To Spay or Not to Spay - German Shepherd Dog Forums
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post #1 of 58 (permalink) Old 01-04-2009, 02:32 PM Thread Starter
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To Spay or Not to Spay

Me: Former K-9 trainer
GSD Ownership Experience: Previously had 1 male, then a male and female that bred - all were intact
Current GSD: Female - 6 months, intact

This will probably raise hairs in two camps, but I am looking for opinions on whether or not to spay my current female. While I understand the position of rescues to always spay to control unwanted litters, and I also understand breeders who hardly ever spay, I am more concerned with the true welfare of my bitch if I spay her, and my sanity if I keep her intact.

My Specific Concerns

1) While it may be true that spaying can reduce the instances of certain diseases such as mammary tumors, etc., I feel that completely removing sex organs will adversely affect the development of the dog. I'm talking about bone structure, physical proportions, mental development, the works. And, I think that the benefits, as far as reduction in diseases or conditions goes, I believe that it highly overrated and emphasized my the pro-spay camps. Am I wrong here?

2) I'm concerned with incontinence, as well, as a result of spaying. Any truth to this?

3) Almost every spayed female I've seen, regardless of breed appears to develop a wider "middle". I am all too-aware that most dog owners seem to live by the overfeed/under-exercise mantra, but that's not what I'mtalking about. I'm referring to the structure of the rib cage itself. It seems to me that altered dogs appear to develop more of a barrel to their rib cages.

4) My bitch has incredible prey drive, and from my experience is extremely quick in both mind and body. She would make for an excellent K-9, tracking, or other utility dog. I am concerned that spaying her will affect these qualities. Although she is currently being raised as a family dog, I have been sure to help her hone and develop many of her natural instincts, as I am also contemplating some type of utility work for her in the future.

5) She comes from a long line of accomplished ancestors and the breeder I got her from is trying to encourage me to breed her, because she is the last in the line, and in addition to the performance of her line, her line was also developed for incredible colors and markings. If I was single I would probably be all for it, but since I have a family with two youngsters, 12 and 8, and have my own business, I think breeding her will stretch me quite thin. I am also concerned with running through her heat cycles. The only female I had in the past was exceptionally clean. She never let anything drip, so I really didn't have to worry about a mess in the house. She and her male companion were also protection K-9s, and housed as such, so I really had no problems with other males coming around for some "fun". Because of my fortunate circumstances when I owned my previous female, I am not sure what to expect during heat cycles with my current bitch. Things like length of cycle, how much of a mess, caring for her during those times, diapers, etc. If none of that was a concern and spaying REALLY was better for her health-wise, I'd spay her, but to me, ANY open surgery I would think would be hard on a living being's system, not to mention removing the organs that to me, make a being who he/she is, does that make sense? Or, am I over-analyzing?

Any and all comments and opinions would be most welcome.

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post #2 of 58 (permalink) Old 01-04-2009, 02:44 PM
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Re: To Spay or Not to Spay

in my honest opinion..with 2 young children i would not even think about breeding if it was me. shes a first time mom,if she rejects a puppy, needs an emergency c section (which are veryvery expensive)
if she doesnt care for the pups properly then you are doing ROUND THE CLOCK feedings for maybe up to 15 puppies.

plus the proper testing. shes only 6 months old, the hip testing cant be done before 2 years i believe.
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post #3 of 58 (permalink) Old 01-04-2009, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
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Re: To Spay or Not to Spay

Point taken, and my concerns exactly. But, I am still not sure of whether or not to spay her, given the reasons I listed above. Any thoughts on those concerns? I mean, I could keep her intact without spaying.

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post #4 of 58 (permalink) Old 01-04-2009, 02:59 PM
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Re: To Spay or Not to Spay

What about the best of BOTH worlds. Wait until she is mature to spay her? Let her have a couple of heat cycles and spay her after she is 18-36 months? ONLY if you can make 100% certain that there will be no unwanted litters which means the entire family has to be SUPER careful for the month or so that she is in heat 2 - 3 times a year.

As far as incontinence- wives tail if the surgery is done by a competent vet. At least in my expereince. I have two spayed females- neither have an issue with this. Both were spayed later (5-6 years of age).

Weight- Lakota (Husky) DID gain weight after her spay but I was stupid and did it when she had to have a c-section. I think that timing messed up her hormones and it took forever to fix it. Tika is the same buff weight she was post op as she was before. Nothing whatsoever changed about her except she no longer has extra crate/confinement time when she was in heat. Personalilty, drive, energy, weight- never changed.

As far as females and keeping themselves clean. Well not every female is meticulous at keeping their hygene as it should be. I have littermates. One is pretty darn clean yet not obsessive. The other...... well not exactly. I have seen less mess in some horror flicks.

Tika pre-spay



Post spay (9 years young)





Breeding is not something that should be done half hearted and without a TON of research. It sounds as if your life is full now and a litter requires a LOT of work. There is the prebreeding stuff like health clearances, training, titling/working her, having her evaluated by independent/unbiased third parties. Then there is selection of the male. Some people spend YEARS trying to find the BEST possible male. Chances are this male will not be the one down the block. Then you either need to ship your female to the male or travel with her. Timing is of the essence so you may have to forgo some important family outing if your female comes into heat at the worst possible time- like a week before your two week vacation that you have planned MONTHS for. Then the actual litter requires 8 weeks of your time to raise, socialize, evaluate...... Then there is making sure that the pups are placed in the best possible home. Which means spending countless hours talking with perspective buyers. Having to weed out the ones that will definitely make a GREAT home and those that will make a HORRIBLE home and those in the middle- are you willing to let your girls pups go to an "ok" family instead of a stellar one? What if you can't find good homes for ALL of the pups? What if something happens to the perfect family and life circumstances change and they can no longer care for the pup/adult dog by now? Are you willing to take them back- unconditionally or send them to the local pound or an already over exerted rescue to be their problem to deal with?

A lot to think about.


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post #5 of 58 (permalink) Old 01-04-2009, 03:01 PM
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Re: To Spay or Not to Spay

you're right... this topic may raise some hairs in both camps and from what i've noticed in the past - these threads typically get pretty lengthy and in the end you're better educated, but still in the same position of to do or not to do. both camps have very good arguments either way.

my personal opinion on your situation is to spay her. if you are concerned about her development, then wait a year or so, as long as you can fully protect her from accidental breeding. you'll know very soon what its like to have a female in heat and if you can handle it.

i for one do not spay/neuter for health reasons. my current dogs are rescues, but prior to that - all of our family dogs have been altered for convenience, and at a variety of ages (1yr, 5yrs, 8mo, etc...)

ive known of intact females that had incontinence issues... i've also never had an incontinence issue with any of my spayed females.

my feelings as far as your breeder goes, is that if they believe her to be a breeding prospect and she's the last of this long line of greats, surely they could have kept her back as well... as many breeders do (???). either way, she isnt breedable until 2yrs old... so the answer seems to be to wait until that time. like i said before, this will also take away any developmental concerns that you have.

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post #6 of 58 (permalink) Old 01-04-2009, 03:06 PM
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Re: To Spay or Not to Spay

Quote:
Quote:She comes from a long line of accomplished ancestors and the breeder I got her from is trying to encourage me to breed her, because she is the last in the line, and in addition to the performance of her line, her line was also developed for incredible colors and markings.
Okay, but what about people who would be objective and not affected by kennel blindness? If they work in schutzhund dogs, do working dog handlers, your TD, the helper, etc, all clamor for a pup from your bitch because she is such a great dog for all phases on and OFF the home field? If she's a show dog, again, same thing but different examples- do objective judges and knowledgeable people comment on her structure, has her temperament been proven to be fantastic, and no one has questioned anything? Be honest- has there been anything in her training/raising, from the day you've received her until now, that would make you take pause and really think? There are LOTS of great dogs out there with little nerve issues that would be just enough to pull them out of the gene pool. Unfortunately, some breeders are so darn kennel blind that they'll breed anything that they've fallen in love with even if they have toothpick structure or flighty nerves. Brutal honesty is a good thing here. Also, "incredible colors and markings" are meaningless. We're talking a working breed here, one that is under fire by HOAs and insurance companies for questionable temperament. Color and markings is nice, but a breeding program should be built on health and TEMPERAMENT with colors and markings as a nice side effect. If your bitch is rock solid in temperament and health and looks pretty, that's great, but she shouldn't be put on a pedestal for looks and pedigree alone.

If she is spayed and is fully grown, that won't affect her abilities. https://www.germanshepherds.com/forum...=913624&page=1 That's a great post by people experienced in SAR and PSDs that detail what they consider high drive for searching. If you'd like her evaluated for police work, take her to a good evaluator and they will know how to test her. Often, what we see as "great drive" is a washout within two minutes.

Personally, I would continue training and think about spaying at perhaps 18-24 months. By then, I would know the dog quite well and probably would have lots of good opinions from knowledgeable, uninterested (unbiased) people who have like goals and I could make a sound breeding decision based on what I know of the dog. But just because a dog is kept intact, doesn't mean it needs to breed. She'll be perfectly fine if she never has a litter of pups. I would spay at full adulthood just because I don't think I want to deal with heats twice a year, but with males I would not neuter unless medically necessary.

Renji - 6 y/o M GSD x chow rescue


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post #7 of 58 (permalink) Old 01-04-2009, 03:15 PM
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Re: To Spay or Not to Spay

Quote:
Originally Posted By: DianaM I would spay at full adulthood just because I don't think I want to deal with heats twice a year, but with males I would not neuter unless medically necessary.
That is the way I feel also. I plan on spaying my 9 month old pup at around 2yo. Reason being, to be honest, I don't want to have to deal with 10+ years of heat cycles.

With males, I am perfectly capable of keeping them from reproducing, so I see no need to neuter them. (I have had several intact males and NONE of them have EVER added to the dog population.)

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post #8 of 58 (permalink) Old 01-04-2009, 03:17 PM Thread Starter
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Re: To Spay or Not to Spay

Amaruq: Thanks for the response, and pictures! Regarding the breeding - I should've mentioned that the only way I would breed is through the same breeder. That would eliminate the headaches you mentioned. This breeder is a "full" breeder, with 40+ dogs on-hand at any given time. I would not even consider going out and trying to find a stud on my own. It's not my line of business, and I'm not insterested in making it my line of business! :-) With all the conveniences the breeder offers, I could even have the pups whelped there, too, but of course, there still is the 8-week period of nuturing. weaning, socializing, as you mentioned. Reagsing spaying: what do YOU personally think about spaying BEFORE first heats vs. waiting until after one or two heats? Also, re: the wives tale of incontinence, how the heck do you know whether or not your vet is competent, you know what I mean?

Camerafodder: Thanks for the comment aabout intact dogs with incontinence. But, what did you mean by you "do not spay/neuter for health reasons"? Can you please elaborate?

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post #9 of 58 (permalink) Old 01-04-2009, 03:26 PM
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Re: To Spay or Not to Spay

Personally I do not like the early spays. I understand the reasons that rescues/shelters do this. If a "responsible" dog owner that is 100% certain that they can prevent unwanted litters I think allowing the female to be in heat 1-3 times is better as the hormones will help with the mental and physical development. Tika never came into heat until she was 13 months.

If you DO decide to spay her after she has had a cycle or two (or three) definately wait until 4-8 weeks AFTER she is done to give the hormones time to settle.


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post #10 of 58 (permalink) Old 01-04-2009, 03:28 PM
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Re: To Spay or Not to Spay

As far as the vet it really depends. Some are skilled surgeons and some are better at office visits. Might not hurt to ask for some references.

I personally prefer dealing with smaller scale hobby breeders who only have a few dogs (some even fewer dogs than me ) because they tend to KNOW their dogs on a more personal level. They have trained them themselves and can tell me in detail about each dog. That is my personal preference and I am not knocking your breeder. I personally could not just ship *my* dog back to them to breed and raise a litter but I am also anal about who cares for my dogs.


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