(For reviews see here and here.) For example, the American Veterinary Medical Association’s brochure on spay and neuter omits any mention of the negative effects of desexing pets.Yet several recent reviews of the impact of neutering on dogs concluded that the negative health effects may well outweigh the positive effects.(This trend has devastated the American Kennel Club.
A research team from the University of California at Davis (including Ben and his wife Lynette Hart) examined the records of 759 golden retrievers seen at the UC-Davis veterinary hospital between 20.
(They focused on goldens because of the breed’s popularity and their propensity for cancer and bone and joint disorders.) Here is a summary of the results.
In 1867, the streets of New York were awash with homeless dogs. Stray dogs were to be impounded and drowned en masse via a device dubbed “the canine bath tub.” The “tub” was an iron crate seven feet long, four feet high, and five feet across.
Forty-eight dogs at a time were jammed into the heavy cage.
There are a couple of reasons for this dramatic decline.
One is that animal protection organizations succeeded in convincing Americans that adopting a shelter dog is morally preferable to purchasing a purebred puppy.
It was then lifted up by a crane, swung over the East River and submerged.
Ten minutes later, the cage was hauled to the surface, the carcasses removed, and the cage reloaded with another batch of strays.
However, last summer at the meeting of the International Society for Anthrozoology, the animal behaviorist/veterinarian Ben Hart told me about some research he was working on that muddies the ethical waters on the spay and neuter issue.
Ben has a penchant for spinning my head around (see, for example, this earlier PT post).
(Note that “early-neutered” animals were desexed before they were one year old.) Hip dysplasia -- twice as common in early-neutered males as intact males. Knee ligament damage – higher incidence in early-neutered males and females.