This summary of a masters thesis on the behavioral and physical effects of spaying and neutering dogs has been making its way around the Internets over the last few days, and there are some very interesting findings within:
- Correlations between neutering dogs and increases in aggression, fear and anxiety, and excitability.
- Correlations between neutering and decreases in trainability and responsiveness to cues.
- A small association with neutering and attachment and attention seeking behavior, and separation-related behavior (the association being more pronounced in dogs neutered at a younger age)
- A difference in bone length between neutered and intact dogs, which reinforces the suggestion that neutering has an effect on bone growth.
While there's not much argument about differences in bone growth between altered and unaltered dogs any more (at least among dog people), the behavior findings within this thesis are truly fascinating.
After all, isn't this the conventional wisdom on how spaying and neutering changes your dog's personality (emphasis mine):
It’s Good for You
- Spayed and neutered dogs are better, more affectionate companions.
- Spayed and neutered dogs are less likely to bite. Unaltered animals often exhibit more behavior and temperament problems than those that have been spayed or neutered.
Call me crazy, but isn't that the exact opposite of what is being suggested here? I mean, this isn't Lamarck vs. Darwin -- it's more like heliocentrism vs. geocentrism. Worlds apart.
We'd need to see more evidence than a snapshot before accepting the author's claims on behavior. Who's dogs are most often spayed or neutered (especially at a young age) and why? What is the background, upbringing, and source of these dogs? A dog's family is surely the most overriding factor when it comes to behavior, after all. But even so, these are some pretty remarkable findings!