Kunga is five and a half years young, full of energy and healthy. Though I occasionally take him out to show, it’s mostly to support a local club, since he has finished his championship already. I’ve been giving some thought to having him neutered. (Our non-show Bloodhound, Lucy, is spayed.)
Neutering him would prevent further showing (until he’s a veteran, at six years), but that’s not a big issue for him. I’ve collected and frozen his semen, so he’d still be available to me for breeding purposes, if I ever decided to do that. So the big issue is whether this procedure is good for his long term health.
There’s a ton of evidence that spaying/neutering a dog before the first heat cycle can lead to lasting health problems. Many vets are re-thinking their advice for early spay, based on studies and long experience. It appears that endocrine, cardiac, and osteopathic problems can follow. See, for example, Dr. Karen Becker’s video on YouTube:
There’s been material written about EARLY spay/neuter, but what about later? Many of my show dog owning friends de-sex in part because there are new, younger show dogs in the home, and they want to avoid hormone-driven battles as well as accidental matings. Others do it because they think it’s the most responsible thing to do, once the dog has finished with its show/breeding career.
But what about health? I consulted with a knowledgeable friend in the veterinary field, who told me that, though it may be heresy to say so, the healthy dog is the intact dog. One of Kunga’s own vets says there may be some risk of prostate problems in an older, intact boy, but at least one (small-scale, preliminary) study suggests that this is not true. (See http://healthypets.mercola.com/sites/healthypets/archive/2011/02/17/dangers-of-early-pet-spaying-or-neutering.aspx).
A review of several articles by the Veterinary Information Network showed that late de-sexing may lead to a hugely increased incidence of various types of cancers. (See: http://news.vin.com/VINNews.aspx?articleId=27205)
As for the moral question, I’m very responsible about my dog and he lives either indoors or outside behind a 5′ fence which he cannot scale. He has gotten out once in his 5 years–and came directly to the front door to ask to be let inside! (Meanwhile our Bloodhound went to visit her favorite of our neighbors, Dan, who obligingly brought her back.) Of course I can’t absolute guarantee that Kunga will never accidentally mate, but the likelihood of that is pretty low.
On the whole, unless we decide on getting a new pup that would be left intact for show purposes, I think Kunga’s going to remain intact for the time being.
I’d be very interested to hear from other show people what their choices have been and why.