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Should I neuter my dog?
  • Every time I take my dog to the vet he tells me.."You know we've discussed neutering Yogi.." To be honest I don't know what to do. I have read so many articles about it and still can't decide. Yogi isn't the easiest dog, he can be mean towards other dogs sometimes but I'm doing my best to socialize him and he's doing better and better. Please share your thoughts with me. I have heard from few people that their dogs changed a lot after neutering, these dogs were not shiba though. Please help!!! I, I really need advice.
    Thank You
  • Well, some questions:

    1. How old is Yogi?
    2. What specific kinds of behaviors do you *want* Yogi to change, and how do you see neutering helping that? (I ask with the knowledge that there are mixed responses out there as to how much neutering changes behavior -- and knowing that training and socialization are ultimately more important.)
    3. Has Yogi ever had an opportunity to escape? Do you live in an area where you don't ultimately have control over the physical barriers that would prevent escape?
    4. Are you equipped and are you prepared to keep Yogi under lockdown anytime and every time there is a female in heat in the area? Are you familiar with the unaltered females in your area?
    5. What does your breeder say? Are you required by contract to neuter by a certain age?

    We found that neutering helped with Bowdu's behavior, for the better. Given the choice again, I would neuter without worry, though I might try to put it off until he was a little older (he was about 6.5 months old when he was neutered). But since Bowdu HAD actually slipped his collar a couple times at that age and we did not live in an area where I could control physical boundaries and there were lots of unaltered female dogs around, I think we made the right choice.
    Bowdu 寶肚 (Shiba) and Bowpi 寶媲 (Basenji) with M.C.
    Post edited by curlytails at 2011-09-23 23:44:16
  • LosechLosech
    Posts: 2516
    He's about 11 months old, right?
    I personally don't think neutering guarantees a behavior change.
    If I have to neuter a dog (as in a contract says so), I'd prefer to do it at 2 years if the dog is healthy. If there is a serious medical need for it, then 6 months is the youngest I'd consider but only if it was 100% medically necessary.
    However, if there was no breeder contract and the dog was healthy and didn't have any inheritable genetic defects (NOT referring to non-standard dogs here but actual defects) I wouldn't neuter.

    But that is my personal opinion on the subject. If you want to neuter him, he's almost physically mature so it shouldn't adversely affect his growth but you can still wait another month or two to be sure. If you don't want to and aren't under a contract, then don't let anyone push you around and tell you what to do. He's your dog, your decision.

    Curlytails has some good questions about containment. If you can't securely contain him, then neutering when he's physically mature is a good idea to prevent unwanted litters.
    Post edited by Losech at 2011-09-23 23:47:35
  • thank You so much for your comment, it has helped a lot! I feel someone finally understand me and my concerns. Yogi's 11 months old. He doesn't have any inheritable genetic defects. Our vet keeps telling us to neuter although Yogi's healthy. I feel he wants us to do it because every time we go there Yogi's very tense and mean. We still have the food aggression problem but the "drop it" command is helping a lot! and we have changed his feeding routine. Yogi is a very active and playful dog, sometimes when he wants attention he bites our legs but too hard. Our vet told us we should neuter him as soon as possible because when he gets older it may not be as effective. I want to work on Yogi's behavior with training not neutering.
  • If you're not interested in breeding Yogi, how about meeting your vet halfway and ask about a vasectomy? I think your vet may be trying to scare you to neutering your dog for behavioral issues but another factor is to prevent unplanned litters as well.

  • The issue of neutering is a bit more complicated that people think, sometimes. It may or may not change behavior. As long as you don't neuter him to early, which you haven't, it shouldn't hurt his health. Check out other threads on neutering to see more info. about health concerns etc.

    But there are a couple of questions others brought up. Does your contract with your breeder require you to neuter him (ie. was he bought on a pet contract?). If so, you have to honor that. Also, if you're not a breeder, then you should probably neuter him eventually (check the should you breed your pup thread in the stickies). It's a bit too complicated to keep him unaltered for most people, and if you're not going to breed him, then you should neuter him (or have a vasectomy as Jesse notes).

    One thing I did notice that changed with Oskar, my Akita, after neutering (which was done at a year old) was that some clearly sex-related behavior is disappearing. He never humped other dogs, but he did follow my female Shiba around and lick her and lick the ground where she peed (sorry that is gross, but....) Now he doesn't do that anymore. That's the only change I've seen in his behavior, but I didn't expect to see any changes, either.
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2011-09-24 00:54:32
  • Sometimes vets don't tell us the whole truth. And when you start reading all the articles it becomes so confusing!!
  • I'm not going to lie; I'm part of the definitely neuter camp. The fact of the matter is that most dogs don't need to be bred and when you don't neuter (or get the dog a vasectomy, as has been suggested), you always run the risk that they can, in fact breed. That said, when is a more complicated issue. I actually tend to think that younger is better because they heal faster and I don't think that overgrowing and have bone issues is a real concern in such a small breed. That said, that's my opinion and I can definitely respect those who disagree. Still, I would definitely neuter by age two because I think that by then the risks no longer justify not doing it.

    That said, I wouldn't let your vet scare you into neutering because of behavioral stuff like what you're talking about. It's my opinion that that kind of behavioral change from neutering is BS. Yes, they may stop some behaviors, but I don't think their personality really changes and as far as I know there are no studies that say they do (anyone who does know of any such study, do feel free to correct me).

    So, in summary: I think it would be good to neuter eventually and it is my suggestion. However, I don't think this should be about behavior and I don't think you should let yourself be bullied into getting it done before YOU think that it's healthy for it to be done to him.
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8526
    Let me give you a little insight as to why your vet is pushing so hard for neutering...

    Most people are not responsible or knowledgeable enough to keep an intact dog. (Not saying that you are not capable, just letting you know how the majority of the population can be.) Because of this, the overpopulation of dogs, and the amount of dogs senselessly put to sleep because of overpopulation, vets generally push for you to neuter if you are not planning on breeding.

    As for your situation, Yogi is your dog. Ultimately you and Yogi's breeder are the deciding factors on what to do with neutering. You have yet to let us know if your purchase agreement was as a pet contract, neutering required. So I am not sure how this factors into things.

    But you asked for opinions. So here is mine. Once Yogi is a year old (this allows for the majority of his growing to complete), I would have him neutered. I doubt this will change much with his behaviour. However, it will allow him to live a more peaceful life (intact male dogs have a VERY rough time if they are near a female in heat, and by near, I mean within a couple of miles). It will also decrease or eliminate the chance of some major health problems. That, and it is eliminates any chance of him causing an oops pregnancy.

    As for the cons of neutering, once the dog is passed the growth period, there really are no major cons for neutering. So no reason not to get it done unless you are showing or breeding responsibly.

    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • InoushiInoushi
    Posts: 555
    I haven't fully decided on whether or not I'm neutering Kenshin. If I do it won't be until he hits 2 years of age. Honestly I don't get the big deal with keeping an intact dog, especially with a breed like a shiba, you can't take them off of the leash anyway, and they need to stay contained. Maybe its because I've been around so many dogs, who weren't intact, who were complete nightmares when it came to doing all of the behaviors early neuter is supposed to stop, or maybe its because I've noticed a difference in maturity. Kenshin got out of the puppy phase really quickly compared to his neutered peers.

    My vet keeps trying to pressure me into doing it, saying that his aloofness will go away, which is something I don't believe. The same argument goes for aggression. Police and military dogs are neutered early as well, and we can all agree that doesn't do anything to their drive. So since I don't have an obligation (which if I did, I would do), and I can keep him from having unwanted litters (I live in an apartment and have experience with keeping intact animals from breeding), no one can tell me to do otherwise or try to make me feel bad about it. I know why the mentality exists, and I do believe in most cases it rings true, but I'm not one of them.
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4785
    Neuter him.

    The big deal with intact males, and I assume you haven't yet met some of the REALLY hardcore intact Shiba males, is that any bad behavior he has from now on, will be blamed on him being intact and that can be a liability for you, the owner. That is a big strike against any dog in the eyes of the general public and the law if there were to ever be an issue where he gets into a dog fight or bites the vet.

    Those of us who are lucky to live with the easier intact males (I have two), can thank genetics and training. Having met adult male intact Shibas who are very dog aggressive, or liable to bite, neutering can help that, but training is also needed as that nasty behavior can become a learned response over time. Removing the testosterone can at least help dull the edge and attitude that is driven by the hormones and desire to compete for breeding or territory.

    I would neuter as this dog is not something that would be bred, and let's face it, most of us live in cities where dogs are becoming more and more of a liability.
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
  • sunyatasunyata
    Posts: 8526
    @Inoushi - Just an FYI... Most police and military K-9's are NOT spayed or neutered. The reason they leave these dogs intact is for the drive and reactivity. Also, if the dog is especially good at what they do and pass all health tests, the males may be used as stud dogs once they retire. This is coming from several of the top law enforcement agencies on the East Coast.

    @YogiTheShiba - Just out of curiosity, why do you feel that Yogi should be left intact? What are the benefits? And why do you feel that these benefits outweigh the negatives?
    Bella 2Mountains 2Nola 2
    Casey, with Bella and Nola, hanging out in the mountains of Virginia.
    I Wander, I Ride
  • InoushiInoushi
    Posts: 555
    @sunyata Maybe its different depending on the bases. My dad who was in the prior war had friends who were working with canines, they said their dogs were neutered before they even got into basic (though this was on the west coast), and these were attack dogs, and my grandfather who was on the K-9 unit in NY also had a neutered dog. I've actually even heard reports of this for dogs deployed into Iraq as well, because I used to think they would be brought back to stud, but then again, the military doesn't usually bring war dogs back once they retire, they leave them there. I actually recently recall reading a story about how a specific group has to pull them out at the adopters own expense. Just like some police dogs are put down after retirement if their handler cannot take them because of liability issues.

    A dog with drive is going to have drive regardless of neutering it or not. Some of meanest dogs I've met were neutered early, everyone I know who ever got mauled, including someone who lost their noise had it done by a dog who neutered early through a shelter program, a dog who knew the girl since pup hood and was considered friendly(in my state there is a free bite clause, so despite this girl being disfigured nothing was done). Neutering gives you no guarantee on temperament change, just like its not always for the better. I've heard stories of no change, slight change, and even bringing out more anxiety characteristics. I don't understand why there is so much stigma and pressure to do something when frankly it should be the owner's ultimate decision (only if they don't have a contract, a breeder does have that right, as they should). The real reason people want dogs to get neutered is to prevent unwanted litters, so why does everyone tack on all of these other maybes? I also don't buy the whole if your dog isn't neutered your more liable, if your dog bites, your liable, simple as that and even if I wasn't, if my dog bit someone I would take responsibility, like a owner is supposed to do. Which is why you should keep your dog under control at all times, no matter how they may usually act. Exorcise also goes a long way with curbing any unwanted behaviors from not neutering. However I will say that when it comes to spaying, I'm totally for it, because of the very real and likely health risks, that are fatal.

    Also I want to say, I'm not going to breed my dog, its not about that, I've just reached the decision that I reserve the right to at least wait until he is two, because of things I've read in journals, and I prefer to be safe, rather than sorry.

  • catloreecatloree
    Posts: 1541
    As Lindsay brought up, public perception is a big deal when it comes to neutering. If you take your dog out to a lot of public activities where other people/dogs are present (festivals, dog events, competitions, etc.), I think you'll find that many people will react negatively to a dog that isn't neutered. In some cases, unneutered males aren't even allowed. I took Elwood to a dog event at a local water park last weekend & we had at least three people check him at the entrance to make sure that he was neutered before we could go in. Elwood comes with me to all kinds of events & the fact that he is neutered gives him more freedom to enjoy them with me.
    Catherine (human), Elwood (Shiba), & Sadie (Pomeranian)
  • YukikoYukiko
    Posts: 452
    Sorry, off-topic but,
    @ catloree: Having Elwood checked for his goods must have been hilarious. Luckily Shiba tails curl up anyways so someone could just bend down and look, but imagine those other dogs... :D Plus some puppies aren't blessed in the balls-size department, so then you realllyyy gotta look for it. ;P
  • catloreecatloree
    Posts: 1541
    @ Yukiko- Yeah, it was pretty amusing. As you said, the curly tail was a plus because they could bend down and take a look. I guess Elwood must look pretty masculine because he really got scrutinized. I didn't see anyone else's dog getting checked that many times!
    Catherine (human), Elwood (Shiba), & Sadie (Pomeranian)
  • lindsaytlindsayt
    Posts: 4785
    Anecdotal stories need to be taken in perspective. I have just as many that I can share about calm and docile neutered males, or intact dogs fighting and biting people. I mean, a puppy raised in a shelter environment is at a huge disadvantage socially, so there is much more to it than the dog being neutered early.

    "I also don't buy the whole if your dog isn't neutered your more liable"
    That's ok, but there is a stigma that goes along with having intact dogs in America. Animal Control and the other persons attorney can use that to paint you as an irresponsible owner who doesn't neuter their dogs.
    "Common sense isn't so common"
    photo c5d87957-61b6-48af-a440-4187cbfc861b_zps88ccdf88.jpg
  • This is definitely a highly opinionated issue with a ton of emotions attached, and all of these comments should be taken into account to aide in your decision.

    All I can add is that our prior dog developed testicular cancer and the ordeal was incredibly painful for him and us. The odds are probably quite low and no breed as far as I know is more or less susceptible, but if they aren’t there, he can’t get it.

    Based on how much time you are spending researching and making the decision, whatever you decide in the end that is right for your little buddy is the way to go. Good luck!

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