Christie Keith has an excellent post on Petconnection summarising the AVMA's release of its most recent report on spaying and neutering for cats and dogs. The AVMA remains committed to the spaying and neutering of shelter animals and the report embodies that commitment, however its assessment of behavioral and medical risks and benefits for 'owned' animals seems fairly balanced. Christie's post does have some interesting comments which are well worth scrolling through, too.
The issue is an interesting one for us for several reasons. Our breeders, Chris + Wendy at Widdershins, normally only sell puppies on limited registrations, meaning that the pup can only be registered with the AKC once proof of spaying or neutering has been given. Momo was neutered according to the conventional wisdom right around 6mos old. Knowing the genetic potential that Jozsi should embody and knowing a little more about what a great bird-dog can be, we negotiated to keep Jozsi intact while we evaluate whether he might be a boy-genius after all. So, for now, we're looking into getting his hips and eyes evaluated once we have them back at home in March.
Arguably, the most controversial comment that the report's author makes is the following: "Trainability of working dogs is not altered by gonadectomy and does not vary with age of the dog at the time of gonadectomy." (p.1666) Christie is all over it, and expresses some truly legitimate concerns about the author's source of information and therefore Dr. Kustritz's ability to make such a broad statement.
Interestingly, our trainer said he hadn't noticed any significant differences in trainability or hunting drive between boys and girls, or between neutered boys and intact boys. He also doesn't believe in neutering boy dogs before 2yrs old to ensure that they have fully grown -- even if a neutered dog will generally be longer-limbed (but no more susceptible to long-bone fractures, but potentially more susceptible to hip dysplasia). Jozsi is going to be a big boy anyways, so we're not worried about limb-length and if keeping him intact should also reduce his chances of hip dysplasia, then we're happy about that, too.
We'll keep everyone posted. And in the meantime, enjoy this pic of the Dream Team.