Exclusively Setters

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Hey All :-)

Long time member of Exclusively Setters but I have been more a lurker for the past few years.

I was interested in hearing thoughts and opinions on the subject of neutering my 7 year old Irish.  I'd love to add the communities thoughts to my own while I contemplate this.

He's a good boy, well trained and not especially 'doggy'.  Our dalliance into showing has been over for a few years now and I have no intentions to breed him.  The reasons I am considering the neuter is that regardless of his good behavior, many other dogs do not like him because he is intact.  I can't take him to dog parks because other dogs act aggressively toward him and our friend's dogs do not like him.  He does not react back in an aggressive way- actually he is extremely forgiving- but this means that I have limited ways to socialize him.  When he was a younger lad we lived in a place with a lot of cool dogs and he was able to stay very well socialized.  We moved 3 years ago and since then his social skills have declined.  He greets a dog with a far more enthusiastic butt sniff than I have ever seen and doesn't let up... he is nose deep in doggy buttholes as long as another dog will tolerate him.  Because of the past 3 years of limited ways to socialize him he has become socially retarded:  when he meets up with polite dogs he is so overly excited that they aren't being mean to him that he is intrusive into their space and it could take him a full day or two with the other dog before he returns to an acceptable level of friendliness.  In that time he has managed to aggravate even the most kind and accepting dog and driven the humans around him insane.  In the end, I just feel bad for him.  

I feel all of this would be something we could train through with the right set of dogs to socialize with, but that has proved a difficulty for me to find.  There are setter people in the area who have great dogs but they just aren't close enough to meet with on a regular enough basis to where it makes a difference.

So the questions I am asking myself:

If he is neutered, will other dogs still treat him as hostilely as they do now?  He literally does nothing to do provoke the aggression except to be there.  If the neuter curbs their aggression toward him, I will be able to bring him to more socializing activities.

If he is neutered, will his interest in doggy anus return to a more normal level?  Is it  at least partially driven by hormones?

If he is neutered, just how bad will the coat be?  I know this is vain, but he really is such a lovely boy and I'd hate to see that go.  I've seen female Irish spayed as adults and the results have not been pretty.

Even if he isn't as pretty, would he be happier?  

Should we just get another dog of our own?  There is a good possibility we move in the next 6 months to bigger property.  A puppy would definitely be something we got at that time.

Are there any risks to neutering a 7 year old dog?

Is there something I am not thinking of?

I'm just tossing all of this around in my head.  I would appreciate any insight or new angles your collective wisdom might provide :-)


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Hi- I personally never even would think about castrating a dog - only health matters would be a real reason. The coat will be a nightmare- orange fluff all over!!!!! And many intact males do try to hump on castrated males and for some intact ones they smell like a bitch in heat- no fun on walks! Sorry to be so atrong minded about it- but that's my opinion! Most important intact or not that you love and adore him! Kind regards Eva ( i have now 4 bitches but had males before)

Strong opinions are welcome so don't be shy :-)

Obviously as he is 7 years old neutering wasn't an option I had originally considered so we aren't coming from very different sides.  This particular situation is forcing me step outside of my preconceived opinions and consider his quality of life.  I think dogs should have dog friends and this is my first experience where it has been a problem.

...and yes to get another pup- great idea!!
...the interest in other dogs fades away a bit with age, many of my dogs go and greet the owners of other dogs enthusiastically and just ignore the dogs, while the younger ones love to run and have fun races with others.
To try if his life quality improves you could use a hormonal implant so he would be like castrated for a few months, I suppose you would be much wiser then..

An interesting idea I hadn't considered.  If nothing changed during the trial period, the idea of castration would be clearly wrong.  I'll have to research this idea.  Thanks!

I had considered neutering my only male setter Milo(almost 9yrs old) as he can be quite hormonal and a butt sniffer too ;o)

But having neutered his mother Rua at the age of 9yrs I decided NO, as it destroyed her coat and I feel it aged her rather quickly(my opinion anyway!)

Milo is a strong male (personality wise) but not agressive and even though can be a bit over enthusiastic with new dogs he generally is very friendly, except with other strong setter males (he sees them as competition to our bitches!!)

Perhaps training classes for general obedience would help as he would be working with you in the company of other dogs and might relax more?? I did some obedience classes with Milo and he was great in those situations!! I think training would  be worth a try ;o) Best of luck!!

One problem with neutering at this age is that the behaviours may well have become habit, and reducing the hormones may well have no effect on the way he behaves. I'd definitely consider chemical castration first so you can see whether it makes a difference without doing something irreversible.

Oh, and another vote for a new pup here! :0)

Oh yes to another pup of course:) Don't know how it will help exactly other than be a good buddy!

Can't really comment on the real problem you pose as my boys tend to disregard other dogs in favour of far more interesting smells and trails, when out for a run.

They also live closely with several other dogs and therefore soon learn what's acceptable and what's not. They do hump each other from time to time but never obsessively, except the youngest used to be fixated with our old castrated boy. He's now more likely to look for our bitch:)

Over the years we have had 3 boys castrated, all for medical reasons, and all between 7 to 9 years. We have found it necessary to watch their weight and this has been the most significant issue as, of course, being overweight has health risks and doesn't help if they get a bit arthritic in old age.

Their coats have all thickened and we've had a lot of orange fluff to deal with, but it has been possible to maintain a deep glossy chestnut coat with a consistent grooming programme. A furminator has figured highly with Kiefer's grooming regime and he has a very healthy looking coat currently at the age of 11 years and 9 months.

Sounds like the chemical route may help give you more insight into any changes you could expect with your boy.

Good luck.


We have a 7 year old that we castrated 2 years ago, and it has not changed his attitude toward other dogs.  I wish I had tried the chemical castration option before going ahead with the op as you can't put back what's been taken away!

I've just about got his coat back to an acceptable condition (I probably spend as much time grooming him as I do my 2 year old that I show), but it will never be the same and I do regret that.


Thanks to all for your great insights, thoughts, and opinions.  I've made an appointment with my vet to discuss the chemical castration (suprelorin implant) this weekend.  There are a couple behavior modifications I would take as a good thing (obsessive butt sniffing going away... other dogs HATE him for this) but it really isn't HIM that's the problem.  It is the other dogs at the dog parks, etc that just do not like him when they smell the testosterone.  If we go forward with the chemical castration I will use that as a trial period to see if dogs react more kindly to him and then he becomes better socialized.  If not, well then the neutering isn't even an option.  We'll see what the vet thinks!

He is, fortunately, extremely well-behaved and listens to his training on leash and with supervision.  I can bring him out in public to restaurants and shopping centers with no worries should he see other dogs.  He has just lost the ability to self-regulate when off leash.  

It is a problem and I'm going through the same thing.  Good luck and I hope everything works out.




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