To neuter this beautiful dog... or not?
December 18, 2013 3:34 PM   Subscribe

We got our 13 year old son a beautiful chocolate lab (his name is Tony and here's the obligatory picture). Is there a good reason to have him neutered?

We have no plans to allow him to run wild and mate with every nubile young dog (though at 8 months he acts like that's what he wants to do). He is in excellent health, AKC registered, and, the vet says, "show quality".

I have mixed feelings - maybe because I am a man and I wouldn't want my man-parts disabled. Will he live longer? Will it affect his personality? What's the harm in NOT having him neutered?
posted by brownrd to Pets & Animals (43 answers total)
Something like 95 percent of reported dog attacks on people are from "intact males," as they're called.
posted by infinitywaltz at 3:37 PM on December 18, 2013 [15 favorites]

Best answer: He won't miss them, if that's what you're worried about.
posted by torisaur at 3:39 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Copying from this aspca page:
Medical Benefits
There are significant medical benefits to be gained from neutering your dog. Neutering prevents the following medical conditions:

Testicular cancer. Neutering removes the testes and eliminates the risk of your dog developing testicular cancer, a common and life-threatening cancer in older male dogs.
Prostate problems. Without neutering, your dog’s prostate will gradually enlarge as he gets older. This can become uncomfortable for him and even make urination difficult. If the prostate becomes infected, it’s difficult to treat without neutering. While neutering doesn’t completely guard against prostate cancer, it does prevent enlargement and possible infection of the prostate.

Behavioral Changes
The only behaviors influenced by neutering are related to male sex hormones. Neutering won’t affect your dog’s working abilities, friendliness, playfulness or personality. However, hormones like testosterone are reduced by neutering, which can reduce behaviors associated with them. You may see a reduction in the following behaviors after neutering your dog:

Urine marking. Testosterone makes a dog more interested in advertising his presence by urine marking. Neutering your dog will reduce his desire to excessively mark his surroundings with urine. This includes areas outside and around your yard, as well as inside your home.
Roaming. Unaltered dogs often try to leave home in search of females in heat, which puts them at risk of getting lost and being injured or killed on roadways. Neutered dogs tend to live longer than sexually intact dogs, probably because they’re less likely to engage in risky behaviors like roaming. Neutering will lessen or eliminate your dog’s urge to roam.
Aggression. Some studies suggest that neutering can decrease aggression toward other male dogs because testosterone might increase the likelihood of aggressive behavior. Other studies have found no significant relationship between aggression and neutering. It’s possible that competition for mates results in aggression between male dogs, so a dog’s urge to fight with other males might go away when his desire for females is eliminated by neutering. However, there are many complex reasons why dogs fight, and you may not see any changes in your dog’s aggressive behavior simply because he’s been neutered.
Social problems. Other male dogs can easily detect an unneutered dog’s high testosterone level and become aggressive. This can make your intact dog a target of harassment by other male dogs. Neutering can reduce or eliminate this undesirable attention.
Inappropriate mounting. Your dog might be less likely to mount other dogs, people and inanimate objects after he’s neutered. However, mounting is a complex behavior. It can be a sexual behavior, but it can also be a playful behavior or an attempt to assert social control. Only sexually motivated mounting can be reduced by neutering. And although a dog’s interest in females in heat will diminish after neutering, it might not be completely eliminated. He might still become aroused and try to mate if he encounters a receptive female.
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 3:39 PM on December 18, 2013 [16 favorites]

Best answer: I have mixed feelings - maybe because I am a man and I wouldn't want my man-parts disabled. Will he live longer? Will it affect his personality? What's the harm in NOT having him neutered?

Your dog has no concept of his own manhood. It's beyond his cognitive abilities. The only possible personality changes are positive--decreased likelihood of roaming (and therefore unwanted puppies), decreased aggression.

He will still be a beautiful dog even without his balls.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 3:40 PM on December 18, 2013 [43 favorites]

Best answer: HSUS articulately explains why you absolutely should neuter.
posted by bearwife at 3:41 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Please don't project your feelings about your own masculinity on to your dog, especially given the sheer crisis of unwanted dogs in this country. You may not intend to mate him, but the only way to absolutely prevent him from siring offspring is to have him neutered.
posted by scody at 3:41 PM on December 18, 2013 [23 favorites]

Best answer: All the reasons. Duh.

The only feasible reason I could think of for not neutering would be if you are professional breeders and think this particular dog will make a good breeding stock dog.

If you are not already CURRENTLY professional lab breeders, neuter. Please.

Please neuter your dog.

(FWIW I see dogs on walkabout in my neighborhood every day, and they're almost always intact male dogs. Every lamp-post in my neighborhood has a LOST DOG flyer on it. All male. This is not a coincidence. If you want to keep your dog, get him neutered.)
posted by Sara C. at 3:42 PM on December 18, 2013 [10 favorites]

Neuticles are presumably also an option.
posted by asperity at 3:48 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

If you got him from a reputable (i.e., not "backyard") breeder, it's possible you adopted him under "spay/neuter contract", unless you paid extra not to. I don't know the enforceability of these contracts, but you could be in breach of them. More here.
posted by supercres at 3:48 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: You are a human man with a human brain. Your dog is not. Don't project your feelings onto a dog. Your dog has no concept of manhood, genitals, and anything else you are concerned with. Your dog thinks: "Food. Pack. Love me? Scritches. Squirrel!" It is all abstract thought framed by instinct.

Aside from the benefits above as described by other users, here are more thoughts:
    Doing so will also benefit your son as a character building exercise; it is the Right Thing To Do, and sets a good example for your son. Frankly, it would be a good project to have your son research the many reasons why it is right to neuter your dog and present those to you. I doubt he will find anything that says it is a bad idea.
    Many parents are unwilling to let their children play at a house with an un-neutered dog. Your son's friends, your younger family members, etc., could be included in this.
    Un-neutered dogs are much more likely to be stolen for breeding or fighting. Your profile states that you are in a Baltimore suburb. There is absolutely dog fighting and theft in Baltimore and the surrounding areas.

posted by juniperesque at 3:52 PM on December 18, 2013 [10 favorites]

Best answer: Another reason: most doggie daycare/boarding facilities (and some individual dog walkers/pet sitters) will not accept a dog that hasn't been neutered, precisely because they're more aggressive, more inclined to escape in order to mate, etc. So you will be drastically limiting your own options when you go on vacation or otherwise need someone outside your family to care for him.
posted by scody at 3:54 PM on December 18, 2013 [13 favorites]

Best answer: maybe because I am a man and I wouldn't want my man-parts disabled

If you were never, ever going to have the opportunity to use them, maybe you would after all :)

And seconding the above mention - our local dog park only allows neutered dogs.
posted by ftm at 4:05 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Best answer: I have mixed feelings - maybe because I am a man and I wouldn't want my man-parts disabled.

I'm a human and I don't want to eat by putting my face in a bowl. My dog seems pretty happy with this arrangement, though.

LESSON: Your dog is a dog. Not a person.

(FWIW I see dogs on walkabout in my neighborhood every day, and they're almost always intact male dogs. Every lamp-post in my neighborhood has a LOST DOG flyer on it. All male. This is not a coincidence. If you want to keep your dog, get him neutered.)


I found my dog a wandering old, un-neutered beast. He is now a neutered beast. He spent years escaping from his old home (seven documented shelter stays) and he's never tried to run away since I took him home, neutered, from the shelter. He did not give a shit about losing his balls, and if anything, I think that his years spent as an intact male contributed to his dog aggression issues.
posted by ablazingsaddle at 4:09 PM on December 18, 2013 [7 favorites]

Best answer: There is no good reason not to neuter your dog.

In addition to the many reasons above, this is a good opportunity to teach your son that responsibility and caring for others are more important than nads.
posted by Metroid Baby at 4:11 PM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

Also, I would not necessarily take the vet's word on "show quality". It might be like telling new parents they have a beautiful baby, no matter what it looks like.

Nthing that projection is pointless. Plus, you can't predict what your opinion on the procedure would be like afterwards.
posted by supercres at 4:11 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Nthing that every domestic pet should be neutered. It's a huge problem. If being ball-less were so terrible, nearly every male dog you see would be unhappy - do they seem unhappy to you?
posted by smoke at 4:11 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Our un-neutered lab ran off at every possible opportunity and would not come back unless he was ready. He was non-fatally hit by a car at least once when doing so.

We neutered our next lab, who would also dart off when given a break, but would not roam and would always come back rather quickly.

The dogs were raised in the same environment, with the same level of training and discipline. If anything, the un-neutered lab had more training because he would just run off. Both excellent, beautiful dogs.

I would not, under any circumstances (because I am not in the business of breeding nor showing dogs) have an un-neutered or un-spayed pet.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:19 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

Yes, neuter your dog already. There are only upsides. No down. Your projection is, as others have noted, silly and misguided. Neuter and spay with all due speed.
posted by but no cigar at 4:22 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: The boarding issue is a big giant hassle with unneutered male dogs. As scody says, most will flat out refuse to take your dog. What I discovered with our unneutered male lab was that the very few boarding facilities that would take him would not allow him out of his kennel unleashed for the entire boarding period, we had to pay quite a bit more to get him a kennel with a run, pay extra for 1:1 walks and he was completely isolated while being boarded rather than getting to hang out with the other dogs.

He wasn't allowed into any of the local dog parks which was a big bummer because a lab needs quite a bit of exercise, more than the average person is equipped to offer. I used to be able to take our cattle dog (another high energy breed) out to the dog park and let him run himself into being a sleepy, mellow dog but not the lab: there were not enough hours in the day to walk him to the extent that he needed walking.

He was an amazing escape artist. A 6' fence was not nearly tall enough, he bounced over that thing like it was a doorstep.

Our lab spent his first 3 years intact because my SO had the same testicle sympathy pains you are having. We argued about it a lot because the care of the dog largely ended up in my hands, which meant I was the one who got to deal with all the logistical hassles of having a large unneutered dog from a breed already known for its exuberance. Then one day the dog trotted up to me in the bedroom, lifted his leg and pissed on me and the day after that, he said bye bye to his nuts. Should have happened 3 years before, I gotta admit it has been a struggle for me to bond with this dog due to how much of a giant pain in the ass he was the first few years.
posted by jamaro at 4:24 PM on December 18, 2013 [13 favorites]

Another bonus I don't see listed here... no awkward furniture/leg humping.
posted by hamsterdam at 4:26 PM on December 18, 2013

Best answer: Is your own hang-up about his testicles being removed the only roadblock to having him neutered? Is that the only thing that makes you pause about it? From one guy to another: he will not 'miss' his testicles, nor will the lack of them make him less of a male or masculine.

A neutered dog roams less, is generally more amicable, and (sometimes) mellows out in the energy department. A neutered dog isn't going to suffer from testicular cancer.

If you consider the above there's no sound reasoning for keeping him intact. Labradors are the #1 breed according to AKC--there is certainly NO shortage of them or breeders cashing in on them. So unless you're dog is a remarkable example of his breed as determined by a qualified judge or breeder (NOT your vet) it would be in his best interested to be neutered.

If you still intend on keeping him intact for the purpose of breeding later, I would recommend acquiring a full pedigree so you can assess his lineage. AKC papers on their own mean nothing---the equivalent to having registered your vehicle. A pedigree will tell you far more--is he of English or American type (his longer snout and finer bone suggests American)? Are there any titled Champions? Are there any titled Field Champions? Are there Obedience titles? Were his Sire/Dam and GrandSire/GrandDam on both sides OFA'd for Hips, Elbows? And since Retrievers are prone to eye issues, were his Sire/Dam CERF'd? Do you have plans to get his eyes CERF'd? What about his elbows and hips--these are severe issues in the breed. Has he been tested for genetic diseases? These are non-negotiable (in my mind) traits that a good breeding pair of show quality dogs should have.

If it all sounds like too much work, then there's really no point in leaving him intact just for the sake of leaving him intact.
posted by stubbehtail at 4:28 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: We decided not to neuter our two male miniature dachshunds because neutered dachshunds are more likely to become overweight and develop crippling back problems. So far the only drawback has been our guests' occasional discomfort at witnessing the homoerotic plushie dog sex shows that take place basically all day long. Our dogs have never escaped and would be too short to fuck most other dogs anyway.
posted by Jacqueline at 4:34 PM on December 18, 2013

Best answer: So on the one hand, your dog being "show quality" doesn't matter unless you (a) have the dog on full registration, (b) are planning to show and eventually breed the dog, (c) are willing to pay for the several hundred dollars in health clearances required for you to breed the dog without being an amoral fuckhead, and (d) are willing to campaign the dog in the conformation ring and in some relevant performance trial, at an overall cost of at least into the low thousands of dollars, also required for you to breed the dog ethically.

In any case, unless the vet is a conformation judge licensed to judge Labs, the vet's opinion about whether or not it's show quality is as irrelevant as my opinions about the virtues of various HO-scale model train engines, about which I know fuck-all.

Likewise, the idea that your dog will miss his testicles is just wrong. Dogs are dogs, and they're perfectly fine and wonderful beings without having to be little furry people. This should not guide your decision here.

On the other hand, the HSUS in particular is not a reliable source of information about stuff like this. The HSUS is not the parent organization for local shelters; it's an entirely unconnected organization with "humane society" in its name. HSUS is basically a marginally less extreme alternative to PETA. HSUS cares about reducing the population of stray and unwanted dogs, full stop. Not about the health of pets. Likewise, APSCA cares a lot more about population control than it does about the health of individual animals. And while I disagree with them about this, the horrifying number of stray and unwanted dogs in the US demonstrate that their emphasis isn't simply wrong.

Also on the other hand, behavior like humping legs or furniture isn't a function of being intact or neutered. It's a function of training the dog not to do that.

Next scree in a minute, but the tl;dr of it will be that there are health benefits to at least putting off neutering a dog and a mix of long-term benefits and risks from leaving a dog intact; the idea that there are no downsides is just wrong.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 4:41 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Some of your answers made my wife and I LOL. The answers I didn't expect were the ones to involve my son in the decision, and I just had a chat with him about that. He is researching this issue now and I expect that he will agree that neutering is the way to go. Thank you all. Marking as resolved.
posted by brownrd at 5:06 PM on December 18, 2013 [6 favorites]

Best answer: So it turns out that mass neutering is a basically American phenomenon and a reflection of the simple fact that American dog owners tend to be pretty terrible dog owners. In other countries, neutering is rare (ie 90%+ of dogs in Sweden are intact) or even limited by law to valid medical reasons, and they don't have the same problems of stray/unwanted overpopulation. They do, however, have other systems of social and legal control over dogs and dog ownership. Neutering took hold in America because it's a form of population control that still works even when you're the sort of jackass who just turns your dog out, or keeps it chained up where anyone or anydog can get at it, etc etc, which most American dog owners seem to be.

The idea that neutering or spaying is a no-brainer health wise is just false, however. Neutered dogs, and especially early-neutered dogs, are at substantially higher risk of osteosarcoma (Cooley et al, "Endogenous Gonadal Hormone Exposure and Bone Sarcoma Risk," Cancer Epidemiology, Biomarkers & Prevention 2002; relative risk for males was 3.8). Neutering is also associated with greater risk for cardiac tumors (Ware and Hopper, "Cardiac tumors in dogs: 1982-1995," Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine 1999), but the risk remains low. A recent study at UC Davis found that neutered dogs were more likely to have hip dysplasia (double the risk), tears to the cruciate ligament (no relative risk because no intact dogs in the study had it), and lymphosarcoma (triple the risk). (Torres del Riva et al, "Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers," PLOS One 2013) They found additional risk factors for spayed bitches.

This doesn't mean that leaving your dog intact is a great idea. Honestly, the reasons you gave are just terrible, terrible reasons. Leaving him intact would mean establishing a much more rigorous training regimen over your dog than you might otherwise be interested in. It would mean keeping the dog under your control at all times -- and "under control" doesn't mean that he'll usually come back if you call him several times. Under control means either in your home, on a leash, or restrained by a solid-material fence that is too large for him to jump over (and monitoring him for digging).

We decided not to neuter our two male miniature dachshunds because neutered dachshunds are more likely to become overweight and develop crippling back problems.

I don't mean to be offensive, but this is not a great reason to leave a dog intact. Your dog's weight is completely and totally under your control, since it isn't going to get food you don't provide.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 5:12 PM on December 18, 2013 [8 favorites]

I feel it necessary to point out that the studies cited by ROU Xenophobe deals specifically with Golden Retrievers who were neutered young (under 1 year), neutered late (after sexually maturing) or left intact.

The data shows tremendous rises in orthopedic issues/defects for males when neutered too young (>12 months) but interestingly enough, dogs neutered late (<1>
Females, naturally, show higher incidence of mast cell tumors due to late neutering. This is why it's recommended to spay a female before her first heat so that her risk of breast or uterine cancers/tumors decreases.

Additionally, results in this particular study are skewed due to the sample size. If you compare 145 intact males, 178 early-neutered males and only 72 late-neutered males---of course your 'results' will find less diseases in intact makes---there are half as many late-neutered dogs in the sample. This was the case with the female sample too. The hugely uneven numbers for the late-neuter samples make this study questionable, IMHO.
posted by stubbehtail at 5:35 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

I came in to say something similar to ROU_Xenophobe: the only person I know who left her dog intact has a working service dog. He's very highly trained - apparently he opened her hotel door one night when she was out longer than normal, took the elevator downstairs, gave himself a walk and then couldn't open the door to the room (no key, duh) so waited outside her room until she got back. Unless we're talking about that kind of dog, you probably should get him altered.

He's also not a Lab. Not that they aren't perfectly fine dogs they're just not take the elevator smart normally.
posted by fiercekitten at 5:37 PM on December 18, 2013 [3 favorites]

Best answer: There are some valid reasons for waiting to neuter a larger dog until they are between 1-2 years old (sex hormones help them develop properly in terms of size and bone structure, and it can prevent bone cancer). I waited as long as I could (13 months) with my golden retriever. But when he started marking the back of strangers legs at the park it was time to head to Dr. Clipit.
posted by cecic at 5:57 PM on December 18, 2013

So it turns out that mass neutering is a basically American phenomenon

This not exactly true: Here in Australia, the vast majority of domestic pets are neutered. The same is true in the UK.
posted by smoke at 6:15 PM on December 18, 2013 [4 favorites]

Seems like you've chosen your path and that's great. I grew up as a kid with an unneutered black lab in the house. I would not recommend it. It's sort of like herd immunity with vaccinating. An intact animal is a problem for itself the reasons mentioned (health, etc) but a larger social issue is if you have multiple intact animals. My dog would run off and disappear for days at a time (we lived in the country, this was slightly more normal to have dogs free range) and was occasionally destructive towards

- other male dogs, our dog was well-trained generally but would occasionally attack other intact male dogs
- anything standing between him and a female dog in heat

My parents had to pay another family a lot of money when my dog tried to get into the car holding their female dog in heat and basically chewed off half the side of their car window trying to get at her.

All of this is somewhat embarrassing to even mention now, but I was a child and it wasn't a choice I got to make at the time. I'd suggest neutering for all the reasons mentioned above.
posted by jessamyn at 6:21 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: From someone who's wife has worked in kennels and vet hospitals for the last eight years - neuter him. All of you will be much happier for it. It's a very basic procedure that takes the vet longer to set up for than it does to do.
posted by azpenguin at 7:17 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

You can always have testicular implants or "neuticles" as they are called put in in if you are worried the other dogs will laugh at him. No one need ever be the wiser.
posted by wwax at 7:47 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I, personally wouldn't neuter a male large breed dog unless it was a year or more. But I would do it at that point unless there was some compelling reason not to.
posted by fshgrl at 8:00 PM on December 18, 2013

Neuter him. Every day 9000 dogs are put down to die in shelters. Every day. I hope you got this dog from a shelter, lots of gorgeous labs there looking for a home.
posted by ladoo at 9:29 PM on December 18, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I have an intact dog. I inherited him that way, and he was already several years old and sexually mature at that point. A lot of fuss is made over reducing aggression in the animal, although my vet said that was fuzzy at best, and at least in the case of my dog a moot issue because he was sexually mature already and whatever hormonal things were going to happen had already happened.

The thing that isn't usually mentioned is aggression in other animals toward your intact dog. I swear to god they know he has his balls and they all hate him for it. He is a goofy weird creature. But I can't take him out to play in dog parks because he is attacked by other male dogs - routinely.

Of course there is an added layer of concern about socialization because I can't take my unaltered dog all over the place because I can't possibly know when and where he might come in contact with a bitch in heat. (Whether a pet or a stray.) That really reduces his options for getting out and seeing the world.

Most of the neutering arguments sound, to me, a lot like arguments in favor of circumcision. Essentially, it is just easier and to hell with the bodily integrity of another creature. But at least where socialization is concerned, I think there is a compelling argument that not-neutering reduces the quality of life of the animal.
posted by jph at 11:58 PM on December 18, 2013 [1 favorite]

stubbehtail: mast cell tumors are not mammary tumors. They are round cell tumors.

And that is a peer-reviewed study published in a very well-respected journal. The sample sizes are considered representative.
posted by biscotti at 6:22 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Mod note: Folks, please answer the question being asked.
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 6:33 AM on December 19, 2013

Best answer: I mention this as an alternative: you can have your dog vasectomized. But yes, please, either vasectomize or neuter your dog. So many good dogs are destroyed because they don't have homes.
posted by workerant at 8:26 AM on December 19, 2013

I know you've marked as resolved, but I wanted to touch on something I don't think anyone else has said. (If I missed it, sorry).

I think that when we find a really beautiful, special animal, there's part of us that wants to keep their reproductive rights intact, just in case we want them to breed. Partly so that we can have part of them 'live on' in their offspring. It's a kind of selfish want, in the same way we kinda pressure our kids to have kids. I think that to some of us, the idea of snipping kind of signifies the permanent loss of an animal we adore.

But leaving him intact doesn't mean you can clone another him, though. No matter how many offspring he has, his offspring will never be 'him'. They may be better, they may be worse, but they'll never be exactly the same temperament or looks as the parent. Unfortunately he just won't live forever. I think that for some, part of the hesitance regarding neutering is because of that-- the idea that the puppy will be like an extension of the parent.

I think if you let go of that idea and realize that you're not losing out on anything, and that your dog was one-of a kind regardless of whether he has offspring or not-- plus the added benefits of snipping as others have said-- it makes it easier to come to terms with all of it.

Also it makes sense to neuter (instead of breeding your dog), when you think of it in terms of the irresponsibility of adding 1-10 offspring puppies (because they seldom have just one puppy) into the already over-populated dog world. When you could instead save a dog that is already out there and that risks being put down because of that overpopulation problem. Moreover, finding a home is really difficult for most shelter pets (especially older ones). Shelter pet adoption is a beautifully altruistic thing-- literally saving a life-- and it gives you more warm fuzzies than adding to a pre-existing problem.
posted by Dimes at 8:50 AM on December 19, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: In my opinion the people who say it's an across the board "no-brainer" are drunk on the kool aid. I've had three male dogs that were not neutered and it was never a problem. I was able to control their movements and had no need to utilize day care. My ability to control their movements was based upon a combination of the particular dogs' personalities and my living/work situations.

On the other hand, I have known male dogs where their behavior did make it a no-brainer.

I'm not anti-spay/neuter. My current pooch is spayed. Partly so she can go to day care and partly due to birth control concerns. I will admit I'm more likely to have a female spayed than I am to have a male neutered. With a female I feel like you are more exposed to the carelessness of other dog owners. When you have a male dog you only need to control one penis but when you have an unspayed female you're at the mercy of all of them.
posted by Carbolic at 9:31 AM on December 19, 2013

Best answer: I have a large breed unneutered male in NYC. He is now almost 8 years old. I had decided to possibly neuter him (after he had some time to mature) if he ever presented problems related to being intact. The truth is, he is a mellow, well trained, mature dog and passed his Canine Good Citizens test. I knew one of his siblings that was neutered and was surprised that in fact- his sibling was the dog with more behavior problems (humping, marking, roaming). I live in a neighborhood with a high concentration of Europeans so there are many many intact dogs all around. I think dog ownership in other countries is alot different than here in the US. These dogs in my neighborhood with European owners are very well cared for, healthy, and socialized. It's not rare to see beautiful intact male German Shepherds, Cane Corsos, etc. in my park playing peacefully together (the Europeans generally avoid the dog park). Then sometimes I look over at the dog park and marvel at the number of fights, fence aggression, humping etc. on display between all of the neutered, supposedly well behaved pet dogs in there. I don't put my dog anywhere near such chaos. I have been to lots of other European countries and seen intact dogs all over the place that are well cared for and even welcome in the businesses and restaurants all around. I have traveled to other countries where dogs are used for working. I have been up in the mountains with shepherds in Turkey who have packs of 5-10 dogs working together guarding the sheep. They are all intact and they do their jobs just fine.

I think that if you are the average dog owner in the US who will be very casual with your dog's upbringing (maybe a couple of puppy classes) and not too careful about letting the dog escape or run freely about the suburban neighborhood- I guess you should neuter him. If you are dog professional (showing/hunting/working/sports) you are more likely to know how to handle and bring up a dog without having to fix him. There are health benefits for males if you can let them remain unneutered. People in the US are really emotional about this topic, making it difficult to talk about the pros and cons calmly. I have heard all kinds of stories of what intact males are like from people who have never raised a dog unfixed. It's hard to reconcile the slathering hormone fueled attack animal described by some folks with the calm, healthy, happy well trained fellow sleeping on my couch right now. The shelters are overflowing- yes- but I am sure if it was not so easy for people to to just dump off their unnwanted pets whenever inconvenienced that would cut down on a lot of problems. We in the US- as a culture- are irresponsible toward our animals. For reading more about this topic read this or google Chris Zink.
posted by catrae at 10:16 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I think the difference for somewhere like New York is that most dogs live in apartment buildings. There is zero chance that your dog is going to run off and get hit by a car, or end up in a shelter, or get stolen.

In areas where people have yards and are more comfortable with their dogs being off leash outdoors, keeping a male dog intact has HUGE risks involved. Not because of temperament or unsightly behaviors, but because there is an extremely strong chance that your dog will soon cease to belong to you if you leave it intact.

If you like your dog, want to keep him, and EVER plan to let him out of your sight off leash, you need to neuter your dog. Period. None of the other noise matters.
posted by Sara C. at 11:38 AM on December 19, 2013 [1 favorite]

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