Routine neutering controversy
Recent studies are proving that there are possible downsides to neutering at a young age, as we have all been advised to routinely do. With female dogs, this pros and cons discussion has been more apparent for years, as some vets have been recommending the bitch to experience 1 or 2 seasons before spaying. With male dogs, routine neutering is often presented as the only option.
As with everything in life, there is no right or wrong that tits everyone, but it is worth considering all sides of the story and then making an informed decision on what is right for you.
Routine neutering has been linked to increases of:
-fear based behaviour problems
((Side note: Neutering can indeed help with preventing certain health issues, such as prostate cancer, but that is when it is done later in life. This post only discusses routine neutering before the dog is 12 months old.))
A few interesting facts about male dog development:
When young male dogs reach about 10months of age the testosterone in their body is 7 times what an adult dog has. Which is why we see a spike in teenage behaviour around this age. They seem to forget all their training, to act more rebellious and silly. In time testosterone decreases, but it takes time, months even.
Interactions with other dogs at this point can be more intense, and although we don’t want them to practice and make a habit of unwanted behaviours, or even have a traumatic experience, we cannot keep them isolated either. London is a busy city and we cannot always control which dogs we meet, hence making the decision to keep your male dog intact is one that you should not take lightly.
If your dog has been a regular at a daycare, now is the time to start asking questions about behaviour and play style, and pay close attention to feedback from his carers. With the increased hormones daycare can be a bit too busy of an environment for them, and interactions with other dogs should be a bit more controlled and selective. Alternative care options could be made temporally, to avoid stressing your dog out in such a busy environment; From dog walking to home staying. And it might be a good idea to cultivate such a relationship with a secondary carer from early in your dog’s life so that he feels comfortable in all environments.
Neutering removes reproductive organs, but depending on age, testosterone levels in the system will take some time to drop, so, if you choose to neuter wishing of an immediate behaviour change, think carefully about it.
All the above are worth discussing with your vet in order to make the right choice for you and your dog.
If you are as fascinated about this matter as I am, here are some articles to read: