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Hi everyone, I know that a lot of the people here are breeders, but unfortunetly due to my living conditions I can not affort to have puppies.
So whats the best time to fix puppy?
My vet saying the best time is before first heet, but some Irish Setters owners saying it should be after first heet, not before. So am confused. Please advise.
Sincerely, Kate

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Hi Kate,

When to spay a female Irish Setter has been a question of some contention between my and my vet. In general my vet feels that it is essential that a bitch have one complete season before she is spayed. This is because it is necessary for her body to be completely estrogenized once in her life, in order to develop the proper muscle tone in the bladder sphincter. Without this, she is apt to dribble urine most of the rest of her life, especially as she gets older, or will need to be maintained on decongestants her entire life - there is a product called Proin that works well for this; one needs an RX for it in California, but all it is is phenylpropanolamine, which used to be available readily in many cold formulations, but became a restricted substance when some unpleasant human side effects were recently discovered.

A number of years ago, following some research, suddenly very early spay surgery was recommended for all female dogs. The research showed that there were no ill effects and the recovery was much simpler, etc., etc. Suddenly my vet began advocating that. My reaction was to tell him that I didn't care about any research results; I felt that this was not a good idea at least for a setter pup.

I had sold a Gordon female pup to a couple who had a lovely year-old Irish Setter bitch that they had hoped to show. When I saw them again a year later, I took one look at their Irish and said, "You spayed her." The lovely young Irish of a year ago was gone. In her place was an obese, dull bitch with light fuzzy hair the consistency of straw all over her body, even growing out of her cheeks. The owners said that no one had told them that the spay surgery would produce these effects. They had told their vet that the bitch was quite itchy and constantly licked her vulva. The vet told them that spaying the bitch would take care of the problem. I said, "She still is itchy and licks herself, doesn't she?" They said, "Yes," and that they never would spay a bitch again.

After this experience I was once again at my vet discussing spaying. He told me that he had recently been reading a vet journal article that said that early spaying had been found to not be appropriate for many breeds of dogs, among them setters. I'm sure I had a very smug look on my face!

I do believe that if you spay a bitch prior to the age of two years, she will have less chance of developing mammary cancer, and of course without a uterus and ovaries, she will never develop the many diseases that can affect those organs. But I do think that a young female will suffer from the lack of estrogen and show physical signs of it. In fact my sales contract has the buyer agree not to spay a female pup prior to her having one complete heat cycle unless other health circumstances require the spay;

On the other hand, I have had bitches that were intact into their double digits of age develop terrible mammary cancers following a heat cycle. They might have developed the disease anyway, but I firmly believe that the big surge of estrogen produced in estrus can cause what might have been a mild, slow-growing mammary cancer to take off with much more rapid and aggressive growth. So somewhere at the age of 9-10 years, I generally do spay my girls.

Hope this helps!
I don't have much to add to what Wendy posted, she pretty much covered it. But Ursula is also right about the spay coat, which some "fixed" dogs and bitches do get, not all. Here in America it cost more to license your dogs if they are intact and most dog parks won't let you bring in a intact animal either.

Seems society is try to force all of us to fix our pets whether we want to or not. I used to fix all of my dogs that I didn't plan to breed, but I'm holding off on that for a while just to avoid the spay coat if I can. I've had fixed bitches live to 14 years of age so I think it could have benefits.

My Vet and I agree with each other that we should let the bitch go thru at least one heat cycle, or reach the age of one year to give them the best chance for full growth. I read a article last year that they are finding that the young puppies that are spayed , sometimes have a problem with their urinary organs being stunted. Therefore causing problems.

Good luck with your decision........Loma
Sorry...forgot about the licence and all that.
And what is this, not being able to take a dog in to a dog park if it is intact????
Hey Loma! I thought you were the ones not wanting to be told what to do???? You know, home of the free and brave...I think it is...? :-))))) (Please note smiley!)
I have had four bitches that have reached the ages of 13, 14, 14 and 15. All of them intact except one 14 year old, she was spayed at the age of 12. The ones that died earlier died so for other reasons (nothing to do with hormones). (Cancer, trains and operations gone wrong)
That awful coat would definatly put me off for a start.
It does not seem to affect other breeds in the same way....
But if that is the law, I suppose....?!
Honestly Kate, why exactly do you want to spay your bitch? And who told you that your unspayed bitch needs to have puppies?
(The ones you can not afford or have room for)
If you check out the discussion in the thread American Questions...you will see that practically all dogs in Europe are unspayed, live long and happy lives and have no problems. They come in to season twice a year (less often most of the time) and its no great deal. We let them wear pants indoors if we are worried about stains.
No need to do anything.
Then you will not end up with the awful looking coat, urine-leakage and overweight...
Thanks to all for sharing your knowledge. It’s a very helpful info. It's make sense to spay after first heat cycle, especially knowing all urinary problems Irish Setters can have. When Ruby was 3 month old she had some problem with bladder sphincter (she was leaving paddles after lying anywhere), then she had UTI. Fortunately now she is fine and healthy.
Even thought I don't want puppies, I am going to fix her because I had bad experience with unfixed bitch. Whole life she was having a false pregnancies and with age developed huge breast tumor and died of it.
I think that hormone activity contributed to that.
Thanks, Kate
It looks like nobody from Europe wants to participate in this discussion.
Maybe it is because we can not understand why in the US they spay such young dogs !!!
I am from Belgium, and there is nobody here or in the surrounding countries that will have their young irish setter spayed at such an extremely young age. Here they do not spay any dog/bitch unless there is a serious medical reason.
I can say that we almost find it cruel.
Just wanted to get this of my chest !
In Ireland neutering of all pet dogs is encouraged for the reason of unwanted puppies and for health reasons!! We still have a problem with people letting their dogs free range!! Perhaps if the dog controls were improved there would be less need for neutering! I do prefer to have neutered males staying at my kennels (but I accept both)as there is less scent marking(inside and outside their kennels!!!)) But I have no problem with bitches in heat staying at the kennels(no trouble!)They just cant have male visitors!!!!;o) We have no laws relating to neutering of any dogs pure bred or otherwise! Vets here prefer to spay after the first heat. I dont intend neutering either of my bitches and I have two entire males living here(one setter and one shepherd)We just keep everyone seperate during heats!
To keep a bitch intact and not having puppies is the easiest thing in the world! I have had 20 litters and out of those only ONE puppybuyer ended up with an unwanted litter...a cross between the Irish setter bitch and an English setter dog. Both kept in the same family.
In that case the children were to blame...opening the wrong doors.
My buyers are NOT all experianced dog-people but tend to know about the birds and bees...
If we dont have the unwanted puppy-situation amongst swedish setters (as we dont seem to) it makes you wonder why?
I can understand that the rules and laws have an influence in the US. Like not being able to take your dog into dog-parks etc, but if that does not apply...I can see no reason whatsoeverfor castration and spaying.
I absolutely agree with you, Ursula, and with all the other folks who find it hard to understand why the strong emphasis on early spay/neuter in the US. I personally think it is an abomination to interfere with the physical characteristics of a species that is so successful, unless there is illness, disease or accident. (A Gordon Setter I once sold was running on the beach and his testicles torsioned - in this case he certainly had to be surgically corrected.) And I believe it is terribly arrogant to assume that because one interferes with one part of an animal there will be no reaction in all the other parts.

I can think of a few reasons why this has become de rigeur in the US. First I believe is the economic reason - there are many small animal vet practices that practically survive on spay/neuter surgeries. A vet friend of mine is one of the established vets for all cats that come into a cat rescue organization in her area and that is a definite boost to her income.

Secondy, the nature of dogs on the public streets and parks has radically changed since the early 1970's. I used to take my first Irish Setter bitch to the city park to play very regularly. It was not a "dog park," just the regular city park. There was a group of dogs who hung out there most of the time. Probably 6-10 of them, many different breeds, all enjoying the park and each other. None of them ever fought and no one ever complained; I don't know if any of the owners other than myself was present, but I would play with the bunch of them for a while, including my own, throwing sticks, mostly. Then I would go sit under a tree to relax and the dogs would continue their games on their own. It was wonderful to watch them. My dog Ribbon's favorite trick was to grab a nice stick, wave it under all of the other dogs' eyes, and then take off with it around the park, glancing back often to make sure the others were chasing her. If they weren't, she would run the stick back into their sight and then take off again. Lots of other folks in the park watched happily also, and the whole park was in great spirits.

A number of years later I sold a Gordon Setter female to a fellow that lived in a very urban district of San Francisco. He was near public tennis courts and a city park. He was an engineer, single at the time, and living by himself. For the dog's first year of life he had a dog walker come in every day, feed her lunch, and take her out for a long walk. When he came home in the evenings, he would change into running apparel and go out with the dog on the city streets. He never had her on leash and she stayed pretty close to him while running. They always went to the tennis courts for exercise, and I asked him why he didn't go to the park, and he said there were all sorts of aggressive dogs there and he didn't like being there with his dog. And I realized that the whole nature of owning dogs in the city had changed - no longer were there the sporting dogs, the pleasant working breeds, and the collie types. There were many many pit bulls and their ilk. Uncontrolled Rotties, Akitas, non-AKC fighting and protection dogs, breeds mixed with fighting dogs, etc. The parks were not a home for picnicking families and family dogs, esp. toward evening, but had reverted to jungles where playful, friendly dogs were nothing but fair game. I think this change in public perception of what a personal companion was and does is in great part responsible for the calls to spay/neuter as early as possible. People are often very proud these days to have a wolf or coyote mix, which can be fine pets until sexual maturity and then watch out! The line between pet and wild animal is often blurred and preventing sexual maturity can be a real safety factor.

I also don't understand why people feel the need for "exotic" pets when it is obvious by longevity alone that dogs first and then cats are ideally suited to be companion animals, a few others can be domesticated for riding, food, or their hair coats, but most animals are best left to themselves except for observation at a distance.

A few other "reasons" to spay/neuter. We have a huge population of feral cats, and there are many programs to capture them, spay/neuter them and release them back into the same environment with the hope that the overall population will decrease with many animals out there that cannot reproduce. My personal opinion is that feral cats are nuisances, in fact varmints, that are no different from raccoons, weasels, opossum, and rats, and really should be eliminated, but no one likes to talk killing them. In fact my vet friend said that most of the first year vet students in her class loved and cherished the feral kitties that they operated upon, and preferred them to domesticated felines and had little use for dogs.

Until very recently most American colleges of veterinary medicine taught new vet students that breeders were their worst enemy. In earlier times, when there was far less access to accurate information, and tremendous rumor mills, there might have been some truth to this - I'm sure most of us have heard vet. medicine "old wives tales" that can make one shudder! But in this information age, many long term breeders are highly positive assets to a vet's practice and we seek out or develop "breeder vets," that we work with very closely. My vet will have his clients contact me for specifics on reproduction/whelping. He and I are practically colleagues in certain areas, and we are both the better for it.

Finally, I think Americans have a great prediliction for changing things. We purchase a car and modify it. We purchase a house and remodel it. We lavish certain expectations upon our children whether they are suitable to the child's nature or abilities or not. Our athletes modify themselves, legally or not. There is little regard for history or tradition, partly because as a country we are too young to have much, and partly because one of our great traditions is that this is a land of opportunity for all, one is not fixed into the professional or socio-economic level of one's birth. It is chic to neuter one's dog and rebellious not to. Vive the rebels!!!
I am not certain if it is the fact that you in the US want to modify things that makes you castrate dogs on a regular basis, to me it looks more as if you tend to go for the easy way out.
(Sweeping statement =YES)

May fight in the future = castrate instead of training.
May have unwanted puppies = spay, instead of controll maximum TWICE a year.
May scratch furniture = remove claws...
and so on.
We do constantly urge people to spay their cats in Sweden. But to me that is worlds apart, most cats (not actually living in citys) are allowed to go in and out as they please. Cats are not as easiely kept within a garden as dogs are, etc.
So I do feel from the pure nature of things, cats and dogs are differant in that aspect.

As for fighting, we have a small setterclub in the south where we meet about once a month. We have lots of members but at our meetings, normally around 20 or so show up. So these dogs dont actually know each other and at most places we will let the whole lot off the leads.
Without any fights!

ALL of these dogs are intact!bitches and dogs mixed...

Check our site out http://irishredsetter.net/

Then click on the dated meetings on the left hand side.
Mind you, these are irish setters, known to be kind and social dogs. I have had some of my Rottweiler friends take part in some of these get-togethers and, well they all agree that THIS would NOT work with a bunch of Rottweilers.




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