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Hi Everyone! Our big sweetie turned 2 recently and we haven't yet had him neutered. I get questioned all the time by people about why we haven't. He is a totally chill boy, never humps, very submissive.
Why do vets push neutering when it seems like there are pros and cons? Do the pros really outweigh the cons? What is your take?

Thanks guys!
 

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Ramses, golden retriever bred in France 馃槅
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I wouldn't neuter because my vet and breeder told me there was no need to - also in Europe this is not something people do anyway.. I understand that maybe neutering early could affect their growth plates and increase the likelihood of some cancers... Maybe also affect coat quality..

I don't know what the positives could be - maybe someone else will chime in on that. I am now in the US with my 2.5 year old intact male and he's also not neutered and probably will not be. My vet did not push for neutering and we never spoke about this at all - guess I'm lucky on that front...
 

Esquire Golden Retrievers
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Here's my take on why vets push neutering:

Most neighborhood veterinary practices operate on very small margins. Vets take continuing education courses, and some of those courses are in veterinary practice management. Those practice management courses teach them to push two things really hard: vaccines and spay/neuter. Vaccines and spay/neuter are overhead procedures. If you get a steady stream of those, you can keep your doors open. These continuing education courses arm vets with all sorts of arguments they can use against (yes, against) reluctant clients to get them to commit to vaccinations and spay/neuter whenever they bring in a new puppy.

These courses also provide vets with data that demonstrates that they have to push vaccinations and spay/neuter hard beginning with the very first visit from a puppy. Statistics show that the longer a client waits, the less likely it is that the vet will get the revenue from these procedures. Either the clients won't have them done, or they risk having the client go somewhere else.

Neighborhood veterinary practices need to sell vaccines and spay/neuters to stay in business. It is often done much more for the sake of the veterinarian than for the dog.

Ever notice that some vets will push annual vaccine boosters really hard, but will balk when a client says they'd rather titer rather than vaccinate? That's because the vet gets the fee for the vaccination, but often has to send out the sample to be titered, and the lab gets the fee.

There is no medical reason to neuter a dog before two years old (or ever, really, for males). But vets push them as early as six months, when they know that the dog is immature and that a spay/neuter can be detrimental to the dog. The reason for that is money, pure and simple. The earlier a vet can convince a client to do a spay/neuter, the more likely they are to get that fee. Vets do not profit from waiting until two years old. Much of the time, a client that waits until their dog reaches sexual maturity will wind of never getting the dog spayed/neutered. So they push them early. For their own benefit, not the dog's.

Look around at the medical reasons why you should NOT spay or neuter a Golden retriever. The research is dramatic and compelling. But there is NO research that says it's better for the dog to be neutered early. Vets know this. So you have to give some thought as to what the motivation might be.
 

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Ramses, golden retriever bred in France 馃槅
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Here's my take on why vets push neutering:

Most neighborhood veterinary practices operate on very small margins. Vets take continuing education courses, and some of those courses are in veterinary practice management. Those practice management courses teach them to push two things really hard: vaccines and spay/neuter. Vaccines and spay/neuter are overhead procedures. If you get a steady stream of those, you can keep your doors open. These continuing education courses arm vets with all sorts of arguments they can use against (yes, against) reluctant clients to get them to commit to vaccinations and spay/neuter whenever they bring in a new puppy.

These courses also provide vets with data that demonstrates that they have to push vaccinations and spay/neuter hard beginning with the very first visit from a puppy. Statistics show that the longer a client waits, the less likely it is that the vet will get the revenue from these procedures. Either the clients won't have them done, or they risk having the client go somewhere else.

Neighborhood veterinary practices need to sell vaccines and spay/neuters to stay in business. It is often done much more for the sake of the veterinarian than for the dog.

Ever notice that some vets will push annual vaccine boosters really hard, but will balk when a client says they'd rather titer rather than vaccinate? That's because the vet gets the fee for the vaccination, but often has to send out the sample to be titered, and the lab gets the fee.

There is no medical reason to neuter a dog before two years old (or ever, really, for males). But vets push them as early as six months, when they know that the dog is immature and that a spay/neuter can be detrimental to the dog. The reason for that is money, pure and simple. The earlier a vet can convince a client to do a spay/neuter, the more likely they are to get that fee. Vets do not profit from waiting until two years old. Much of the time, a client that waits until their dog reaches sexual maturity will wind of never getting the dog spayed/neutered. So they push them early. For their own benefit, not the dog's.

Look around at the medical reasons why you should NOT spay or neuter a Golden retriever. The research is dramatic and compelling. But there is NO research that says it's better for the dog to be neutered early. Vets know this. So you have to give some thought as to what the motivation might be.
This is so sad to learn 馃檨 I don't know how much these procedures cost here.. but back in France, I think It's not too expensive. I generally feel the cost of health care for Ramses was cheaper back home and we had insurance too... I was uneducated so I did ask whether it was necessary to neuter and my vet said not to because Ramses doesn't need it and my breeder then said absolutely not. So we left him alone. I learnt about all the drawbacks later so I'm lucky my vet wasn't one of those that does procedures for profit.

As for vaccines it is a bit complicated in my situation. My French vet only recommended all the core vaccines we needed initially but the additional ones we did because of travel + breeder recommendation. We also asked for titers and there was no issues with that. I had to change my vet here in the US recently due to other reasons not related to actual care of my golden.

I have found another vet in a different practice - and she too did not push for anything - neuter or vaccinations.. She has looked at his vaccination records and we are working together to determine boosters, non core vaccines etc - mainly due to travel and we have to go back to Europe. I wasn't berated or forced to do anything - she wanted me to be comfortable with what I gave Ramses and wants to work with us on everything. They already do titers willingly and it's on their website. So I feel better about that. There's also follow up after each vaccine - I get a text message from the clinic asking how he's doing etc... I also have the direct contact info of my new US vet and vet tech just for Ramses if I really need to ask for help. I think this is alright - I have nothing to criticize for now but it's sad to learn some vets do push for neutering/spaying etc ... 馃檨
 

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This has been a changing trend as well. I haven鈥檛 been asked about spaying or neutering in a couple of years now. My newest vet up here asked me if my dog sired any litters yet lol

I鈥檓 sure there is some idea of profit - but can confirm that for a long time schools taught spay neuter as the way to decrease cancer and help with the unwanted pet population. When my dad was in vet school and we were going to pick up a purebred dog, his classmates couldn鈥檛 believe he was going to buy a dog instead of adopting.

Public attitudes have changed and recently in Oregon, a purebred dog club hosted some OSU vet students at a dog show to help them get exposed to the world of purebred dogs.
 

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I think the reason vets in this country push spay/neuters is not just motivated by profit. They have been taught and know that the average pet owner will not watch their non-neutered animal well enough, and will just add to the supply of unwanted pets that end up in shelters and rescues.
I agree with this. There are far more irresponsible dog owners in this country than those of us who nurture their pups into well behaved dogs. That led to the long standing shelter mantra of spay and neuter at six months
 

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Here's my take on why vets push neutering:

Most neighborhood veterinary practices operate on very small margins. Vets take continuing education courses, and some of those courses are in veterinary practice management. Those practice management courses teach them to push two things really hard: vaccines and spay/neuter. Vaccines and spay/neuter are overhead procedures. If you get a steady stream of those, you can keep your doors open. These continuing education courses arm vets with all sorts of arguments they can use against (yes, against) reluctant clients to get them to commit to vaccinations and spay/neuter whenever they bring in a new puppy.

These courses also provide vets with data that demonstrates that they have to push vaccinations and spay/neuter hard beginning with the very first visit from a puppy. Statistics show that the longer a client waits, the less likely it is that the vet will get the revenue from these procedures. Either the clients won't have them done, or they risk having the client go somewhere else.

Neighborhood veterinary practices need to sell vaccines and spay/neuters to stay in business. It is often done much more for the sake of the veterinarian than for the dog.

Ever notice that some vets will push annual vaccine boosters really hard, but will balk when a client says they'd rather titer rather than vaccinate? That's because the vet gets the fee for the vaccination, but often has to send out the sample to be titered, and the lab gets the fee.

There is no medical reason to neuter a dog before two years old (or ever, really, for males). But vets push them as early as six months, when they know that the dog is immature and that a spay/neuter can be detrimental to the dog. The reason for that is money, pure and simple. The earlier a vet can convince a client to do a spay/neuter, the more likely they are to get that fee. Vets do not profit from waiting until two years old. Much of the time, a client that waits until their dog reaches sexual maturity will wind of never getting the dog spayed/neutered. So they push them early. For their own benefit, not the dog's.

Look around at the medical reasons why you should NOT spay or neuter a Golden retriever. The research is dramatic and compelling. But there is NO research that says it's better for the dog to be neutered early. Vets know this. So you have to give some thought as to what the motivation might be.
While there is probably some truth to this, it鈥檚 also kind of a pessimistic take on the veterinary field. Often they are in more debt than they earn as vets and sadly even their suicide rates are very high. This doesn鈥檛 strike me as a profession where people who want to make money quick get into. Vets get ragged on a lot, from people demanding free care for their sick pets and the assumption that they don鈥檛 care about the well being of animals and just want money. I believe the push to neuter while it may be somewhat profit driven, comes from the very vocal adopt don鈥檛 shop set. Shelters neuter all animals no matter the age. It is non negotiable. Have you spent any time on Reddit or any of the Facebook dog groups? Depressing. Full of people who鈥檚 dogs accidentally got pregnant or the owners got them pregnant on purpose to sell and make some money on the dogs. Often these dogs are not healthy or something goes wrong and they wind up right in shelters and rescues. I believe the majority of dog owners are careless, irresponsible and uneducated about dogs (see dog parks) and end up with way too many unwanted puppies so the push to neuter is high. I鈥檓 not saying it isn鈥檛 profit based in a way, but maybe for them, seeing careless pet owners day in day out the risk of unwanted puppies outweighs the benefit of leaving dogs intact. As an owner nobody is forcing us to neuter it is simply a suggestion. My vet suggested it once as well and I told him we plan to wait until he鈥檚 older and that was that. They never mentioned it again.
 

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Our vet practice was recently bought out by a private equity group and the prices have definitely gone up. All business are about profit somewhat. We are lucky in that we know our vet personally, but it鈥檚 a bigger group now and he鈥檚 working on his plan towards retirement. I think businesses get much less personal when they are owned by private equity groups. There are positives to a larger group 鈥 I love ours has Saturday and Sunday open hours.

I don鈥檛 have any plans to neuter Logan. I consulted my breeder and got the okay. People have made smarmy remarks about it at times, but I don鈥檛 care. One lady even said, 鈥淵ou should neuter your dog.鈥 I told her I have zero plans to neuter my dog and that she was welcome to do some research to find out the health implications of early neutering certain breeds. It was either that or I could have not answered with my evil eye or smarmied back. A lot of times the ones who have commentary are people who aren鈥檛 very responsible about their dogs in other areas, but they are real proud & condescending of their rescuing and spaying/neutering. Bob Barker was effective.
 

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Discussion Starter · #11 ·
Thanks for all your input everyone! I had a conversation recently with my SIL who recently started working at a vet office, she made it sound like anyone who doesn't neuter their dog is a terrible pet parent and is sentencing their dog to testicular cancer. Which got me second guessing myself. When my guy was younger also my vet suggested the best thing to do was neuter. Maybe there is something to be said for life expectancy, some studies show that neutered dogs live slightly longer. I just want to do what is best for my dog to help him live a long happy life. If there was a clear cut, definite benefit to neutering him I would do it, I just don't know that there is.
 

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That sheds some light on why my vet bulked at doing a titter rather then annual vaccine.

I don't think the argument for spaying and neutering early to avoid filling animal shelters with unwanted dogs holds water anymore.

The shelters aren't full of puppies from accidental mating, they are full of dogs people purchased on a whim, and got tired of in a year or two at least that was the case when we were fostering.
 

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I think a lot of vets aren't as informed as they should be about the impact of spay/neuter depending on the breed. Most breeds don't have the cancer rates that Goldens do. Smaller breeds aren't as impacted as the larger ones by removing the hormones before the dog has finished growing. A lot of vets scare their clients into altering by warning about things like testicular or mammary cancer. Thing is, those cancers are less likely to be fatal (especially if caught early) than hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma , mast cell or osteosarcoma (which seem to be more common in altered Golden Retrievers than in intact ones).

If your vet pushes you to neuter your dog (especially pre-maturity), ask them WHY. If they cite unwanted litters, assure them you will not allow your dog to father a litter (intentionally or unintentionally). If they cite cancer risk, ask them if they know that altered Goldens are at HIGHER risk of fatal cancers than intact ones. If they don't know, offer to send them this article Assisting Decision-Making on Age of Neutering for 35 Breeds of Dogs: Associated Joint Disorders, Cancers, and Urinary Incontinence or this one Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers

If your vet still wants to push the neuter, you might want to change vets...
 

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I still think that the main reason vets push S/N is all the ridiculous BYBs. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen on a FB dog group "Fifi is the best dog in the world, no one has ever had a dog so cute or smart or friendly! She must be bred!" and Fifi is a clearly out of standard, poorly bred golden who's parents never saw a health test and nor will Fifi, but she just happens to have the golden personality that everyone seems to think is unique to their dog only and thus having a litter is a necessity for LIFE to continue as we know it, for pete's sake!

Honestly, there is no way I could be a vet. To have to be there day in and day out and see dogs come in that look like they live on a rope in the yard, flat faced breeds who come in the door wheezing and gasping from the 20 feet they walked to get their pregnancy check, neglected dogs, dogs with fleas or heartworm because the owner won't pay for meds, dogs with 3" long toe nails, goopy unwashed eyes, and then to tell the owner "the dog needs this" and the owners only concern is "how much will that cost?" and then they say "that's too expensive, I think I'll just take him home and try a something else." They bring dogs in for surgery and the vets says "we HIGHLY recommend pre surgical bloodwork to make sure the anesthesia is safe for your dog, but it's an extra $100" and the owners are like "no, he'll be fine." That stuff would make me so upset. I think a lot of people try to make vets out to be money grabbing villains, and IME they aren't. I'm 100% sure there are bad vets out there. But I think most are in it because of their love of animals and the amount of crappy owners they see day in and day out must really wear them down.
 

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I still think that the main reason vets push S/N is all the ridiculous BYBs. I cannot tell you how many times I've seen on a FB dog group "Fifi is the best dog in the world, no one has ever had a dog so cute or smart or friendly! She must be bred!" and Fifi is a clearly out of standard, poorly bred golden who's parents never saw a health test and nor will Fifi, but she just happens to have the golden personality that everyone seems to think is unique to their dog only and thus having a litter is a necessity for LIFE to continue as we know it, for pete's sake!

Honestly, there is no way I could be a vet. To have to be there day in and day out and see dogs come in that look like they live on a rope in the yard, flat faced breeds who come in the door wheezing and gasping from the 20 feet they walked to get their pregnancy check, neglected dogs, dogs with fleas or heartworm because the owner won't pay for meds, dogs with 3" long toe nails, goopy unwashed eyes, and then to tell the owner "the dog needs this" and the owners only concern is "how much will that cost?" and then they say "that's too expensive, I think I'll just take him home and try a something else." They bring dogs in for surgery and the vets says "we HIGHLY recommend pre surgical bloodwork to make sure the anesthesia is safe for your dog, but it's an extra $100" and the owners are like "no, he'll be fine." That stuff would make me so upset. I think a lot of people try to make vets out to be money grabbing villains, and IME they aren't. I'm 100% sure there are bad vets out there. But I think most are in it because of their love of animals and the amount of crappy owners they see day in and day out must really wear them down.
Notably, a lot of veterinary practices are corporate owned now too. Which has been nothing but detrimental to vets and owners. We just paid 1k for two stitches in the ER 馃槕 and they can鈥檛 do anything because corporate runs the business.
 

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I agree with @Hildae. Almost every vet that I've been to has been surprised and relieved that my dogs are well cared for and groomed. They often show visible relief when I don't argue about their plans for my dogs' healthcare. It makes me wonder what awfulness they deal with on a regular basis from other clients.

When I got Eevee and took her for her first puppy visit, they asked if I was planning on spaying her. I said that she was going to be a show dog and they never brought it up again. In fact, they LOVED that I sent them all of her OFA forms and records, including x-rays after she turned two. They would ask how her show career was going and when I was planning on breeding her and if I had a stud dog picked out yet. The vast majority of their clients were just regular pet people and I'm sure they did encourage spay/neuter for most of their clients. But never, not once, did they show any disrespect toward me for having an intact bitch.
 

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Notably, a lot of veterinary practices are corporate owned now too. Which has been nothing but detrimental to vets and owners. We just paid 1k for two stitches in the ER 馃槕 and they can鈥檛 do anything because corporate runs the business.
Uhg, yes. The vet clinic I used to use just went corporate. One size fits all veterinary care! 馃檮 I was already considering switching vets when they tried to tell me my April needed her vaccines (the ones I chose not to do) updated in order for her to have her spleen removed and the mass checked for cancer. And this is with them knowing me and how I care for my dogs because I worked there as a groomer for over 10 years (and incidentally, bringing my dog to work everyday with her minimum vaccination was fine but for surgery not fine???)! Fortunately, I was able to quote vaccine package labeling that states vaccines are for healthy animals only and April was by no means healthy! They let me skip the vaccines after that-I don鈥檛 think they expect owners to know that! I am starting to put some feelers out looking for another vet in the area who would be more open minded to my minimal vaccines/titers and intact views. So far closest one I have found is over an hour away. But my horse vet also does small animals and they are definitely more open minded about my minimal vaccines for horses, so they might be more opened minded on the small animal side of things too. Its just that they are getting older-close to or past retirement age I think-and it seems that any younger vets they hire don鈥檛 stick around. 馃様 I already know they didn鈥檛 argue when my sister told them she wanted to wait to spay her husky/lab until she was older. I don鈥檛 have a dog right now, but want to find a vet before I would bring home a new puppy of course!
 

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I just remembered that another reason vets sometimes give for neutering male dogs is avoiding marking (I've never had an intact male mark in my house), avoiding wandering (if your dog is intact he should always be leashed or fenced or otherwise under your control - so "wandering" isn't an issue), and reducing aggression (which studies have shown is a bigger problem with neutered males than in properly socialized intact ones - at least in a breed like the Golden Retriever who is not known for aggression).
 

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I neutered my boy at age 6 due to prostate infections. So keeping your boy intact means that you should also monitor him as he ages for any reproductive issues. I found out Riot had an infection on collecting him for breeding and his sperm count was zero. We sent the semen out for testing and it was found to be a prostate infection, after fighting the infections for awhile, we gave up. Like keeping a girl intact, you do have to be aware of pyometra. Reproductive organ infections are something to know about and know the symptoms of. Riot acted like he had huge hip problems. Once the infection was treated, that symptom went away.
 
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