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1,885 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
Okay- cast yer mind back about 4-years. That's when i began hearing, from a few ppl on a UK forum, that "neutering a fearful M dog will make him worse" / "makes him more fearful".
Most of the ppl saying it were breeders, or were dog-owners who'd bought their purebred pups directly from the breeder.

Oddly enuf, F dogs - who are much-more likely to be neutered as a matter of course - do not seem to suffer from "post-neuter wimpiness".
Bitches are often spayed as a matter of practicality, b/c estrus is a potentially messy business, & b/c supervising her constantly is a strain, lest she be mounted by a resourceful M, or escape under her own biological imperative to go find a M dog, & in either case, he visits or she goes walkabout, an unplanned litter is likely.
So many-more Fs are spayed between 4 & 6-MO than Ms are neutered peri-puberty, but the owners of F dogs aren't getting together & commiserating over how their dogs became complete Nervous Nellies post-spay.:confused:
What gives?
How is it that testes are the storehouse of social confidence in M dogs, but ovaries don't serve an analogous purpose in Fs? :ponder:

IMpersonalE, & also in my reading [of research articles, blogs, books, & more] plus the conferences, workshops, & seminars i've attended, NONE of the researchers, vet-behaviorists, CAABs, or other nerdly U-S dog-pros have ever stated that "timid M dogs should not be neutered, as desex will make them worse".
No one has ever been able to post a link to a research article in a peer-reviewed journal, with data to support these concerns - in which dogs who were already anxious or fearful, became measurably more-so once their testes were gone.

No one seems to have done any research, for instance, by using an injectable emasculator - WHICH IS REVERSIBLE - measuring the dogs' reactions to startling / scary, neutral, or inviting stimuli / contexts, then waiting for the drug to wear off, & re-testing the dogs in the same fashion, to see if they are bolder / more exploratory, more timid / withdrawn, or unchanged from their personal baseline in both states, when chemically desexed & when intact / masculinized.
To make the data even-more robust, test 3 times: once in their "natural" state, once under chemical castration, & once after the injection wears off, as indicated by a sperm sample.

Here we are, 4-years later, & now, U-S breeders, some dog owners, & a few trainers are beginning to mimic the Brits - "don't neuter him, he'll fall apart!"
Yet still, no research to support it, no vet-behaviorists write articles to demand that GP vets stop! neutering any & all M dogs who aren't sufficiently swaggering & boastful, & no CAAB decries the over-75% S/N rate across New England.

Where are all the pathetic spineless wimps who should have been created, as a by-product of near-universal desex? - I don't see them on the street, in the vets' waiting rooms, at the pet supply stores, in the hardware emporium.

And why are females immune? :ponder:
It makes no sense. Are spayed Fs immune? - or are neutered Ms doomed? - Which is it, or is it both?

In the words of Yul Brynner, "Is a puzzlement." --- Anyone have actual data which supports either side?
[neutering Ms = chronic timidity, or conversely, neutering Ms = same general temp as before, but reduced overall aggro].

- terry


1,279 Posts
I've heard from vets and anecdotally that neutering male dogs won't stop dominant or aggressive behavior and can even make them worse towards unneutered makes. My neutered male dogs still go and used to go absolutely ballistic if there's a female in heat around and still act and acted very dominant with other dogs. I know people in the local dog park who neutered their male dogs not because they felt they needed to but to prevent other male dogs always attacking them.
I never heard about the anxiety just that it won't stop aggression.

1,885 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
neutering effects on aggro

actually, per research, neutering Ms is pretty effective in reducing aggro -
it's not a majick bullet, as desex won't "cure" aggression entirely on its own; U still need B-Mod, but neutering helps.
Like calmatives for a shy or fearful dog, neutering also makes B-Mod goals easier to accomplish in aggro Ms.

A 1997 study at U.C.-Davis, College of Vet-Med, wanted to know how neutering adult male dogs had affected their pre-existing problem behaviors, such as urine marking indoors, mounting, roaming, & fear of inanimate stimuli, as well as aggression in general - toward family members, human strangers, other dogs in the same household, unknown dogs, & human territorial intruders.

Fifty-seven dogs, who'd exhibited one or more of these problem behaviors for varying periods before being castrated, were included in the study. All the dogs were desexed as adults, at between 2 & 7 years old.

Follow-up showed that neutering very-effectively reduced:
* urine marking
* mounting
* escaping to roam

The decrease was marked -
* 90% decrease of these behaviors in 40% of study dogs
* 50% decrease in the remaining 60% of study dogs

So, re indoor-marking, mounting / humping, & escaping to roam, neutering reduced those behaviors by 50% in 6 out of 10 dogs, & by a whopping 90% in 4 out of 10. That's substantial.

No relationship was found between neutering effects & a dog's age, nor how long the problem behavior was practiced before castration. IOW, how old the dog was when neutered, or how long he'd been marking / humping / escaping, didn't matter - desex was equally effective in dogs who'd rehearsed these behaviors for years.

Neutering also reduced aggro toward canine & human family members: 25% of the study dogs improved by 50 to 90%, the remainder by less than 50%.
IMO, that's a very worthwhile improvement. Adding B-Mod to desex would obviously reduce aggro yet more - these dogs were simply neutered, no retraining was done.]

Additionally, 10% to 15% of the dogs showed a 50 to 90% improvement in their behavior toward unknown dogs & human intruders; the others, less than 50% improvement.

In sum, neutering markedly improved behavior in many dogs who marked, escaped to roam, or mounted / humped, & it helped reduce aggro toward people & other dogs, particularly household residents [human or k9], & somewhat toward unknown humans & dogs across the board.

Neilson, J.C.; Eckstein, R.A.; Hart, B.L.
Effects of castration on problem behaviors in male dogs, with reference to age & duration of behavior.
JAVMA, 1997; Vol 211 (Iss 2): pgs 180-183.

A similar study in Germany had similar results:
Heidenberger, E., & Unshelm, J. (1990).
Changes of behaviour in dogs after castration.
Tierarztliche Praxis, vol. 13 (iss 1): pgs 69 - 75.

per a VCA Animal Hospitals article, QUOTE,
"In one study, castration reduced aggression toward other dogs in the same house in 1/3 of cases, toward people in the family in 30% of cases, toward unfamiliar dogs in 20% of cases, & toward unfamiliar people in 10% of cases."
However, they don't cite the study, so i can't post a link. :-\ Rats.


Another study at UC-Davis by Ben & Hart was, quote, "one of the most extensive surveys on the effects of gonadectomy on dogs" -
they found that intermale aggression was reduced by neutering in 60% of cases, with a rapid reduction in 25%, & a gradual reduction in 35%.
(see 'The Dog's Mind', Fogle, 1990, New York; Howell Book House, p. 53).

Hart & Eckstein (1997) did a retrospective survey of research & literature on the effects of gonadal hormones on objectionable behavior. Gonadectomy most affects sexually dimorphic behaviors, & they note that "aggression toward other dogs & dominance over owner" [EDIT: now labeled 'owner-directed aggro', or 'conflict-related aggro' when the target isn't the owner] "are particularly sexually dimorphic"; thus, we would expect both to be reduced by neutering.

Hart, B. L., & Eckstein, R. A. (1997).
The role of gonadal hormones in the occurrence of objectionable behaviours in dogs & cats.
Applied Animal Behaviour Science, Vol 52, pgs 331 - 344.

- terry


1,885 Posts
Discussion Starter #4
here's an example of the claims made...

QUOTE, bold in the original [as well as misspelled words, etc] -

"Far to many dogs are being neutered & spayed too early in their lives, at the risk of future serious behavioural & indeed physical problems.
Vets will often say, "Oh you must be a responsible owner, there are too many pups in the world, blah blah." What rubbish this is.
I have always had male dogs, they have all remained intact throughout their long, sound, & healthy lives, & not one puppy was fathered by them, as I am indeed a responsible owner, & not allowed such to happen.
Dare I say that neutering of pets is a major part of a vet[']s income.
Also, many dog breeders will insist that a puppy of theirs is neutered or spayed if you take one, only I think, to stop owners breeding their own dogs & so losing some of the breeders own market; there is no thought for the poor young puppies['] future development. If a dog breeder insists on this, look elsewhere.

The nervous / fearful dog:
If you have a dog, male or female, that is already a nervous dog, then getting them neutered or spayed will almost certainly make them even more nervous or fearful. The hormones that you will remove from the dog are ones that affect a dog's boldness, confidence, & calming, they bolster up it's reactions to perceived scary things, if you take them away then it's rather obvious what might happen.
If there is no genuine reason other than just because a vet or someone else is saying "get them done", then think hard, why risk worse future problems for you & your nervous / fearful dog or pup.

The aggressive dog:
Many people will say "Oh it's aggressive, get it done". What you need to do first is find out why the dog is being aggressive, then decide on a plan of action. There can be many reasons for aggression & often getting your dog done is not the answer.
Many times a dog learns to be aggressive, the dog thinks that aggression is good for it & gets it what it wants, a dog[']s own early learning & perception of what it thinks is happening to them at that specific time is causing their problems, not the testosterone that is flowing through their bodies, often this might mean a maladapted dog that will need work with a behaviourist & a vet.

What I would say though is that once an aggressive period starts the length & intensity of it can be fuelled by testosterone, so if your dog truly has outwardly dangerous aggression, like dominance aggression, then getting them done might lower the intensity & length of it, which is not a bad thing in this situation, just be sure the cause of the aggression is not fear based though, for you may well make it worse if you get them done.

There have been some (not many) studies on the effect of neutering or spaying aggressive dogs, the only real results at this time, that are well founded, concerns the spaying of young aggressive female dogs, especially those already showing aggression towards the owner. If the female dog is under twelve months (especially under six months old) of age when it is spayed, there is a marked increase in it's aggression afterwards (O'farrel & Peachey, 1990).

The sexually over exuberant male:
I will admit that neutering a male dog that is carrying out highly driven, over the top sexual behaviours, driven by hormonal influences (not owner influence, attention seeking, boredom & frustration, etc), can reduce or sometimes stop things.
Again I would ensure that the driving force is indeed hormonal & that the behaviours are highly driven & impacting on the life of dog and owner. I would recommend trying a chemical castration first, to see if it really makes a difference, before getting your dog actually done.

If you or another decides that neutering or spaying is required, & it's not for medical reasons but for behavioural ones, then think about a chemical neutering first.
A vet can chemically castrate/ spay your dog with a drug, & you can see if this makes any difference to the said behaviour before going down the non-reversible, dog altering route."

Should I neuter or spay my dog

The author is a graduate of several training programs in the UK, not an average pet-owner; just how good those k9-behavior programs are, deponent knoweth not. I can only say he's got the certificates.
OTOH, when he says that "There have been some (not many) studies on the effect of neutering or spaying aggressive dogs...", he's flat-out wrong. :eek: Sorry, but he is.
Aggression is among the-most studied behaviors in the nonhuman repertoire, & most especially in domestic animals, because - hey! - we humans interact with domestic animals way-more often than we do with wild species. It behooves us to know just what we are dealing with, & how we can avoid provoking aggro, prevent it, or reduce it - so we've studied it extensively.

re "chemical castration" & whether it's effective - See

I just discovered this major downside to Zeuterin -
while it DOES indeed render M dogs infertile, it only works if they are 3 to 10-MO, not if they're older than 10-mos - or for that matter, under 3-MO.
So sticking a needle in Fido's testis to "see if this helps" won't do a doggone thing, if Fido is over 10-MO - & even if he's between 3 & 10-MO, in the sweet spot, Zeuterin only reduces testosterone by one-half or less. That makes it useless as a test-case for reducing androgen-fueled behaviors. :( Blast.

Testosterone is precisely the factor that makes intact-Ms more reactive; that at least half of it & possibly more is still circulating, means that Zeuterin is OK as a sterilizing agent, but it is NOT equivalent to surgical desex in terms of androgen-driven behaviors.
Males who are Zeutered may not breed - but they may very well mount bitches in estrus, fight with other Ms, hump, mark, escape, react to other Ms, & masturbate on their teddy when visitors arrive, & he gets over-excited. :eyeroll: Oh, dear.
He might be sterile - but he doesn't know it, & he doesn't care, either. HE still thinks he's intact & all-man. :ponder:

I'm really disappointed, as UK vets have been touting this as an alternative to surgical castration. // It seems like a waste of time & money, to me. :headshake: I can't believe that none of the vets who've been promoting this, mentioned that testosterone isn't reduced to anywhere-near the same level as post-gonadectomy. Nor has anyone said that dogs over 10-MO are not suitable candidates for Zeuterin. That's very misleading.

*sigh* Another OTT sales-pitch.
- terry


1,279 Posts
My neutered male dogs must not have read your studies lol. My last dog was neutered around 9 months old at the shelter. I got him at 10.5 months old and was his 3rd and last home and had him for the rest of his almost 12 years. He was returned to the shelter after only 2 weeks for being too defiant and hard to handle and being too aggressive with other dogs. Be was always aggressive with other dogs and had resource guarding. He would never allow another dog into his house or car. He took down and pinned a huge gsd twice his size once because she came between him and me and my hirse, his pack. The one time he ever hurt another dog, it was a dog he'd tolerated for many months and been fine loose with at the stable. He hurt it the day I was talking to the other dogs owner and she kept insisting the dogs were friends and telling me that my dog was fine and not to lock him up. I wanted d to lock him in a room to protect her dog from him but she insisted they were fine. I praised him for being good and made the mistake of petting the other dog just once and my dog lunged and attacked the other dog. Nasty puncture wound in its ear, needed drainage and vet and tube. I paid the vet bill. When he did make friends with another dog there could never be toys, treats, food or even water bowls or he'd snap at the other dog. I couldn't touch or praise or even acknowledge the other dog or he'd get jealous and attack his buddy. He loved some females and would mount and hump them constantly ad was very dominant with all other dogs and people except ke. . He was in charge with helping me herd my horses even my older one who hurt him once and would charge him and bit him many times. Even while running for his life to escape being hrt he'd growl and snap at her. I trained him to stay in his crate and never touch his foot or any greats until I said ok to protect my cats. He was great t with the cats and and never fought with them but accepted they were his lack. Vets and techs were petrified of him as he with as of them. I was the only one that could get a muzzle on him to even get a needle in to sedate hum. He hated that he v et after years of bad experiences, scary nail trims, incompetent techs who blew out his veins trying to get blood and stuck him repeatedly. At the end of his life he had an awful spine disease and gradually lost use of his hind legs so needed frequently t visits. Even when he should have been hospitalized I took him home rather than traumatized him. I know I'm using dominance terms which people here don't like but that was. Hum. He was in charge with everyone except me and my cats. He was defiant with me too but so loyal and lovable ad perfect in our bond and partnership that all the scar stuff was worth it. I trained him to ignore other dogs and avoid them. He would go with me and my horses for miles and hours ad stay with me at the stable all day and never leave my side. Perfect recall I could call him off a deer or squirr mid leap. He snapped at and bit a few people in his life but it was always protecting me or my disabled mother or himself. Never termed vicious or dangerous. Very smart and loved life and most people and had an exuberance for life. As long as I kept him away from other dogs I could take him everywjere. I squirrel I'll have people in my favorite bars and did restaurants who I barely know come up to me al.ost two years later and squirretillay how much they miss him ad how special and funny and lovable he was. Had an enorms larger than life heart and soul and personality. I took him to a dog park once and he completely focused on me and just played fetch with a tennis ball and ig ored all the other dogs which was perfect. No fights. But. Neutering at the perfect age did nothing for his behavior it took a lot of training and hi whole life I had to manage him and remind him. He was good with little dogs but any dog medium or larger I had to watch out for except certain buddies.

My current dog was neutered sometime. He acts like an unneutered male, so much so that I had him ultrasound dedicated to make sure he's not cryptorchid. He's not the the ultrasound Dr said his scar tissue shows he was neutered early. My last dog marked everything outside and so does this dog. Neitherarms or marked in the h2 that k God. This dog humps every dog he can in the park until they growl or bark. If it's a female he's respectful and backs 9ff immediately if it's a male he'll usually back off but ometimes fights with them. If another dog tries to mount him he gets pissed and snappy and thatcan lead to a fight if the other dog won't stop. He's pretty dominant with other dogs especially males. If he's going to fight it's with an unneutered male. If there's a fe.ale in heat he goes absolutely crazy to the point he snapped a leash in two once to get to her. He and my last dog frequently get excited, I don't know how else to say that delicately. SC he's not possessive of toys or treats or me or food but will drop a toy ad walk away if another dog growls at him. He used to fight a lot with other males until a bigger dog hurt his ear when he jumped into a fight and the other dog wouldn't let go and scared him. Wouldn't stop bleeding for a while and I think hurt and scared him fo that combined with me being tough with him every time he got into a fight, yes I'd yell and say no bad, then out him on leash and make him stay lying down with me for a very long timeout or just leave. He figured enough bad things happen when he fights nit worth it anymore so now if other dogs fight or another dog starts with him he runs away or to me where he gets lots of praise and treats. He used to growl and bark and lunge at people with hats, especially tall men, bicycles, motorcycles, skateboards , lots of scary objects. Behavior iorist said it was fear aggression so lots of behavior mod ad pr has helped a lot and he's gotten more confident and friendly. But he marks outside constantly and mounts other dogs all the time and acts unneutered. Constantly roams if loose. Loves to escape but at least if not leashed or fenced just takes off. Eventually comes back but drives me nuts. Behaviorist said they still produce testosterone their whole lives. My friends dog was neutered at 1st months and got very aggressive with other dogs, hurt several until finally he hurt her arm biting her when she tried to pull him off another dog and she had to go to the ER for lacerations all up and down her hand and arm. Now she stopped taking him to the dog park. Neutering didn't. Hange. My dogs 9ther buddy is almost 3 and is neutered will over a year ago. Maybe more. Recently he started lunging and growling and barking at strange dogs on the at tree while leashed. Normally the most friendly nonaggressive dog. A few other people I know neutered their dogs before a year and I've seen and heard the owners say the dogs have gotten more aggressive and neutering did nothing to change it.

My current dog has a lot of anxiety. Training helps and he's on an antidepressant for separation anxiety which helps with that. But he's still a sensitive soul. Until he's around other dogs. Vets here and behaviorist around Re saying recently that neutering doesn't really change aggressive behavior.

I it doesn't seem to stop the mounting or outdoor marking and certainly hasn't stopped my current dog roaming either.
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