When the mantra of spay/neuter leads to the compromise of vet care.

I wanted to breed a litter of puppies this spring. I found the boy I wanted to father the pups. He was a little older, but still in good shape, wonderful personality; just a big sweetheart of a dog. He was a perfect match for my girl.

Unfortunately he was unable to breed on his own, so we tried helping, which involved AI (artificial insemination). Shortly afterwards, he developed a prostate infection. Not uncommon in older breeding males, it should have been relatively easy to get appropriate vet care. This big beautiful boy should still be with us; however, even though he went to a highly rated vet training facility, the students and staff vets expressed such distain about this being not only and intact dog, but a breeding dog, that it compromised his care.

The medications were initially given, but midway through his treatment, the medications were stopped allowing the infection to persist longer then necessary. Complications arose in the form heart arrhythmia (an irregular heartbeat). This wonderful dog suffered needlessly for weeks with a highly treatable condition, resulting in a premature death. He left us years too soon because the primary donors to the school will only fund the teaching of “the only good pet is a spayed/neutered pet”.

As one of this country’s highest-ranked vet schools, it’s sad to think there might be a generation of graduating vets that know as much about pet reproduction as Jane and Joe down the street that now have a box in the grocery store parking lot with the word “free” printed on the side.

When our breed national competition rolls around again, it will be bitter-sweet for me. The beautiful boy I chose to father the puppies should be proudly in the running for father-of-the-year, showing off his kids. Instead he will be remembered in memorial.

Spay and neuter has its place. If you don’t ever plan to breed a litter, by all means, don’t risk and unwanted pregnancy. I agree with spay and neuter; however, I am a much stronger proponent of responsible ownership and ethical breeding practices.

It just bugs me no end when I hear people talk about getting money quickly from a litter of puppies. With all the potential risks, vet bills and food, and time investment, the only way to “get rich quick” from breeding is to be a shady dealer that doesn’t care for the parent dogs who will destroy sick or handicap puppies at birth. Even with a healthy litter where everything goes well, a breeder is lucky to break even with their investment in the puppies. The loss of the parent dogs, puppies, and/or both are very real risks. With each litter I’ve bred, I was very pleased to be able to take a week of time off work when the puppies were born. My first litter did have puppies that needed additional vet care. I don’t breed for money; I breed for the passion of a well bred dog.


Marie Agun

I grew up in Washougal. Our family used to have cows, and so we always had the usual farm animals; cows, chickens, cats, dogs. When I was 11, some one dumped a young, silver point German shepherd near our farm. Unlike almost all dumped dogs, this one was lucky and we took him in. He turned out to be a pretty good farm dog. We called him Charley. My sister decided to enter Charley in 4-H obedience classes, and her little sister (me) always tagged along. One day, while my sister was working with Charley, I went back to the car. Someone had come to visit the obedience instructor, and in the back of the visitors’ car were two amazing, tall, thin, long haired elegant, majestic looking dogs. I was instantly smitten. I did see the person who owned the dogs, and I never learned who it was; but, I promised myself that some day I would have a dog like that. It took me 10 years to learn I’d fallen in love with a Borzoi aka Russian wolfhound. It was another 10 years for my first Borzoi to enter my life. Just how he came to live with me is another wonderful story. He was my love, he was an amazing teacher. He taught me a lot about dogs and life. I’m so glad he was part of my life. Since a lot of people don’t know much about Borzoi, I took it upon myself to learn as much as I could about the breed as I could. It’s only been 15 years now, so I’m still learning, and love to talk dog with anyone willing to listen.

Scroll to top