Understanding the Macho Perspective When It Comes To Sterilizing Dogs

Dr. Patty Khuly

Male Perspective on Neutering

No, I didn’t suddenly grow a pair overnight. But I do have plenty of first-hand experience when it comes to knowing how men think on the subject of sterilizing their dogs. And it’s not always favorably.

Though women typically serve as primary caretakers when seeking veterinary assistance for household pets (in the U.S. it’s about 3 to 1 over men), a surprising percentage of my own South Florida clients hail from the testosterone club.

These Miami men are usually well-educated Hispanic males, but I get all kinds and and classes too. Consider a past case by way of example:

This guy was pretty typical of most of my male clients. A former Rottweiler owner, he’d recently “down-sized” his dog life with a pair of shelter pups of a smaller, mixed breed provenance.

Because "Trix" and "Twix" had just come in for their last “well-puppy” visits, discussing neutering was high on my list of agenda items. So, as usual, I prepared myself for the objections I typically have to overcome when braving these perilous waters with male clients of the visibly macho-man persuasion.

Treading lightly, I advanced the topic. And to my surprise, he blurted out the unexpected: “Oh yes, please! How soon can we do it?”

Somewhat shocked, but highly intrigued by this seemingly sudden change of heart on the subject, I couldn’t help but remind him how difficult it had been for me to convince him to neuter his past Rotties (one in particular had suffered significant distress with a recalcitrant prostatic condition for which neutering was eventually agreed to as the ideal solution).

Hence, why I posed the indelicate question that was on my mind: “Do you think you might be more amenable to neutering these boys because they’re small-breed dogs and not Rottweilers?”

The answer arrived hesitatingly, and in fits and starts, but he eventually confessed that it had been difficult for him not to personally identify with his larger dogs in this regard. He’d been resistant because of the empathy he’d felt for his big dogs’ loss of "manliness."

Reluctant as he was to finally admit it, not only were these smaller dogs less macho by design, but the fluffiness of their coats made their testicles an "out of sight, out of mind," non-issue for him. At least, that’s the conclusion we eventually (if a bit uncomfortably) arrived at.

Interesting, right?

Turns out that these dogs’ inappropriate marking behavior was a big deal for him too. Whereas it had been easier to curtail his larger dogs’ indoor marking, the little ones (presumably by virtue of their underfoot dimensions and their fluffy stealth), urinated with impunity on his furniture. Hence, the request for sooner-rather-than-later sterilization. (Neutering is no sure-fire cure for this, but it usually helps.)

This honest response jibed well with my typical findings. Though I seldom ask outright about male outlooks on neutering (some men can be quite hostile on the subject), I will happily query the occasional, receptive man.

Not only does this build my confidence with respect to discussing this delicate issue with other men, it means I gain critical knowledge on how to do “battle” when neutering becomes essential for an individual dog’s health (as in the earlier-described case of uncomfortable prostatic enlargement).

It’s exactly as Sun Tzu wrote in The Art of War (and Machiavelli parroted): "Know thy lot, know thine enemies, know thyself." Every veterinarian should adopt this motto when confronting her clients on this subject. Only then can we help our pet-owning clients make the best possible decisions on behalf of their individual dogs. After all, ‘tis not for us to judge.

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