Your vet may suggest that you spay (female) or neuter (male) your dog at 4-6 months of age or before her first “heat cycle.” Shelter and rescue organizations sterilize or “fix” puppies and kittens at 4-6 weeks of age. New research suggests neither of these approaches are the best for the long term good health of dogs. It appears dogs should be altered after 1 year of age. Since giant breeds like Great Danes, Mastiffs, Irish Wolfhounds, St. Bernards and Newfoundlands mature slower, especially skeletal maturation, this research may imply that these breeds be neutered even later.
What Problems Does Early Neutering Cause?
In a recent study in German Shepherds and an earlier study in Golden Retrievers, sexual alteration before 1 year was associated with a higher risk of:
Hip dysplasia (abnormal hip joint development)
Elbow dysplasia (abnormal elbow joint development
Cranial cruciate ligament ruptures (knee)
Lymphosarcoma (cancer of the lymph nodes)
Hemangiosarcoma (cancer of the spleen)
Mast cell tumor (a blood cell tumor)
Urinary incontinence in female dogs (leaking urine)
Spaying after 1 year can, however, increase the risk of:
Aggressive behavior in male dogs
Mammary cancer in female dogs
Confused? Want more information about spaying or neutering your dog? Call us for a wellness consultation appointment.