Neutering and Behavior

When someone purchases a new puppy they have been conditioned throughout the years to take the puppy to the vet, get their series of boosters, get their rabies shot, and then schedule their dog to be neutered.  The first question that I always ask, much to the owners surprise is “Why are you deciding to castrate your male puppy”?  Many times people don’t even have an answer and reply, “That’s what I thought I was SUPPOSED to do”.  Other times people do provide a reason ranging from health benefits, which I can usually quickly dispel, to preventing unwanted behavior.  In this post I will deal solely with the behavior modification issue in male dogs.  The issue of behavior modification is far from clear cut and may surprise some people. Often times people fear that owning an intact male dog in their house will come with unwanted behavior.  Typical behaviors that people associate with intact male behavior include mounting, straying and wandering from the homestead, aggression towards humans and towards other dogs, and marking.  Many people feel that neutering their puppy at an early age will prevent these behaviors from occurring and will make their dogs better pets that are more suitable for the household.  Does this not create the same moral hazard that declawing a cat to prevent unwanted scratching creates?  Many veterinarians who will not perform declawing for ethical reasons tell owners that they should not own a cat if they cannot deal with unwanted cat behaviors like clawing furniture, but they routinely neuter pre-pubescent dogs to curb other unwanted behaviors.  The procedure is just as aggressive surgically and if done at an early age, comes with many unwanted health complications that are beyond the scope of this post.  In Europe castration is largely considered tantamount to declawing, tail docking and ear cropping.

 

Continue reading at Angry Vet.

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