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As a newcomer to the breed I have come across the question of whether, when the time is right, to neuter. I have had dogs in the past done to curb aggression and territory marking in the house, but, are these common problems with IRS? Am aware of issues regarding a dog's coat after neutering, yet have had advice to always neuter from vets etc.

Can anybody share their opinion specific to the breed?

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Hi Neil
I have had two of my male dogs neutered at about 8 year old. ,
My first boy, Reny was desexed due to not wanting to have an old dog stress out when the bitch is in season and I didn't wish to use him at stud and he was retired from showing. Unfortunately, he didn't live past 9 1/2 years, so couldn't give any conclusion on pros and cons on this decision for Reny.

My second boy, Monty was desexed due to his health - he had episodes of benign prostate bleeds (sometimes associated with the bitch being in season, but not always). Advised by the vet that desexing may eliminate this problem. It has and he is now 11 3/4years old. The cons - the coat change.. fluffiness! Monty now has a bit of incontinence, but I can't say whether it is associated with his prostate or his desexing. I know desexing of the girls can cause incontinence!

I have never had any of my male IS have aggression or mark territory in the house. They have never lifted their leg even on house posts and have always been clean in and around the house. If you train your dog to be clean in and around the house, I'm sure you will never have a problem of marking. We have our cars in the carport (under the house) and have never had any of our males even cock their leg on the wheels because the cars are "inside".
Vets are for some reason, extremely keen on routine neutering, but in my experience of several gundog breeds it is simply not neccessary.
I currently have two entire Irish Setter males, one is 13 years old and the other 2 years old, they live very happily together and also with 5 American Cockers (a male and 4 females). None of the boys have ever scent marked in the house or had any issues with agression.

I would be ignoring my Vet's suggestion to castrate my puppy.
Must admit am edging towards not neutering and seeing how things go, not knowing the breed well it's difficult for me to judge if behaviour could be affected.
Neil from spending so much time on several IS forums, It seems that the IS doesn't have the same marking issues that some other breeds might have. They are very clean dogs, that I can agree with.
I would so love to be able to leave my new puppy (coming to us in 3 weeks) intact to try it out for a bit and because our breeder prefers us to wait till at least over a year. But as I have said in the past here, my only place to let my setter run free everyday involves him being with other dogs of all ages and breeds. For some reason if there is ever a skirmish, it involves another male, intact or not, who feels threatened by the intact dog. I see it all the time. And I can't handle that sort of nonsence or worry on a daily basis. I am concerned about coat changes, but my last dog had none that I could tell but then I am just a pet owner and not a breeder of the IS. I am going to try to wait till at least 9-10 months unless I see negative responses towards my dog from other males. Our vet likes to have it done by 4-6 months and that is way way to early according to our breeder. The breeder felt closer to age 2 would be better for the dog's health. I say give it sometime and see how it goes for you. I do want to mention that my first setter was left intact and developed prostate cancer at age 6 and we had to put him down due to it having spread all over by the time we even knew he was even sick. It is such a catch-22 on this issue.
That is an excellent paper on the effects of neutering.
I have 12 currently dogs living in my house, five of them male aged 4 months to 11 years. I have no problems with marking inside the house, and no problems between the male dogs except when bitches are in season. Even then its not really serious. One of the male dogs (Archie) is the rampant and dominant one when the bitches are in season and the other males tend to defer to him and avoid head on trouble. At other times, when there are no bitches in season, I dont have an obvious top male - I do have a very dominant alpha bitch who rules the whole household , including all the males!
I dont spay/neuter unless there is a serious health reason eg only one of my bitches is spayed, and it was done at 8 years when she had pyometra and after having had three litters. She is still the dominant bitch ,even though she is the spayed one

I really dont like the woolly coat which easily mats on spayed, neutered setters, the colour also tends to fade, and they need more trimming/thinning and are harder to keep looking tidy. You also have to watch the weight on neutered dogs and limit their food intake

Vets are much too quick to suggest spaying and neutering - its easy money for them. At least UK and European vets dont do it as early as American vets. The advice here is more often to wait until the dog or bitch is fully grown, then consider if it really needs to be done
This is actually a cultural question.

In most european countries we manage to housetrain dogs, are able to train them not to fight with other dogs and still able to keep them un-neutered.
To me neutering for other than medical reasons is just an easy way out when you are allready admitting that you will not be capable of solving problems that may or may not arise in the future.
It's a toughy, in the past I have always taken the vets advice and neutered, even had a puppy from rescue and they wrote in as part of the deal that the dog was 'done'. The breeder I am using has pretty much said she doesn't go with neutering due to the damage to the coat, but it's reassuring to have as many opinions as possible.

Many thanks
Glad you posted this question I have to say that I had my bitch spayed and her coat went very thick and although it improved over the years it was never the same, I believe Irish Setters to be very different from some breeds of dog's where neutering is used as a way to improve the dog's coat. I am loath to have Rio, my six month old pup castrated and looked around for information I too read the report Cassie Allen posted and found it of great interest, I am still in a bit of dilemma but think I will proceed with caution and leave Rio intact.
De-sexing too early can cause problems with the growth plates - long bones? I know I saw a paper on this recently but can't remember where - will try to find it. I would not neuter a male before 18 months at least.

Pat, I wonder was this the article you are referring to?




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