AR Extremist Myth: Neutering Stops Aggression

A very, very persistent myth by the no dog ownership clan: that neutering your dog will render it a totally non-aggressive, good boy without testicles.

The study done by James a. Serpell, Ph.D and Deborah L. Duffy, Ph.D, Center for the Interaction of Animals and Society, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania was on the non-reproductive effects of Spaying and Neutering on Behavior in Dogs.

Non-reproductive Effects of Spaying and Neutering on Behavior in Dogs.
Deborah L. Duffy, Ph.D., and James A. Serpell, Ph.D., Center for the Interaction ofAnimals and Society, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of Pennsylvania

Although there are scattered reports in the literature of apparently adverse effects of spaying and neutering on canine behavior, there are very few quantitative studies and most of these have employed behavioral measures of unknown reliability and validity. The present study used the Canine Behavioral Assessment and Research Questionnaire(C-BARQ) to investigate the impact of spaying/neutering in various dog populations, including (1) a random sample of 1,552 dogs belonging to 11 common breeds and (2) a convenience sample of over 6,000 dogs of various breeds recruited via an online survey.

The C-BARQ is a reliable, standardized method for evaluating and screening dogs for the presence and severity of behavioral problems. It was developed by behavioral researchers at the University of Pennsylvania (Hsu and Serpell, 2003) and consists of a 101-item questionnaire that is simple to use, takes about 15 minutes to fill out, and can be completed by anyone who is reasonably familiar with the dog’s typical responses to ordinary, day-to-day events and stimuli.

The C-BARQ is currently the only existing behavioral assessment instrument of its kind to be thoroughly tested for reliability and validity on large samples of dogs of various breeds. This process has resulted in the identification of the following 13 distinct behavioral factors or traits that are common to the majority of dogs, regardless of breed, age, sex or neuter status:

1. Stranger-directed aggression: Dog shows threatening or aggressive responses to strangers approaching or invading the dog’s or the owner’s personal space, territory, or home range.

2. Owner-directed aggression: Dog shows threatening or aggressive responses to the owner or other members of the household when challenged, manhandled, stared at, stepped over, or when approached while in possession of food or objects.

3. Dog-directed fear/aggression: Dog shows fearful and/or aggressive responses when approached directly by unfamiliar dogs.

4. Familiar dog aggression: Threatening or aggressive responses during competition for resources with other (familiar) dog(s) in the household.

5. Stranger-directed fear: Fearful or wary responses when approached directly by strangers.

6. Nonsocial fear: Fearful or wary responses to sudden or loud noises, traffic, and unfamiliar objects and situations.

7. Separation-related behavior: Vocalizes and/or engages in destructive behavior when separated from the owner, often accompanied or preceded by behavioral and autonomic signs of anxiety, including restlessness, loss of appetite, trembling, and excessive salivation.

8. Attachment and attention-seeking: Maintains close proximity to the owner or other members of the household, solicits affection or attention, and becomes agitated when the owner gives attention to third parties.

9. Trainability: Shows willingness to attend to the owner, obeys simple commands, fetches objects, responds positively to correction, and ignores distracting stimuli.

10. Chasing: Pursues cats, birds, and other small animals, given the opportunity.

11. Excitability: Strong reaction to potentially exciting or arousing events, such as going for walks or car trips, doorbells, arrival of visitors, and the owner arriving home; difficulty settling down after such events.

12. Touch sensitivity: Fearful or wary responses to potentially painful procedures,including bathing, grooming, claw-clipping, and veterinary examinations. 
Energy level: Highly energetic, boisterous, and/or playful behavior.  The results of the study suggest that spayed female dogs tend to be more aggressive toward their owners and to strangers than intact females, but that these effects of spaying on behavior appear to be highly breed-specific. Contrary to popular belief, the study found little evidence that castration was an effective treatment for aggressive behavior in male dogs, and may exacerbate other behavioral problems.





IN fact in October 2005, Dr. Serpell related that neutered males of all breeds showed increased aggression, were less trainable, more fearful–especially social fears, had increased body sensitivity and increased excitability Further research is needed between age of spaying/neutering and these apparent effects on behavior.

This is not the only study that confirms this, as there is a major Federal government study done in the past which also confirms the same thing.

So why do the radicals keep saying that altering  is required to stop “dangerous” dogs?  Biting dogs?  Some people and studies have reported that male dogs which were not altered caused more bites than male dogs which were altered. However, that fact ALONE does NOT mean that the REASON for the BITE was caused by the dog BEING intact.

The circumstances of each incident has to be considered.  For example, if a parent obtained a free dog from the neighbor, did not behavior train it, and did not teach dog safety to his/her minor kids, and the kid gets bitten because he/she interacted inappropriately with the dog, we do not automatically blame being “intact” as the reason.  Or if a parent purchased a dog that would not behave, even after trying to behavior train the dog, and the minor child was appropriate in interacting with the dog, but the dog tried to bite the child anyway, we do not automatically claim it was because the dog is “INTACT.”

Yet the radicals automatically claim that “intact” IS the reason for the biting.  That is pure nonsense and only an idiot who knows nothing about canines would even think to say something so stupid. OR–someone who wanted to advance the agenda to alter every dog in America might say that. Which is what the extremists have done.

Radicals have formulated a MEDIA STORY—“intact dogs are dangerous” and they want everyone to hear it, believe it, and DO IT–alter your dog. Alter your dog. Alter your dog.

They have a lot of $$ to spend, so they spend it by telling us all what we should be doing. And of course, all of it is the same. No breeding, no buying (of a dog), no owning (of a pet). It’s been the same chant, the same mantra for 25 years. Spay and neuter. Blah blah blah.  But now they have desperately passed MSN in both Los angeles City, and County. Despite a SF Judge saying (in 2 sentences) that she dismissed the case filed because the MSN in that local county was “rational” to the reason of “overpopulation”–that case was not precedential, it was not published. [*An appeal was foolishly taken by Concerned dog Owners and thus set precedent that MSN in that situation was “rational”, see 123 Cal.Rptr.3d 774 (Cal.App.2 Dist., 2011)] Despite “MSN” being “rational” it has never provided the results that ARs want– because reality is that in large areas such as Los Angeles, the law is never  widely enforced nor could it be due to the sheer expense.

We  even read on another blog that shelter dogs are all the result of “breeders” when the facts show the opposite—the mixed breed male juveniles of med-large size breeds which are in shelters, not finding homes——–> are NOT the product of ‘dog breeders'<———–  but are simply unplanned dogs from unplanned ties between two unknown dogs (usually neighborhood dogs)—that did have homes, but then are given up by the owners.

Much of everything said by ARs are nothing but dumb ideas launched off of stepping stones.  In other words, when something happens, they use each incident or each possible statistic, as a stepping stone to launch yet ANOTHER baseless, mindless AR mantra or slogan for the public.  “don’t breed or buy while shelter animals die”, or “only mean people buy a dog” or “adoption is the only option” or “an intact dog is 2x, 3x, 4x, etc more likely to bite” and on and on ad nauseam. 

You see, ARs are really nothing but little marketing drones that spew out phrases. That’s right—PHRASES–>  SLOGANS—> NONSENSE.  Why don’t they just all get jobs in advertising some defective product.  OH MY. They already have done that.

7 thoughts on “AR Extremist Myth: Neutering Stops Aggression

  1. Exactly.

    In my opinion, which is based on reading many scientific papers, the ‘intact dogs bite more often’ is possibly true, but is not a causal factor.

    It’s a red herring, a simple explanation requiring no effort or work by owners who have dogs with social problems.

    Kind of like ‘breed’.

    This kind of propaganda does a great disservice to dogs and their owners.

    Just as lying about friendly vs unfriendly ‘breeds’ is misleading and dangerous, promoting the idea that a visit to the surgery will be a panacea for behaviour problems is not going to help people to understand that dogs are dogs, they behave a certain way based on opportunism and that the way to have a good dog is to reward good behaviour and ignore or if dangerous, correct bad behaviour.

    I’m sick of their bulls**t.

  2. Right. We need the media manic who can churn out the truth. Truth doesn’t sell very well unless there is drama. Who can we get to go naked. LOL

  3. AS a dog trainer, I have to work daily with the results of neuter-spay… and failure to do so. I’d dearly love to know where to find this article, in full, by Duffy and Serpell. Anybody have that journal name and issue number, date of publication? As we face the pressures of the ARs, we need statistics, not just general statements and open emotion. Just the facts, ma’am. I want the information for my anti-MNS files as well as my own use in my job! If it’s not appropriate to post that information here, I’d certainly be open to having it sent directly to one of my email addresses.

    Certainly trainers have supported the neutering of males for behavioral causes long before the ARs really surfaced, and it has been taught to vets for just as long.

    More and more physical complications of neuter-spay are being discovered, as well. It’s best to present objections as a “package”… both physical side-effects and behavioral side-effects. The average lawmaker needs an education. S/he considers the local vets to be experts on behavior, and possibly a local trainer or two… but we all know that dog trainers have Very uneven qualifications. Both groups often lag behind the available information that is pouring out of new studies, internationally.

  4. If the spay-neuter advocates are correct, then you would almost be compelled to conclude that the same surgerical techniques would work on aggressive children. Yet no one would ever suggest that, would they? The incidence of dog aggression obviously pales in comparison to human aggression, yet this seems to get lost in the arguments. We need to bring some perspective to the debate, and pointing out the human on human violence that occurs every minute is one way to do so.

  5. There are a lot of things that can be compared, no doubt. BSL laws are focused on dogs, MSN laws are focused on intact dogs by claiming overpopulation without really knowing the source exactly, or whether it actually works; claiming that MSN or altering takes out aggression is dumbing down people and proving that AR extremists are clever. We know they are clever. But are we smarter? Let’s hope so.

  6. I am an AR advocate. You may even call me an extremist. But I do NOT support spay/neuter. In fact, I am strongly opposed to it. Gary L. Francione, one of the leaders of the movement, has recently stated that he uses alternative procedures on his dogs, such as vasectomy and partial spay (removal of only the uterus). And Henry Salt, in his 1894 book, “Animals’ Rights: Considered in Relation to Social Progress”, wrote:

    “The question of the castration of animals may here be briefly referred to. That nothing but imperative necessity could justify such a practice must I think be admitted; for an unnatural mutilation of this kind is not only painful in itself, but deprives those who undergo it of the most vigorous and spirited elements of their character. It is said—with what precise amount of truth I cannot pretend to determine—that man would not otherwise be able to maintain his dominion over the domestic animals; but on the other hand it may be pointed out that this dominion is in no case destined to be perpetuated in its present sharply-accentuated form, and that various practices which, in a sense, are ” necessary” now,—i.e., in the false position and relationship in which we stand towards the animals,—will doubtless be gradually discontinued under the humaner system of the future. Moreover, castration as performed on cattle, sheep, pigs, and fowls, with no better object than to increase their size and improve their flavour for the table, is, even at the present time, utterly needless and unjustifiable. ” The bull,” as Shelley says, ” must be degraded into the ox, and the ram into the wether, by an unnatural and inhuman operation, that the flaccid fibre may offer a fainter resistance to rebellious nature.” In all its aspects, this is a disagreeable subject, and one about which the majority of people do not care to think—probably from an unconscious perception that the established custom could scarcely survive the critical ordeal of thought.”

    So please, don’t insult all AR advocates.

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