Dog boobs, 101

gabby-frankieI don’t get out enough. You may have already figured that out. Most of my days involve work, shopping, vet visits, dog shows and all the peripheral places I go to accomplish my mad existence. The dogs go with me to dog related events.  I acknowledge I live in the world of dog show people. Make your jokes or criticisms, it’s fine.

This nearly life-long isolation from the normal dog-owning world has made me realize my female dogs have an affliction. If you aren’t already aware, your dogs must be intact in order to compete with them in show conformation. Conformation is meant as an exhibition of breeding stock and therefore the dogs must not be altered in anyway. I like this. I think it’s an important part of showing dogs.

My girls are beautiful dogs and whether they’ve been bred or not, they are generally allowed to reach maturity before spaying them. I don’t fear a female’s heat cycle.  Vets will vilify it, pet owners will tell tales of its horribleness. You also likely have a grandma, an aunt or a brother who has a horror story about how their dog was knocked up and they didn’t even realize she was pregnant until the poor dog had her puppies on the living room floor.

We’re not going to delve into what constitutes a responsible decision when it comes to pet overpopulation. I will only say I have managed to make it this far in life without getting pregnant. By popular culture’s standards, being child free has been a hell of a lot more difficult than preserving my dog’s chastity. The average person can probably tell you everything about human reproduction, yet we still have the highest unintended pregnancy rate of any first world country.  The average person knows nothing about canine reproduction.  We can’t expect improvement in dog overpopulation when everyone’s still living in the mid-18th century.

Most days I don’t think about my dog’s sexuality. It is not foremost on my mind. I observe them for their healthfulness more than anything. A female dog who is mature has actual teats, her vulva is pronounced, her muscle definition may be better than her spayed counterpart. Dogs go through puberty physically and mentally. It is a natural thing.  Female dogs left intact through physical maturity are also less likely to develop urinary incontinence as older adults.

I brought a mature female dog into mixed company recently. A woman observing was absolutely convinced my dog was nursing puppies because her teats were clearly visible.  She was fixated on it. Should I get my dog a bra? Is my physically mature dog making the boy dogs go crazy? Women’s bodies are policed to the point of absurdity. Young women are blamed for mens’ poor behaviors and their lack of concentration in school. Apparently this gender policing extends to my dog’s body as well. I can hear feminism crying.

Though with dogs, society takes it to the point of spaying our females before they even have a chance to develop female characteristics.  Think of it this way. Would you give your 12 year old daughter a hysterectomy and expect her to have no long term health complications because of it? I’m vulgar for suggesting it? Just sit and think a minute.

I realize dog owners would like to achieve androgyny in their furry friends. This has been taken to the extent that average people can’t even recognize what a mature adult female dog looks like.  No, my dog is not pregnant and lactating. No, my dog isn’t going to instantly get pregnant with mutt puppies, just because she’s not spayed. Yes, my dog will have puppies someday. And no, I don’t feel bad about it because getting a dog is a personal decision, and not a moral one. If you want a dog, get the one that’s right for you. Follow your heart and leave my dog’s boobs out of it.