Saturday, 12 July 2014

Barking Blondes: For the chop

Joanne Good and Anna Webb
DSCF0001 2 1024x768 Barking Blondes: For the chopBoth our bull breeds are bitches so the question of whether to castrate has never arisen. However, on our radio show this week a listener asked “is it as emasculating for an owner to castrate a male dog as it is for the dog?”
To chop or not to chop, this is the question.
In recent years it’s almost considered to be immoral not to castrate or spay. Pet owners, who have decided to keep their dog entire, are beginning to feel ostracised as the trend to neuter increases. Popular campaigns, launched through rescue centers as well as by vets, promote castrating as the rule to being a responsible dog owner. We’ve met a few blokes with their bloke dogs and the bond of apparent testosterone helps us understand why castration might not gel easily with the owner. If their dog is well behaved, not planning to father generations, and looked after in accordance with the Animal Welfare Act, what is the problem?
Back in the day it was unusual to neuter. This may have been due to a lack of general anesthetics, budget, pet insurance and vets on every corner of the high street – or maybe it was down to simply accepting dogs for what they are…dogs.
It’s understandable that rescue organisations neuter every dog or bitch that comes into their care. Their aim is to reduce the amount of unwanted dogs born in the future and to therefore eradicate irresponsible breeding simply for money. With rescues full to the brim, it will take more than neutering to solve the problem of unwanted dogs. As cruel puppy farming continues, along with a demand for puppies sold over the internet, our must-have and disposable culture is sadly set on keeping rescue centers full for years to come!
Vets are also very keen to neuter. They rightly argue (when a puppy comes in for its first vet check) that it will reduce the risk of certain cancers. But surely with many similar cancers affecting people, we should all be neutered, but we’re not routinely neutering all toddlers. Neutering can be argued as an easy money earner for vets and a bit of a regular income!
Not all owners are irresponsible when owning an entire dog and some might wish to keep their dog as nature intended. After all, meddling with nature can end in a lot of controversy – such as the issue of cloning. We know some female dog owners who don’t have their bitches spayed and respect their decision.
Depending on when a dog is castrated, the chopping will affect their masculinity differently. Putting aside the issue of ever fathering a litter of puppies, a dog neutered around six months will mature more slowly. This could pose more trouble for owners with a longer time spent as an adolescent. Despite many claiming neutering will calm down testosterone-led urges, recent studies suggest it can make them more feisty. At the very least it won’t alter their behaviour at all.  What’s certain is that neutering will have effects holistically – often playing havoc with their hormones. Studies suggest that in some cases this may lead to health conditions.
Having only kept bitches, we would love to hear your experiences.
Barking Blondes by Jo Good & Anna Webb, published by Hamlyn, £

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