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Spaying and "reactivity".

Owners of German shepherds are not imagining things. Females of that breed really do appear more aggressive after they're spayed. Hormonal changes probably are to blame, said researchers reporting on "effects of ovariohysterectomy on reactivity in German shepherd dogs" in The Veterinary Journal (Vol. 172, No. 1). The six researchers (including DogWatch columnist and behavior expert Dr. Katherine a. Houpt) conducted the experiment with young German shepherds at the Korean air Force Dog Training Center.

Behavior tests commenced four to five months after the spaying operations, when the animals were fully healed, and spayed dogs were compared to sexually intact dogs. During repeated tests, dogs in their home kennels were confronted by unfamiliar humans leading unknown dogs. If the kenneled dog barked or growled, bared its teeth, lunged or displayed other body-language signs of aggression, it received a high score for reactivity. Throughout the series of tests, spayed German shepherds were significantly more reactive than sexually intact German shepherds of the same age.

The researchers concluded: "Veterinary practitioners should inform owners that a bitch may become more reactive after spaying, either because they have lost the calming effects of progesterone or because elevated gonadotropins stimulate release of adrenal androgens." Noting that some of the most reactive dogs were snarling and wagging their tails at the same time, we conclude: Watch the teeth, not the tail.

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Title Annotation:german shepherds
Publication:Dog Watch
Article Type:Brief article
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Oct 1, 2006
Words:225
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