All Dogs Go to Heaven

Animals at the end of life

Rocky Has Big Balls (But They’re Fake)

Testicular implants for dogs

On an episode of Keeping Up With the Kardashians, the family decided it was time to have their boxer, Rocky Kardashian, neutered. His raging hormones were causing trouble around the neighborhood. Like a growing number of people, the family decided to have Rocky’s real testicles replaced with silicone implants called “Neuticles,” so that Rocky could maintain his macho appearance and self-esteem after the surgery. According to Neuticles website, over 250,000 pets have been neutered with Neuticles in all 50 states and 49 countries.

“Neuticles allows your pet to retain his natural look, self-esteem and aids in the trauma associated with altering.”

Neuticles are available in a range of sizes, from extra small to XXL (which you choose based on the size and weight of your dog, not your ego). You can choose from NeuticlesORIGINAL®, which are made from polyprophylene and feel “rigid,” or NeuticlesNATURAL®, which are made from silicone and feel soft and squishy, like the real thing. Pricing for dog testicles runs from about $114 to $449 (for a pair—you can buy singly, as well). Neuticles are now also available for cats, horses, and bulls. The Neuticles website claims that neuticles have also been used in monkeys, water buffalo, and even small critters like prairie dogs and rats.

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The website claims that one of the most important reasons to consider neuticalizing (?) your dog or cat is to retain the animal’s self-esteem. Do male dogs really run around the dog park comparing the size of their testicles? Does having nothing “down there” except loose skin really harm a dog’s self-esteem? Pu-lease.

What about the so-called trauma associated with altering? Certainly the neutering procedure can be traumatic for animals—although it is a relatively minor surgery, it is surgery nonetheless, and requires anesthesia and a day spent at the veterinary office. But the Neuticles ad seems to suggest that the trauma has to do with the disappearance of the testicles. If it is, indeed, true that male dogs love to lick their balls (and many of them seem to rather enjoy this pastime), then maybe losing said appendages would be traumatic, or at least a little sad. But I’m not convinced. I’ve known plenty of neutered male dogs who still seemed to enjoy a vigorous “cleaning” of that area. But I could be wrong. Here is what the Neuticles folks say:

 My vet said my dog won’t know that he's missing anything. Is that true?

People know their beloved pet. Their pet can tell them when they are hungry, want to play, don't feel well, hide when approaching the vet's office or will get excited when driving by or going to the park- why wouldn't the pet know a familiar body part is missing? Would he know if his foot was cut off? Of course he would- its only common sense.

Maybe there is an important ethical concern here: we routinely take away from our companion animals one of the most basic aspects of their existence as animals: sexual union and reproduction and rearing of offspring. Although I have bought into the animal welfare dogma that neutering our animals is the only way to reduce the killing of unwanted animals and have obediently neutered my dogs and cat, I never do so without feeling sorry, and like I have stolen from them something important.

I suspect that the endorsement of Neuticles by certain humane organizations, including the ASPCA, boils down to the fact that some people who might otherwise refuse to neuter their male pets might be more willing, if the animal can retain its natural, macho appearance. And maybe this is a good enough reason to give a thumbs up to fake testicles.

You can check out the Neuticles website, and if you are interested, you can buy a Neuticles T-shirt, tank, or even earrings. (The earrings are, in fact, shaped exactly like little tiny testicles. Gotta have some!


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Bioethicist and writer Jessica Pierce, Ph.D., is the author of the forthcoming book The Last Walk: Reflecting On Our Pets at Life's End. more...

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