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Unread 05-07-2012, 01:39 PM   #1
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Default Testosterone in female dogs

One of Nellie's trainers -the one who lasted the longest and actually saw her in full tasmanian action - once commented that she (Nellie) was displaying some masculine tendencies, and asked me a lot of questions about how many puppies there were in her litter, when was she spayed etc etc.

She was quite persistent in her theory that Nellie may have been born with excessive testosterone in her body, perhaps due to her position in the womb (Nellie had more brothers than sisters). She was convinced that this explained Nellie's aggression towards her siblings, and towards us when handling her even at only 8 weeks old. She expanded on this theory by explaining that when we had Nellie spayed at the age of 15 months - 3 months after her first season - we effectively removed her means of regulating these higher-than-normal testosterone levels through the production of......progesterone? Or is it oestrogen, I can't remember?!

She repeatedly suggested having some tests done to check her hormone levels, but a) don't forget hubby is not on board with any theory other than that Nellie is "spoilt", so he would never let me go as far as having blood tests, and b) I was afraid that everything would be normal and we would right back to simple poor ownership.

So, I didn't pursue it (perhaps one reason why the trainer lost interest in us). But I did read something within another article recently, which suggested that behaviour in female dogs such as cocking a leg to pee, and even scent marking with the front paws, are actually masculine behaviours. There was no commentary with regard to hormones, but even so I was interested to read that such manoeuvres were considered limited to male dogs - I thought all dogs marked with their front paws, and figured that leg-cocking in females is simply an effort to mark their chosen object a bit higher. Also, my mother-in-laws Patterdale cocks her leg.

However, given that Nellie has always marked exclusively with her front paws (we call it wheel spinning ), and does indeed cock her leg to pee - I was paying attention today, and sometimes she looks for all the world like a boy dog marking a lamppost - I'm wondering if there wasn't more to the trainers theory than I first thought.

I haven't been able to find any studies on it - has excessive testosterone in females ever been studied, beyond that relating to thyroid dysfunction? Does anyone know anything about it?
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Unread 05-07-2012, 02:48 PM   #2
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Hi Sue No not really but it would make sense more than your hubby sorry he is so ignorant on this! Look at the facts Sue Nellie was agressive towards her other litter mates and she's been agressive since you had her it's nothing to do with spoiling her! I would check the thryroid glands and have a blood test but also continue with BAT Training. it's either that
or put up with Nellie for the rest of her life! I know which one I would choose You have been searching for a answer for such a long time You deserve this to work for you and Nellie! Re a trainer I would try and find one that uses BAT Training there must be some in the UK! Good luck Sue Let us know how you get on!
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Unread 05-07-2012, 03:10 PM   #3
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I'm not aware of any research, although I have heard about similar hormone imbalance in some spayed females (no links in English, sorry, and none of it very official either) but that has to do with the spaying itself. Some dogs - I believe both males and females - do have too much testosterone, and testosterone is of course linked to aggression. However, the big production of testosterone doesn't get started until puberty, I believe, so I find it strange that an 8 week old puppy would be so excessively filled with testosterone. An excess of testosterone, especially if it's so very early, should also lead to physical changes. Is Nellie built like Schwartzenegger?

(Lots of disclaimers here though, of course. This is certainly not my area of expertise! )

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Unread 05-07-2012, 03:17 PM   #4
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Sue, good question. I'm not sure I agree with the trainers theory, but it might be worth having Nellie's levels checked. I do know that spay/neuter does lower testostrone levels in both male and female dogs. I guess I'm not understanding her relationship of inbalanced hormones creating an agressive puppy. (that is if I've read your post correctly) Nellie may have been agressive towards her litter mates and you at a young age of 8 weeks old, but Harley came home to us at 7 weeks old, and was food agressive and hated human contact. I blame the breeder. So, now that you got me wondering, I'm off to the internet to do some research....

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Unread 05-07-2012, 04:20 PM   #5
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MM that would make sense, but there must occasions where the thryroid gland can be faulty at even at 8 weeks could happen but things like bad genes can cause abnormalites it's probably quite rare but there is nothing stopping it from happening! I too like Dee would have the thyroid gland checked out to rule out this as a definate cause.
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Unread 05-07-2012, 05:14 PM   #6
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Lucy usually lifts her leg to mark. She swats when we tell her to 'go piddle'. Sometimes one, sometime the other. We have no idea of her age when spayed.
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Unread 05-07-2012, 05:40 PM   #7
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I think the theory was that being sandwiched between 2 males in the womb somehow gave her a hefty dose of testosterone from the get go....??

If that is in any way possible it would lend credence to the idea that Nellie was literally born bad-tempered....however, like you Dee I blame the breeder in that the litter were in an outdoor kennel with just an infra-red heat lamp during the day and their mother at night, even as young as 8 weeks. They weren't accustomed to human contact really.

However, going back to the trainers theory, she felt that Nellie's hormones may have balanced out as she went through adolescence, but as we spayed her promptly at 15 months she no longer had the equipment to produce progesterone. The result supposedly being, that she is permanently afflicted by higher than average levels of testosterone.

I must admit I don't reeeeeeally buy it.....Nellie was taken from her mum too young, she wasn't accustomed to a human family or being handled much, she came from a working hunt kennels from good working stock but she is nervous and spooky by nature. My numerous errors with her socialisation in the early days, her adrenalin addiction fed by going to work too early and for too long, and my own anxiety about it all, have made her what she is.

I was just mildly interested in the testosterone theory!

ETA - JGLi kindly sent me a link to an article, and although I can't quote from it as its a PDF, there IS some research which actually supports exactly what the trainer said - that basically, exposure to testosterone perinatally - or in critical periods, such as adolescence - can develop the brain in a way which (summarising) predisposes an aggressive response when under the influence of testosterone. Or, the exposure to testosterone in a critical period perinatally or prepubertally cause the brain to mediate male behaviour in females.

I'm no scientist and I may not have interpreted that correctly, but it's fascinating isn't it?
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Unread 05-07-2012, 05:51 PM   #8
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Sue was the other pups placed in homes too early as well? I certainly wouldn't write off the therory why not at least call your vet and put this therory to him. I would be interested to know his/her answer I hope to god that breeder isn't still in buisness
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Unread 05-07-2012, 06:02 PM   #9
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Yes they were Dave, I'd love to know where they all are and whether they are all as tricky as Nellie!

It was an amateur breeder, literally making a few quid out of breeding some Patterdale puppies. She seemed very impatient to be rid of them and insisted that they were perfectly old enough and no longer needed their mum.
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Unread 05-07-2012, 06:19 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CurlySue View Post
Yes they were Dave, I'd love to know where they all are and whether they are all as tricky as Nellie!

It was an amateur breeder, literally making a few quid out of breeding some Patterdale puppies. She seemed very impatient to be rid of them and insisted that they were perfectly old enough and no longer needed their mum.
I think that's all she was interested in 'The money' and not the welfare of the pups! It's breeders like her that give the industry a bad name!
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