My Dogs Balls Are Natural
(if I only had a dollar for every time I’ve heard this…)
I hear ill thought out slipshod arguments all the time. Heck, isn’t that what the internet is for, cat and dog pictures and arm-chair experts? Probably the most common faulty argument I hear from many well-intentioned smart folks about why to keep their dog’s balls and ovaries intact rather than to spay and neuter is, “my dog’s balls are natural.” I’ll examine this argument and many other cursory, inattentive ones below. It is important to keep in mind that extreme anthropomorphism is not healthy for you or your dog.
Spaying and neutering is a hot topic (not hot pocket).
People get very worked up over this debate and it tends to polarize rather than unify pet parents. As with any decision you must weigh the risks vs rewards. However, it would behoove you as it is a privilege of being a pet parent, not a right, to make a responsible and healthy choice in the best interest of your dog or cat and to make sure your inchoate thoughts and arguments are sound, not based on faulty logic and backed by evidence before making decisions for another sentient being.
In reading a popular blog one day I came across dog parents defending their dog’s testicles as if they were 24 karat encrusted Olympic gold medals and some treasure to behold. They took great offence at the idea of spay and neutering. Which got me thinking about all of the myths, misconceptions and faulty arguments I hear about defending unneutered pets . Allow me to address some of the most popular myths and defenses for not spaying or neutering a dog or cat. There are so many anthropomorphic statements and misunderstandings about behavior and health on the internet, floating around cyber space and social media it is difficult to address them all.
First I’d like to state an axiom and cardinal rule of science, when the data changes so does science and opinions. Views and facts are not fixed and an absolute way of being. If leaving a dog intact and not spaying or neutering them was shown to cause a dog to live a healthier, longer life, I would also change my opinion on the subject. But the facts and science paint a clear picture and the current benefits of spaying and neutering typically far outweigh the negatives. So without further ado I present to you the:
Top 11 Reasons NOT to Spay and Neuter Your Pet Dog or Cat Debunked
- It’s Natural. (gag) My dog’s balls or having a menstrual cycle is natural.
Your logical fallacy is an appeal to nature. Just because something is natural does not mean that it is good, justifiable, inevitable or ideal. Please do not fall for the naturalist fallacy. Do you know what else dogs do in nature? Here are just a few unsavory things that dogs do in nature that intelligent, responsible, caring pet parents do not allow: Coprophagia (eating poop), eating the placenta after giving birth (yumm), having sex with siblings, relatives and parents (incest), eating foods and plants that will kill a dog or cat, cannibalism, and rape are all natural dog behaviors, however these are things we do not condone or allow. In fact, many dog breeds would not even be able to procreate without the advent of science and human intervention. These dogs are about as natural as Splenda and this argument is faulty.
- Appeal to Emotion. How could you possibly let your dog live without his testicles or ovaries! That is so cruel to steel your dog’s ability to reproduce! Think about doing that to your husband, wife, kids and the mental torment they would be in so I would not dare do that to my dog or cat!
False. Does this sound rational to you? Any attempt to manipulate an emotional response with anthropomorphism sprinkled on top in place of a valid or compelling argument is an appeal to emotion not an argument worth defending or having.
- There is no medical evidence that removing a dog’s testicles or having a dog spayed is medically healthy for them.
False (most of the time). Actually, there is lot’s of scientific evidence that having a dog’s testicles removed may extend your dog’s life by close to 2 years.5 Of course it also removes the possibility of some types of cancer as well. Caveat, there is contradictory information based on various factors, so each breed, husbandry, hereditary, and congenital lineage should be individually evaluated. For some breeds (Golden Retrievers) spay or neutering a dog below a certain age, or at all, is shown to be detrimental to your dog’s health. So do your research, as with life, it doesn’t sit still and changes all time.
- My dog is not allowed to hump other dogs.
False. Yes I realize that many people think they have the best behaved little angle that is perfectly socialized, behaved, has perfect obedience and defies all innate canine traits such as humping, chasing squirrels, cats, bikes, skateboards and many moving objects and that your dog doesn’t like to be social or play with other dogs. Humans make mistakes-gasp. When we drop the leash, take a dog to the park, travel, open the front door and the dog sneaks out, or when the dog opens the door themselves, when we have company come over, or a doggie play date…etc. accidents do and will happen, because we’re human. If you think it takes your dog the same time as a human male to copulate and ejaculate, think again, it takes only a split second. Male dogs don’t try to “hold-out” for her pleasure or have performance anxiety. Before you notice your perfectly behaved dog was even gone or could call Scruffies name, he would have impregnated a bitch in heat. Unaltered dogs, particularly males, will chew through a leash, jump a fence, dig under a fence, break through screens, or even mate through a chain linked fence! And even if your pet is safe in your yard, it doesn’t mean that another roaming animal won’t come and join them – kinky!
You don’t need me to tell you, look at your local shelter! It is impossible to monitor your dog every second of the day. Even if you are taking care of your pet and socializing, dog training and enriching their lives, you cannot possibly watch your dog every second of your life. That one second you don’t watch them is all it takes to reproduce. This fact alone warrants fixing your pet.
- My dog is friendly, submissive and not aggressive to other dogs.
Irrelevant. Dogs do not live in a vacuum. Being unaltered isn’t always about how well behaved your dog is to others. Your perfect little unaltered angel will set off the chemistry in a dog park, play group, doggie daycare, boarding facility or any passerby on the street faster than Boy George eating a corndog at the White Party in South Beach. Male dogs can smell a bitch in heat miles away and will seek her out as a biological and behavioral reflexive response. I is extrememly unhealthy and devastating to a dog to sequester them which would be abusive and socially and enrichment depriving, then I strongly consider having them spayed or neutered to make life easier and less stressful for your dog and you. It isn’t solely about the way your dog reacts to other dogs but how other dogs react to your unaltered male/female. Which is why unaltered dogs are smartly not allowed in doggie daycares, dog parks, boarding facilities or allowed to leave any shelter, adoption or rescue agency intact. Intact dogs set off the chemistry of other dogs they come into contact in a negative, unhealthy, unfriendly way. Otherwise friendly dogs become aggressive, territorial, possessive, unfriendly, controlling, unruly, competitive…etc. Just like some men get around women.
Have you ever walked past an unfortunate homeless person or a man or woman wearing so much perfume/cologne that the pungent, vile or putrid smell stuns you, stops you in your tracks in an abrupt manner as our olfactory glands are offended? We wish we could take back that smell, but we can’t. Now, imagine the capabilities of a dog’s nose, thousands of times more sensitive and acute than our inferior nose. Parents of domesticated dogs shouldn’t voluntarily upset/disturb other dog’s olfactory glands. Undetected by humans’ paltry nose sensitivity and strength, when a dog is intact they are chemically omitting pungent, intense smells that stuns or stops other dogs in their tracks from hundreds of meters even several miles away. It is irresponsible to allow ones dog to negatively affect others in this manner. Just because you don’t smell the pool of chemicals emitted from your dog’s intact testicles or ovaries other dogs do! Just as we are knocked off our feet and disturbed when we walk past someone who reeks, a dog is equally disturbed when they smell a pool of chemicals emanating from an unaltered dog many city blocks away! The smell difference between an unaltered dog and an altered dog is substantial and other dogs are equally disturbed being around unaltered dogs as we are disturbed by someone who smells retched. Think about others before deciding to leave a dog intact.
- My dog should give birth to at least one litter.
Huh?! This deserves the jaw dropping WTF award. There is no scientific evidence that shows that giving birth to a litter is either healthy or extends a dog’s life. A dog does not think like you and does not want to have babies of their own, sorry. And until your dog speaks and tells you this directly, let’s just leave it at that, cause we’ll never know.
- My pet will get fat and lazy after being spayed or neutered
False. Unsubstantiated myth. Weight is directly correlated to intake and exercise. Both change over the course of a dog’s life as well as metabolism. Feed your dog healthy food, exercise, socialize and enrich them daily and weight will not be a problem. However, neutering your dog will attenuate their tendencies to wander and roam looking for a mate and will also cause them to get into fewer altercations, keep them safe from cars and lessen the likelihood of impregnate a bitch while on the hunt. Which is a good thing.
- We want another pet just like our dog Bella
Ignorance. I am so different from my parents and siblings you wouldn’t even think we are related. Even when breeding purebreds with known ontogenies, health, temperaments, hereditary and congenital factors, rarely are the offspring exactly or even similar to the parents looks or behavior. Your chances of getting a dog just like your current one is Slim to none and Slim just left town. Sentient beings are unique individuals and are always comprised of phenotype and genotype. I guarantee you will find the pet of your dreams at your local shelter.
- My pet’s personality will change
False. This belongs in the WTF category as well. If anything, your pet’s temperament will change for the better. Your dog’s drive to mate will decrease, decreasing roaming, fighting and competing for bitches. Your dog will also stop trying to control and mark territory everywhere they go leaving them a lot less stressed, congruent and at homeostasis. Richard Bowen, DVM, Ph.D. a professor at the Animal Reproduction and Biotechnology Laboratory of Colorado State University states “neutering reduces aggression. The earlier you can neuter, the fewer aggression problems you’ll have. Roaming around, urine-marking, sexual behavior toward people and other animals . . . Most of those behaviors are dramatically decreased.” While it is overly simplistic to state that altering a dog will reduce aggression, since behaviorists and trainers define behaviors as verbs not as adjectives and labels, it does help with problem behaviors. Neutering doesn’t directly reduce or cause aggression, although it does have the tendency to reduce dominance and precursors to unhealthy, unwanted behaviors that could easily elicit reactivity and conflict with another dog/s.
- My dog stays at home and is potty trained.
False. If this is the case you are certainly not taking care of your dog and not fulfilling your dog’s social, emotional, mental and physical health. Neglecting any aspect of your dog’s comprehensive health is a poor decision and irresponsible. Spaying and neutering decreases a dog’s desire to roam in the search for mates, marking behavior and territorial desires. Dogs who are spayed and neutered do not try and claim anything and everything and are much more socially appeasable, and amenable. Don’t confuse luck with intelligence, just because it hasn’t happened yet doesn’t mean it won’t. Don’t become another statistic at the expense of your pet and their puppies or kittens.
- Tradition. In my country we don’t spay or neuter dogs or cats.
This is almost too ridiculous to mention but living in transient, international, multicultural Los Angeles and Miami Beach and growing up in New York, many foreign people have argued this as a reason to continue this tradition. While it is true in many countries that dogs and cats are unneutered, it is also true that in these cases many of these dogs are homeless or community dogs, live much shorter lives, are much less taken care of, do not have access to health care, and are not domesticated house pets as they are in the United States and in Europe. It’s important to remember that just because something is a tradition doesn’t mean it is healthy or shouldn’t be questioned. Many traditions are neither ethical nor condoned, like slavery, homophobia, racism, discrimination, ear cropping, tail docking, and bigotry just to name a few, and are not practiced by anyone who is compassionate, caring or fair. I don’t suffer fools gladly and won’t delve into this “tradition” argument anymore as it is unfounded, unwarranted and unethical when putting tradition over the health and well-being of the life of another sentient being.
Pro Tip: Want to spot a fraud? Service dogs, Emotional Support Animals, Therapy Dogs and Canine Good Citizens are all spayed and neutered without exception. Some of the reasons are listed above. A great way to spot a service dog fraud or an emotional support animal, therapy dog or canine good citizen fraud is by spotting an intact dog. In addition, many apartment buildings, home owner associations and co-ops will not allow intact dogs to live in a building.
The United States kills over 4 MILLION companion animals every year
True. The United States shelter system has more than 10+ million dogs and cats come through their doors and many don’t make it out! All of those 10 million pet parents and puppy mills neglected their responsibilities as pet parents and citizens and didn’t have their pets spayed or neutered. These shelter dogs are the result of not spaying and neutering and now many will end up being killed and also costing tax payers millions. Studies show that over 50% of these homeless dogs and cats were not planned, oopsie! These parents of unwanted puppies and kittens were all defenders of leaving their natural dog testicles and/or ovaries unaltered and seem to think they are immune from making mistakes. So please be a responsible pet parent, spay and neuter your dog, and adopt don’t shop. No one lives in a bubble and accidents do happen.
Dog Neutering and Spaying Conclusion
There is no grand conspiracy to steal your dog’s reproductive ability away and this is not about pride. There are many more compelling reasons to spay and neuter your dog and cat. Not only is there new evidence that dogs that are spayed and neutered are less stressed, but spay and neuter is recommended by the Association of Shelter Veterinarians (ASV),1 the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA),2 the American Animal Hospital Association (AAHA),3 and the Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA)4 and other medical and nonprofit leaders worldwide, it is the hallmark of a responsible pet parent.
We can argue against science and that gravity doesn’t exist but it doesn’t make it any less true.
Dogs were domesticated. Meaning it is our responsibility to take care of their needs be it: health, behavior, enrichment, socialization, nutrition, shelter, physical and physiological. Domesticated dogs are not pack animals and until this changes and they go back to living in the wild without the advent of human intervention, let’s do best by them and stop with the naturalist fallacy, appeal to emotion and other arguments that don’t hold water as to why we don’t want to do what’s in our pets’ best interests.
Spaying and neutering saves lives.
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- Timing of spay-neuter surgery and early-age spay-neuter of dogs and cats. Association of Shelter Veterinarians, 2009; http://sheltervet.org/associations/4853/files/Timing%20of%20Spay%20Neuter; accessed Oct 2011.
- AVMA policy: Pediatric spay/neuter of dogs and cats. American Veterinary Medical Association, 2009; http://www.avma.org/issues/policy/animal_welfare/spay_neuter.asp; accessed Feb 2012.
- Gonadectomy/ovariohysterectomy/orchiectomy of companion animals statement. American Animal Hospital Association, 2011; https://www.aahanet.org/Library/PediatricNeutering.aspx; accessed Feb 2012.
- Dog and cat spay/castration. Canadian Veterinary Medical Association, 2006; http://canadianveterinarians.net/ShowText.aspx?ResourceID=414 ; accessed Feb 2012.