As The Testicles Turns: A Soap Opera (Part One)

It was a dark and stormy night  It was a dog show. 

"Why aren't you showing that beautiful dog?!" said the well-regarded judge to Marti who was walking Kidd. 

And so begins our first episode of As the Testicles Turn...

Marti called the AKC: "May I show a dog who has had a vasectomy?"

The response went something like this: "Please Hold."

[discussion and rule book reading commences off camera].

"Y.E.S. You may show the dog if he has two testicles."

Marti counted -- there were two.

She showed the dog.

[Insert commercial break]

Months go by and then Marti gets a forwarded email from an AKC peep saying dogs with vasectomies shouldn't be shown. So she stopped showing the dog and tried to get clarification given the mixed messages from AKC -- no response to repeated calls and emails.

Enter the ATTORNEY [cue the scary music].

Marti's attorney reviews everything -- the second-hand email, and the AKC's Regulations and so on and so forth and renders an opinion: The AKC Regs only require two testicles -- they do not require that said testicles can ejaculate sperm.

[Off camera -- owners of some nice show males breath a sigh of relief given their dogs' non-existent semen counts -- I told you this was a soap opera].

Further, the attorney notes that per the AKC's own policies and procedures, changes in regulations need to be done using a specific process (i.e., not by any one person and then delivered via second-hand email).

And so Marti starts showing her dog again.

"Boo Hiss CHEATER," arises from some darker corners. "The dog is ALTERED and that is against the rules."

"Altered" means to change in some significant way. [Ahem -- like giving Cheque Drops to a bitch to alter fertility and to alter/add bulk and alter/grow coat?!]

Does blocking the vas deferens change the dog in a significant way? That is a fair question.

Whispered conversations: "Yes because conformation showing is to evaluate breeding stock and he cannot be bred."

[Off-camera: Owners of stud dogs who can't/won't do natural breedings are praying, "Please don't make ability to breed naturally a requirement" and others are lighting candles in hopes that decent semen counts don't become a show ring requirement.]

Get off the wagon train, Brothers and Sisters -- this is the 21st century!!! With advances in medical technology, a vasectomized male (human or dog) is capable of reproducing if those testicles are producing sperm -- true story. In other words, a dog with a vasectomy can breed a bitch and could get a bitch pregnant, although likely not in the same act.

But things are not convoluted enough -- let's add another plot twist: What if the snipping was less than successful and the vasectomized dog still has a SPERM COUNT?

[Cue tension music and insert commercial break]

Yes, Kidd has a sperm count AND he is producing fertile swimmers in his testicles AND he is capable of breeding a bitch.

The AKC is now working with Marti's attorney to sort this out. This situation is a great example of medical technology pushing the envelope faster than regulations can keep up, and creating a gray area in which honest, ethical peeps can and do have different points of view. We obviously need regulations to provide the needed clarification.

If Marti had intended to cheat, she would not have been open with the fact that Kidd had a vasectomy. Further, she properly queried the AKC in the first place, got the green light, and showed the dog. Since then it has become a big unfortunate and sometimes mean-spirited soap opera.

I am NOT involved in the AKC's process regarding Kidd's testicles. Let me be very clear: I have never been contacted by the AKC about this situation in any way, shape or form. I am NOT under investigation by the AKC.

My involvement is in two ways:

First, Marti is my friend; I will not stand by and have her trashed. At all times, she has handled this situation with integrity and transparency. And frankly, I wish more of her friends would stand up for her in the face of the vicious character assignation that is currently going on via Facebook (that is a trailer for Episode Two -- the Kidd Gloves are coming off, Friends).

Second, my opinion of whether a dog with a vasectomy should be shown is unimportant -- Marti is the owner of this dog and makes the decisions about his life. I remain as co-owner on Kidd for one reason only and that one reason is relevant: Because I co-own intact puppies until they are spayed or neutered, thereby rendering them unable to reproduce. Kidd can reproduce and therefore, I remain as a co-owner.

I am super sorry to spoil a good story with facts but it is required as we set the stage for tomorrow's episode of...





by Sue on Fri, 05/12/2017 - 08:21

Isn't seeing/knowing what a dog or bitch produces a big part of evaluating a dog/pedigree a breeder might want to introduce into their breeding program? Whether or not a particular dog/bitch is ever bred may be irrelevant. I want to see what his/her sire or dam produces.

While not the only way to evaluate a dog, the show ring is certainly one place to start, swimmers or no swimmers.

by Judy Dieter on Fri, 05/12/2017 - 09:38

I'm so sorry your friend Marti is going through this. It just takes me back to my "take" on the dog ( conformation) show world...Root canals are more fun.

by SharonM on Fri, 05/12/2017 - 10:50

OK, so as Mary-Ann knows, since we have had this discussion before, I do not think that dogs who have had a vasectomy should be shown in AKC conformation. The reason - they have been surgically altered, and AKC Regulations prohibit showing dogs that have been surgically altered. Months ago, I posed this question on one of the dog show groups on Facebook, and people were overwhelmingly against allowing vasectomized dogs to compete in AKC conformation. I was even playing the role of "devil's advocate" bringing up the some of the reasons to consider allowing it - nobody was buying it.

Some organizations do specifically spell out that vasectomized dogs cannot compete (such as ASCA). AKC does not at this time.

I do NOT think any owners of nice show dogs with non-existent sperm counts are breathing a sigh of relief - because, the rules do not require a sperm count to participate. As I am only too painfully aware, sperm quality is an issue in this breed. Also, a dog can be fertile and then 3 months later, he is not. I wish stud dog owners would be a bit more active in the management of their dogs' fertility - instead of waiting for an inquiry to do a semen analysis and then find out the swimmers aren't in good shape, I wish they checked their dogs every 2-3 months. Because, it takes about 2 months for any corrective measures to take effect. Anyway, back to the topic...

Many dogs that currently lack sperm are already in the gene pool - they previously sired pups. So, I can assure you, their owners aren't breathing any sighs of relief. Their dogs have 2 testicles - end of story. (Side note: in some cases, having 2 testicles is NOT enough, as in the case of a top-winning veteran show dog being DQ'd last summer because his two boys were not big enough, and were not the same size - so in the judge's opinion were not "normal" - and there is no room for arguing with the judge's opinion - no point in asking for a veterinarian to give an opinion.)

For me, the issue revolves around 2 points: 1)INTENT, and 2)SURGICAL ALTERATION. When an owner decides to have their dog vasectomized, the INTENT is to make him infertile for practical breeding purposes. Also, the dog is SURGICALLY ALTERED to achieve this. However, a vasectomy is not like neutering - the dog still has plenty of testosterone so this is not going to make the dog "easier to manage" - it will just prevent "oops" litters.

In other words, a vasectomy is basically the same as a spay. The only difference is that even an infertile dog - for that matter, even a dead dog - can still sire litters in the future using frozen semen. But, otherwise, vasectomy and spay are the same - there is no obvious evidence the surgical alteration has been done, and the intent was to render the dog incapable of reproducing.

The interesting thing about this particular situation, is that if the dog was "surgically altered" BUT the alteration was unsuccessful - does this mean the dog is "surgically UN-altered??" I do think it would be very simple to do semen analysis (along with DNA analysis to prove Kidd provided the sample) and if there are plenty of swimmers in there, I think the assumption would be that Kidd has not really been altered, That still leaves the question of "intent." Glad I'm not involved in this decision!!

I will conclude with this statement: although I disagree that vasectomized dogs should be eligible to compete in AKC conformation, in NO WAY is it fair to accuse Marti and M-A of cheating. There was no cheating involved.

by Mary-Ann on Fri, 05/12/2017 - 10:57

Your comments are appreciated -- I do not require agreement among my friends. In fact, I appreciate different points of view. You likely know my comments above are both serious and that I am also attempting to infuse some humor or irony into the conversation.

I do not see a vasectomy like a spay -- for one reason: A vasectomy does not prevent the dog from reproducing and a spay does. 

I can understand the position on being "altered" but boy -- what a slippery slope. As I have said - I am glad not to be the one who has to make the decision on this matter.

Thank you demonstrating how one might disagree while also acknowledging the other's good intentions. I appreciate that so much.

by SharonM on Fri, 05/12/2017 - 11:08

Yes, there are ways to disagree but still be supportive.

I do have one technical question - so, assuming a successful vasectomy, if sperm were later "harvested" from the testicles (for example, at time of neuter) can these be used to inseminate a bitch, or would conception need to occur in a test tube?

by Mary-Ann on Fri, 05/12/2017 - 11:14

Terri Z wrote an article about this - when removing testicles you can obtain a good amount of healthy semen allowing one to inseminate a bitch and also freeze for later insemination. And there are ways to extract sperm without removing the testicles but it seems as if that is not likely to result in enough to successfully breed a bitch without more advanced technology not yet widely available in the canine world.

Interesting stuff. It is not just human medicine where new technologies creates ethical challenges and difficult-to-answer questions.

by CA Heidi on Fri, 05/12/2017 - 11:10

Doesn't the AKC require surgical alteration for cosmetic reasons on some breeds? It feels to me, and I am volunteering that I am REALLY uneducated about nearly all things AKC, that the standards are kind of all over the place.

Or have I got this all wrong?

I can't see accusing a person of cheating if they called the AKC and asked. That's just being mean to say otherwise. I have read the Facebook thread in question, and it seems to be mostly vitriol. Not facts.


by keli on Sat, 05/13/2017 - 11:09

I think i'll stick to this in the future. and maybe being GodMommy and Nanny. God Bless you Breeders. So stressful !

by Marti on Sat, 05/13/2017 - 13:21

Are not the same. A spay cannot be reversed. A bitch that has been spayed cannot reproduce. Her coat changes A dog that has had a vasectomy can reproduce and they do not physically change.

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