Saturday, 29 May 2010

The Neutering Debate

What does the male hormonItalice testosterone do for dogs? Well, it makes them forget reason for one! it has been officially referred to as 'the hormone of stupidity' and who can argue with that when you see the effects on the human of the species! in essence, it makes male animals bolder and prone to taking risks. It reduces the effects of fear so that they can go out in the world, defend their territory, catch food, and by no means least..fight for the right to breed with females. Do you see some similarities here?? I certainly do!

Well, dogs don't go out and buy fast motorbikes, expensive toys or gold jewellery, but the intended end result is the same. So why do people get their dogs neutered? I suppose a male dog who has not had enough training might be prone to running away (the behavioural term is 'roaming') to follow the scent of females on heat. Some male dogs might become aggressive if they feel that their territory or their property is being threatened in some way. But here's the main point....

Testosterone will give a teenage dog the confidence to go out and meet other dogs and interact with them. In a fearful dog it will give them confidence to go out and explore the world, make mistakes and learn, and as a result it will have a good rounded character. It will give a dog the confidence to explore new and unknown situations, people and places. Now if you neuter a young dog that is already timid by nature, and a dog who has been so timid that it has resorted to aggression out of fear... then if you misread the signs of that aggressive dog..and neuter it... thinking that you will improve that dogs behaviour - it may, in fact, get worse.

Don't get me wrong here. Neutering is the right thing to do if you do not want to breed from your dog. There are way too many unwanted dogs in rescue centres all over the place. There are also many dogs that need to be neutered because they constantly feel the need to challenge and fight in every situation. Neutering a dog when it is still a juvenile will not allow it to develop an adult mentality. What I am trying to say is that neutering is not a substitute for good basic training. If your dog is out of control and it is an entire male, then take a good look at the causes of that dog's behaviour and don't just take the easy route and cut off his testicles!


  1. Interesting - Muttley was from the Bath dog home and was, as is routine there, neutered before we could have him. They said he was about a year old, but I think he was younger. He's been puppyish all his life (now 9 - though people usually think much younger). Lovely nature though.

  2. Interesting thoughts. I've had dogs all my life, and the two labs we have now are the first we've not neutered and spayed. They are definitely different pets and it is interesting to see some of the different behaviors.

  3. Neutering males does make them more scared. Had both my male cats (who were at stud) neutered when they were about 5 years old. Bebop was a timid cat and shortly after he was neutered he started his second childhood which lasted for a year. After that he was even more timid than before.

    His son Sam was rather a macho but became a cat that was much more afraid after he was neutered. He changed so much in fact that I mourned the loss of macho Sam before I came to terms with the new Sam who was also adorable but vastly different from who and what he'd been before.

    Been reading up on the pro's and cons of neutering female dogs. What's your POV on that? Want to breed Tara first though, and hopefully that will happen sometime next year.

  4. Yolanda - there is a level of testosterone in females too. It helps them defend their young!Bitches that were in the womb in between two male puppies will have an even greater level. It sounds as if you have given her such a great and varied upbringing, and she is well socialised with other dogs. As her character seems to be pretty well formed, neutering probably won't have much of a psychological effect.