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Friday, 2 December 2011

As nature intended?


I have two four-year-old West Highland Terriers and have never considered having them castrated before, but lately I have been reading more cases of cancer in non-castrated males.

I would like to have them both castrated, but my partner doesn't like the idea.

I don't breed from my dogs.

Can you help?

Many Thanks,
Jackie Twigge, by email

Richard Allport, vet, advises...

In fact there is strong evidence that some forms of cancer are significantly more common in neutered dogs than in entire males. Osteosarcoma (bone cancer) and splenic cancer, for instance, are more frequently seen in neutered dogs. The only cancers an unneutered dog are more likely to get are (self evidently) testicular cancer and also prostate cancer.

However, prostate cancer is very rare in dogs (much less common than bone cancer) and testicular cancer is usually benign. In addition, neutered dogs are more likely to become overweight and suffer from conditions such as diabetes: and neutered dogs are more likely to be affected by hormonal conditions like hypothyroidism (underactive thyroids).

Then there is the small but real risk of the anaesthetic and the surgery itself. So my advice is that if your Westies are fit and well, there is probably a greater risk in having them neutered than in leaving them entire and intact as the good lord designed them!


  1. You have three options.
    1) Don't castrate them, run the risk of testicular cancer, and potential accidental matings.
    2) Talk to your partner about his issues - ask him how he would feel having the hormones that make him want to procreate, but never being able to; mention the cancer. If he sees your point have them castrated.
    3) If he's still not 100%, show him this web page -
    It's not my cup of tea, but it makes some men feel better that their dog still has "testicles", not matter how fake they are!

  2. I would think that it is more likely that some breeds are more prone to cancers than other's, and the dogs involved just happened to be 'entire'.

    The only dog that I had castrated then suffered the unwanted attentions of other 'entire' male dogs for most of his life, a problem that only happened after the op.

    The following three dogs that I had were all kept 'entire' One lived to 16, and though the other two were lost to cancers, this was, as I later found out genetic.

    I never had any problem with them 'bitching', they were not frustrated because they never did the act, and I competed in obedience competitions for many years with all of them, with never a cross word from them to other dogs, and all three livng in harmony with each other.

  3. Christine Bailey8 December 2011 at 04:59

    I think you have answered your own question! You've never considered it before; what's changed? If men were castrated, they wouldn't get testicular cancer; if women had their breasts removed, they wouldn't get breast cancer. If keeping them entire is no problem for you, why do it?
    There are studies pro and con, as in all things. I believe it has now been muted that castrated dogs are more prone to cruciate damage than entire ones.
    Find out all you can, then make your own decision. But what springs to my mind is - if it ain't broke, why fix it!