, Salem, MA


October 26, 2012

Which golden retriever would be the best fit?

Q: My husband and I have owned golden retrievers over the past 27 years. We are now ready to adopt another and are considering two dogs, both from different circumstances. One possibility is a 6-year-old male who has spent his entire life as a stud. If we adopt him, we would immediately have him neutered. My husband is wondering what effect neutering a dog who has spent his entire life having sex would have on the dog. My opinion is that it would calm the dog down. My husband thinks that it might affect his “psyche” and could potentially cause the poor boy to become depressed.

The second possibility is a 11/2-year-old female who was supposed to breed. The owner now wants to sell her. This gal has spent her entire life as an outdoor dog in a kennel and is not house-trained. We are wondering how difficult it would be to turn this outdoor dog into a pampered house pet. Would the dog get used to the idea of living indoors with her own comfortable bed? Not having kids, our dogs have been our family. Any thoughts on which dog might be the best fit?

A: Both dogs sound worthy and in need of a good home. The female will have to adjust to the comfy indoor life, but surely she is still very young and this should be no problem. As for the male, he’ll do fine, too. Your husband shouldn’t anthropomorphize (ascribe human qualities to) a dog that’s been a stud. Sure, this male dog has spent time mounting females, but the canine coupling cannot be confused with human sexuality. For dogs, it’s sheer biology. This retriever didn’t sprawl on satin sheets and enjoy a postcoital cigarette. He was a pup machine. After the neutering, this guy will forget he was ever a stud and enjoy life as a happy-go-lucky golden retriever.

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