Neutering Dogs: Yes or No?
One of the most frequent questions asked of late by our puppy people here at Meisterhunde Rottweilers is if they should or should not neuter or spay their dog, as everyone in the dog industry has an opinion about this.
Below are some compiled articles and abstracts printed with permission on this subject so please read.
Dr. Becker: The Truth about Spaying and Neutering
If you ask your local shelter or Animal control service they will all say yes. Neutering animals is an important income stream for many vets, which is why so many vets will advise you to neuter
I agree with their philosophy if you only look at neutering or spaying as an overpopulation prevention method and to keep inbreeding and backyard breeding under control. If you would ask your local veterinarian what to do he will surely tell you to neuter or spay your dog. His advice will be health or temperament motivated. In my opinion it is more dollar motivated than anything else.
Many reasons will be mentioned to do this. The most common used is that it will control or even eliminated aggression or dominance in dogs. The reality is that this will only be true in a very small percentage of dogs.
Owners for years thought that neutering would cure dominance or aggression problems if the neutering was done before 1 year of age. Many including myself have since learned that I was dead wrong.
I used to believe that neutering would prevent older male dogs from developing prostate problems. Studies have since proven me wrong on that issue too. I use to think it will stop males from cocking his leg and peeing on everything, I was wrong there also.
Dogs that are born with one testicle should be neutered but not until they are 2 years old. If these dogs are not neutered they run the risk of developing testicular cancer at about 5 years of age. Neutering before 2 years is going to affect the dogs fight drive and working ability. Neutering after 2 years is not going to affect the dogs working ability.
Lots of new information is coming to light and professionals have now come to believe that neutering our dogs causes so many health issues with the dogs that it’s simply not worth the risk. Watch the video below and form your own opinion. I can tell you that we don’t neuter and we won’t neuter our dogs.
Dr. Karen Becker, a proactive and integrative wellness veterinarian, discusses all about neutering or spaying in pets.
Further thoughts & new studies by other professional have revealed the following…
A Veterinary Medical Database search of the years 1982 to 1999 revealed that in dogs with tumours of the heart, the relative risk for spayed females was over four times that of intact females.
For the most common type of cardiac tumour, hemangiosarcoma (HAS), spayed females had a greater than five times risk vs. their intact counterparts. Neutered male dogs had a slightly higher risk than intact males.
The study concluded that, “… neutering appeared to increase the risk of cardiac tumour in both sexes. Intact females were least likely to develop a cardiac tumour, whereas spayed females were most likely to develop a tumour. Twelve breeds had greater than average risk of developing a cardiac tumour, whereas 17 had lower risk.”
In a study of Rottweilers published in 2002, it was established the risk for bone sarcoma was significantly influenced by the age at which the dogs were sterilized.
For both male and female Rotties spayed or neutered before one year of age, there was a one in four lifetime risk for bone cancer, and the sterilized animals were significantly more likely to develop the disease than intact dogs of the same breed.
In another study using the Veterinary Medical Database for the period 1980 through 1994, it was concluded the risk for bone cancer in large breed, purebred dogs increased twofold for those dogs that were also sterilized.
It’s commonly believed that neutering a male dog will prevent prostatic carcinoma (PC) – cancer of the prostate gland.
But worthy of note is that according to one study conducted at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, “…castration at any age showed no sparing effect on the risk of development of PC in the dog.”
This was a small study of just 43 animals, however. And researchers conceded the development of prostate cancer in dogs may not be exclusively related to the hormones produced by the testicles. Preliminary work indicates non-testicular androgens exert a significant influence on the canine prostate.
Abnormal Bone Growth and Development
Studies done in the 1990’s concluded dogs spayed or neutered under one year of age grew significantly taller than non-sterilized dogs or those not spayed/neutered until after puberty. And the earlier the spay/neuter procedure, the taller the dog.
Research published in 2000 in the Journal of Paediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism may explain why dogs sterilized before puberty are inclined to grow abnormally:
At puberty, oestrogen promotes skeletal maturation and the gradual, progressive closure of the epiphyseal growth plate, possibly as a consequence of both oestrogen-induced vascular and osteoplastic invasion and the termination of chondrogenesis.
In addition, during puberty and into the third decade, oestrogen has an anabolic effect on the osteoblast and an apoptotic effect on the osteoclast, increasing bone mineral acquisition in axial and appendicular bone.
It appears the removal of oestrogen-producing organs in immature dogs, female and male, can cause growth plates to remain open. These animals continue to grow and wind up with abnormal growth patterns and bone structure. This results in irregular body proportions.
According to Chris Zink, DVM:
“For example, if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at 8 months when a dog gets spayed or neutered, but the tibia, which normally stops growing at 12 to 14 months of age, continues to grow, then an abnormal angle may develop at the stifle. In addition, with the extra growth, the lower leg below the stifle likely becomes heavier (because it is longer), and may cause increased stresses on the cranial cruciate ligament.”
Higher Rate of ACL Ruptures
A study conducted on canine anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries concluded that spayed and neutered dogs had a significantly higher incidence of ACL rupture than their intact counterparts. And while large breed dogs had more ACL injuries, sterilized dogs of all breeds and sizes had increased rupture rates.
In a retrospective cohort study conducted at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, results showed that both male and female dogs sterilized at an early age were more prone to hip dysplasia.
Other Early-Age Spay/Neuter Health Concerns
Early gonad removal is commonly associated with urinary incontinence in female dogs and has been linked to increased incidence of urethral sphincter incontinence in males.
Spayed and neutered Golden Retrievers are more likely to develop hypothyroidism.
A cohort study of shelter dogs conducted by the College of Veterinary Medicine University concluded that infectious diseases were more common in dogs that were sterilized at less than 24 weeks of age.
The Canine Health Foundation issued a report pointing to a higher incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines in sterilized dogs.
Among the reports and studies pointing to health concerns associated with early spaying and neutering, you can also find mention of increased incidence of behavioural problems including:
Undesirable sexual behaviours
Risks vs Benefits of Early Sterilization
Every important decision in life comes with risks as well as benefits.
As responsible animal guardians, I believe we owe it to our pets to make the best health choices we can for them.
As responsible members of society, we owe it to our communities to proactively protect our intact pets from unplanned breeding at all costs. We must hold ourselves to the highest standard of reproductive control over the intact animals we are responsible for.
Clearly, there are health benefits to be derived from waiting until after puberty to spay or neuter your dog.
However, there are also significant risks associated with owning an intact, maturing pet.
How seriously you take your responsibility as a pet owner is the biggest determining factor in how risky it is to leave your dog intact until he or she matures. If you are responsible enough to absolutely guarantee your unsterilized pet will not have the opportunity to mate, I would encourage you to wait until your pet is past puberty to spay or neuter.
If you are unable to absolutely guarantee you can prevent your dog from mating and adding to the shameful, tragic problem of pet overpopulation, then I strongly encourage you to get your animal sterilized as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Please note: I’m not advocating pet owners keep their dogs intact indefinitely (see below). I’m also not suggesting that shelters and rescues stop sterilizing young animals before re-homing them. Shelter organizations can’t determine how responsible adoptive pet owners will be. In this situation, the risk of leaving adoptable animals intact is simply unacceptable. Shelters and rescues must immediately spay/neuter pets coming into their care, and many if not all do this and have now for years.
If you’ve adopted or rescued a dog sterilized at an early age, I encourage you to talk with your holistic veterinarian about any concerns you have for your pet’s future well-being, and what steps you can take now to optimize her health throughout her life.
There is no one perfect answer to the spay/neuter question that fits every pet, and each situation should be handled individually.
For Responsible Pet Owners, Decisions about When to Spay or Neuter Should be Part of a Holistic Approach to Your Pet’s Health and Quality of Life
If you own an intact pet, I can offer a general guideline for timing a spay/neuter procedure.
Your dog should be old enough to be a balanced individual both physically and mentally. This balance isn’t achieved until a dog has reached at least one year of age. Although some breeds reach maturity faster than others, many giant breed dogs are still developing at two years of age.
Other considerations include your dog’s diet, level of exercise, behavioural habits, previous physical or emotional trauma, existing health concerns, and overall lifestyle.
If you own an intact animal and need to make a spay/neuter decision, I encourage you to first learn all you can about surgical sterilization options and the risks and benefits associated with the procedures.
To neuter or not neuter your dog remains a difficult question and depends on many factors. When it comes to diminishing aggression or dominance the best advice I can give you is go back to basics and re-establish the pack structure within your family, go in training and seek professional help. Many of or dogs behavioural issues can be dealt with via training and sound pack ground work and leadership. Unfortunately for many dogs most people see themselves as natural leaders when in fact they don’t have a clue what they are doing. With the right training and professional help dog owners can learn how to become consistent leaders. It is a mandatory skill that every dog owners should have and if not born with it (Not many of us are), every dog owner should make the effort to learn even if it’s just the basics.