Saturday, January 29, 2011

Sexually Transmitted Diesese - Brucella in dogs

When the breeder told me I had to test Bailey for STDs, I kind of looked at her with the dumb look I can get. 

 "Are you serious?
  A sexually transmitted disease test?"

But she was serious and after reading the below article I understood. 

So once Sophie went into heat early this week, Bailey and I were off to our vet to get the "Brucella test."  $70 blood test and the results were available the next morning.
 Bailey tested negative.   The boy didn't have a VD. 

 I was glad.  For the life of me I wouldn't have figured out how he would have gotten it.  He has never had, what characters in the show "Deadwood," called "gettin' some strange." 

So one more thing I have learned about breeding. 

 The actual act will occur over several days this coming week.
Brucellosis (Brucella canis) & Abortions in Dogs
Race Foster, DVM

Brucellosis is a disease caused by Brucella canis, which is a bacteria that was first isolated from dead puppy fetuses in the middle 1960’s. It is the most common bacteria that can infect bitches and their fetuses.

 It seems that over the years much has been written on brucellosis in breeding dogs, but despite it all, infection rates may run as high as 8-10%. That is right, it is suspected that one in ten dogs in this country may carry Brucella canis.

Brucella canis also poses a significant public health hazard since it is transmissible to humans, especially those handling aborted fetuses. Humans may develop a serious liver impairment or arthritis.

Medical advancements in controlling this disease have been few and far between. Contrary to some opinions, it is a very difficult disorder to treat, and in most cases, treatment is unsuccessful. A prevalent attitude among many people is that "if my dogs get it, then I will treat it." This is a serious mistake because you probably will not cure it, and if you do, the individual will probably be sterile or be a poor breeding specimen.

Transmission of Brucella canis

B. canis is sexually transmitted by the mating of infected males and females. Brucella canis in the female dog will live in the vaginal and uterine tissue and secretions for years, and except in rare cases, for life. The infected female usually appears healthy with no signs of disease or indication that she is a 'carrier' or harborer of the organisms. She can spread the bacteria to other animals through her urine, aborted fetuses, or most commonly through the act of breeding. Once pregnant, the bacteria will also infect the developing fetuses causing illness.

In males, the Brucella bacteria live in the testicles and seminal fluids. An infected male is just as dangerous as the female as he can spread the Brucella bacteria via his urine or semen. Oftentimes, there are no signs except in advanced cases when the testicles may be uneven in size.

Litters are commonly aborted, usually in the last two weeks of gestation, or the puppies may die shortly after birth. If a pregnant dog aborts after 45 days of gestation, you should be highly suspicious of brucellosis. Usually, the fetuses are partially decayed and accompanied by a gray to green vaginal discharge. This discharge can have very high numbers of Brucella canis. If embryos die early, they may be reabsorbed and the female may never appear to be pregnant at all.

What are the risks?

The risks are great. Since the Brucella canis organisms are transmissible to humans, it is best to avoid all contact with the dead fetuses and their associated vaginal discharge. The infected mother will likely be unable to sustain a pregnancy in the future. Furthermore, she would likely transmit the disease to any male which breeds her causing fertility problems in him as well.


Testing for Brucellosis usually requires a blood test by your veterinarian and all positives should be retested for a confirmation. Since Brucella canis is mainly spread by the act of breeding, it is paramount to test all canines, male and female, prior to breeding. Test between every breeding of different animals. In other words, if a male (or female) was tested one year ago but has bred since, he must be tested again. In the case of a male, if he serviced a female since his last test, then he must be tested again even if his last test was as recent as four weeks ago. Testing is the only sure way to detect carriers.

In cases of abortion, the bacteria may be isolated from the aborted fetuses. Blood tests can also be performed on the mother's blood to help confirm a positive diagnosis of Brucellosis.


When possible, all incoming breeding dogs should be isolated for two weeks upon arrival at the kennel. At the end of two weeks, have the individual (male or female) tested by your veterinarian for brucellosis. Do this even if the dog was tested before shipment. This may seem excessive, but you will spend a lot more money if Brucellosis creeps into your kennel, not to mention the disruption in your breeding program and loss of genetic potential.

Artificial Insemination (AI) can lessen the risk of Brucella transfer at breeding. While rare, transmission of Brucella canis to a bitch can occur during AI, especially if infected semen is used. However, AI will protect an infected female from transferring it to a noninfected male.

All positive males and females should not be bred. Surgical spaying or neutering of these individuals is recommended. Various blood tests are available to screen breeding dogs (male and female) and identify those who are infected (carriers). All individuals used for breeding should be routinely tested prior to breeding.


There is no reliable treatment for Brucellosis. Brucella canis lives inside of the dog's cells so it is difficult to reach the bacteria with antibiotics. Any attempt at treatment would require the use of multiple types of antibiotics. Various antibiotics such as doxycycline, minocycline, and dihydrostreptomycin have been partially effective at causing a temporary reduction in the bacterial organisms after several weeks of treatment. A complete cure is unlikely. It is recommended that infected animals be castrated or spayed.

As a rule, do not breed your dog with an individual that is said to be treated and cured. (Unless of course it is the last of its breed and even that would be questionable.) 'Cured' patients often begin shedding the bacteria months to years after treatments... Do not knowingly take a chance.

Human health hazards

People can become infected with Brucella canis. People should avoid contact with dead fetuses or the discharge from aborting dogs. Transmission has also occurred from contact with secretions from male dogs.

In conclusion, test and isolate. Do not rely on an uncertain cure. If you do not heed these suggestions, then you are playing with fire in your kennel and perhaps with your own health. Remember, statistically one out of ten dogs may be carriers and those are very disturbing odds.

Copyright © 1997-2011, Foster & Smith, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Reprinted from

Wednesday, January 26, 2011


So here we go.  A whole new adventure. 
Breeding Bailey to Sophie.
 Sophie is a sweet, well-bred 3 1/2-year-old Vizsla.  

Her cute little sister Rose is just 2 years old.  She'll have to wait.

I have learned so much about the world of breeding over the last 4 months.  There is so much to this matchmaking.

Stay tuned. 

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Spenceville on a wonderful January day

Spenceville, California, is a ghost town.  Now in the rolling hills east of Marysville, nature lovers and hunters have access to thousands of acres of oak-tree-filled valleys and hills that surround this old copper mining town.
 The Spenceville area is used by sporting dog field trialers. 
Today at the break of dawn, Chloe and Bailey and our training gear got loaded up in the VW and we drove the 2-1/2-hour trip to the northeast.
 For a little over 2 hours I followed Bailey and Chloe on foot carrying my 20-gauge and blank gun as they ran through the fields that are used for the trials.  The training session was good and each time we go out Bailey gets a little better.  Bailey wore his training collar but we didn't use it much.  He was running very well.  Each repetition of an act that is done in the environment where it is expected is how dogs learn. 

After the training, we drove the short drive to the washed out bridge that used to go to the town of Spenceville.  A small bridge still goes over the small river.  We walked about an hour.  They had a good time swimming and exploring the area.

A great way to spend a 65-degree unusually nice January day.

HOW TO GET THERE: To get to the Spenceville Wildlife Area from Grass Valley, drive 12.5 miles west from Highway 49 in Grass Valley on Highway 20 toward Marysville. From the Marysville Area drive East on Highway 20. Turn south from Highway 20, at the Beale AF Base sign, onto Smartville Road. After .9 mile, take the left fork and continue on Smartville Road about 3.8 miles to Waldo Road. Continue along Waldo Road for 1.8 miles to the Waldo Bridge, which was built in 1901 to serve the now extinct towns of Waldo and Spenceville. After crossing the bridge, continue to the left along Spenceville Road for 2.3 miles until you arrive at the turnout and trailhead by the old, cement bridge and abandoned mine site.

Description: Spenceville Wildlife Area is comprised of 11,942 acres of blue oak - gray pine woodland characteristic of the Sierra Foothills. The terrain of the area varies from 200' to 1200' elevation. The wildlife area is bordered on the west by Beale Air Force Base and on the north, south, and east by privately owned ranches. There are numerous ponds, creeks, trails and riparian zones in the area.

Recreational Use: Type C Wildlife Area - no permits, passes, or reservations are required except for spring turkey hunt.

Fishing - Fishing best for largemouth bass, bluegill, and catfish in the following waters: Pittman, Horseshoe, Little Dry Creek, Wood Duck #1, Spring Plot, and Upper Jones Ponds. Also Dry Creek, Little Dry Creek, and Cox Creek.

Camping - Camping from Sept. 1 through the end of spring turkey season in the designated camp Area only. Camping is limited to 7 consecutive days or 14 days total during the calendar year.

Dog Training - Allowed from July 1 through March 15 on areas designated by the Department.

Equestrian Trail Riding - Trail riding is limited to designated trails, graveled administrative roads (Pittman, Falls, Nichols, Jones), and within 25 feet of any wildlife area exterior boundary fence. No cross country riding is permitted. Equestrians may access the area at the designated camp area and the access gates on Waldo Road located by the corrals. Equestrian-drawn carriages - Only county roads open to vehicles may be used.

Bicycles - Bicycle use by individuals is restricted to graveled administrative roads (Pittman, Falls, Nichols, Jones) and county roads. The roads listed above are all gated with white pipe gates.

Archery - Target practice at the public archery and/or shooting areas only. Archery equipment may be possessed on the wildlife area during legal archery season starting September 1.

Target Shooting- Target shooting is permitted at the public target shooting area where only paper and clay targets will be allowed and must be removed prior to leaving the shooting area.

Group Use - Permits must be obtained from the department to schedule all group use events.

Hunting: Allowed September 1 - January 31 for all legal species and during spring turkey season. Reservations are required for the first nine days of the spring turkey season.

Bobwhite are considered quail and may be hunted during the local California quail season.

Bobwhite (leftover after dog field trials) - usually found in the open areas.

Ghost Towns of Northern CaliforniaGhost Towns of Northern California

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Protest against pure breeds at dog show in SF

Russian Soviets in 1945 thought mutts were the only kind of dogs people should own. 
The Hungarian Vizsla was a symbol that represented the Austria-Hungarian royalty.  The Soviet Army overthrew Hungary in 1944.  If you were Hungarian at the time, it was not good for your health or finances to own a Vizsla. 
According to one account, people who owned Vizslas were taxed 25% of their total income per dog during the ensuing years under Russian rule

The royalty is what the communists had overthrown in Russia in 1917, and the pure-bred hunting dog was the symbol of the aristocrat's power.

This part of the Vizsla's history fascinates me and is one of the reasons I got this breed.  A dog breed that goes back 1,000+ years was almost completely eliminated because of a political agenda.
In San Francisco, a modern-day version of this theme will be expressed on
January 29th.

Here is the call for action by a group called:
United For Animals

"Protest against GOLDEN GATE KENNEL CLUB dog show!"

WHEN: Saturday, January 29 · 12:00pm - 3:00pm

Sunday, January 30 · 12:00pm - 3:00pm

WHERE: Cow Palace   2600 Geneva Avenue  Daly City, CA

DETAILS: Signs, banners and leaflets provided.

"PLEASE WEAR ALL BLACK and LEAVE YOUR COMPANION ANIMALS AT HOME PLEASE. Bring extra dog collars and leashes for display!

We will have a "body bag" display to symbolize the 3-4 millions of animals killed at shelters because of breeding. We will also have someone in a dog costume and a "euthanasia technician".

Our message will be that not only can you rescue pure bred dogs from shelters and rescue groups, but more importantly, it is not about what the dog looks like!

People adopt animals because of the joy, love and complete loyalty they provide us, completing our lives and filling them with happiness.

If people who buy dogs from breeders "love the breed" they would not contribute to the death and suffering of dogs in shelters of that same breed.

Please come out and be a voice for these animals and let people know that breeders KILL shelter dogs' chances at LIFE!"

This group should have read the SF Chronicle article about breeding and dog ownership published just a few weeks ago:

Yogi in England

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Vizsla Video - 15,000 have viewed redbirddog

The above video about the Vizsla was produced and released in 2007.

Since mid-2009, I have been blogging here at redbirddog.

15,000 times people have come to check out what strange Vizsla information or story might be posted.

32,000 pages have been read or a least pictures looked at. These are stories from what we have learned or experienced owning and caring for Chloe and Bailey.  We hope you have enjoyed the stories and pictures.

This blog was patterned after the way author, Ted Kerasote wrote "Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog,".

The book is a mixture of stories and facts about his dog Merle, and dogs in general.

 It made for a great read.  I learned many things about our canine friends reading this book.

 This might be the best dog book written since "Call of the Wild."

Merle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking DogMerle's Door: Lessons from a Freethinking Dog

Every corner of the world is represented in the love of this regal breed.   The map on the right of the blog can be clicked on to show where Vizsla lovers have visited this blog from all over the world during the last 10 days.

My wife and I have just returned from a 90-minute walk up in the hills with Chloe and Bailey.  Like the embedded video explains: the Vizsla will stay around and not get lost.  Now they are asleep next to me on the couch as I post this. 

My red dogs could not be happier and neither could I.

Happy trails and trials and watch for more posts over the coming months.

Straight talk about canine intestinal worms...

“Straight talk about canine intestinal worms and how they can affect your hunting dog’s performance”.

One of those subjects that we really need to keep in mind.  Bailey and Chloe spend many hours a week in open fields with ponds, streams, cows, other dogs and wild life. 

The chances for them coming in contact with heartworm and intestinal worms is fairly great.

Good videos put together by Safeguard.

Types of Canine Intestinal Parasites

By Sophie Stillwell, eHow Contributor .

Types of Canine Intestinal Parasites

Mary Van der Byl,

Many different types of canine intestinal parasites can infect your dog.

Because different types of canine intestinal parasites can present the same symptoms, it is important to find out which parasite has infected your dog in order to find an effective treatment.


Protozoans are single cell parasites. Common canine protozoan infections include giardia, isospora, and cryptosporidium. Each of these canine parasites can cause diarrhea or watery stools in a dog.

They are usually passed on by a dog eating the feces of another dog or by stepping in the feces and licking it off the paws. Most dogs build up a natural immunity to protozoans over time and puppies are most likely to show symptoms of this type of canine parasite.


Flukes are a canine parasite that affects dogs in certain areas of the northwestern or mid-western United States and central Canada. Dogs pick up this parasite by eating raw fresh water salmon, snails or crustaceans such as crayfish.

They can infect the intestines and sometimes the brain of an infected dog. They often go undiagnosed because there aren't many symptoms present until a brain infection is lethal.

Tape Worms

Tape worms are a canine intestinal parasite passed on by a dog eating the feces or raw flesh of an infected animal, such as another dog, a cat, or a wild animal.

Tape worms can also be passed on by eating raw fish or a flea that is carrying the eggs of the parasite. Tape worms shed segments of themselves into the feces and the eggs are contained within these segments. Dogs infected with the parasite experience occasional diarrhea and may have unexpected weight loss.

Other Worms

Other worms that can infect a dog include roundworms, hookworms and whipworms. Each of these canine parasites can be transmitted by a dog eating the feces of another infected dog.

Hookworms can also be transmitted through the skin on the paws, and roundworms can be passed from a pregnant dog to her unborn pups. The most common sign of infection is bloody or loose stools with mucous present. Puppies will also often have bloated tummies when they are infected with roundworms.


Some canine intestinal parasites can be fatal. If your dog's stool appearance has changed, particularly if he has diarrhea or bloody stools, you should have him tested and treated right away.

Read more: Types of Canine Intestinal Parasites

Monday, January 17, 2011

2010 Vizsla AKC Awards

  Published in AKC AWARDS

The summary of awards for 2010:

 Agility - 348

 Field  - 306

 Obedience - 50

 Rally - 141

 Show - 245

 Tracking - 1

"The field numbers are mostly (roughly 2/3) for junior hunter, but I think if you look a the effort overall into that venue, it bodes well for our breed that people still care something about field. " Sharon Simpson Vizsla Talk 1/16/11

Field Champion - 17

Amateur Field Champion - 18

National Amateur Field Champion - 2 

National Field Champion - 1

National Gun Dog Champion 1

Junior Hunter - 192

Senior Hunter - 40

Master Hunter - 35

Maybe one day Bailey can add his name to the list of Field Champions

Sunday, January 16, 2011

The Alpha Female of Vizsla Rescue

Kay and Bailey in front of Kay's rescue van.

 Kay Ingle, the driving force of Vizsla rescue in California, is also the breeder who gave us
Highlander's Bailey's Wildest Dream ( Bailey.) 

Kay went to the extraordinary measure of flying her female in the spring of 2008 to the Mid-West to breed to a stud of champion dog lines.   

For many years, Kay has tirelessly brought unwanted Vizslas and hopeful adoption homes together.  She tackles some of the hardest cases to adopt with love and compassion.

She has to be an Alpha female to deal with all the dysfunction that comes with the issues in this world.  Tough decisions have to be made with people's "throw away" dogs. 
In her spare time, she walks and talks with people interested in the breed during Vizsla Walks.

Vizsla Rescue Haven should be supported by all those looking for a good cause in the dog world.

Picture of Bailey - now all grown up at 2 1/2.
Kathi Boyd doing a quick "stack" in the parking lot

Gathering of the Northern California Vizsla faithful

Yesterday, Joanie and I joined 50 other dedicated Vizsla owners at the annual awards luncheon.

New officers for 2011 were elected for the Vizsla Club of Northern California.  Five very good new officers were elected and the Vizsla in the northern part of California (and northern Nevada) is in fine hands.

  The commitment to the well-being of the breed and the continued efforts of rescue of Vizslas in the west are the high goals of the VCNC.
 We are proud to be members of such a dynamic group of individuals.
 Many of my role models in the sport of field trialing were sitting around the tables exchanging stories and sharing a wealth of knowledge on the breed.

Thank you to all of those who work and have, for years, worked so hard to make the Vizsla a "world class" dog on the West Coast. 

For more information on the Vizsla Club of Northern California.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Just a couple cool Vizsla pictures

No real reason to post this picture except for the fact that it has two Vizslas and one of the coolest airplanes ever to fly.

A simpler time.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Getting ‘round in a field trial

Written from the back lounge of the Lazy Daze on Saturday night January 8th.  It's 4 p.m. and the light from the foggy day is starting to fade in the east.

 The temperature has hovered just above freezing all day, but at least the fog was not down in the valleys like it had been over the last couple of days.

Here, at the Sutter Buttes Pointing Club field trial, we have just finished running all the entrants in “open gun dog.”

This group was made up of 28 dogs. The event is run in braces of 2 dogs at a time from horseback and Bailey and I was brace number 14. Last of the day.

 Of the 28 dogs that ran, Bailey was the only dog handled by an amateur.

The rest of the handlers were professional dog men.  Most with an average training history with pointing dogs of 25 years. Some 40+ years.
I will not deal with the details of Bailey’s "run."  I was following him on horseback giving him directions from the saddle.

Field trials can only be explained poorly in writing. It is kind of like explaining rugby or baseball to someone who has never seen either sport.

 A friend call it; "trying to explain the taste of chocolate to someone who has never tasted it."

To sum the contest up.

The trial was 30-minutes long and Bailey did everything correctly. He had honored another dog’s point, had found and held through the flush and shot (blank gun) and had ran well through the oak studded foothills of the Sierras where we were  competing.

So did I win? No.

This is a judged event and you can get around “clean” and not make any actual mistakes, but still not place. There were 27 other dogs. They only give placements to the top four dogs. The rest of us, that made it around clean, just were not in that group of 4.

That is OK. Bailey and I held our own. He did some things very well and is becoming a respected newcomer to the sport.
Comments of “So this is Bailey. I ‘ve heard about him. Good looking dog.” After our run, several words of encouragement from the pros and others in the gallery.

Bailey, at 2 ½, is young. We are running with some of the best dogs in the West and not embarrassing ourselves.

I’m good with that.

After I wrote this, the next morning ,I was told Bailey had made it as the second alternate on the “call back” for the retrieve.  He was not used on the call back when it was all done.

 He had placed 5th out of 28 dogs. I’m very good with that.

The addiction is taking hold.  I was told it might. 

Those who find this boring, I understand.  I would not have cared not that very long ago. 

Now there are few things that I find more exciting than following a couple good pointing dogs as they do what God intended them to do.

Find birds and point them "steady with style."

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Maybe I really wanted to be a cowboy

I'd never pretend to be a cowboy.

When I am mounted on a horse following Bailey, as he hunts for upland birds during a field trial, then I can feel what it might be like. 

These field trials usually occur far from the cities and other human activities.

It is always a good feeling! 

Baxter Black says it well in the above video.

The Back Page: The Best of Baxter Black from Western Horseman

Rethinking spay & neuter in 2011

By Geneva Coats R.N.

Genetics Editor / January 2011

"Is Pet sterilization a purely beneficial routine procedure?  Most breeders today sell companion puppies under contracts requiring spay or neuter as a condition of sale.
Ingrained in current culture is the notion of pet overpopulation and to prevent the deaths of animals in shelters all pets should be sterilized. To bolster that campaign, we are told that a sterilized pet is happier, healthier and longer-lived than one who remains intact.      What are the facts?


In the mid-twentieth century, there was an abundance of pets; many were available “free to good home” via newspaper ads. Few pets were sterilized, and many people unwisely allowed their dogs to roam the neighborhood, producing unplanned litters.

According to “Maddie’s Fund” president Richard Avanzino, in the 1970s, our country’s animal control agencies were killing, on average, about 115 dogs and cats annually for every 1000 human residents. This amounted to about 24 million shelter deaths every year.  Avanzino is also the former executive director of the San Francisco SPCA, and is regarded by many as the founder of the modern no-kill movement in the US.

"The Problem" of too many pets and not enough homes to go around began a huge campaign based on spaying and neutering pets. Vets began to routinely urge clients to sterilize their pets as an integral part of being a “responsible owner”. Planned breeding became a politically incorrect activity. A popular slogan today is “Don’t breed or buy, while shelter dogs die.”

The crusade for spaying and neutering pets has been very successful. A 2009-2010 national pet owners’ survey by the American Pet Products Manufacturers Association reveals that the vast majority of owned pets...75% of dogs and 87% of cats... are spayed or neutered. (As reported by the HSUS in Dec. 2009):

In recent years, according to Avanzino, annual shelter death numbers have dramatically declined to about 12 per thousand human residents, or about 3.6 million deaths each year. This amounts to a staggering 85% reduction in killing since the 1970s.  We have reached a nationwide pet shelter death rate averaging just 1.2% per population, effectively a “no kill” rate.

Feral cats and kittens account for the majority of shelter numbers, but many areas have actual shortages of adoptable dogs, particularly purebreds and puppies, and must import from other regions to fill the need. Dogs are being smuggled into the US by the thousands with rescue groups importing small dogs from Mexico, Brazil, the Caribbean, Taiwan and Romania, to name some of the most popular points of origin. The conservative estimate is that 300,000 dogs are imported into the US each year to meet the demand for pets.

According to shelter expert Nathan Winograd, every year in this country, approximately 3 million adoptable pets die in shelters.* At the same time, around 17 million US households are looking for a new pet. That is 17 million households above and beyond those who already will adopt a shelter or rescue pet. There are nearly six times as many homes opening up every year as the number of adoptable pets killed in shelters! It seems the greatest challenge these days is to find ways to match up the adoptable pets with the homes that are waiting for them. Breed rescues fill this niche admirably, but are privately funded and desperately in need of assistance in order to be able to effectively perform this service. Perhaps some of the public funds budgeted for shelters to kill animals could be better spent helping rescue groups who are proactive in matching adoptable pets to suitable homes.


Now that we have addressed the issue of pet overpopulation, let’s examine the claim that sterilization surgery promotes better health. While there are some benefits to sterilization, there are some drawbacks as well.

Sterilization will naturally serve to prevent any unwanted litters. In bitches, spaying will greatly reduce the risk of breast cancer, pyometra, perianal fistula and cancers of the reproductive organs.5

Spay surgery itself carries a somewhat high rate (around 20%) of complications such as infection, hemorrhage and even death.  Spaying significantly increases the rate of urinary incontinence in bitches….about 20-30% of all spayed bitches will eventually develop this problem. This is believed to be most likely caused by the lack of estrogen that results from being spayed.

Sterilization of males may reduce some unwanted sexual behaviors, but there are few other proven benefits to neutering a male dog. Testicular cancer is prevented, but the actual risk of that cancer is extremely low (<1%) among intact dogs. Contrary to popular belief, studies show that the risk of prostate cancer is actually HIGHER in neutered dogs than in their intact counterparts.

Several studies prove significant health risks associated with sterilization, particularly when done at an early age. The most problematic is a delayed closure of the bony growth plates. This results in an abnormal, “weedy” skeletal development that increases the incidence of orthopedic problems like hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. Working and performance dogs, if neutered before maturity, risk the inability to perform the jobs they were bred for.

But by far the most startling news to surface this year is the result of a study that shows that keeping ovaries to the age of six years or later is associated with a greater than 30% increase of lifespan in female Rottweilers.4 Similar studies in humans reinforce this finding.
A 30% longer lifespan means that you could have many additional years with your bitch simply by delaying spay surgery until middle-age or later.

Behavioral studies show that sterilization increases fearfulness, noise phobias and aggression. Other well-documented adverse health effects of de-sexing include increased risk of bone cancer, hemangiosarcoma, hypothyroidism, and cognitive dysfunction in older pets. Sterilization confers an increased susceptibility to infectious disease, and also a higher incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines.

So there is no need to feel obligated to sterilize for health or welfare reasons. But what about the need to protect the puppies that we sell from unethical breeders?


Many breeders are justifiably very concerned about their dogs being subjected to neglect or abuse by falling into disreputable hands. To help prevent such situations, it has become commonplace for breeders to include spay/neuter requirements in their pet sales contract, and/or to sell the dog on a limited registration. Another common stipulation, particularly for a show/breeding dog, is requiring that the dog be returned to the seller in the event the buyer no longer wishes to keep him.

Such contracts are highly effective when selling a puppy to someone who is honest and ethical. However, contracts are easily skirted by the unscrupulous, particularly if the buyer lives in a different region. Someone intent on breeding may do so regardless of contract language, and then sell the puppies without registration. And without personal knowledge of the living conditions at your puppy’s new home, it is impossible to predict what sort of care and attention he or she will receive. Even some show breeders may have very different ideas on what constitutes proper care. There is no substitute for a home check to follow up that initial puppy application!

Bottom line, the best insurance for your puppies is making sure that you get to know the buyer personally. If something about the buyer or his attitude doesn’t seem right, then it’s probably best to cancel the sale. If you want to sell puppies on spay-neuter agreements you might consider advising the buyer to wait until the puppy reaches maturity before having sterilization surgery performed. Another idea is to ask your vet if vasectomy would be a viable alternative to castration for your male. This would preserve sex hormones and possibly prevent some of the adverse health effects of castration.


Sterilization of all dogs sold as companions may have some unintended adverse effects. The nature of breeding for the show ring involves intense selection that severely narrows the gene pool in many, if not most, breeds. Some breeds started with just a small pool of founders. Through the years, overuse of only a few popular sires further reduced the genetic variety available in the breed. When troublesome health problems surface and become widespread, where can we turn for “new blood”?

The show-bred population of a breed may have become too small as a result of intense inbreeding or the genetic bottleneck created by overuse of popular sires; or the breed gene pool may have become genetically depleted because of unwise selection for specific, sometimes unhealthy physical traits favored in the show ring. As a result, dogs from the “pet” population may actually be the salvation of the breed gene pool.

Trying to guess which dogs are the "best" to keep intact for showing and breeding can be hit-or-miss. Imagine the scenario where a successful show dog eventually develops a heritable health issue, while his brother is much healthier...but brother was neutered long ago, thereby eliminating those good genes forever. What about that Champion's non-show quality sister, who has good health, great mothering instincts and the genetic ability produce exceptional offspring? If sold as a spayed companion, her genes are effectively lost.

And what about the very future of the dog fancy? Many people (myself included) bought an intact dog as a pet, and only later sparked an interest in showing and breeding. Developing new breeders is critical to the survival of our sport, but if we sell all companions on spay/neuter agreements, we will lose many fanciers before they have the chance to discover the joy of dog breeding and showing!

Sadly, mandatory sterilization laws are sweeping the nation and may further compromise the future of the dog fancy. AKC registrations continue to decline and the push to legally and/or contractually require spay and neuter of most every dog will only worsen that situation.

Regardless, there is a huge demand in society for healthy pets; a demand which the responsible breeders could not come close to meeting even if they wanted to...and sometimes, they do not want to. The choice we have as a society is how that demand will be filled. Many believe that only responsible people should be allowed to keep intact dogs and breed on a limited basis. However, the attempt to legally force well-regulated and inspected commercial breeders and the casual small home breeders out of the picture leaves only the unregulated, less visible "underground" producers and smugglers to fill the need for pets. Perhaps it is time to re-think our preconceived notions about who should and shouldn't possess intact dogs!

As a dog owner, one must weigh the risks of sterilization against the benefits in order to make that very personal decision. Popular culture and many veterinarians downplay or even ignore the risks involved with spay/neuter because of their own belief in the need to reduce dog breeding in general. Many people still believe that overpopulation remains a pressing concern and that sterilization always promotes better health. Some even believe that breeding a female is abusive. It seems the animal rights groups have done an excellent job of brainwashing the public on these matters!

As breeders, we may be wise to re-examine the routine request to have all our companion puppies spayed or neutered. The future availability of pets, the perpetuation of the dog fancy, the health of the individual dogs and the gene pools of the breeds that we love may all depend on keeping a few more dogs intact!

*An adoptable pet is one that does not have insurmountable health or temperament issues. Per California’s Hayden law: The California Legislature Defines No-Kill Terms ■ California Law, SB 1785 Statutes of 1998, also known as "The Hayden Law" has defined no-kill terms.

What is Adoptable? 1834.4. (a) "No adoptable animal should be euthanized if it can be adopted into a suitable home. Adoptable animals include only those animals eight weeks of age or older that, at or subsequent to the time the animal is impounded or otherwise taken into possession, have manifested no sign of a behavioral or temperamental defect that could pose a health or safety risk or otherwise make the animal unsuitable for placement as a pet, and have manifested no sign of disease, injury, or congenital or hereditary condition that adversely affects the health of the animal or that is likely to adversely affect the animal's health in the future."

Adoptable dogs may be old, deaf, blind, disfigured or disabled.