Someone asked a bit ago (I'm sorry, I can't remember who it was) if Connor is neutered yet or is going to be. The answer is not yet, but probably will be eventually - maybe. I've always been a strong advocate for spaying and neutering and the earlier the better right? Well, turns out earlier isn't better, not for the dog anyway.
Pediatric neutering (and I use that word for both male and female) has now been proven to have some serious health consequences, especially for highly active dogs, (for a good, easy to read overview of the issue click here). To reduce the likelihood of serious joint problems, particularly cranial cruciate ligament tears, it's best to wait until the dog's growth plates have fully closed - this generally happens around 12-14 months. In fact, there are no medical advantages in neutering a male dog. The issue is a lot more complex for females, but it is still best to wait until the dog is over 12 months
Early neutering has also been linked to increased anxiety and fear. Given that Border Collies are already highly prone to developing phobias, holding off on neutering Connor seems like a good idea. However, if he starts peeing on everything, trying to hump peoples legs and go chasing off after female coyotes, I'm very apt to change my mind in a big hurry. Just because there are no medical reasons for neutering male dogs, that doesn't mean that there aren't still a lot of very good reasons for doing so. Neutered dogs are generally a lot easier to live with,
especially if they spend time with other dogs. I see those more as training issues though, not a question of neutering.
Nearly all shelters now spay/neuter as early as 6 weeks old and I have very mixed feelings about this. It is one of the many reasons I ended up NOT getting a shelter dog. The only puppies that I found available at shelters in this area (which were all Pitt Bulls) had been neutered when they were 6 weeks old and I didn't want that. However, I fully understand exactly why they do it. From my own experience in shelter work, I know that if an animal leaves the shelter without being neutered first, it only has about a 1% chance of being neutered later regardless of contracts or pledges. If those animals are male puppies or kittens, they are almost guaranteed to be returned to the shelter when they are between 6 and 10 months old. I've seen it happen over and over and over. I've also seen the boxes full of puppies and kittens that show up a year later. Which is why I still think all shelter animals should be neutered before they get adopted even while I recognize the hypocrisy of not wanting it for my own dog.
On the other hand, I don't believe that un-neutered shelter dogs are really part of the over-population problem in this area - if over-population is really even the right term for it. Around here, there is a huge overabundance of unwanted pit bulls and a shortage of anything else. The one litter of mixed breed puppies I came across at a shelter three hours from where I live had a waiting list with over a hundred people on it. Those puppies were adopted out within hours of being made available. Another litter of puppies that had been brought up here from down south by a rescue group were adopted out the same day they got here. The problem is not a bunch of un-neutered shelter mutts reproducing indiscriminately, it's irresponsible breeders churning out puppies that no one wants. At the same time, the good breeders produce very few puppies and many have quit altogether because of the stigma attached to breeding.
There are also some other considerations now that didn't exist until a few years ago. New techniques such as zeutering are definitely something to consider. This process renders a male dog permanently sterile without removing the testes. It generally lowers the level of testosterone production without eliminating it altogether so the health issues of early neutering are not an issue. The technique is still very new though and, while it makes sense and seems safe, I have no experience with it. I'd want to learn a lot more about it before trying it on my own puppy.
So, like I said, it's complicated. Regardless of when, or if, or how Connor gets neutered, he is NOT going to be running around making unwanted puppies. He is just five months old right now and it really isn't an issue. If it becomes one....well, I'll figure it out when, or if, the time comes.