DogDogs are offered in large quantities in classified ads under the animal market: mixed breeds, pedigree dogs, designer dogs and much more are found here looking for a human family. Rarely serious and unfortunately, the reality often looks like this: ill-advised purchases, a lack of dog-friendly apartments, separation and divorce, career changes and the like often lead to the sweet puppy being back on the market after just a few months ends up in the animal shelter. But now about castration.

The animal shelters are overflowing, and at the same time new dogs from animal shelters abroad are constantly coming into the country.

No wonder, then, that there are repeated calls for general castration of all dogs that are not explicitly used for breeding in order to stop the flood of unwanted puppies. But castration is not only a means of birth control, but also a surgical procedure. We examine castration with its positive and negative aspects.

A distinction

First of all, one thing: Castration and sterilization are two different things, even if they are often used similarly in common parlance. Sterilization means an interruption of the ability to reproduce and has no influence on the hormonal status, while castration means the removal of the gonads, whereby the animal loses a production site for hormones with the ovaries or testes, which can also lead to behavioral changes.

For male dogs, it is possible to either cut only the vas deferens (sterilization) or to completely remove the testicles (castration).

In the first case, the hormonal status of an intact male dog remains intact: The dog remains interested in female dogs in heat and tries to breed – similar to a man who has had a vasectomy, sexual behavior and behavior remain Personality is unaffected by the procedure, only reproductive ability is affected. However, since the surgical procedure is usually not exclusively about preventing fertility, castration is usually carried out directly.

In the case of castration, significantly fewer male hormones are produced due to the absence of the testicles: The male dog loses interest in reproduction, which is why other male dogs are less perceived as rivals. Territorial behavior and dominance behavior also often decreases, as the alpha position in the pack is always linked to reproductive ability – only the alpha male is allowed to reproduce; those who are not allowed/cannot do so have a lower and therefore more peaceful position in the pack .

The fallopian tube of female dogs can also simply be cut in order to sterilize them. However, the female will then continue to go into heat and the likelihood of false pregnancies increases greatly. In addition, in many cases nature reverses the procedure within a few years – the operation that has already been carried out has to be repeated because the severed fallopian tubes have grown back together.

That’s why castration is usually recommended here, in which the ovaries are completely removed. Depending on the form of castration, the uterus is either removed or remains in the womb – the veterinarian must decide individually based on medical aspects which form is more suitable for a bitch.

Benefits of castration

In addition to the obvious advantage that neutered dogs cannot give birth to unwanted offspring, castration also has other advantages. As already mentioned, the lower hormone status in male dogs caused by castration can lead to them becoming more peaceful, more tolerable and calmer. However, castration is in no way an alternative to careful, responsible upbringing.

In female dogs, early castration before or immediately after the first heat reduces the risk of tumors on the mammals, and uterine cancer and other types of cancer that affect sexual characteristics can be largely reduced.

Disadvantages of castration

The main argument is the understandable fact that castration is still a surgical procedure that requires, among other things, anesthesia and therefore also poses health risks for the animal. Section 6 of the Animal Protection Act should be mentioned here, in which unnecessary surgical interventions are expressly prohibited – theThe need for castration should therefore always be carefully weighed up with all the advantages and disadvantages.

The behavioral changes listed under advantages can also be viewed negatively: instead of talking about the dog becoming calmer, fears are raised that it could become sluggish, lazy, and apathetic. This is often undesirable, especially with working or sporting dogs.

The obesity that often occurs after castration, as well as the risk that female animals will increasingly suffer from incontinence after the procedure, are also frequently and rightly mentioned.

Another argument is the impossibility of revising the procedure: once castrated, always castrated. Castration is therefore never suitable for temporary birth control until the “optimum reproductive time”.

Castration too early is not recommended, as the hormones from the sex glands have an influence on the development and personality of the dog that should not be underestimated – therefore, castration should always be waited until the dog is fully grown Depending on the breed, this is the case after 1.5 years at the earliest, but for larger breeds it is often only the case from the age of 3.

Alternatives to castration

In fact, neutering is by no means the only way to render a dog infertile. Sterilization has already been mentioned, even if it is rarely used, especially for female dogs, for the reasons mentioned. Male dogs are also usually castrated mainly for behavioral reasons, which is why pure sterilization would not have the desired effect here either.

A so-called castration chip is increasingly being placed on male dogs. This is implanted under the skin and, depending on weight, constantly releases deslorelin over 6-12 months, which causes temporary infertility and a reduction in hormones – this is also referred to as chemical castration. The reversible castration chip is a choice for male dogs that are temporarily not used in breeding but should breed at a later date. And owners who want permanent castration but are concerned about the expected behavioral changes also like to use the castration chip and use it as a “test run” for the actual castration.

For female dogs, you can alternatively choose between hormone injections or contraceptive pills – however, both options involve a major health risk for the female dog: the risk of developing uterine suppuration or tumors is significantly increased.

Our opinion: Chemical intervention is not a solution. Possible side effects are disproportionate to the effect.

Special case of animal protection

A special case when it comes to castrations is undoubtedly animal protection, especially animal protection abroad: In order to avoid the uncontrolled proliferation of street animals in particular, mass castrations are often resorted to. This is secured by TSchG §6 paragraph 5 as “prevention of uncontrolled reproduction”. And it also makes sense: If animals are born on the street without contact with friendly people, they are not imprinted on people – problems are likely if they are later kept in the family and the street dog problem is further exacerbated. In addition, the image of local people urgently needs to be changed in order to ever improve the situation of street dogs. For this, birth control on the street is essential.

Only ONCE!

Many dog owners argue that they want their dog to have puppies “just ONCE” before he or she is neutered. In the case of bitches, it is often argued that this is intended to reduce the risk of false pregnancies; in the case of male dogs, it is often argued that their good character must be passed on. However, both arguments lack foundation: As far as female dogs are concerned, there is no scientific evidence for the accuracy of the claim – on the contrary. Studies have shown that the likelihood of false pregnancies is lowest in female dogs if they are neutered immediately after their first heat.

Dog owners who want to have their dog mated “ONLY ONCE” sometimes experience a rude awakening: the act of mating changes the dog’s role in the pack – whoever is allowed to reproduce takes a higher position in the pack. This is why it often happens that male dogs suddenly display dominance behavior after mating, show unexpected resource-related aggression and defend their new position in the pack against the “weaker” pack members. Complaints that the dog has changed “for absolutely no reason” are often heard when the male dog sI was allowed to reproduce. Even after castration, this often changes very little – only consistent training is effective here. However, the behavior cannot be generalized; it is also race-related. Male dogs that are allowed to cover can also become more relaxed or not change at all.

Weigh up, decide, take responsibility

Each dog owner must consider individually whether castration should be carried out or not. Health aspects should play just as important a role in the decision as moral ones: consider how many dogs in Germany alone are looking for a suitable family before you succumb to the temptation of a litter of cute puppies from your own dog.

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