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Thread: Early age desexing

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Apr 2012

    Default Early age desexing

    I've seen on another thread, people dead against early age desexing, but I haven't been able to find any info online about it. The RSPCA and other rescues desex from 6 weeks and claim quicker recovery, less scarring and better recovery from anesthetic. Is this incorrect?
    What are the problems associated with early desexing?

    Chances are, I will rescue a dog, which will already be desexed, but if I buy a puppy from elsewhere I will need to know.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Rural NSW


    I trust my vet and go with his recommendation. He does not desex before 6 months of age.

    Any posts made under the name of Di_dee1 one can be used by anyone as I do not give a rats.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Aug 2011
    Bundaberg QLD


    I'm not even considering my giant breed gets desexed before 18 months. Thats what people who know better than me recommend so thats what i'm running with.
    Even though my breeders contract says 6 months....stuff it !!

    My ridgy was done before 6 weeks!!! Pound puppy though.

    Quote Originally Posted by reyzor View Post
    Education is important, but big biceps are more importanter ...

  4. #4


    I tried not to rescue puppies, but occasionally, I did. I never trusted people to desex. I've seen people say... Just one litter and I implode. So, if I have a puppy or kitten, it is done before it leaves me. My vet favours the 6 month mark - but 6 months in a slow maturing breed can be a very different 6 months. I read that desexing BEFORE 6 months lowers mammary tumours drastically. If a dog is going to have problems with anaesthetic, it's better to be young, far better than middle aged, with breathing problems and an established life threatening problem forcing the issue. I can only say that the kittens I've desexed very early, and still have, have become very strong, heavy, and are very male and destructive. They don't appear to have suffered in any way. If it was my dog/b i t c h, I would probably wait, as everything here is safe - but I've become OBSESSIVELY distrustful of everyone not known to me a long time, as desexing 'nutters'. Once you have seen the death row end, you do lose your sense of humour, you lose the, 'In the great scheme of things...' shrug and you do seem so bleak. It's so sad to feel this way. The naivety and happiness of ignorance is dead. No miracles, no happy endings. (There are individual happinesses but there are thousands of tragedies, and whilst one dog dies unnecessarily, the subject is never light hearted).

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jul 2011
    Sunshine coast Qld


    My old vet, the one who left the practice recently to have a baby (how will not desex a dog before 6 months and i trust her opinion 100%, tht was before she decided to get a life...sheesh!

    This, I think is a very well balanced view on the subject of desexing from a very well educated vet. He specializes in Canine athletes, but the information is applicaable to any dog.

    Early Spay-Neuter Considerations
    for the Canine Athlete
    One Veterinarian's Opinion
    © 2005 Chris Zink DVM, PhD, DACVP

    Those of us with responsibility for the health of canine athletes need to continually read and evaluate new scientific studies to ensure that we are taking the most appropriate care of our performance dogs. This article provides evidence through a number of recent studies to suggest that veterinarians and owners working with canine athletes should revisit the standard protocol in which all dogs that are not intended for breeding are spayed and neutered at or before 6 months of age.
    Orthopedic Considerations
    A study by Salmeri et al in 1991 found that bitches spayed at 7 weeks grew significantly taller than those spayed at 7 months, who were taller than those not spayed (or presumably spayed after the growth plates had closed).(1) A study of 1444 Golden Retrievers performed in 1998 and 1999 also found bitches and dogs spayed and neutered at less than a year of age were significantly taller than those spayed or neutered at more than a year of age.(2) The sex hormones, by communicating with a number of other growth-related hormones, promote the closure of the growth plates at puberty (3), so the bones of dogs or bitches neutered or spayed before puberty continue to grow. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered well before puberty can frequently be identified by their longer limbs, lighter bone structure, narrow chests and narrow skulls. This abnormal growth frequently results in significant alterations in body proportions and particularly the lengths (and therefore weights) of certain bones relative to others. 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. In addition, sex hormones are critical for achieving peak bone density.(4) These structural and physiological alterations may be the reason why at least one recent study showed that spayed and neutered dogs had a higher incidence of CCL rupture.(5) Another recent study showed that dogs spayed or neutered before 5 1/2 months had a significantly higher incidence of hip dysplasia than those spayed or neutered after 5 1/2 months of age, although it should be noted that in this study there were no standard criteria for the diagnosis of hip dysplasia.(6) Nonetheless, breeders of purebred dogs should be cognizant of these studies and should consider whether or not pups they bred were spayed or neutered when considering breeding decisions.
    Cancer Considerations
    A retrospective study of cardiac tumors in dogs showed that there was a 5 times greater risk of hemangiosarcoma, one of the three most common cancers in dogs, in spayed bitches than intact bitches and a 2.4 times greater risk of hemangiosarcoma in neutered dogs as compared to intact males.(7) A study of 3218 dogs demonstrated that dogs that were neutered before a year of age had a significantly increased chance of developing bone cancer.(8) A separate study showed that neutered dogs had a two-fold higher risk of developing bone cancer.(9) Despite the common belief that neutering dogs helps prevent prostate cancer, at least one study suggests that neutering provides no benefit.(10) There certainly is evidence of a slightly increased risk of mammary cancer in female dogs after one heat cycle, and for increased risk with each subsequent heat. While about 30 % of mammary cancers are malignant, as in humans, when caught and surgically removed early the prognosis is very good.(12) Luckily, canine athletes are handled frequently and generally receive prompt veterinary care.
    Behavioral Considerations
    The study that identified a higher incidence of cranial cruciate ligament rupture in spayed or neutered dogs also identified an increased incidence of sexual behaviors in males and females that were neutered early.(5) Further, the study that identified a higher incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs neutered or spayed before 5 1/2 months also showed that early age gonadectomy was associated with an increased incidence of noise phobias and undesirable sexual behaviors.(6) A recent report of the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation reported significantly more behavioral problems in spayed and neutered bitches and dogs. The most commonly observed behavioral problem in spayed females was fearful behavior and the most common problem in males was aggression.(12)
    Other Health Considerations
    A number of studies have shown that there is an increase in the incidence of female urinary incontinence in dogs spayed early (13), although this finding has not been universal. Certainly there is evidence that ovarian hormones are critical for maintenance of genital tissue structure and contractility.(14, 15) Neutering also has been associated with an increased likelihood of urethral sphincter incontinence in males.(16) This problem is an inconvenience, and not usually life-threatening, but nonetheless one that requires the dog to be medicated for life. A health survey of several thousand Golden Retrievers showed that spayed or neutered dogs were more likely to develop hypothyroidism.(2) This study is consistent with the results of another study in which neutering and spaying was determined to be the most significant gender-associated risk factor for development of hypothyroidism.(17) Infectious diseases were more common in dogs that were spayed or neutered at 24 weeks or less as opposed to those undergoing gonadectomy at more than 24 weeks.(18) Finally, the AKC-CHF report demonstrated a higher incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines in neutered dogs as compared to intact.(12)

    I have gathered these studies to show that our practice of routinely spaying or neutering every dog at or before the age of 6 months is not a black-and-white issue. Clearly more studies need to be done to evaluate the effects of prepubertal spaying and neutering, particularly in canine athletes.

    Currently, I have significant concerns with spaying or neutering canine athletes before puberty. But of course, there is the pet overpopulation problem. How can we prevent the production of unwanted dogs while still leaving the gonads to produce the hormones that are so important to canine growth and development? One answer would be to perform vasectomies in males and tubal ligation in females, to be followed after maturity by ovariohysterectomy in females to prevent mammary cancer and pyometra. One possible disadvantage is that vasectomy does not prevent some unwanted behaviors associated with males such as marking and humping. On the other hand, females and neutered males frequently participate in these behaviors too. Really, training is the best solution for these issues. Another possible disadvantage is finding a veterinarian who is experienced in performing these procedures. Nonetheless, some do, and if the procedures were in greater demand, more veterinarians would learn them.

    I believe it is important that we assess each situation individually. For canine athletes, I currently recommend that dogs and bitches be spayed or neutered after 14 months of age.

    Salmeri KR, Bloomberg MS, Scruggs SL, Shille V.. Gonadectomy in immature dogs: effects on skeletal, physical, and behavioral development. JAVMA 1991;198:1193-1203
    Grumbach MM. Estrogen, bone, growth and sex: a sea change in conventional wisdom. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2000;13 Suppl 6:1439-55.
    Gilsanz V, Roe TF, Gibbens DT, Schulz EE, Carlson ME, Gonzalez O, Boechat MI. Effect of sex steroids on peak bone density of growing rabbits. Am J Physiol. 1988 Oct;255(4 Pt 1):E416-21.
    Slauterbeck JR, Pankratz K, Xu KT, Bozeman SC, Hardy DM. Canine ovariohysterectomy and orchiectomy increases the prevalence of ACL injury. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2004 Dec;(429):301-5.
    Spain CV, Scarlett JM, Houpt KA. Long-term risks and benefits of early-age gonadectomy in dogs. JAVMA 2004;224:380-387.
    Ware WA, Hopper DL. Cardiac tumors in dogs: 1982-1995. J Vet Intern Med 1999 Mar-Apr;13(2):95-103
    Cooley DM, Beranek BC, Schlittler DL, Glickman NW, Glickman LT, Waters D, Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002 Nov;11(11):1434-40
    Ru G, Terracini B, Glickman LT. Host related risk factors for canine osteosarcoma. Vet J. 1998 Jul;156(1):31-9.
    Obradovich J, Walshaw R, Goullaud E. The influence of castration on the development of prostatic carcinoma in the dog. 43 cases (1978-1985). J Vet Intern Med 1987 Oct-Dec;1(4):183-7
    Meuten DJ. Tumors in Domestic Animals. 4th Edn. Iowa State Press, Blackwell Publishing Company, Ames, Iowa, p. 575
    Stocklin-Gautschi NM, Hassig M, Reichler IM, Hubler M, Arnold S. The relationship of urinary incontinence to early spaying in bitches. J. Reprod. Fertil. Suppl. 57:233-6, 2001
    Pessina MA, Hoyt RF Jr, Goldstein I, Traish AM. Differential effects of estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone on vaginal structural integrity. Endocrinology. 2006 Jan;147(1):61-9.
    Kim NN, Min K, Pessina MA, Munarriz R, Goldstein I, Traish AM. Effects of ovariectomy and steroid hormones on vaginal smooth muscle contractility. Int J Impot Res. 2004 Feb;16(1):43-50.
    Aaron A, Eggleton K, Power C, Holt PE. Urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence in male dogs: a retrospective analysis of 54 cases. Vet Rec. 139:542-6, 1996
    Panciera DL. Hypothyroidism in dogs: 66 cases (1987-1992). J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc., 204:761-7 1994
    Howe LM, Slater MR, Boothe HW, Hobson HP, Holcom JL, Spann AC. Long-term outcome of gonadectomy performed at an early age or traditional age in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2001 Jan 15;218(2):217-21.
    This article is available for download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format Early Spay Considerations (pdf).

    Canine Sports Productions: Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete
    The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.
    Mohandas Gandhi

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Southern NSW


    You have opened a can of worms with many opinions.

    I will only answer form a giant point of view. the risk of bone related problems are much greater than any risk of cancers if you desex a giant early.

    So with Giants you wait until the growth plates are closed. That can be between 18-24 month even later.

    Anesthetic risk in a good vet practice does not change if dogs are older....if anything young puppies can be high risk, just like kids are higher risk compared to just do not want the very old.

    As to the cancer thing, there are many more cancers due to desexing then form not desexing.....Cav's copy is a good read in that respect.

    Older bitches are more prone (6 years up) to ovarian. That is why some Breeders will desex after bitches are no longer needed for breeding.

    I have had none desexed males and females, I do however desex my females before the age of six.........If not used for Breeding i prefer about 3 years old for desexing bitches..I leave our males entire. Have had lots of male dogs and none have died of any kind of cancer.

    But I do see the sense of desexing, when people find it easier to keep dogs and not breed unwanted litters
    Pets are forever

  7. #7


    I agree totally with what newfsie said - but not only with the giant breeds - I wait until the growth plates are closed - and of course as advised by my vet.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Apr 2012


    Quote Originally Posted by newfsie View Post

    if anything young puppies can be high risk, just like kids are higher risk compared to adults.

    See, this is what I would have thought!

    I think its really interesting to read everyones views on this. Conflicting opinions are good - getting both sides of an issue is the best way to learn.

    At what aged do growth plates close in small/ medium sized dogs?

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2009


    Frosty was desexed at 8 weeks. If I was going to get a puppy done this young, the big rescue/shelters/pounds would have had lots of practice. So far so good - no joint problems and no incontinence.

    But if I had adopted an undesexed puppy, I'd wait until she was about 12 to 18 months because that's when bone and joint development is not going to be adversely affected. And I'd either put her on the pill to avoid seasons (though that might defeat the purpose), or just be very very careful. She doesn't spend time on her own in the back yard now, so that shouldn't be too hard - but might have to get a nappy for the mess.

  10. #10


    Our Agility club has twice hosted Chris Zinc in Australia and her lectures always related to the ongoing affects of early desexing. My wife runs a rehabilitation clinic and we found that by far and away the highest number of CL 's we see are in dogs desexed before they were 6 months old.
    If you are going to run your dog in any activity that requires high speed turns like agility, fly ball or frisby, then do not desex until growth plates are fully closed. As a rule of thumb, after the bitches first season and with males 8 to 9 months with toys and minis, 12 to 18 months for border collie sized dogs and 18 to 24 months for bigger dogs.
    Nev Allen
    Border River Pet Resort

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