argument. Having a child that you home school (or a dog who rarely goes to the dog park) is vastly different from taking that same child or dog and putting them into a day care! Even the cleanest and most carefully run facility can’t help but be a breeding ground for all sorts of illnesses. Until you’ve seen kennel cough race like wild fire through the entire population of a doggy day care (which I have) you can’t really understand why it’s such a big deal…but it IS.

        The thing to remember is that in the end they’re doing these things from a sensible business perspective, and that as a consumer it’s up to you if you’ll buy or support their products and policies. If you don’t then you are welcome to go to another facility.

        Personally, I would never leave a dog at a place that allowed unaltered dogs over 6 months without a certificate from a vet (because the fact is that there are exceptions to every rule), and didn’t insist on current vaccination records.

        • Dogs Naturally Magazine

          Becky, if vaccines protect your dog, then why would you fear unvaccinated dogs? What threat could they possibly pose if the other dogs are vaccinated?

    16. Wendy

      From my perspective, in the US you can only have an intact male or female if you get a dog from a breeder. As shelters, where I got my dog from, neuter before allowing adoption. And rescues that I am familiar with, do the same. My dog was neutered at 3.5 months old by the shelter, and his elbow bones did not properly fuse and thus he required elbow surgery at 10 months old. He is atypically tall and lean too, also due to the early neuter I believe. I feed him raw, he does not get vaccinated, and so far no sign of elbow arthritis and he’s 5 years old.

    17. Teri

      Interesting article but I think you are giving a lot of people too much credit….I know people who are very responsible with their intact dogs and others that are not. The ones that aren’t, do not read these articles or join dog forums, etc. They carelessly allow their dogs to breed then dump the pups at a shelter. Shelters are never going to adopt out unaltered pups for this cycle to continue. And you shouldn’t want them to. While I do understand all the medical reasons for keeping a dog intact, it is not always a guarantee of good health. My dalmatian was not spayed until almost 2 years old, she developed both MCT and lymphoma which she ultimately died from before the age of 7. Another dal was spayed at 8 months and is in very good health so far at almost 4 years old. My other 3 were spayed by the shelter at a young age. While the medical information in this article should help dog owners make decisions, I hate that they had to throw in remarks that were meant to degrade owners such as inappropriate diets (kibble) and heartworm and flea meds given (try living in the south for a while without these. Can’t we just give info without slamming a large group of people? Then you wonder why these articles get hateful comments?

      • Aurora C.

        A few points I’d like to make…As someone previously mentioned most/all studies have been conducted on conventionally raised [read several strikes against them right from birth, over vaccinated, fed inappropriate foods for carnivores] rather than well fed, un-vaccinated or minimally vaccinated animals. Another point is genetics; I recall reading that it took 6 or 7 breedings down the line to eliminate many of the predisposed diseases. One labrador web site claims 111 genetic diseases for the breed! Raising a dog naturally is not going to eliminate all those genetic conditions/diseases in one generation!

        In my experience, I’ve always spay/neutered over 40 years now, I adopt rescues, no vaccines, raw feed. I had my very first dog with a cancer a couple years ago. She was nearly 14 and had been conventionally raised for 2 years by her first family and the cancer was in her sinus which as a hunter, digger, super sniffer could have been caused by any of the above. I count myself lucky given all the genetic diseases we have now. The only other problem we had was a dog with grain allergies which we fixed in a jiff once she went on raw diet.
        Cats have all been disgustingly healthy and long lived. I haven’t seen ANY problems connected with spay/neuters – none at all.

        Something that hasn’t been mentioned is cats when they come into season, will increase frequency of the cycles until they are in perpetual heat unless they are bred.

        Its all a matter of checks and balances for each individual. Its not only the animals health must be considered, but the family they live with as well. Shift workers need their sleep, earplugs do not stifle the sound of a caterwauling female cat in heat! We had 5 male dogs tearing through our screen door and proceeding to chew the entrance door when our bitch was in heat. The owners were not about of course and some even denied any of the dogs were theirs… a person could go insane dealing with OTHER peoples irresponsibility.
        Good article over all. I felt the first vet to comment made some good points though their animosity toward holistic practitioners should have been left in the closet.

        • Dogs Naturally Magazine

          Hi Aurora
          We didn’t mention cats because, well, this is DOGS Naturally Magazine. So we’ll keep the conversation to dogs.
          I will tell you, I’ve had intact females for twenty years and I’ve never once had an intact male come looking for them. I’ve never had an oops litter and I live in the country where there are many at loose dogs.
          As for the studies being done on conventionally raised animals, that isn’t the point. The dogs were all fed and raised the same, so that wasn’t a factor in the research. While the overall rates of disease may have been higher in the conventionally raised dogs, the fact that dogs who are neutered earlier have a higher incidence of disease will still apply because diet is controlled. The study applies to naturally raised dogs too (although once a quarter of their endocrine system is surgically removed, it’s difficult to still call them naturally raised, isn’t it?)

    18. Therese

      I’m sorry, but the mindless and mandatory spay/neuter of shelter and rescue dogs is the reason I will never consider another one. I started with dogs purchased from a breeder and those dogs were intact and healthy to nearly the end of their lives, and I’ve never produced a single puppy. They lived significantly longer than every single altered rescue of the same breed that I’ve had in the last 20 years. When we adopted our current rescue, we barely got her out of their hands and they were insisting we spay immediately, even though she was emaciated, had an extremely elevated white cell count, an upper respiratory infection and a high parasite load. They made our lives miserable and threatened to repossess her so they could check a box, even though our vet had sent them a letter detailing why we needed to wait and get her healthy before major abdominal surgery. Oh, they also vaccinated her with everything – while her health was fragile. Once she was healthy, a process that took 6 months, she was altered, because that is what we agreed to when we “adopted” her. I want to control my dog’s health not just for today, but for the long term and the only way to do that these days is to start with a puppy from a knowledgeable breeder.

      • Jesse

        I totally understand where you are coming from. Let me just say that I raw feed my own four dogs. They have had minimal vaccinations, and I do not heartworm, flea and tick treat with advantage or any of the other toxic treatments out there. And, by the way, my smallest female is nearing four years old and has never been spayed. But, I am also part of a rescue group. We are a licensed animal shelter. Certainly, there are rescue groups and shelters out there that really are doing things all wrong. But, sadly, in “our” defense, you must also realize that licensed rescues/shelters are also state regulated. We are required by law under their scrutiny to spay/neuter, keep shots up to date, heartworm treat, flea and tick treat….etc etc. As for breeders….heck, as a rescue I’m supposed to hate them! But, legitimate, for the animal breeders are ok in my book. Of course I advocate for rescued dogs. They all need a forever home before a cute, purebred puppy is brought into this world and possibly land in the wrong hands for all the wrong reasons. But, unfortunately, my beliefs are regulated by the state of Missouri and the 150 pages of rights and wrongs that we must follow. At home, life is good, my dogs are health and bright eyed and thriving. All, thank God, were altered “later in life”. But, the 26 dogs that the state have on file have to be subjected to all those things that we as DN followers know are so wrong. So, I suppose, in short, you have a legitimate argument, but at the same time, it may not be the rescue group you need to be annoyed with…………

    19. Animal Lover

      A young man asked me “IF all the dogs are neutered, where would HE get HIS puppy when he was old enough to get his own?” Answer – he won’t!!!! Just ask the H$U$ – they want all domestic animals GONE!!!!

      “One generation and they’re OUT”!!!! Quote from Wayne Paccelle – President of H$U$

    20. Lori Ashbaugh

      Thank you Dr. F for this wonderful article. I decided six years ago, after tons of personal research, not to spay our golden doodle. She isn’t “broken” so why “fix” her. I do not regret that decision. She goes through a short heat once a year which is not really a burden. We jut fit her with a little hot pant and off she goes. We are responsible dog owners and during her heat we are extremely careful when she is outside and in the presence of other dogs. She is happy and healthy ( along with no vaccines or chemicals, meds, etc) and eats a raw food diet. Dr. Falconer has been pivotal in helping me get to this point and I feel blessed to have his guidance. Everyone who meets our dog senses her radiant health and guesses she is just a puppy at age 6. I look forward to learning more as the years go by.

    21. Rosaleen O leary

      Hi,
      I have a six and a half month old Golden Retriever due to be neutered this week. I feed her a raw food diet and take my responsibilities seriously. Our spayed female lab died at 15 years and did not have any health issues. I would prefer to wait to spay but I live in an area with many intact male dogs and I have been told that they will find a way. My dog has an acre to roam in and can’t escape but could a determined dog get in ? Can someone tell me honestly how difficult the heat cycle will be. All the vets here advocate early spaying. Will she have to stay inside for 3 weeks….we walk her twice a day, would that have to stop? Any advice appreciated.

      • Dogs Naturally Magazine

        Rosaleen, my experience as a breeder of Labradors and plenty of intact girls is that it will be only a slight inconvenience. My dogs are all house pets and I take my girls on the trails running with me, even when they are in season. I’ve never had anything close to a near accident and the only dogs that hang around the house when they are in season is the coyotes :-) And I live in the country where there are a lot of intact dogs running loose. Just supervise her when she is outside, but she will be fine.

    22. Verjean

      If we KNOW that sterilization surgeries carry risk to our beloved companions, and that surgery can and does affect their quality of life, is it “responsible” to subject them to such an invasive (in the case of spaying…) surgery? Ripping out healthy organs is a solution? Is preventing pregnancy the only responsible consideration? And is that worth the increased risks of osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, cruciate issues, incontinence issues, behavioral issues, and all the other issues that research tells are a direct result of sterilization surgeries and hormone cessation? The number one reason that animals are surrendered to the shelter, is house-training issues. One of the most common post surgical results of spaying (and to a lesser degree, neutering) is incontinence. So are we causing the very thing that frustrates owners into surrendering their pets?

      I’m glad that the sterilization issue is now receiving some well-deserved attention. I think it’s safe to say that anyone with a brain understands the value of hormones. Yes, they do contribute to sex drive…but they also play a critical part in every function in the body…and not just in youth. But they play a very important role in maturation, i.e. bone growth and density, growth plate closure, muscle density and bulk. They also play important roles in immune system regulation. Estrogen plays a critical part in brain chemistry, especially in seratonin levels. There are some new dementia studies out there that show hormones have great weight even in to extended old age. The studies we have been citing for the past five or six years, are critical to the long term health of our companions. We have so many research studies now that PROVE there are certainly risks, specifically what many of those risks are, short and long-term, to performing these surgeries. There is no “safe” surgery. ALL surgeries carry risk. Animals die on the table every day during and post surgery. Animals suffer from issues caused BY the surgery. Many shelter animals are not even healthy when their surgeries are performed. As an owner, I should have the power to make potential life and death health decisions for my pets. I understand that some may not wish to deal with living with an intact animal, and for them spaying and neutering IS the responsible thing to do. But I would also point out, many families do not own BOTH genders, they own one or the other, which makes management of that animal much easier. I guess the question is, if we know that there are dangers to spaying and neutering that can affect the long term quality of life for our companions, is it “responsible” to subject them to that? Fifty years of living with and training dogs. Never an unplanned litter. I live with both genders, some intact…some not (I also own rescue dogs…) and while I would have to admit that “management” is required, it is certainly not rocket science either. I want my dogs to live as long and healthy a life as possible. I want to be the one to weigh the risks and benefits of decisions being made on their behalf to enable that long and healthy life. I do not agree that draining their bodies of hormones is a responsible decision. Nor do I agree that invasive surgical procedures removing major organs is responsible, if it is not “necessary”. And I think there are plenty of responsible reasons for CHOOSING to maintain intact animals, thanks to all the new research coming to light. I understand the passion of those who have clung to spay/neuter as a way to “solve” the problems in shelters, but are we willing to INTENTIONALLY subject these animals to lesser quality life, to support a philosophy that may, in fact, contribute to animals being surrendered?

    23. Jade Hawks

      Excellent article! Sad that is always comes back to human responsiblity (or lack of ) when dealing with ANY animals getting into trouble – humans needing to micromanage everything, or thinking they are better than every other living creature on the planet manages to give me many days of being ashamed to be human! The animals are better at managing themselves than we are!

      • Amanda

        Actually, spaying or neutering a wild animal would be cruel. Humans domesticated dogs and cats thousands of years ago. As a result, the do depend on us for Everything! Including their reproductive abilities. Domestic animals NEED humans, and humans NEED to take responsibility for it. Wild animals on the other hand are better at managing themselves

    24. Sandra

      It is disheartening to read such venom. My dog is not spayed. She is 3.5 years old and in perfect health. A papered Chihuahua. She eschews everything in the article. Very healthy, perfect weight, great personality (for a chi) and will never be pregnant. I have alway had health problems with my previous dogs and this time I thought..this just doesn’t seem right. Why would I put her into menopause as a baby. She needed her hormones to keep her growth rate on track, her teeth and gums healthy, all sorts of things benefit from this. My vet chastised me for not neutering her, but said she was in perfect health. She did mention breast cancer, but that probability is very low! I know irresponsible owners need to neuter their dog, but at least let the animals mature first.

      • Sandra,

        You are the rare pet owner this article refers to. If everyone was like you we would not be be dealing with the extreme overpopulation that we have in this country (and many others) those of us in rescue rarely see people like you.

        So kudos to you, but just because you do it please do not assume this is true of the typical pet owner.

    25. Camille

      This is a very irresponsible article. As someone who works at an animal shelter I’ve seen the result of NOT spaying and neutering. I’m sorry but there are not enough responsible pet owners out there who are willing or capable of preventing pregnancies. I’ve found over the years that people can barely provide the basics for their pets, never mind anything as “complicated ” as that! I also work at an animal hospital where I have seen MANY Pyometras as a result of not spaying. Many of these animals don’t make it because it’s either too late or their owners can’t afford the prohibitively expensive surgery. Are there other reasons they might be developing these Pyometra’s, mammary tumors, testicular and prostate cancers? I agree there may be other contributing factors like over-vaccinating, etc. but right now, spaying and neutering is the best way to prevent these diseases. The author of this article is not taking the human factor into consideration. The ONE thing I agree with is not doing pediatric spays and neuters.

      • Karja

        Save for the oddball irresponsible owner searching for an excuse to not S/N (they would still make excuses anyway, even if it’s riding on the back of myths or anthropomorphizing their animals), I doubt a whole lot of them are going to be reading blogs and articles about this, which is directed to the responsible owners who should be able to be honest with themselves whether or not they can prevent an animal from breeding. I think the education is important and worth getting out there, but at the same time, more education about dogs and responsible ownership in general really needs to be pushed before this knowledge does become common place with those irresponsible owners (even though all this information is pretty logical).
        Neutered dogs have still gotten prostate cancer. For another article about the S/N association with cancer: http://www.dogcancerblog.com/spayneuter-and-the-association-with-cancer-in-dogs-part-one/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+DogCancerBlog+%28Dog+Cancer+Blog%29
        Spayed dogs can get stump pyometra as well, which is kind of distressing when you think that S/N is promoted as preventing pyometra and all sorts of things, and with as difficult as pyometra can be to catch, I doubt that many pet owners with fixed dogs research for signs just in case if stump pyo develops. S/N isn’t as perfect of a solution as many treat it as.

      • Animal Lover

        Is your shelter importing dogs from other shelters or out of the country? Are you aware that many rescue groups are bringing in dogs from Mexico, China, Egypt, etc? Did you read the article? Did you know that there are NO roaming dog packs in most civilized countries – yet they have NO laws forcing people to mutilate their animals?

        Think about this – IF they’re all sterilized then just where will the next generation come from?????

        • Aurora C.

          I really have to wonder! A rescue group I know has been turning away dogs to be surrendered due to lack of foster homes YET I see a group affiliated with them bringing in all kinds of rescues from the USA!!! Call me selfish; I feel we need to look after the dogs needing homes in Ontario FIRST then perhaps PQ and other Canadian provinces.

          Here in Canada we are paying in excess of $450 for a spay and $250 for a neuter YET 5 miles away from me across the bridge to USA I can have the same procedures done for $55 for spay and $35 for neuter!!! It may well be a little more now, it was a couple years ago I took a bunch of cats over there to be fixed up after pregnant mom arrived on my doorstep. All 5 are healthy and happy!

      • Therese

        Camille the percentage of all owned pets who will ever end up at a shelter is tiny. Something like 1%. Yet it is that tiny percent that you constantly interact with, causing you to mistakenly assume that the remaining 96 percent of pet owners are all irresponsible. Same with pyometras, you see a lot because of where you work, how many does that represent as a percentage of the entire pet population. You are making broad assumptions based on very little actual data. Trust the science, not the mandatory spay/neuter hype.

      • Caroline

        So because other people are irresponsible and their dogs end up in the shelter, everyone else should be forced to carry out unnecessary, costly and damaging procedures to their pets? Perhaps you would also like me to attach GPS ankle bracelets to my kids in case they decide to start shoplifting? While we’re at it, maybe everyone should submit their fingerprints and a sample of DNA, to make it easier to identify them if they embark on a life of crime?

        Would you be prepared to have someone legislate that your pre-pubescent daughter be given a hysterectomy or be fitted with birth control devices to address the problem of teen pregnancies?

      • Erica Christopher

        For every action there is some risk involved. The INFORMED pet owner can look at the statistics and weigh those risks. We gotta look at both sides of the coin very closely and if we spend enough time looking at it, it’s usually weighted a bit heavier on the one side.

        The problem IS, even those of us who absoulutely LOVE LOVE LOVE our dogs and smother them daily with hugs and kisses also might expose them to poor food or vaccines or hormone removal through spay/neuter. Why? Because we blindfully trust our vets to do what’s in the best interest to our pet without doing the research ourselves. How many of us have been told about the flipside of spay and neuter?… the increase in prostate CA, urinary incontinence, obesity, osteosarcoma, diabetes, cushing’s disease, bladder cancer, hemangiosarcoma, orthopedic injuries, weak rear ends, shorter life spans, increase in reactivity, the list goes on. We might know (as most of us has been warned) about the risk of breast cancer and pyometria in an intact females.

        Karen Becker puts it nicely, “How did my profession end up preaching that because ovaries can cause two diseases, they should be automatically removed, even when the mortality rate for the two diseases they cause-pyometra and mammary cancer-is small? Have all the wet dog kisses licked away common sense?” And moreover, a .09% incidence of testicular can in intact males, is hardly an argument.

        Chances our most of us found “the way” the hard way, after disease popped up. If that’s true, chances are, he/she was already “fixed”. It done. It’s irreversible now. It’s not like changing food or stopping vaccinations. We have to live with the decisions we make. So we feel like we need to justify it to ourselves that we made the right decision. If that makes it easier to deal with, fine. But we all need to keep an open mind and weigh the coin and make an INFORMED decision the next time around…whatever the decision, at least it’s an informed on and that is also what makes a RESPONSIBLE pet owner. It’s not the choice, but rather seeking enough information to make an informed decision.

        We get it, there’s a pet overpopulation problem. But we are also are here to find a path to better health for our dogs who can’t make decisions for themselves. And I’m certainly not making a decision for my dog based on the neglegence of others. For ultimate vital health, you can’t have a foot in both canoes. If you still have a choice to let your dog keep those vital hormones, it would be irresponsible to pass it up, unless your an irresponsible pet owner, but don’t think you’d be here if that were the case.

        My 1-1/2 year old dog is intact. My 3 year old dog is fixed. Why? Because I was ill-informed 3 years ago. His loss. My bad. Live and learn. We can just do our best.

        • Erica Christopher

          Lemme add… Even better than saying all dogs should be left intact, we need to look at each animal as an individual. And who better to do that than a holistic vet who truely treats each animal as an individual…something conventional medicine has forgotten. It’s a cookie cutter approach. A person comes into the ER with a symptom and that is plugged into the computer and a whole treatment plan is devised. We are treating charts, not people. It’s the same for animals. They recommend that all female dogs have their ovaries removed to prevent mammary cancer and pyometria. Most North American vets do not use this kind of personalized or breed-specific approach to spaying.

          This exerpt is from Ted Kerasote’s book Pukka’s Promise.
          “About half of Bernese Mountain Dogs will have a pyometra epide before the age of 10. This sort of data demonstrates that a one-size-fits-all approach to spaying doesn’t do justice to the differences found in dindiviual breeets. For a moment, think of yourself as a savvy Benese Mountain Dog wanting to live as long as possible. Since your risk of mammary cancer is very low, you may want to hold on tho your ovaries as they have protective effects against other cancers and diswases. On the other hand, if you don’t wish to have puppies, you may elect to lose oyour uterus since you have a better than one-in-two chanbe of contracting pyometra by the time you’re ten.”

          Wow! How refreshing! Now this person can truely make an informed decision!

    26. Shaman'a

      “We” need a big ‘dose’ of flexibility and tolerance~

      Animals are OUR companions. In a system of dominance we are truly never aligned as partners as long as we “Own” them.

      This article speaks ‘with’ my Heart, in that I would never suggest a daughter get a hysterectomy at the age of a young girl; why would I have my canine companion (in my case), castrated before becoming fully matured?

      In my 50s, I’ve had a lot of companions throughout my lifetime, additionally, I’ve taught nutrition courses for both canines and hue mons.

      Nutrition, vaccines, and surgeries are a subject we all need to look at — carefully!

      Give thanks for the wonderful thoughtful article~

      Shaman’a

    27. Polly

      Interesting debate, I have had a number of dogs over the years and always had them spayed at an early age. I am in the process of acquiring a new puppy and the breeder voids the guarantee if you spay before 12 months. Having said that I’ve never had any issues that are mentioned, but in light of the advancements in this area I will not spay my new pup until she is older, why take the chance.
      I agree it is the owner that is responsible for unwanted breeding, I don’t have an enclosed area to let my dog use so I must walk her, which isn’t a problem, but when she comes into season that will certainly be an issue with neighborhood dogs.

      Every owner is in a different situation and there are pros and cons to be considered. I think this article and other similar ones gives us the owners of these animals the information, and what we do with that information is up to each individual. I have researched the vaccination issues and gone back and forth with my decision, but fortunately I have found significant evidence now to limit vaccinating to the minimum shots and forgo all those unnecessary boosters…..that’s my decision!
      I welcome learning and have learnt a great deal from various sources in the plight to keep my dogs as safe as I can.

    28. Susan

      Bravo to Dr. Falconer for getting the truth about spay/neuter out in the open. I have volunteered in rescue for 32 years and the decline in animal health is alarming, to say the least. My intact male Italian Spinone never had a structure problem a day in his life but his sister, that was spayed at 6 months, was forever coming up lame. She also was incontinent her entire life. We lived our lives in 2 hour snippets because that was about how long she could go before the flood gates would open up. I was later told that had she gone through her first heat cycle her vulva would have dropped and she would not have suffered chronic UTIs on top of it all. Lesson learned. What that wonderfully sweet girl had to endure was a disgrace given what I now know. And by the way, my un-neutered male NEVER had an accidental mating nor did he EVER have a dog fight in his life. That’s what responsible dog ownership is all about.

    29. Renelle LeBlanc-Scott

      I have read MANY articles on this very subject and have yet to make a decision for my female 4 month old Duck Toller. Thank you for writing an article that is “language friendly”, easy to understand and based on scientific research. When are people going to stop accepting to do to our animals what has “always been done”?? Fifty years ago, animals were NOT dying of cancers at the alarming rate they are now (that’s a fact). Penny is being fed a species appropriate diet, is getting ONLY her basic puppy vaccines (no Bordetella BTW), is being treated for fleas/ticks with a natural product. When I read an opinion, no matter what side, all I ask is that the facts be backed up by science (NOT funded by big corporations with a stake in the outcome).
      My only question for the author (or any other dog owner out there) is wether having a bitch in heat is that bad… the blood (quantity)? the behavior issues if any? How long do the cycles last? Thanks for any help/advice you can provide!

      • Animal Lover

        It’s really NOT a big deal. No canned answer, as each dog (like humans) are different. The heat cycle will last about 3 weeks and the fertile section can vary but is usually only about 3-4 days. I have used little boy’s jockey shorts on backwards, with the tail through the fly, and a panty shield to keep things clean. Some are just so clean themselves, that there’s not that much of a mess. The problem ones are those that have silent heats – where you don’t see any blood. Most dogs cycle about 6 months – some more often, many less – and some are yearly.

        Never had a castrated or hysterectomied dog, and NEVER had an unplanned litter.
        OH – and was in Italy last year – talked to quite a few people about “our problem” – and they were astounded that we would mutilate our animals for convenience. And – the only place I saw any loose dogs was in Pompeii – and they’re kind of proud of them and take care of them.

        • Renelle LeBlanc-Scott

          Thank you so much for your answer to my questions! When researching on the web, 99% of websites are SO against choosing not to spay/neuter that their descriptions of the bitch’s heat cycle is comparable to describing a tortuous death ((sigh)) Not sure what my holistic vet will say (or my breeder for that matter), but I’m thinking of waiting until she’s AT LEAST 2 years old before I spay my beautiful Duck Toller (if a all). At least that way, she’ll have had the benefit of her hormones to assist in her full growth…

    30. Barb Bristol

      I’m sorry that Patsy and Amanda don’t “get it”. Either that, or they are purposely trying to get the discussion off track. The whole point of the article – which was repeated several times – is that IF you are able to prevent unwanted pregnancies – and let’s face it, it’s not that difficult – then the healthiest thing for an owned and loved pet is to stay intact at least until 2 years old.

      We need to re-define what is a “responsible pet owner”. Of course, a responsible owner will not have any unplanned litters – but neutering is not the best way to do that, it’s just the easiest and most convenient for the owner. I’m not going to bag on someone who wants to neuter a puppy because they are able to honestly admit that they might not be able to keep their boy home, or keep their girl sequestered for a few weeks twice a year – maybe they’ve got young children in the home who tend to leave gates open, or have some other reason. But we sure as heck have got to STOP bagging on the responsible owners who are willing and able to go to a little extra trouble, and cope with an intact animal, in the best interest of that animal.

      Calling those people “irresponsible” is exactly the same as calling someone irresponsible for feeding a well-researched home prepared diet instead of opening a bag of kibble. Or calling them “irresponsible” for taking time to take the dog to training classes, instead of just tying him in the backyard. Or for giving fewer vaccinations and taking steps to normalize the animal’s immune system, instead of the traditional “every vaccination, repeated every year” model. Pet owners who stop and think, and do what is best for THEIR pet, regardless of how much extra trouble it might be, should be praised and not punished.

    31. So irresponsible of this article to make so many assumptions!

      First you assume animals don’t die in the wild from breast tumors.. then you assume that they don’t die of pyometra. Then you assume that cats cats will have the same issues as dogs!

      Btw, cats are not small dogs!

      There are responsible people in the world who can have intact dogs and not have them breed without consent, but it is rare because these are animals and logic and reason have no chance against hormonal drives. Heck a lot of human men can’t be kept in check!

      I think a better written article would have skipped the assumptions and stuck to actual facts

      • Caroline

        I don’t think anyone is arguing that cats are small dogs, in fact I don’t think cats are really so much part of this discussion. This is a magazine about dogs, right? Cats were mentioned in passing, and I think most people would agree that cats are a different case, as intact cats, especially males, most definitely do have a whole host of antisocial behaviours which make them very difficult to live with. I have cats, and all are spayed/neutered. Leaving aside the behaviour of intact cats, they are a lot more difficult to control than dogs and so getting them s/n to avoid unwanted pregnancies is only good sense, especially as the negatives do not seem to apply in the same way as they do for dogs (or maybe it’s just that the necessary research hasn’t yet been done).

        • They brought it up. Why do that if they don’t want you to draw the same conclusions. You are right this is a dog magazine, and hence they shouldn’t have even gone there if they don’t know.

          Hence my original comment of there are way to many assumptions.

    32. Shelly

      Patsy: Spaying & neutering does not solve the over pet population- RESPONSIBLE pet owners are what stops the pet population- Shame on you for believing the best thing is to hack out the insides of a puppy when the animal needs them hormones to mature properly. I have kept intact dogs & bitches without pregnancies. Have also neutered & spayed 5 month old puppies and had nothing but problems- told best thing to do- wish I never did. My 12 1/2 yr old has leakage since her spay at 5 months. I have an intact dog 13 1/2yrs old and an intact bitch who is 1 1/2yrs old- just finished her heat cycle and guess what? No Babies-why? Cause I am responsible. What it comes down to is irresponsible people- bottom line! People are gonna breed to make a fast buck & not look at the bigger picture. I am keeping mine intact because the benefits far out way the risks. Dealing with heats is just part of dealing with a female. If you wanna fix then try to at least to allow them to mature b4 doing so.
      I think this is a GREAT article & people need to be educated- now if we can start pushing for more healthier feeding not this kibble crap we call food & less vaccines.
      Great Article!!

    33. Lisa

      Sorry Patsy and Amanda….millions of animals are NOT dying in shelters annually due to dogs that weren’t spayed or neutered. If that were the case you would see litter after litter of PUPPIES in the shelters. Most of the dogs there are dogs THAT HAD A HOME and their IRRESPONSIBLE owner decided they didn’t want to a). deal with dog hair on their brand new sofa, b). couldn’t be bothered to train the dog so now it’s a wild beast c). going on vacation,didn’t want to pay for boarding d). etc, etc, etc. I think you get the idea… If you want to solve a problem, it helps to figure out the true cause of the problem first. You don’t see millions of dogs in shelters in Sweden even though most of the dogs are intact. Why do you think that is?

      • Pam Bishop

        Possibly because Sweden is a small faction of the size of the US. And that there is a totally different mentality regarding their pets.

        I have no problem with pet owners not altering their pets IF they can be responsible pet owners. Sadly, most aren’t. Try living next door to someone with a large breedm dog aggressive dog and a weak fence and you have a nice small breed pet. The everyday fear of that dog coming though the fence is no way to live. I’ve had clients living with this situation.

        And to the person that said that shelters don’t have puppies, just problem adults, you don’t have a clue what you are talking about. I would suggest that you go to a city animal control shelter and see the hundreds of puppies and kittens there for adoption. Yes, many will be adopted and for every one that is, an adult will die as the shelters don’t have the room. And those people adopting the puppies will let them breed if the shelter doesn’t alter them before placement.

        Education and responsibility are wonderful, but only a small percentage of people listen. Is spay/neuter for all dogs, no, but until people really do take responsibility for their pets, it’s necessary for shelters and rescue groups to only place altered pets. Ask to spend an evening at your local shelter in the ER (euthanasia room) while they have to put down over 100 dogs and cats to make room for the ones coming in. In a perfect world lots of things would be different, but it’s not and spay/neuter is one of those things that is necessary for most pets.

        I can’t tell you how many people have told me over the years how good a pet owner they were, but in the next breath, how their dog had several litters because she ‘accidentally got out’.

        Articles like this just give those people an excuse to not care for their pets.

        • Caroline

          What point are you trying to make with your example of the people with the nice small breed pet living next to the large breed aggressive dog? All intact dogs are aggressive? All large breed dogs are aggressive? All owners of large breed dogs are irresponsible? All small breed dogs are nice? All small breed dogs are neutered?

          I am sure you are sincere in your belief that failure to spay/neuter is the root of all evil, but you are wrong. Irresponsible ownership (which can include, but is certainly not limited to, failure to s/n) and a shelter system which enables irresponsibility combine to cause a lot of the problems seen in shelters. If people would stop seeing companion animals as disposable, and if shelters would make the effort to improve their pet retention (where the shelter works with the owner to help solve the issues driving the surrender of the animal), pet return (where a lost pet is reunited with its owners) and adoption rates, then there would be a lot less need for the shelters to operate as slaughterhouses. And while we’re on the subject, please do not refer to this as euthanasia – it’s killing, plain and simple.

          It is not articles like this which give people an excuse not to care for their animals, it’s pet stores which sell animals like consumer items, to be bought and sold on a whim and discarded when the novelty wears off, it’s puppy mills which breed indiscriminately and market the puppies as cute accessories, it’s online sites which allow animals to be given away like last year’s fashion mistakes and shelters which then hold open the doors and invite people to dispose of their unwanted animals painlessly (for the owners, that is). Most of all, it’s idiots who get a dog, or any other animal, with no clear idea of how they are going to care for it, and no intention of committing to it for the rest of its life.

        • Lisa

          Pam, you’re not going to listen to anything else said on this subject because you’ve already closed your mind. However, I WILL address this….you say “Try living next door to someone with a large breed dog aggressive dog and a weak fence and you have a nice small breed pet” Umm….isn’t that fence also the responsibility of the “nice small breed pet” owner? I’m pretty sure they are capable of either a). fixing the fence themselves or b). calling someone who can.

      • Angie

        Really Lisa? I encourage you to watch One Nation Under Dog, especially the part where they pile dogs into a gas chamber, you hear the screaming until they die, then they open the lid and begin to pile on 8-10 puppies onto the dead dogs, close the lid, and turn on the gas again. It is horrible to hear them scream, you will never forget it. We get tons of puppies and litters at our local shelters. San Bernadino shelter is automatically killing all litters and puppies who need to be bottle fed because they don’t have time.So please don’t say the majority of dogs in sh,eters are dogs. You see this because the puppies get adopted first and the adults are left to languish, that is all or they are killed first such as in San Bernadino’s shelter.

    34. Marilyn Evans

      Boy, have we grappled with this one! Our female Golden is in her first heat at 14 months. I was aware of the UC Davis study when it first came out in February of this year. Seems like female dogs need to keep their ovaries for optimal health. We are searching for a veterinary surgeon with experience doing ovary-sparing spay; i.e. taking only the uterus. If anyone can point us toward a qualified vet, would appreciate it.

    35. Caroline

      Finally, someone talking some sense! There is a myth out there, as far as dogs go at least, that responsibility begins and ends with spay/neuter. WRONG!!! Responsibility is knowing where your dog is at all times, keeping him/her under control and, if female, not taking her out in public when she’s in heat. What’s so hard about that? If you don’t think you can take that level of responsibility, then go ahead and get your dog surgically mutilated to absolve you of the requirement to look after him/her properly. Otherwise, why are you subjecting him/her to a completely unnecessary procedure, especially when there is ample evidence to indicate that there are no real benefits, other than removing the ability to procreate, and a host of serious negative side effects? I have four male dogs – two are neutered (one came to me that way, the other was neutered because he had a retained testicle which, according to my vet, put him at increased risk of testicular cancer), the other two are intact and will remain that way unless a medical reason arises for getting them castrated. I do not see any antisocial or aggressive behaviours from either of the intact dogs. I am lucky that, because both are of a longcoated breed, it is not visually apparent that they still have all their equipment, so I am not subjected to the do-gooders who presume to lecture people with intact dogs about their “social responsibility”. My dogs frequently play with other dogs, and have never got into a fight – in fact, both actively avoid any kind of confrontation.

      I don’t think anyone is advocating that all male dogs should remain intact, and of course there are good reasons why rescues and shelters spay/neuter before adopting out their dogs. I think Will is talking to responsible owners who want to make informed choices for the dog(s) in their life, rather than blindly following the “accepted wisdom” of vets who may or may not be giving good advice, and just pointing out that, as with vaccination, etc, there are other considerations.

    36. S.Pauli

      I am NOT an advocate of spay neuter at all. I have a dog in my house hold that cannot be spayed due to medical reasons. I also have an intact male in the house. I find it fairly easy to mange them when she goes into season.

    37. What else would you expect from a Homeopath vet?

      Since when does Hungary, England and Sweden represent Europe? I think this guy needs a refresher in European history and a bunch of other subjects.

      Some people just like to see their own words in print.

      This guy puts back in the toilet all the steps animal shelters have made to reduce euthanasia.

      • This is exact reason why laws are needed to tell people to spay/neuter because self regulation has proven to be a waste of time and ineffective and millions of animals pay with their lives every single day in this country alone.

    38. Jennifer Mattly

      This is so important. We have been led to believe so many lies about the benefits of neutering and spaying at 6 months. But I do agree that the owners must be responsible!!! Thanks for giving scientific research as proof.

    39. Amanda

      Could not agree more with Patsy. Absolutely irresponsible for you to print this article. Animals get out, accidents happen. And meanwhile millions of animals die in our nation’s shelters every year. As proponents for animal health… I would expect your publication and your contributing writers to advocate for the solution… not the problem.

      • Marilyn Evans

        The solution is responsible ownership, not blanket spay/neuter. Did you notice the stats in Europe for intact dogs? There is no pet overpopulation there. People make sure their females are sequestered when in season. (Read Pukka’s Promise for some insights in this regard.) As far as I’m concerned, if I remove my Golden’s ovaries, I am exponentially upping her risks for lymphoma and hemangiosarcome.

    40. Patricia Briasco

      Thank You so much for this very insightful article. Fabulous information for everyone!

    41. Thank you for a wonderful article full of thought provoking material. I hope the lady who said ‘shame on you’ will reread the piece and understand your position better. I think she had a knee jerk reaction without truly absorbing your position. It’s a complex situation and each pet parent needs to make a decision based on science, his or her living conditions and the welfare of the animal. It’s clear you are NOT advocating for an explosion in unwanted dogs and cats.

    42. P2H

      Finally, the truth on neutering and look the first comment out of the gate . The world is going to end if we dont spay or neuter every dog in the world. MAybe we need to close all shelters and humane societies and that will put an end to all unwanted dogs. Unfortunately these places have become like cicadas, they’re all over the place so the potential dog owner says “I’ll get a dog, if I cant take care of it I’ll just drop it off at a shelter. Let that owner have to put the dog down once on its own and it wont happen again. THese dog hoarders that call themselves rescues are part of the problem because they promote irresponsibility by their very existence. ‘

      • doug williams

        I have to agree with you If they need to rehome their pet then they should do it themselves. Talk about irresponsible.. dropping your dog off should go like this:
        Take dog in and say I don;t want this dog ( or cat)
        Operator says Fine follow me to the kill room and hold this dog while we kill it
        Pay for the killing and leave. bet that wold shut a lot of people off from taking the easy way out
        of course it does not work like this and should not.. but breeders are NOT the problem here.. owners who cannot cope with a dog are. “Rescue ” and “shlters” are BIG BUSINESS now..some taking in MILLIONS of dollars a year.. and hey why not FREE dogs and cats to sell.. nothing to do but castrate them and out the door for hundreds of dollars.. what a racket

      • Kerstan A.

        I wholeheartedly agree with you, P2H.

        I personally don’t believe in spaying/neutering, as it is NOT natural nor is it necessary, in my opinion.

        I am a VERY responsible person, who handles her pets accordingly.

        My biggest issue is that most breeders nowadays REQUIRE you to spay/neuter your pet by a certain age, and if you don’t, it voids the contract/health guarantee, prevents you from registering your dog, and in extreme cases, some breeders will take you to court and fine you a ridiculous amount of money [ I've seen some contracts stating that you'll be fined like $2,500.00!!! Absolute MADNESS!!! ]. Most breeders even require their animals to be spayed/neutered BEFORE they leave to come home with you.

        It’s absolute insanity!!!

        I wish breeders would work with you and maybe write up an agreement where if, I, the buyer, wish not to spay/neuter my pet for whatever reason, whether it’s due to a personal belief or the wellbeing of the animal, that I must promise not to breed the said animal, and if I do so, the contract/health guarantee will be void, as well as a possible fine and no longer able to ever purchase from said breeder again.

        Hopefully I can accomplish my goal in finding a reasonable, reputable, natural rearing breeder that can understand my wishes as well.

    43. marge

      I agree with you, but would like to have suggested alternatives, and your educated opinion of them, such as vasectomy or tubal ligation. I understand there is also a product that can be given to a male dog – can’t remember the name.
      Also I have a rescued male cat who was neutered quite young who also developed UTI at age 3. Do you know of any study being performed on the effects of early neutering on cats?

    44. Den D

      Thank You for writing this article!!! A MUST read, for all new puppy parents.

    45. Thank you, we really do need to talk about this more. There are so many myths out there in regards to this whole topic! Clare

    46. Patsy

      Shame on you for printing such an article that talks about not spaying and neutering. Maybe you haven’t noticed but millions of animals are dying in our shelters every year because we don’t have enough home for them all. Do you really think these were all “planned” pregnancies that produced these millions? Leaving an animal in tact is irresponsible and not the best thing for an animal. Shame on you.

      • Pat

        Not the best thing for the animal? Because you’ve done research? He says in the article leaving the dog unaltered is ONLY going to work if you as an owner are up to the responsibility of making damn sure your dog doesn’t get pregnant. None of my female are spayed. The oldest being 12. Also NONE of my females have EVER had a litter, because I am on top of it. So tell me I’m irresponsible. Shame on YOU for judging others. That’s great if you want to spay and neuter your pets, but mine have been much healthier then my one spayed dog has ever been.

      • Erica Christopher

        On the surface, it seems like spaying and neutering is the obvious answer to our problem. But after a little research one will find out that European dogs are rarely fixed and Europe doesn’t have a pet overpopulation problem, as least not as extensive as ours. So how do they do it? They control their female dogs when they are in season. “By employing this strategy, a nation can have intact dogs, even free-roaming intact dogs, and not have a surplus of puppies.” I just finished reading Ted Kerasotes book Pukka’s Promise: The Quest for Longer-Lived Dogs. He goes on to suggest, that our pet overpopulation problem is actually rooted in our social problem. He points out that among all developed nations, the US has the thinnest social welfare system and the most widespread poverty, and it kills the most dogs each year. Studies suggest that when people are on the edge of surviving, they choose to care for their children first and frequently the only way to do that is to surrender their animals even if the dog or cat has been a longtime companion. Nearly 20% of people who relinquish their dogs had lived with their dogs for 12-14years. And nearly 60% relinquished to shelter for euthanasia because of “old age” came from households earning less than $35,000.

        If you still choose to believe that spay and neutering is the answer, consider this. Los Angeles passed a mandatory spay/neuter law in Feb 2008 and by the end of the year the number of dogs killed in the city’s shelters had risen 24%. Over the next 3 years, the number of dogs killed in LA shelters continued to rise, despite the mandatory spay/neuter law.

        Did you ever consider that these laws also help to make sure that all the wonderful, healthy, varied genes that have lived in the dog population will become diminished. Instead, we will be left with the all too limited gene pool of pure-breeds, who are more often than not, bred because of beauty, not health. Consider “Misty Morn’s Sunset”, a Golden Retriever sire who won dozens of blue ribbons and had a wonderful personality. Breeders far and wide, wanted him as a stud. He alone is responsible for 95,539 registered descendents. Today hundreds of thousands of Golden Retrievers are descended from 3 champions and have received both their sweet personalities and their hidden time bombs.” Cancer being one of them. Today, 61.4% of Golden Retreivers die of cancer.

        Mixed breeds benefit from gene vigor…where genetic flaws/diseases are often decreased due to them often being a recessive gene (needing 2 carriers to express themselves) which is much less common when mixing two different breeds. I’m not advocating for unplanned pregnancies but, I’m not advocating for only pure-bred dogs either. And if the spay-and-neuter laws become more common, and eventually prove effective, we may be left with a very select gene pool. To to fix a short-term problem, we may be creating a much bigger long term one.

    47. Pam Bishop

      I don’t know what world you live in but intact males of many breeds will fight and fight to the death. I have worked professionally with dogs for 40 yrs and with many breeds, primarily with terrier breeds and you don’t put two intact males together. Not only will the dogs injure each other, but children not understanding the danger can also be injured by getting involved trying to separate them.

      You presume that the average pet owner will be responsible with their intact pet, but most will not. It is sad that you have found it necessary to paint all breeds the same from data from small research. In my mind this is simply ‘junk science’.

      • doug williams

        nope the “junk science is what we have been fed for years.. that castration at 4 MONTHS ( the LAW in Los Angles) and it has caused the death of many many pets that live in loving homes I also have terriers and all of my dogs male and female run together and they are large terriers. I am careful with them but have not found them to be any more aggressive than other breeds sot castrated animals I prefer to see the glass half FULL and think that most people are responsible enough to own natural animals. People her that make negative comments about the choice of an owner to keep a natural have a “God ” complex where they think they can tell others what to do with their pets and separate the “responsible ” people from the masses that they choose to call irresponsible; Mt pets are natural and they are staying that way

      • Lisa

        Well I certainly wouldn’t come to you for help if you can’t figure out to keep two intact males from fighting. I have four unneutered boys in my house and no, they don’t fight. But hey, what do I know? I haven’t worked professionally with dogs for 40 yrs.

      • brandi

        ummm wow with 40yrs of experience you don’t know much about dogs! Sorry to be the one to break the news to you…I have a 6yr old dog-intact pit and adopted(from a friend) an 4yr old intact male…I have now had them for 3 yrs and not ONCE have they fought! Not even a growl…one is a bull terrier and one is a pitbull. Not to mention I have a friend with a unfixed german shepard and the three play well together…another friend is a breeder and again our dog-all male play excellent together…

    48. I have always been against neutering before maturity. Common sense should tell you that without the correct hormones then the individual will not grow to be a fit and health adult physically or mentally.
      I’ve read studies carried out in the USA which say precisely this also.
      This info needs to be pushed and pushed
      Thank you for writing this
      Caroline
      Owner PURE Dof Listeners Ltd

      • val

        Hi there from australia. As u mentioned we still have vaccinations every year,but the biggest problem is if u have to board your animals for any reason they first ask to look at the certificates to say they have been vaccinated and refuse to take them if you are unable to supply. I am in a position with my cat and dog that i wld need to board if i were to get sick. I thank u for your wonderful article and wld like to add that my male chi came to me intact and after months of research is staying that way. I know how i felt when my innerds were removed at the age of 37 years and am now 75 years, and have suffered many of the things you have mentioned. I dont think my vet thinks i am in my right mind leaving my beautiful boy intact. He never goes outside without being on a lead and is an absolute joy to walk anywhere. Keep up the good work and try to influence Australia,cheers to all

    49. Thank you Will for your brilliant article!
      Stacey

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