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Thread: Interesting study on Desexing

  1. #11

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    When women take estrogen, we may reduce our risk of ovarian cancer, but we increase our risk of several others, including cervical and breast, not to mention increase our risk of blood clots and disrupt our 'good' bacteria levels which makes us more susceptible to fungal infections. Of course pregnancy is dangerous too and some girls suffer from PCOS etc so it's all about weighing up the risks in light of the circumstances. Anyway, I'm not sure what I would do if I had a female bitch - in regards to whether I would desex or not that is. The female reproductive system and hormone fluctuations are so much more complicated than those of the males and every study I've seen says the benefits and risks from desexing are much closer than with males. Just pick and choose which conditions are of greater concern I guess. I'm starting to think I'd agree with you and desex later in life - 18months +.

    What I have read though has made me quite sure that I will never willingly desex a male dog. I've seen enough to feel confident they can be trained easily enough to not display any unwanted behaviours stemming from being entire and with the exception of removing the risk of testicular cancer (which is both rare and quite treatable because it takes so long to spread from the testicles), I have yet to find any articles that detail benefits. There are lots of articles out there based on dogs of different breeds, I will link some more to you if you like. This was just one I came across the other day that was particularly well funded because it was potentially going to help people through assistance dogs. I found an interesting one years ago when I was deciding what to do with Sammy that was comparing dogs in Scandinavian countries where desexing is put in the same category as tail docking and ear cropping etc to those in England where almost all were desexed. I'll try find that one again for you if you like, because that one included lots of breeds. Kelpies are a relatively healthy breed, compared to say GR or GSD (much larger gene pool etc) so I imagine the risk of everything is probably lower, but potentially still increased by desexing. I haven't seen Kelpies specifically mentioned in any studies unfortunately.

    My dog spent a year living in a house with another entire male, wasn't even my dog. I hear of plenty of fights breaking out between desexed dogs as well so I'm not entirely convinced that desexing really lowers your risk too much there. Sammy does get attacked by other dogs on occasion, but they are almost exclusively desexed males. I am often told it's normal behaviour for desexed males to feel uncomfortable around entire males. Anyway,, there are no studies to show that desexing benefits a dog from a health or behavioural standpoint - only unsubstantiated claims. I just find these studies interesting and I thought maybe others would too. My dog is a huge part of my life and I want to be informed when it comes to making decisions that can't be undone; I imagine I'm not the only one. What anyone decides to do with that information is their prerogative, only they know all their own circumstances.

  2. #12
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    Yes I agree being informed is very important. I have also read quite a few studies and the female side of things is more complex and it is difficult to come to definite conclusions, which is why I think vets dont give you the clear cut information you may seek from them.

    Among women studies have shown that race and ethnicity can change risk profiles of various female specific cancers. Diet of different cultures also changes risk profiles. We also know now that doing research on men and extrapolating to women doesnt work.

    I think that my main beef with some of the research is that they dont factor out potentially confounding factors. Be interesting to read one that does. Does a super fit lean neutered well bred kelpie have a higher risk than an overweight poorly bred entire kelpie or a fit well bred entire Rottie and variations thereof. Are the size of the risks larger for some breeds than others. Lots of questions still forming in my mind.


    Yes desexed animals can fight and can and do have behavioural issues.

    I wasnt going to desex my two young males but did after they started to become increasingly competitive and aggressive towards each other with injuries that required vet attention . These are well trained dogs in every other sense. I did sterilise them both and it made a huge difference. I can now walk them together and have them running together. There is still the occassional spat and I have to manage them but nowhere like the aggression that was starting to surface. Unfortunately both the same age and evenly matched and neither about to submit. I figured the potential to do each other serious damage in the blink of an eye was the most pressing danger.

    I also used to surf and most young guys didnt sterilise their male dogs or train them particularly. The fights and the pissing contests on the beach were a pain in the neck. We used to call them sand dune wars and there was always some fight going on. Fortunately my bitches kept well out of it as did the couple of neutered males. Those were my observations. So I guess experiences can be different. I also know very nice unsterilised males and also ones that were impossible to keep in their property untill sterilised. We lost a male that was almost impossible to keep in when a bitch was on heat. We managed for 5 years untill a visitor let him out and he was shot. We sterilised our males after that and had no more problems, they all lived long healthy lives.

    My thoughts are that there is a lot more to learn to have more definitive answers. I think with males it is probably a case by case situation.

    I think it could also be a breed situation. With some breeds the risks are already higher so an increase in risk may be larger. I am pretty confident with my own situation that I have made the right choices. I think a bit of scaremongering goes on, on both sides

    I also think that there could be bigger health issues at stake that are ignored such as obesity. I would bet obesity cause a lot more health issues than sterilisation. The number of overweight pets that I see! Specialist vets I speak to say that poor breeding, poor structure and obesity has a lot to answer for.

    I guess for me it is about people working out what their specific risk factors based on their understanding of the research and their ability to manage their choice are and going with it. I suspect most people are not inclined to work all that out.

    However the discussions continue to be interesting and it has influenced me to sterilise later, but sterilisation is not something I feel is a major health hazard to my fit lean working breed dogs at this point in time.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 02-17-2014 at 10:42 PM.

  3. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Hyacinth View Post
    Having a cute bitch - isn't enough.
    Said who???

  4. #14
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    mmj

    you stirrer.

    a cute bitch can breed deaf and blind and crippled puppies... or mean and nasty aggressive can't be taken for walks or let near children or other dogs...

    so cute - is nice - but... I've seem so many very cute SWF with all sorts of genetic problems - crippled in the spine and joints, bent front legs, teeth that all need removing by 9 yo, jaw shapes that are all wrong, blind puppies - very cute but sheesh the extra work and little - very cute dogs - that cannot be trusted off lead at the park ever because they get in big dogs' faces and yell at them.

    some of that's down to training but a lot of it means paying for the vet's family Swiss ski trips every year.

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    Just on behaviour. There was a study I think the link is in the BSL forum on the characteristics of dogs that had been involved in biting humans. 80% of these were entire dogs. Weighted towards male from memory but I would need to go back and find the link to be sure. .

    First thought that came to mind was the owner profile and how this may have interacted with this factor. So although 80% is a very significant figure it is probably not the whole story.

  6. #16

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    Well my argument would never be that it's impossible to keep a desexed dog at a good weight, it would be that desexing a dog lowers their metabolism and drive (basically what testosterone does). In addition, testosterone helps to build muscle, more testosterone = more muscle and muscle continues to burn energy even when it's not being used. Of course it's not impossible to have a desexed animal that's a healthy weight, they can only be as fat as the amount of calories you give them. But an entire male will burn more calories than a desexed one, all else being equal. Humans used to castrate males for certain reasons, punishment, singing etc and if it was done young, they developed a different body shape to men left unaltered. Unless they were kept under very strict conditions (ie used in armies), they were also prone to weight gain.

    I found that my dog did go through a more aggressive stage, I'm guessing it was puberty. Gotta love teenagers. He grew bigger than all the other dogs in the park and when he found one that he wasn't obviously stronger than, he wanted to test his abilities. Those were fun times. It lasted for about 3 months I guess, from about 7-10 months and there were times where I found myself considering desexing him. He also went from being the top student at training to being an obstinate fool, he would bark over my commands if he didn't like them, run circles around me and steal my stuff. But I can hardly remember those days now. I imagine if I'd had 2 males that were the same age and size, there's a good chance they would have wanted to fight as teenagers. Surging hormones, new size and strength, I like teenage animals about as much as I like teenage humans...

    As a comparison though, last night I was walking Sammy off-lead in Centennial Park for the first time in ages and we ran into several people I'd known from before I'd ever left Sydney. One was the owner of a GSD that Sammy tried to fight as a teenager, except she now has 2 GSD's, both desexed. The male recognised Sammy (or perhaps that's its reaction to all other males) and started up as he had in the past. Fortunately he was on lead and with much difficulty (which I personally thought was ridiculous), she was able to get the dog into the car. It was barking and carrying on and I didn't even have to tell Sammy to leave it, he just had a look, then went back to sniffing and enjoying his walk. He doesn't want to fight anymore, he's an adult now not a teenager and although he's still very high energy, he has other ways he'd prefer to burn it. If I could have the bond I have with Sammy with a dog purchased as an adult, I would never buy a puppy again - for lots of reasons but one is certainly to avoid the teenager stage.

    I'm certainly not trying to scaremonger and obviously I could be biased, but I've never seen anyone do so from the perspective of leaving dogs entire. Even if every scientific study shows that in fact entire males are healthier, it might not even be by a large margin - I mean essentially at the moment it looks like we're talking about whether your dog has a 0% risk or a 5% risk etc and if the benefits to you personally outweigh those risks it still wouldn't be a bad decision because the health risks could be smaller than the risks afforded by your particular circumstances if the dog was to be left entire (eg people not being able to stop their dogs roaming etc). Whether they make better pets is not something anyone could debate objectively, it's just something you decide for yourself. We all know that desexed dogs can live long, happy lives, desexing is prevalent enough that we can see plenty of examples. Maybe an analogy could be eating processed foods. We're pretty sure they're not great for you, but they're not going to kill you and with the money you save by eating some, you could maybe afford a holiday that will reduce your stress and make you healthier overall than if you had spent all your money on healthier, organic, natural food. I don't know what your personal circumstances are so I can't tell you whether you're better off with the processed food. It would be wrong of me though to tell you that processed food was the healthier option. These articles give us material that I think we should factor into our decision, but we also need to consider other information that is relevant and weigh it all up against each other. At the moment, I feel that our vets just tell us desexing is the healthy option which goes against the scientific evidence and so I believe that's misleading; but hopefully you can understand now that I see a difference between healthy option and best/right option.

    The scientific articles are interesting because they examine factors we can actually isolate and measure. Your examples of issues with entire dogs and mine of enjoying entire dogs are purely anecdotal. We have both only proven that under the right circumstances, an entire or a desexed dog can work well for the owner. However, that doesn't change the health implications of desexing and that is purely what I'm getting at. Desexing dogs could still be the right choice for people, I am only frustrated that every vet I have ever been to (and there have been lots across 3 Australian vets) have had a go at me for not desexing my dog. They can see that he's well-trained and not reacting to other dogs (even aggressive ones) or other animals in the vet, but they still tell me I should get him desexed for health reasons and this is disappointing from someone that pay for advice about your animal because whilst the studies that show desexing can increase the risk of your dog developing cancers, joint problems, cognitive decline as they age etc may not be as extensive as you'd hope for, I can not find a single study, no matter how small that shows desexing is good for the health of the animal. There are other factors that need to be considered in your decision on whether or not to desex your dog and we have touched on those and they could mean that desexing is still the right decision for a particular dog, but in this instance I'm purely referring to health.

  7. #17
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    my vet did say you feed a desexed dog about 1/3 less than the recommended amount on the pack - and cut it back again if the dog is not getting a lot of exercise. Works for me.

    But the packs should have that info on them too. Vet says they're just interested in selling more dog food, so they're not likely to recommend feeding less.

    As for desexed dogs - I do remember that study. The study was more a correlation of data - not so much this leads to that... I think it may also have to do with an undesexed dog possibly needs more training to deal with the distractions of having stronger reproductive urges. I have seen (anecdotally not evidence) male dogs behaviour improve dramatically on being desexed. Much less humping, marking and picking fights. But I wonder if that's also related to the determination of the owner to actually make some effort in stopping the behaviour.

    Tho in one particular case - I kind of wish the owner had been desexed at the same time - he was obnoxious, aggressive, didn't pick up after his dog or even keep a good watch on it, had no control despite yelling and screaming at the dog and other people at the park. And he would often show up drunk and continue to drink at the park. Not nice. I think he came to the park to get away from his mum. He was pushing 30 and still lived with his mum! I haven't seen him much since his mum moved to another suburb.

  8. #18
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    A 25 minute video by a USA vet Dr Becker on the problems with early desex or messing with the dogs sex hormone (endocrine?) systems.

    Dr. Becker: The Truth About Spaying and Neutering - YouTube

    I think it needs a transcript and she mentions the studies linked in here. Note - small studies are less reliable than big studies of lots of dogs with repeat independent studies with matching findings.

    The next trick is to find a vet who will give a male dog a vasectomy and tube tie the females?

  9. #19
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    Quote Originally Posted by 99bottles View Post
    Well my argument would never be that it's impossible to keep a desexed dog at a good weight, it would be that desexing a dog lowers their metabolism and drive (basically what testosterone does). At the moment, I feel that our vets just tell us desexing is the healthy option which goes against the scientific evidence and so I believe that's misleading; but hopefully you can understand now that I see a difference between healthy option and best/right option.

    The scientific articles are interesting because they examine factors we can actually isolate and measure. Your examples of issues with entire dogs and mine of enjoying entire dogs are purely anecdotal. We have both only proven that under the right circumstances, an entire or a desexed dog can work well for the owner. However, that doesn't change the health implications of desexing and that is purely what I'm getting at. Desexing dogs could still be the right choice for people, I am only frustrated that every vet I have ever been to (and there have been lots across 3 Australian vets) have had a go at me for not desexing my dog. They can see that he's well-trained and not reacting to other dogs (even aggressive ones) or other animals in the vet, but they still tell me I should get him desexed for health reasons and this is disappointing from someone that pay for advice about your animal because whilst the studies that show desexing can increase the risk of your dog developing cancers, joint problems, cognitive decline as they age etc may not be as extensive as you'd hope for, I can not find a single study, no matter how small that shows desexing is good for the health of the animal. There are other factors that need to be considered in your decision on whether or not to desex your dog and we have touched on those and they could mean that desexing is still the right decision for a particular dog, but in this instance I'm purely referring to health.
    I think what I am saying is that many of the scientific studies are not particularly well designed as many are based on surveys done with owners. What I am saying is that I would like to see a study where all the potential confounding factors are accounted for and accurately measured. So dogs with the same weight, diet and genetics are compared, the only difference being sterilisation status. Then you will see the real effects of desexing. If you can find me one of those and point me in that dierection it would be good. At the moment the questions that I have are that entire dogs may be slanted towards better genetics and structures because they are likely to be kept entire by breeders and they are also likely to be less overwieght could very well influence the results. I would be interested in stuff pertaining to my breeds.

    So in short I dont neccesarily agree with you that keeping a dog entire is neccessarily the healthier option particularly for my breed I just dont know. It is not something I have observed. We have had more entire dogs die of cancer in my sport than sterilised dogs and yet there are fewer entire dogs. Joint problems tend to be correlated more with the intensity of each dog. So the more full on the dog is in agility and the longer it competes for the more likely it is to have joint problems as it ages. Things like HD seem to be more closely correlated to genetics than anything as most dogs seem to be diagnosed before they are sterilised or at sterilisation when rads are taken.

    I await more info and in the mean time am happy to sterilise my dogs without feeling that I am jeopeordising their health. All the anecdotal stuff I have seen over many years of owning dogs and competing with dogs in dog sports just doesnt fill me with the feeling that sterilising is a risk to their health. Cognitive decline is not something I have experienced really. I know a lot of old agility dogs, mine included who are exceptionally fit an healthy. Yes all anecdotal I understand that, but I have known a lot of very fit dogs, mostly of the breeds that I am interested in.

    Yes it is possible to keep dogs lean and well muscled when sterilised. Mine are all working dogs and very lean and rippling with muscles. They look no different to the entire dogs I compete against in sheepdog trials. My males are both big, muscled animals from running and working. In fact I have trouble keeping weight on one of them in particular. But in suburbia I see a lot of very overweight sterilised dogs which cant be good for their joints or health.

    I am just not totally convinced on this issue and plenty of vets I know are not fully convinced either. I may well be wrong, happy to admit that. But so far I remain unconvinced about it being a major issue.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 02-19-2014 at 02:05 AM.

  10. #20
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    I will say however that I dont like the idea of pediatric speys and neutering. Many rescues do this yes. The rescue I have got a couple of my dog from are more lenient and for the majority of adopters of their puppies pay up front and come back at 6 months and they have no problems with this. Because of the specialised nature of the dogs I adopted - (working bred and these particular puppies were deemed less suitable for adoption in suburbia having tested their foster carers -they contaced me) they were happy for me to wait till both dogs were mature - female at 12 months and male at around 20-22 months.
    Last edited by Kalacreek; 02-19-2014 at 09:57 AM.

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