The topic of ESN can be a difficult and emotional one for many pet owners and invariably their pets too.
That is why we do not take this matter lightly and you have no doubt heard about the supposed benefits of it but rarely the risks. We have studied and considered this and have not taken the decision lightly but we do not under any circumstances recommend this as a protocol to live by. We do not endorse this nor do we enforce it, rather we encourage and ensure that our animals are neutered at the age of 12 months and this is set in stone in our contract that both parties sign on the day you collect your beloved puppy. There are some hard facts that make this decision an easy one to choose never mind the fact it is cruel to put such a young puppy through a traumatic operation removing a quarter of your puppy’s endocrine system, that is if you find a vet that would do it for you. Now for the technical part:
Spay/ Neuter and Joint Disease
A study found that male dogs that were neutered before 12 months of age had double the risk of hip dysplasia than their intact counterparts. (Torres de la Riva G, Hart BL, Farver TB, Oberbauer AM, Messam LLM, et al. (2013) Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers)
Van Hagen et al (Am J Vet Res, Feb 2005) stated that of the sample dogs diagnosed with hip dysplasia, those what were neutered 6 months prior to the dignosis were nearly twice as likely to develop hip dysplasia.
Other research shows that dogs sterilized before the age of 6 months have up to a 70% increased risk of developing hip dysplasia. The authors of this study (Spain et al, JAVMA 2004) said that ‘it is possible that the increase in bone length that results from early age gonadectomy results in changes in joint conformation, which could lead to a diagnosis of hip dysplasia‘
Crucial Ligament Tears
Cranial cruciate ligament tears have also been linked to spay/neuter in numerous studies. The study that Torres de la Riva G made about Neutering Dogs also found that there were absolutely no cases of cruciate tears in the intact dogs whereas 5% of males neutered before 12 months and 8% of females did suffer tears.
Whitehair et al (JAVMA Oct 1993), found that spayed and neutered dogs of any age were twice as likely to suffer cranial cruciate ligament rupture. Slauterbeck et al also found an increased risk (Clin Orthop Relat Res Dec 2004).
Chris Zinc DVM PhD DACVP stated ‘if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at eight 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.
Additionally, sterilization can cause a loss of bone mass (Martin et al, Bone 1987), and obesity (Edney et al, Vet Rec Apr 1986). Both of these factors could lead to an increased risk of cranial cruciate ligament tear and hip dysplasia. Furthermore, spayed/neutered dogs are greater than three times more likely to suffer from patellar luxation (Vidoni et al, Wien Tierartztl Mschr 2005).
Spay / Neuter and Cancer
A more recent study found that spayed females had significantly higher rates of hemangiosarcoma (nine times higher) than intact females.
They also found that spayed/neutered dogs were 3.5% more likely to suffer mast cell cancer and 4.3 times more likely to suffer lymphoma. (M. Christine Zink, DVM, PhD et al., Evaluation of the risk and age of onset of cancer and behavioral disorders in gonadectomized Vizslas. JAVMA, Vol 244, No. 3, February 1, 2014)
SPAYED / INTACT: The incidence of all cancers in spayed females was 6.5 times higher and in neutered males was 3.6 times higher than intact dogs.
YOUNG DOGS: They also found that the younger the dogs were spayed/neutered, the younger they were when diagnosed with cancer.
Spay / Neuter and Behaviour
Although you may have heard the popular belief that neutering animals reduces aggression and reduces other behavioural problems this ins infact hugely incorrect.
In the study, spayed and neutered dogs were also more likely to develop behavior disorders than intact dogs.
- fear of storms
- separation anxiety
- fear of noises
- fear biting.
Another study found neutered dogs were more:
- less trainable than intact dogs
(Parvene Farhoody @ M. Christine Zink, Behavioral and Physical Effects of Spaying and Neutering Domestic Dogs, May 2010)
If you have got this far through the article then you are now in a much better place to understand where we are coming from, we want to give our dogs and ultimately your puppy the best chance at a life free of joint disease, cancer and behavior issues.
Removing a significant part of your dog’s endocrine system should be anything but routine. As research continues to show the damning results of spay/neuter, it’s certainly in your dog’s best interests for you to be aware of the facts.