Atlas, my pit bull puppy is 10mos old. He has displayed some behavior that I now understand to be due to over stimulation. I've now had three people ask me if he still has his nuts, why haven't I neutered him, and won't neutering fix the issue.
Let me just put it all on the table.
- I have absolutely NO intention of breeding Atlas. He is an HUU carrier (bladder stone issue) and it is my firm belief if people stopped breeding carriers we could get rid of some of these issues. Also, while I love him to bits he has not shown me anything that says he is worth breeding.
- Just because he has balls doesn't mean he will have babies. People can have intact dogs and be responsible.
- They are finding that it is healthier for dogs to remain intact until they are fully mature around the age of 2yrs old. Here is a study that talks about the health risks associated with keeping a dog intact vs altering; Long Term Health Effects of Spaying and Neutering in Dogs
- This study based off of an owner survey suggests that spaying and neutering dogs not reduce aggression in dogs: Aggression and neutering/spaying dogs
- I know of a few people who have seen success in neutering their male dogs in terms of behavior. But I also know the dogs in these instances were being actively worked with on training and behavior modification so I think it is a stretch to say that removing the hormones completely cured them, if anything the continued training and behavior modification probably makes the most difference. (this is my opinion).
- If a dog is having behavioral issues due to hormones, yes, neutering WILL make a difference. But it is extremely hard to determine what is hormone related vs what is just the dog's behavior.
- I have owned three different dogs who were all altered that marked outside. Altering will not stop a dog from marking. If your dog marks inside the house that is a training/behavioral issue and is not related to having hormones.
Another link to check out:
Neutering and Behavior
"There is at least the potential for some behaviors to worsen after castration. Testosterone is known to affect anxiety behaviors; for example, hypogonadal men with lower levels of testosterone are more likely to suffer from anxiety and depression disorders. Treatment with testosterone alleviates these symptoms. Preliminary studies in mice were performed where mice were presented with stressful situations and their ability to process this fear with both contextual (same environment) and cued fear (an audible stimulus preceded a shock) were tested before and after castration. The results were mixed and showed that castration did inhibit contextual fear memory processing, supporting the fact that the processing of contextual fear memory within the hippocampus area of the brain is testosterone dependent. It is established that men tend to develop post-traumatic stress disrorder less frequently and of a less severe nature than women due to this inhibition of contextual fear memory inhibition3. "
Due to some of these study findings I am hesitant to neuter my dog until he is done growing, and even then, I may not do it at all. Atlas is my first intact male dog. Back in April before he turned 8mos old he started to display what I initially thought was aggressive behavior, he would greet people by barking and would nip at them at my house. We don't have a lot of people come over often so I don't think his age or timing has much to do with it. He has always been reliable in public places. The same weekend he nipped at someone I showed him all weekend and he was completely fine being touched by a stranger and was social with people he didn't know. It seemed at the time to be more of a territorial response. Long story short I've talked with friends and trainers and his behavior seems to be more of an over stimulation issue coupled with a stress response. I am working on passive socialization, having him work in proximity to people but not interacting. I am also working on how he greets people, especially people he knows. He now has a "four on the floor" rule and he's not allowed to put his mouth on anyone.
He has also shown a little bit of uncertainty and fear - possibly a phase, but I am concerned if there is fear involved that neutering him could make that even worse.
I am not anti spaying and neutering. I have a 12 year old dog who is and always has been healthy that was spayed at under 20 weeks. I think that because people choose to not be responsible it is something that is necessary. Not everyone is equipped to deal with a dog going into heat, and not everyone even wants to deal with it. I don't fault people for altering their dogs out of convenience. But I do think with new research coming out it is important to educate yourself on the subject and maybe look at things differently. I always said I would never have an intact female, I was very pro-altering. It's only been within the last couple of years I really opened my eyes and saw things differently. I do think it's healthier for dogs to be intact at least long enough to fully mature. When we alter dogs at 6mos of age and younger they are babies and they aren't anywhere near done growing. The differences between a dog altered at 6mos vs a dog altered at 2yrs is huge in terms of development. In the "old days" I remember occasionally hearing people say they didn't want to neuter their dog because they wanted the dog to fully develop. I used to roll my eyes, but it is SUCH a thing! Atlas has changed SOOO much since he was 6mos of age and I think if I would have neutered him his head and body would not have developed as it has, and he's not even done!
But I'm kind of getting off track. I hope if anything this post helps educate those who think that neutering is a cure-all. I hope this opens the door for people to research and educate themselves on altering and when to do it, or not do it.