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Early v later neutering.; Discuss.
Topic Started: 10 Jul 2013, 16:18 (1,554 Views)
Seth's Servant
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I have always had the impression that early neutering was beneficial to dogs in many ways but got sent this today Linky. Sef's HD and stifle problems make me wonder if there's any truth in the matter and I'm sure someone on here recently left their dog to be neutered after their first birthday to try and minimise health risks (can't remember what one though).

So what do people think then?
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Indie chick
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Haven't got time to stop and read link at the moment but have to say I have worried quite a bit about Indie's numerous problems being down to having her spayed at 6 months which I had to do as part of the adoption contract. I did ask the orthopaedic vet if it had contributed and he said they didn't really know for sure but there was some evidence that spaying/neutering in general did :dunno: Looking back I can remember complaining about her being lame on and off on her front legs from before she was spayed, from about 4 months I think but it was so vague and came and went.
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Carolynleah
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I have always thought it best to wait till a dog/bitch is mature before neutering ~ I just gathered that from reading various articles, and have always gone along with it - I didn't get Nerys till she was 12 months, so left it till after her next season.
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BunterJo
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I have a wealth of scientific articles about spay/neuter!

Current thinking (from certain points of view) is to wait until fully mature, ie growth plates closed. However, there are other considerations for spay/neuter, such as no accidental breeding! Plus there may be other contributory factors to disease.

With larger breeds, I think I would wait until around 18 months maybe :dunno:
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AnnaH
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As I understand it, Bunter Jo is right, particularly with larger breeds there is a risk that the loss of the sex hormones can cause the growth plates to close too early, leading to under-developed joints.

However, that is a much bigger risk in large breeds, and in males, as the female hormones contribute significantly less to bone growth. You also need to weigh up the risks of your bitch getting accidentally pregnant, which is also not good for her health and of your dog getting behaviour problems. For instance, a friend's basset caught the trail of a bitch in heat, escaped, and was found 5 miles away, over several major roads. In his case, castration was significantly safer.

A lot of pedigree dogs particularly have genetic problems with their bones and joints, especially the hips and knees. The primary reason for that goes back to breeders and unhealthy show standards (not being judgmental, just stating facts). There are some things you can do to ameliorate that, but fundamentally the cause is not early neutering. Later neutering may help in some cases. However, be aware that organisations such as Guide Dogs for the Blind neuter relatively early and they report very few problems in their dogs (which is just as well as their dogs are worth tens of thousands of pounds and need to be very healthy to work).

Ultimately though, you have to be guided by your vet and your own personal circumstances. In the case of a wandering basset, and the risk of basset x dalmation unwanted puppies or basset x spaniel unwanted puppies, the choice was clear. And my mum's guide dog was spayed at 6 months old because as a working guide dog, she cannot be out of action while she's on heat.
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Indie chick
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With lots of rescues insisting on spay/neuter taking place at 6 months even with large breeds its not always up to personal choice unfortunately. We had to sign a contract agreeing to have Indie done at 6 months and last time I looked I believe that now includes getting your vet to sign something agreeing they will do it at 6 months.
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Seth's Servant
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Sef would have been about 8 months when he was done and he's a largish breed. Definitely something to think about if I had another biggish dog.
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AnnaH
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Indie chick
12 Jul 2013, 09:10
With lots of rescues insisting on spay/neuter taking place at 6 months even with large breeds its not always up to personal choice unfortunately. We had to sign a contract agreeing to have Indie done at 6 months and last time I looked I believe that now includes getting your vet to sign something agreeing they will do it at 6 months.
But the contract must have exceptions, for instance if the animal is too sick to have an operation at 6 months. I'm sure a rescue wouldn't want you to go against your vet's advice :wink:
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missuswilderness
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Having done loads of research (and got loads of conflicting evidence) I made the decision based on common sense that I wasn't having Douglas neutered until his bone plates were fused and he had finished growing. He is now 20 months and just about finished growing so is in for an x ray next month to check his bones have fused and can then be neutered. It made sense to me that hormones were part of balanced growth and that if he put energy into size, not hormone production, then I'd have problems with his conformation. At 80 kilos and 38" TTS I think he counts as a large breed dog :rofl:

The only thing that really worried me about leaving it was cancer... I found people spouting about early neutering leading to less incidents of things like osteo or other cancers. However, I couldn't find much hard clinical evidence to back it up. But the other side of me knows that the two I've had with osteo were both neutered late in adulthood and that, for example, 50% of neutered male rotties will get osteo. There are a couple of giant breed rescues in the States who neuter at 12 weeks and they say they have very long lived dogs. But again they don't seem to prove this :unsure:
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Indie chick
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AnnaH
12 Jul 2013, 21:23
Indie chick
12 Jul 2013, 09:10
With lots of rescues insisting on spay/neuter taking place at 6 months even with large breeds its not always up to personal choice unfortunately. We had to sign a contract agreeing to have Indie done at 6 months and last time I looked I believe that now includes getting your vet to sign something agreeing they will do it at 6 months.
But the contract must have exceptions, for instance if the animal is too sick to have an operation at 6 months. I'm sure a rescue wouldn't want you to go against your vet's advice :wink:
I think if the dog was too ill they would accept a delay but they wouldn't accept the delay on other grounds such as risks of neutering early, I'm assuming some people have tried that and so they are now asking you to provide a letter from your vet confirming they will undertake the operation at 6 months of age when you apply for the dog. I can see why rescues do that but I do think there should be some flexibility.
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BunterJo
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An interesting blog from Patricia McConnell, with links to some research articles

The Plot Thickens: Spay Neuter Effects & the Health of Our Dogs

I think with rescue, there are more issues involved than that of potential health issues from spay/neuter. Can you imagine the outcry if a rescue dog ended up with pups :err: Also, while studies show risk of osteo, I've not looked at the research closely enough to see if other variables could be a contributing factor. HD for instance is a much greater risk in overweight dogs.
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AnnaH
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BunterJo
13 Jul 2013, 11:06
An interesting blog from Patricia McConnell, with links to some research articles

The Plot Thickens: Spay Neuter Effects & the Health of Our Dogs

I think with rescue, there are more issues involved than that of potential health issues from spay/neuter. Can you imagine the outcry if a rescue dog ended up with pups :err: Also, while studies show risk of osteo, I've not looked at the research closely enough to see if other variables could be a contributing factor. HD for instance is a much greater risk in overweight dogs.
And of course, most of the very respectable organisation that use working dogs, such as Guide Dogs for the Blind routinely neuter early (6 months) because it would be impractical not to, and yet their dogs are generally the healthiest dogs around. They do tons of research to ensure the health of their stock as well, so its not just a case of doing and hoping it works out.

The main breeds they use are labradors, retrievers (goldies and flatcoats) and German Shepherds, and crosses of same, so they're all 'large breeds'
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Jazzlet
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I had Thorn spayed at six months as Hope ask you to, but in retrospect I wonder if letting her mature would have helped with her fears. She was kept in a shed with just her sister for company for her first five months and so missed all early socialisation. Thorn ris so much better than she was, but she is a very fearful dog and it can be heartbreaking to see. :( I don't know if having some hormones to boost her confidence would have helped, but as I said I do wonder ...
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Cloudy
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Penny and Lara were both spayed before their first seasons. Lara was going under anaesthetic for a lump removal so it seemed sensible to spay her at the same time. Penny was because the rescue she came from recommended it, she is nearly 9 now and seems no have no problems :fingers: She is large but not compared to Douglas! :laugh:
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AnnaH
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Jazzlet
13 Jul 2013, 14:09
I had Thorn spayed at six months as Hope ask you to, but in retrospect I wonder if letting her mature would have helped with her fears. She was kept in a shed with just her sister for company for her first five months and so missed all early socialisation. Thorn ris so much better than she was, but she is a very fearful dog and it can be heartbreaking to see. :( I don't know if having some hormones to boost her confidence would have helped, but as I said I do wonder ...
The male hormones, testosterone may increase confidence, but I'm not aware that the female hormones (oestrogen and progesterone) do the same. It's sad about your little dog but all you can do is work hard on training her that the world isn't dangerous by constant repetition and reward.

I have a friend whose retriever was so terrified of lampposts, she could hardly go out for a walk, so my friend spent hours visiting lampposts with a clicker and a bag of treats. The dog is now fine with lampposts.
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littlenutters
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Jazzlet
13 Jul 2013, 14:09
I had Thorn spayed at six months as Hope ask you to, but in retrospect I wonder if letting her mature would have helped with her fears. She was kept in a shed with just her sister for company for her first five months and so missed all early socialisation. Thorn ris so much better than she was, but she is a very fearful dog and it can be heartbreaking to see. :( I don't know if having some hormones to boost her confidence would have helped, but as I said I do wonder ...
Florence was also kept in a shed for quite some time before being discovered and given to rescue at 2 years old. She was neutered on arrival (so when she was mature) and she is also a nervous dog with issues. So maybe delaying neutering with Thorn may not have made a difference. :)





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AnnaH
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I had a Florence :) She was a little terrier/beagle/goodness knows what cross. We adopted her from a friend who was a vet. She was only 4/5 weeks old but she was the runt of the litter and her owners took her to the vets to be PTS because they couldn't sell her. She wasn't even weaned! We did our best, given that we knew nothing at all about dogs then, and bottle-fed her the first couple of weeks. We failed to teach her she was a dog and she was never comfortable with other dogs, unfortunately, but as we didn't know any better, we thought she was the perfect dog. Miss her tons. She died at about 14 years old, due to heart failure.
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missuswilderness
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Cloudy
13 Jul 2013, 15:34
Penny and Lara were both spayed before their first seasons. Lara was going under anaesthetic for a lump removal so it seemed sensible to spay her at the same time. Penny was because the rescue she came from recommended it, she is nearly 9 now and seems no have no problems :fingers: She is large but not compared to Douglas! :laugh:
Nothing is large compared to Douglas!

I can't wait to have him done. They are oranges swinging about :yikes:
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Blackmagic
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AnnaH
13 Jul 2013, 12:52
BunterJo
13 Jul 2013, 11:06
An interesting blog from Patricia McConnell, with links to some research articles

The Plot Thickens: Spay Neuter Effects & the Health of Our Dogs

I think with rescue, there are more issues involved than that of potential health issues from spay/neuter. Can you imagine the outcry if a rescue dog ended up with pups :err: Also, while studies show risk of osteo, I've not looked at the research closely enough to see if other variables could be a contributing factor. HD for instance is a much greater risk in overweight dogs.
And of course, most of the very respectable organisation that use working dogs, such as Guide Dogs for the Blind routinely neuter early (6 months) because it would be impractical not to, and yet their dogs are generally the healthiest dogs around. They do tons of research to ensure the health of their stock as well, so its not just a case of doing and hoping it works out.

The main breeds they use are labradors, retrievers (goldies and flatcoats) and German Shepherds, and crosses of same, so they're all 'large breeds'
According to Guide Dogs website

With the exception of breeding dogs, all guide dogs are neutered. Male puppies are castrated during the puppy-walking period at approximately 8 months of age. Bitches are spayed after their first season,
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AnnaH
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Blackmagic
14 Jul 2013, 13:05
According to Guide Dogs website

With the exception of breeding dogs, all guide dogs are neutered. Male puppies are castrated during the puppy-walking period at approximately 8 months of age. Bitches are spayed after their first season,
Interesting. They've obviously changed their policy in the last few years (my mum is blind and has a guide dog). But they do that in response to research so I tend to trust their judgement. They didn't used to wait for a bitches' first season. Now they do, so clearly that's the gold standard these days.

Thanks for researching that. I didn't think to look up their latest policy.
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Blackmagic
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AnnaH
14 Jul 2013, 16:14
Blackmagic
14 Jul 2013, 13:05
According to Guide Dogs website

With the exception of breeding dogs, all guide dogs are neutered. Male puppies are castrated during the puppy-walking period at approximately 8 months of age. Bitches are spayed after their first season,
Interesting. They've obviously changed their policy in the last few years (my mum is blind and has a guide dog). But they do that in response to research so I tend to trust their judgement. They didn't used to wait for a bitches' first season. Now they do, so clearly that's the gold standard these days.

Thanks for researching that. I didn't think to look up their latest policy.
It is good to know that even after their years 'in the business' they are still open to new research.
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Pam13
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I neutered Mac within a matter of weeks of having him. I was told he was 9 months but the truth was he was closer to 4-5 months old and his bits weren't even descended. I was naive but asked my vet about it and they said it was OK. I opted that soon as my mum's dogs Flo was coming into season and therefore I felt it was better sooner than later. In hind sight I think it was the biggest mistake I could have made. Mac is fear reactive to dogs and to be honest is the biggest woose going. I do feel that the early neutering has probably played a part in how he is.

Holly was done after her first season and was about 11 months old. She is also nervous but I is very confident in some areas but I've never thought she was spayed too early. Her brothers were neutered at about 7/8 months old and would be considered big breeds (flat coatx) and whilst Finbar was quite stressy and OCD about stuff Ivan is so laid back. Thing is he doesn't often lift his leg to pee and when he does its a bit half hearted, yet Mac will generally pee as high as he can possibly get! :d

Next time I get a dog and its not yet done I will wait until its at least 18 months old, or certainly over a year old. A bitch I'm not so sure about as Holly is certainly a very even tempered dog despite her fears.
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AnnaH
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Pam, in my experience, a bad start in life has much more to do with a dog's confidence that what age they're neutered. If you puppy had not been socialised, isolated from other dogs, people, bicycles, beards, men with hats, ladies with sunglasses etc. and all the 'scary' things that are in the world, in that 'window of opportunity' of puppyhood between 8-12 weeks, unfortunately it is very difficult to put that right later.

A naturally confident dog might overcome it, but a shy dog might always be shy and unconfident. Same as people really. Next time you get a dog, be guided by your vet and the latest thinking at the time (as my earlier discussion notes, things change all the time). But if you want fewer problems socially, get a dog that's either been well socialised when it was younger, or get a very young puppy you can socialise yourself.

I know rescues often have both types of dog, so that doesn't mean you have to go to a breeders.

Even so, my Shadow was from a breeder, socialised heavily, by me, from tiny, did all the puppy classes etc. that you're supposed to do, but was always a bit neurotic and highly strung. It was just the way he was. My friend's retriever OTOH had a bad start but is now confident and easy-going. So good start + calm genes are what you need.
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Pam13
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AnnaH
15 Jul 2013, 15:24
Pam, in my experience, a bad start in life has much more to do with a dog's confidence that what age they're neutered. If you puppy had not been socialised, isolated from other dogs, people, bicycles, beards, men with hats, ladies with sunglasses etc. and all the 'scary' things that are in the world, in that 'window of opportunity' of puppyhood between 8-12 weeks, unfortunately it is very difficult to put that right later.

A naturally confident dog might overcome it, but a shy dog might always be shy and unconfident. Same as people really. Next time you get a dog, be guided by your vet and the latest thinking at the time (as my earlier discussion notes, things change all the time). But if you want fewer problems socially, get a dog that's either been well socialised when it was younger, or get a very young puppy you can socialise yourself.

I know rescues often have both types of dog, so that doesn't mean you have to go to a breeders.

Even so, my Shadow was from a breeder, socialised heavily, by me, from tiny, did all the puppy classes etc. that you're supposed to do, but was always a bit neurotic and highly strung. It was just the way he was. My friend's retriever OTOH had a bad start but is now confident and easy-going. So good start + calm genes are what you need.


Oh I totally agree, there is no doubt that some of Mac's issues are from before I had him and was probably the reason he was dumped on the street in the first place.

Holly however I've had from the minute she was born and whilst most of her brothers are/were very confident she is frightened of loud noises etc although is better than she was (apart from the current night terrors!).
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TreadSoftly
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Indie chick
13 Jul 2013, 09:17
AnnaH
12 Jul 2013, 21:23
Indie chick
12 Jul 2013, 09:10
With lots of rescues insisting on spay/neuter taking place at 6 months even with large breeds its not always up to personal choice unfortunately. We had to sign a contract agreeing to have Indie done at 6 months and last time I looked I believe that now includes getting your vet to sign something agreeing they will do it at 6 months.
But the contract must have exceptions, for instance if the animal is too sick to have an operation at 6 months. I'm sure a rescue wouldn't want you to go against your vet's advice :wink:
I think if the dog was too ill they would accept a delay but they wouldn't accept the delay on other grounds such as risks of neutering early, I'm assuming some people have tried that and so they are now asking you to provide a letter from your vet confirming they will undertake the operation at 6 months of age when you apply for the dog. I can see why rescues do that but I do think there should be some flexibility.
Waggy Tails, who we were fostering for, had no intention of neutering Jed, our GSD pup, at 6 months. He came to us at 6 months and went to his new home at close to 8 months. He would now be 10 months and he still hasn't been neutered. They are in regular contact with his new home and he has regular checks with the rescue vet. It was clearly stated that, given his breed particularly, they would not be neutering until the vet was of the view that he had stopped growing.

However, they are a small and very local rescue so they are in a good position to be able to keep a very close eye on their rehomed dogs. I can completely understand why some/most rescues take the view that early neutering is the better route to take.
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