I’m all for people being responsible with their pets. But please don’t paint it like there are no downsides to spay/neuter. There are pros and cons both ways, to decision to spay/neuter, and also at what age to do it, should be researched.
- Don’t have to worry about your dog getting pregnant
- If done before 2.5 years of age, greatly reduces the risk of mammary tumors
- Eliminates the risk of pyometra, which otherwise would affect about 23% of intact female dogs; pyometra can be deadly (4% of cases)
- Reduces the risk of perianal fistulas (chronic lesions around the anus)
- Removes the very small risk (0.5%) from uterine, cervical, and ovarian tumors
- Spayed dogs (and female humans that have had hystorecomies) have a shorter life-span on average.
- Between 5-20% of spayed dogs will have incontinence
- If done before 1 year of age, increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer)
- Increases the risk of splenic hemangiosarcoma by a factor of 2.2 and cardiac hemangiosarcoma by a factor of >5
- Triples the risk of hypothyroidism
- Increases the risk of obesity by a factor of 1.6-2
- Increases risk of UTIs
- If spayed before sexual maturity, increases the risk of recessed vulva, vaginal dermatitis, and vaginitis
- Doubles the small risk (<1%) of urinary tract tumors
- Increases the risk of orthopedic disorders
- Increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations
- If done before sexual maturity, the growth plates don’t close when they should, causing the dog to grow taller. In small breeds it isn’t much of an issue, but in large breeds this can cause bone and joint problems.
- Can cause “spay coat”, the coat may be more cottony and wavy than normal for the breed. (Appearance-issue only.)
I have 2 altered dogs (1 shelter mutt & 1 pet-quality dog from a breeder bought on a spay/neuter contract) and 1 intact dog (show-dog).
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For those wanting to buy from a breeder, here’s my list of qualifications in a breeder:
– Test their dogs for genetic health issues in the breed, and not breed dogs carrying those genetic problems. Ask to see copies of the tests of the parents (OFA/CERF/PennHip/BAER/etc).
– Show their dogs in conformation to ensure their breeding quality is up-to-snuff. Or, if working dogs, take part in field trials or other appropriate venues to test working ability.
– The puppy’s pedigree should have the majority of the dogs titled. Titles may be in front of or behind the dog’s name, depending on what it was earned for. “Ch” in front of the dog’s name means it’s a champion in conformation (correctness of breed), most other titles are behind the dog’s name and are from events like obedience, agility, etc. (training/working events).
– The dog should be registered with a legit registry. There are a lot of scam registries out there, so beware.
Example of GOOD registries: AKC, UKC (I prefer AKC, but some breeds in UKC are not AKC recognized), Field Dog Stud Book, individual breed/group registries like American Border Collie Association.
(Check AKC’s website for registries they accept, if they accept it, it’s legit.
AVOID: CKC (Continental Kennel Club, don’t confuse them with Canadian Kennel Club, which is legit with the same initials), APRI, APR, ACA, UABR, and many more.
NOTE: Just because a dog is registered with a legit registry doesn’t mean the breeder is a good breeder, many puppymill and backyard breeder dogs are AKC registered. But *lack* of registration with a legit registry is a huge red-flag that it’s a puppymill or backyard breeder.
– Be able to tell you *why* they bred the litter and why they choose the stud they did. “Cute puppies”, “the miracle of life”, and other such answers are red-flags. The breeder should be able to tell you what traits they are after and why the dam and stud were a good match to try to get these traits. Measurable traits, such as the dog’s structure, coat, working ability, etc.
– Make sure you are a good fit for both the breed and the individual puppy. They will want to get to know you, your personality, where you live (house/apartment, yard or no yard, your plans for the dog, etc). If you live in a studio apartment and work 60 hours a week and the breeder is willing to sell you a border collie, bad breeder!
– Have a contract. The contract should say what should happen to the dog if you are unable or unwilling to care for it in the future. (Return to breeder; or if you rehome to a family member, let the breeder know. The contract should say the dog should NEVER go to a shelter! A good breeder takes responsibility for dogs they breed, even if it’s 5 years down the road.)
– The contract should also say that pet-quality dogs must be spayed/neutered. Pet-quality dogs should be sold on limited registration (meaning they can’t be bred, their offspring would be unregistered; they can still compete in AKC events, such as agility, obedience, rally, etc., except not conformation shows (dogs must be not spayed/neutered to compete in conformation)).
– Raise puppies in the breeder’s home. Not in cages outside or in a warehouse type building.
– Never breed mutts. (There’s absolutely nothing wrong with mutts, they are great dogs, but they shouldn’t be purposely bred.)
– Breed no more than 1 or 2 breeds of dog.
– Should let you meet the mother of the puppies. (The father of the puppies is often off-site, as good breeders chose a stud that’s a good match for their female, not just the most convenient one.) If you hear them say they have a “breeding pair”, that’s a huge red-flag. Good breeders almost never repeat a breeding. “Breeding pair” means they are just pumping out puppies to have puppies.
– Keeps puppies with their mother and littermates for the appropriate time before going to new homes. For medium and large breeds, they puppies must be at least 8 weeks old. For small and toy breeds, the puppies should be at least 12 weeks old.