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.
Obedience, Behavior, Personal Protection Training
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Maya vom Hinterland - whelped July, 2008