Day 22 & 23: Intact

As you can imagine whenever Java comes into heat I have a very crazed Ruby on my hands. I partly solve the problem by sending him on vacation with a friend for two weeks, but for about a week after he comes back he is still walking around wide-eyed and trying to hump Java 24/7. Java will either just sit looking pitiful or will try to play with him which is not helping me at all in trying to deter him. He will work just fine during this time, and we can all relax in the same room if I insist he stays on his bed (though he’s regularly trying to bend the rules).

It’s just the unexpected things, you know? Like when we find ourselves in small spaces. He will behave himself for a while and I will start thinking “oh, he must have realized that she’s not in heat anymore”, so I’ll take both dogs and pass between two parked cars without thinking. Java in front, Ruby behind thinking “it’s now or never!”, and me stuck behind them. Getting Ruby off is the easy part. Getting in the car with both dogs with Ruby in this state of mind… mission impossible. Java is the sweetest soul. She never found a reason to snarl at any dog and she certainly isn’t going to do it toward Ruby whom she adores. But it would come really handy at such times.

So why are my dogs still intact? There are some studies saying that spaying and neutering can cause more problems than it solves: from adrenal issues to behavior problems like increased aggression (yes, you read it right: increased). So far I have decided that risks are not worth the benefits of not having to deal with crazed Ruby, but who knows I might change my mind the next time he fools me like that…

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Categories: Uncategorized | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Day 22 & 23: Intact

  1. It’s interesting isn’t it- in Europe, people don’t tend to spay/neuter as often am I right? Yet here, if your dog hasn’t been done by 4 months old there’s something wrong with you. And that might be changing- when we first got Lu our regular vet recommended we wait till she was 1 (and incidentally we haven’t spayed her yet anyway), but most breeders will sell their dogs on a de sexing contract – Loki is and we don’t get his pedigree papers until he’s desexed … We had to take him into a different vet yesterday for an upset tummy and the vet nurse/receptionist was super skeptical about why I hadn’t done it yet. She didn’t say anything like: ‘why haven’t you?!’ But the look she gave me!!! I tried to explain I’d seen research on the benefits of letting them mature first but Nic said I didn’t come across very convincingly.

    • Yeah, we are quite lucky in this regard – intact dogs aren’t being looked at as the root of all evil over here, though a decent number of pet owners do decide to spay/neuter because they don’t want to deal with mess during heat (or when neighbor’s female is in heat). I haven’t heard of selling whippets on spay/neuter contract, I’m not sure about other breeds. My sister recently got a Boston Terrier and the breeder is actually hoping she will show Trinity so of course no spay/neuter contract there, I don’t think that breeders here automatically assume you’re going to breed a dog if you don’t spay them.
      I would say most dogs that do agility in Slovenia are intact unless there is a medical reason for them not to be like undescended testicles or a female that has a lot of problems with her heat (false pregnancy etc).
      Oh no Loki! Is he OK now?

      • Yep there definitely doesn’t seem to be that same culture of if you don’t spay/neuter, then you’re definitely going to be a backyard breeder and contribute to pets in pounds, etc. Which is certainly the mentality here. Plus there’s still the belief that desexing will settle a rowdy dog down, make a dog less aggressive, less big, etc.
        I’d say most breeders here, of any breed, sell their puppies on desexing contracts.

        And he seems better – the vet gave him some chalky medicine to firm up his poop. 😉 Poor little guy.

  2. MaryHope Schoenfeld

    I have one intact bitch now (Orla, almost 23 months old). I have no idea whether i’ll decide to breed her sometime in the future, but would like to keep the option, so don’t want to spay her. But she becomes a mental & physical slug during & after her season (well, she’s only had one season so far) — false pregnancies seem to be pretty common in whippet bitches. Then there’s the issue that it’s not really ideal for a bitch to be cycling every 6-10 months & NOT getting pregnant — it’s hard on the uterus. My daughter had her bitch on Cheque drops for several years before breeding her, just to avoid those problems, but some vets think that’s not healthy either. What to do???

    • Huh I’m no vet as you know… I will tell you we have a lot of intact bitches here, though, whippets included. There is a risk of pyometra after heat, yes.
      Java was slower during her first heat, but we continued to train (as do most other agility folks in Slovenia). At one time she got distracted and stopped working (which I thought was great because I never got the chance to show her what happens if she gets distracted before!), but otherwise she was normal, just more emotional and slow. During her second and third heat she was normal in agility and much less emotional. She was just as excited, quick and focused as ever, though I guess she would be slower if we would compare her sprinting speed. But there are no real sprints in agility, so…

  3. Silke Capo

    If I think how often humans “get in heat” without being pregnant I can’t imagine, that it is so hard on a bitch’s body. There are many bitches out there, that never get bred and aren’t neutered. False pregnancies are often easily remedied with homoeopathic globuli, so I’d try that first before neutering a bitch. But I personally only have males (neutered and intact). Racing bitches are slower than normal after heat but sometimes faster while in heat.

    • While I wouldn’t compare our menstrual cycles with dogs (female dogs always go through hormonal pregnancy, even if they’re not pregnant, but women don’t) it’s true that here many bitches remain intact without ever having a litter and do just fine.

  4. I’d say it’s very different for males and females. In males, neutering may actually reduce they aggression (they stop producing testosterone), but in females it can increase aggression (because they stop producing hormones which would reduce their aggressive behaviour, if any). Of course it’s individual too – depends on the personality of the dog. I can imagine it would be different for a female pitbull and male chihuahua, for example. At least that’s what I’ve heard; I think it’s important to consider when you’re planning to adopt a dog from a shelter.
    I would definetely neuter a female at the age of 8 – 10, but rather not earlier (if she was healthy). It’s because I had a 15yo golden retriever bitch who was doing just fine all her life, although she never had puppies; but at this old age I had to put her to sleep because of pyometra. She was old anyway, and lived more (and in better physical condition) than most golden retrievers, but I regret not neutering her some time earlier to prevent the suffering at the end of her life. So I think it’s good for animals which are getting older but still they are young enough to survive a surgery safely (narcosis especially).

    • Like you said, research shows that relationship between aggression and spay/neuter status depends on when the procedure was done and on breed of the dog. For example, this is a very interesting article on a study done on results of a widely used C-BARQ questionaire: http://www.vizslacanada.ca/SNBehaviorBoneDataSnapShot.pdf The study included 5597 dogs of different breeds and the findings were that neutered male dogs were significantly more aggressive compared to their intact counterparts. In females, dogs that were spayed before 12 months old showed significant increase in aggression while those spayed at 13 months old older also showed some increase, but not as much.
      This blog post has more references to the study I mentioned above and another study that highlights the breed differences: http://btoellner.typepad.com/kcdogblog/2011/09/effects-of-spaying-and-neutering-on-behavior.html

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