Category Archives: Health

Questioning accepted wisdom…

A few months ago I took Zeke in for a veterinarian checkup and bloodwork. My vet is excellent. She’s confident and decisive but she still listens well and respects my decisions. One of my decisions has been to leave Zeke intact. During the appointment, my vet declared that 90 percent of behavioural issues including fear and aggression, were resolved with neutering.

Many, many people have advised me to neuter him as a step towards improving his reactivity. I have been unable to find any scientific studies to show that neutering Zeke would improve his behaviour. To the contrary, I found quite a bit of evidence to show that by neutering him I would be putting him at much higher risk for a number of significant health problems. Still, I respected the fact that my vet might have access to better professional research than me, so I asked her to please show me the research to support her claim.

Later, I remembered reading the works of Dr. Chris Zink, a veterinarian and researcher with a strong interest in agility and performance dogs. She has been a lone voice challenging the conventional wisdom that favours spaying and neutering dogs. I emailed her that evening, asking her if she knew of any strong scientific evidence that neutering fearful and aggressive dogs improved their behaviour.

A couple of weeks after my appointment, a letter arrived from my veterinarian.  She enclosed one very small and inconclusive study with her hand written note admitting that there seemed to be little evidence to support her claim.

Today, I was delighted to receive a response from Dr. Zink. She wrote,
” There is no good evidence that neutering improves behavior, and in fact there is some strong evidence that it increases aggression both to people and dogs.There is an article on my website that shows some of the initial data on this subject from a paper I hope to publish this fall…the best thing is to keep your dog intact (your vet or any veterinary surgeon can do a vasectomy if you want to be sure he is never bred) and continue your behavioral work with him”  

Thank you, Dr. Zink, for being a true scientist and questioning conventional practice.