View Full Version : To Neuter or Not to Neuter - That Is The Question

27th September 2007, 01:14 PM
Okay, here's the problem, Ziggy (whom I absolutely adore) has gotten too big. When he stands and leans his front feet on the cabinet he can actually, reach the kitchen counter with his paw. So while he has been doing some showing and has accumulated a couple of points, I fully believe his show career is over now that he's over a year old. I don't know actually how tall he is, but I'm sure its over 12 inches at the withers and I don't know exactly how much he ways but I think its well over 20 pounds. He's not fat, he's big.

His markings are gorgeous and his head is perfect (except for size) in structure. His mind and his health are also good though he does sniffle a little and he snores.

So what do I do? My first thought was to call the vet and make the appointment for his "big snip," after all I've recommended repeatedly to other dog owners. But then I read a post here that doesn't recommend that healthy males be cut just for the sake of doing it. Now I'm in a quandry. Is there anybody out there who can give me an unbiased set of pros and cons so I can make an informed responsible decision?

If he's to be cut, I would like to have it over and done so that he's fully recovered by Halloween. As a side note, my female (Ziggy's Mom) will come in heat in mid November. I will either need to board him out or have him made safe before then.

Thanks for your input on this.

Harry & Heidi's mom
27th September 2007, 01:36 PM
I had harry castrated on halloween lol

I had it done to reduce his risk of prostate cancer and the risks with being knocked out in later life, much easier to prevent something than treat it!

Barbara Nixon
27th September 2007, 01:59 PM
My boys are entire, but it's probably best to get your boy done, as he's living with an unspayed bitch, who happens to be his mum, too. It won't stop his interest though.

27th September 2007, 02:17 PM
Much as I am against this, the health issues make it a necessary procedure if you aren't using him as a stud or showing him again. :(

27th September 2007, 02:25 PM
I agree with Barbara, I wouldn't keep an entire dog with an unspayed bitch esp if it's mother and son.

27th September 2007, 02:30 PM
It is probably going to be really hard for any of us to be totally unbaised but I've had dogs of both sexes, some intact and some spayed/neutered and I am happy to share my own personal but maybe not unbiased thoughts with you.

These days I like to keep my dogs intact and here are my reasons:

a) I live in a situation & area where my dogs can not get out so they pose no risk of unwanted matings. Living on acres I also do not have problems with my males barking over the fence at females. There just aren't any dogs around for quite a large radius.

b) I actually prefer the personality of intact animals. Many people say they detect no change in their dog's personality but I always have. It seems to me that a little edge has been taken away from their personality. I love the boy in my boys and the girl in my girls (not that I have any girls any more).

Though many people talk about males cocking their legs inside of the house and humping, this has not been my experience. My intact males have peed inside of the house no more than their neutered counterparts, or any spayed females we've had. If anything, I found the girls a little less reliable than the boys. It has always been very rare for an adult to pee inside of our house. As to humping. All of my dogs, regardless of gender & whether intact or not, have at times humped each other duing play. This has usually occured during puppyhood & adolescence but stopped when full adulthood was reached. I don't find this offensive, to me it is just dogs being dogs. Again, my girls have probably done this more often than the boys.

I have never had a dog that did not have a sweet & tractable temperament so have never felt the need to desex to somehow dampen their personality.

c) Despite being married to a doctor, I am wary of the medical prfession :p and rather suspicious of surgery. I don't want my dogs having a GA unless it is totally necessary. I am an advocate of "if it aint broke, don't fix it". I am also not an advocate of "what if". Just as I would not have my own ovaries removed to reduce my risk of breast cancer, so too am I not happy about removing anatomical parts from my dogs to remove the risk of cancer to that part. I've never had a dog die from a condition that desexing would have altered. I did have one female get a pymetra (infection of the uterus) and she needed to have her uterus removed to make her well again. Of course if she'd have been spayed this would not have occurred.

Every female that I have had spayed suffered spay incontinence for the rest of her life. It is possible that this is a Boxer thing, but it sure has turned me off having bitches spayed. I've not heard anybody speak of spay incontince here so maybe it isn't a problem within the Cavalier breed?

Having said all of that, I very strongly believe that if a person can not guarantee that their dog will not get out & cause unwanted pregnancies, then the owner should have the dog spayed/neutered. To do otherwise is irresponsible.

I also support the pro-spay/neuter push, as sadly many people are not responsible owners and having desexed dogs does at least remove part of the problems or irresponsible owners.

If you have a male & female then it can be really rough on an intact male if the female is also intact. A neutered male will be much more comfortable around a bitch in season than if he is intact and is not allowed to do the deed.

However to those who are responsible & committed to doing the right thing with their dogs, I say "do your research before making a decision & follow your heart about what you feel is best for your dog & for you". :)

Barbara Nixon
27th September 2007, 02:48 PM
I would certainly spay a nonbreeding female,as in the days before safer anaesthetics, I had two bitches get pyometra and one had to be pts.. Pyometra is very common among non spayed bitches and can even strike before a year old, as Anita, who comes on occasionally will tell you. She nearly lost her Millie.

27th September 2007, 02:49 PM
Here is some interesting reading on the subject:

The big issue is to know ALL the FACTS. The bottom line is you know your dog best-- some intact males are easy, some are a pain. I keep intact males and females in the same home. It can be done.

Debby with a Y
27th September 2007, 04:34 PM
Sandy, I read that article on this thread (http://board.cavaliertalk.com/showthread.php?t=20768) yesterday. Lots of good conversation on that thread as well.

I used to be 100% pro spay/neuter but there is a lot of food for thought in the article.

27th September 2007, 05:26 PM
Is his size really going to affect his show career to such an extent that you would pull him? I keep reading breeder discussion on how many dogs being shown are over the breed standard -- a lot say the dogs in the UK are often slightly over breed standard. Also the real question is, does he have genes that are worth conserving? What is his family MVD history and have any of his siblings or immediate relatives been MRId? If not would you consider MRIing him?

Do you know some reputable show breeders who could advise in this regard (for example, whomever you got him from in the first place -- seems the kind of discussion to have with his breeder). Markings don't really matter as they are the least important element and generally are not passed along in any direct way. Head structure also would not be as important as whether he has genes that would benefit the breed, all else being generally good. I'd also want to accurately weigh and measure him before making decisions.

Bruce H
27th September 2007, 06:38 PM
I had some of the same questions as Karlin.

When you say a couple points, do you mean that literally? How long have you been showing him and how many shows has he been in? Do you have any majors? The reason I ask this is we had a boy (Lazer, now retired) that we had 10 points on at about 10 months old. Then he had a growth spurt and easily went 20 pounds and looked even bigger because he had such a heavy coat. For the next 7 to 8 months we could barely get a second look from a judge. Then one weekend we got judges both days that liked the larger boys and he became a champion at 18 months. The point is, if he is good in other respects, maybe you just haven't got the right judge or shown him enough. Having said all this, be a little wary about asking your competition about him. They don't always have your best interest at heart and may want you to continue as point fodder. Best bet is to ask your breeder or someone you really know you can trust for an honest opinion.

27th September 2007, 09:36 PM
Hmm, would agree with Bruce and Sandy on this, there are judges who prefer the bigger boys as they consider them sounder and better movers, it is also possible to keep entire males and females in the same house, I have done so for many years now, the main thing is to keep them seperate when she is in heat, if you can't do this then there are always belly bands! And if he does mate his mother, there are steps you can still take medically to prevent a pregnancy resulting. Just my opinion FWI!!

28th September 2007, 12:18 AM
I have always got the impression that there's far more leeway in judging and accepting dogs at the larger end of the scale than the smaller end as well?

28th September 2007, 12:20 AM
Can you picture a 10-12 pound MALE cavalier. That would be so petite.

Bruce H
28th September 2007, 12:28 AM
I have always got the impression that there's far more leeway in judging and accepting dogs at the larger end of the scale than the smaller end as well?

I don't know about other parts of the country, but around here I get the feeling it's actually moving toward the small end of the range. We've seen some pretty small dogs get put up when it seems, to us anyhow, that there were better dogs passed over that were larger. But again, conformation is VERY subjective and some judges are known for putting up the handler rather than the dog.

28th September 2007, 12:47 AM
I don't know about other parts of the country, but around here I get the feeling it's actually moving toward the small end of the range. We've seen some pretty small dogs get put up when it seems, to us anyhow, that there were better dogs passed over that were larger. But again, conformation is VERY subjective and some judges are known for putting up the handler rather than the dog.

Some judges don't even try to hide that they know and like the handlers. I was shocked when a very cowhocked dog won the breed-- until I saw the judge and handler after the showing. Guess they were friends.

Bruce H
28th September 2007, 02:18 AM
Isn't that the truth. I think it's pretty common knowledge that if you really want to finish your dog, if you hire the right handler, your dog will finish. Kris and I decided years ago we would never put our dogs out with a handler.

So what was this thread about again? :o Sorry to get so far off track.

28th September 2007, 06:48 PM
Thanks to all of you for your thoughts on this matter. It was very helpful to hear strong support for keeping my big boy intact and in the show ring despite his size.

I emailed his breeder (and co-owner for that matter) but have not heard from her yet. She gave me Zena (though she didn't know that Ziggy was lurking inside her) as she knew I wanted to show. She may well have been setting me up as point fodder. We were both delighted when the Zig Monster turned out so nice. I have enjoyed showing him at his four shows and getting his two points. I wanted to finish him someday - when didn't matter. But he's just so much bigger than any other Cavalier I've ever seen. Even I have trouble taking him seriously so I can only imagine what the judges and my fellow competitors think.

As far as his genes go - both his mother and father were DNA tested, both also passed a cardiologist's as well as a ophthamologist's exam, so I believe he would have genetically sound puppies. Neither of them was MRI'd to my knowledge, though so I may be wrong about that. His father did finish and I may yet finish his mother who was well on her way to finishing when she was given to me, I don't think either one of them are "specials" material.

There is no disqualification clause in the standard relating to size or weight. So I am leaning toward keeping my guy intact through the end of the year at least. He's a fun dog with a great personality, showing him is fun, he handles the stress well, showing dogs costs much less than showing horses - so why not? For now anyway.

Thanks again for the help