Why would you NOT desex your dog???

Why wouldn't you desex a dog?


Desexing advocates seem to minimise the many real reasons that people choose to keep their dogs entire. In Australia, New Zealand, the UK, and the USA, at some other countries, desexing (spay and neuter) is the default, and anyone who chooses for their dog to not undergo the surgery is treated with suspicion.

However, there are a number of reasons that people choose to keep their dogs entire. Here are some of them.


The question is: Why is your dog entire?


They want their dog to physically and mentally mature before desexing.

It is well documented that desexing dogs early can cause them to grow taller and leaner. While for many people this is not a problem, others particularly want their dog to develop ‘the way nature intended’, especially if the dog will be partaking in strenuous sports like agility. Others want their dog to mentally mature before desexing, too. In this case, “My dog is entire to ensure that it naturally matures.”


They want their dog to look or act like their given breed.

On a similar note, it is well know that desexing causes dogs to know only grow taller (in the case of early aged desexing) but, in all desexing, it is common for the coat to change texture and not ‘blow’ as normal. Quite simply, while you may purchase a purebred, desexing may cause the dog to look dissimilar to the breed your purchased.  The answer may be, “My dog is entire because I want my dog to look and act like the breed I purchased” and “My dog is entire because I don’t want it to grow tall (i.e. I want a small dog)”.


There are risk factors associated with desexed dogs that they are not prepared to risk.

They are aware of the health conditions associated with desexed dogs, and some owners may choose to minimise the risks of these health conditions by keeping their dogs entire.  These risks include an increased incidence of cranial cruciate ligament tears, and the risk of cancer.  They could say, “My dog is entire because I believe it is in their best interests, for health reasons, for them to remain entire.”


They want their dogs to act like its appropriate sex.

They like a dog who acts like their sex, which is mostly controlled as hormones.  This is best expressed as, “My dog is entire because I want it to act like a dog or act like a bitch”.


They feel the risks of desexing surgery is too great.

They are concerned about the risks of anaesthetic, especially if their pet already has health conditions (e.g. heart conditions).  These owners could say, “My dog is entire because the risks of anaesthetic are too great”.


They compete in dog shows in which their dog is required to be entire.

While many dog shows in Australia have a neuter class, they are not competitive, and only have one title awarded after 100 points.  This is, the neuter classes in Australian dog shows are not highly competitive. It would make sense for owners to justify keeping their dogs entire by saying, “My dog is entire because I enjoy participating in a competitive way in dog shows”.


They don’t believe their is anything wrong with their dog in current form.

Why fix what isn’t broken? Many dog owners are happy with their dog behaviourally and/or phyiscally and don’t want to change it. Indeed, they are scared that desexing may change their pet’s temperament. They could say, “My dog is entire because I see no reason to desex them – I like them just the way they are”.


They want to have the option to breed from their pet one day.

Before becoming alarmed (Oh no! Breeders!), I am referring to ethical ways in which breeders seek to ensure they only breed from the ‘best dogs’ and preserve genetic diversity.  For example, many breeders run on several dogs from one litter, to give them time to determine ‘the best one’.  Some breeders (like myself) may choose to put males out on terms that require them to remain entire, so I can collect semen from them and store it to preserve genetic diversity.  Some people also keep dogs entire as insurance – again, in my case, my bitch Clover is still entire just in case something happens to her progeny and so I’m therefore left without anything to go on with. So, people may be able to say, “My dog is entire because I am committed to ensuring only the best dogs are bred from, while also having a committing to preserving genetic diversity within the breed”.


They can’t afford to desex!

This is a big one! Many people want to desex their pets, but they do not have the finances to do so. Statistics from groups like Downtown Dog Rescue show that poverty is a big problem when it comes to many matters concerning pet ownership, including desexing.  If you asked these people, “Why is your dog entire?” the answer would probably be “My dog is entire because I do not have enough income to pay for rent, groceries, medications, and to also pay for surgery for my dog”.


They believe it is cruel to desex.

Desexing is a medical procedure that certainly causes short term suffering for an animal, and has some long term health implications. Many believe that desexing is a superficial procedure, mostly performed in order to make pets easier to ‘control’ (presumably).  How ethical is it to maim an animal for personal convenience? These people could say, “My dogs are entire because I believe desexing is cruel.”


The law doesn’t allow them to desex.

This is real. In Norway, desexing is illegal except in extenuating medical circumstances. Routine desexing is outlawed. “My dog is entire because it’s illegal to desex them.”


They chose alternative contraceptive options for their dog.

Just because a dog appears to be entire (like the lovely bull terrier illustrated above), that does not mean that they are actually able to reproduce.  Dog owners may choose to have a vasectomy, a tubal ligation, or use a contraceptive like the Superlorin. In this way, “My dog is entire because I have chosen a form of sterilisation (temporary or permanent) that not a gonadectomy”.


Unfortunately, we have set desexing as ‘the norm’ for companion animals. People take their pets into their vet for their first consult, and they vaccinate, microchip, and book them in for desexing.

While there may be many reasons that people choose to desex their pets, these are readily and openly discussed. This post aims to produce an alternative dialogue and provide legitimacy to the practice of keeping pets entire.

11 thoughts on “Why would you NOT desex your dog???

  1. Pingback: Perfectly good reasons not to spay/neuter - ThatMutt.com: A Dog Blog

  2. I agree… I would like to add one more reason to the “breed from the best animals” argument, which I think is the most important reason of all the arguments to not routinely neuter companion animals:

    in my opinion the best dogs and the ones that should be bred from are the ones that have proved to be excellent family dogs. When the dogs are neutered in an early late then it is too late to make a litter on a dog that have proved to be a fantastic family dog. I think there is nothing wrong with the type of “backyard breeding” that stems from a family deciding to get an offspring from their great, loved family dog before it dies, and then then keep one and sell the other puppies. That is the traditional way and how should be.

    Puppies bred that way grow up in a family environment exposed to a variety of normal challenges like kids, visitors, pets, a house, a yard, cars… that is the perfect shaping of a family dog (when done right), unlike kennel breeding and particularly large scale kennel breeding and then in the worst case, distribution via pet stores.

    When ordinary companion dogs are systematically neutered then the only dogs that are available to produce puppies are primarily dogs that are kept in kennels for the purpose of breeding and which do not prove themselves capable and excellent companion animals in a normal family environment with all its challenges. That is a mistake…

  3. Thank you for writing this!
    I’ve been surprised how often I get asked this, I’m sick of having to explain my stances on bone growth for a future agility dog, and the health risks that I believe outweigh positives in at least males.
    Somehow linking to actual scientific studies doesn’t get the point across.

    I’m just going to link straight to this page now! Might need to make little cards with the link too haha!

  4. Thank you for your summary! We felt we HAD to desex our Viszla and now we feel we probably shouldn’t. In Orleans Parish, Louisiana, where we live, it is illegal to have an “Intact Dog” unless a special permit is obtained. The opposite of Norway, I guess. We hesitated on desexing our Viszla after seeing one that was completely different is shape. This breed in particular has an exaggerated response to early neutering so that the body grows to nearly double its usual size but the head remains small making it look like a cross between a Dachsund and a greyhound. So we hesitated, and now there was a publication of a study that suggests increased incidence of malignancy in desexed Viszlas. We like our dog’s look and behavior and wouldn’t change him for the sake of being “normal”. I’d be more afraid of what neutering would change than in keeping what we have by a long shot. Fortunately, laws in New Orleans are only sporadically enforced, so I don’t anticipate being picked up by the cops for having an intact dog anytime soon. Thanks again for the summary, we’re going to let our Viszla be an outlaw.

  5. Interesting article. Nothing is ever black or white is it? As someone who is concerned about \the current state of animal welfare, and the current pet over population problem I have always been a big fan of mandatory desexing dogs/cats, and anti breeding. While arguments like “I want my dog to be show quality/perform better seem invalid to me as it seems to be more about the owner than the dog, I candefinately see reason in things like wanting an animal to mentally and physicallly mature nbaturally, and any surgery does carry risks. I was unaware of any potential long term health problems can come about through desexing. Maybe I need to do more cvareful thinking/research before taking a stand on this issue.

  6. We have lost two a males in neutering operations. Why was an unnecessary surgical procedure – tail docking – outlawed, yet the much riskier unnecessary surgical procedure – neutering – promoted?

    Most of the dogs who will be forcibly neutered wouldn’t come within a bull’s roar of mating another dog. The ones that are parenting shelter inhabitants will continue to do so because their owners won’t have them neutered.

    Regulate the awful sales of “designer (Mongrels) dogs” from pet shops and online where these cross breeds are attracting a higher purchase price than carefully health screened pure breds.

  7. We have a Jack Russel type of dog who is currently 20 months old. He is mischievous but also super sensitive! ,We saw him with his parents and got him at 8 weeks and has always been a very hypersensitive dog/puppy . Had we desexed him he would not have benefited from his confidence boosting testosterone which makes him a very sociable little dog with dogs that have become familiar. His hypersensitivity has always been more with unfamiliar humans However with a bit of work he trusts that me and my partner can handle the humans (the nice ones anyhow) However the problems we have come up against are that some neutered dogs will charge up to him ( He is always on a lead unless in a secure open space with familiar friendly dogs) . In my experience some unconfident neutered dogs find his smell a threat and will instigate aggression and of course he will shout back at them to get them to back off. On these occasions I have to intervene time and again to get the aggressive dogs away from him (and me) and Im getting tired of it. I feel that neutering is a current ‘popular trend ‘and will one day be looked at with dismay that we promoted this as a health benefit to dogs almost in the same way that we now view with disbelief the promotion of ‘smoking’ (for humans of course) to increase lung capacity and calm people down or labotomy for mood disorders which was quite popular in the 40′s and 50′s…particularly in USA . Maybe we should leave a mammals endocrine system in the place it was engineered to be just as we should leave the brain intact in humans just as it was engineered to be. I will just keep supporting my dog when he needs it and not rip out his endocrine system.

  8. Wow, just got completely berated from a lady at an agility school because I had my 14mnth entire dog there. Apparantly I am the scum of the earth and should remove him immediatly because he will make the neutered males aggressive. Why is it some people think they know everything feel they are within their rights to berate someone else. I have done extensive research and make the informed choice to keep my dogs entire. I have owned 3 entire dogs, all bully crosses, all well socialised take anywhere type of chaps!

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