When to neuter for 35 breeds of dogs

Assisting Decision-Making on Age of Neutering for 35 Breeds of Dogs: Associated Joint Disorders, Cancers, and Urinary Incontinence

Neutering / Spaying in the first year after birth has become routine but recent research reveals that for some dog breeds, neutering/spaying may be associated with increased risks of debilitating joint disorders and some cancers, complicating pet owners' decisions on neutering. The joint disorders include hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear or rupture, and elbow dysplasia. The cancers include lymphoma, mast cell tumor, hemangiosarcoma, and osteosarcoma.

A recent study by the University of California, Davis looked at these risks associated with neutering / spaying at different ages 

The overall major finding from this study is that there are breed differences – and sometimes gender differences. For example, with the Boston Terrier, neutering females at the standard 6 month age did not increase the risks of joint disorders or cancers over that of dogs left intact, but with males, neutering before a year of age was associated with a significant increase in cancers. The opposite effect with genders was seen in the Cocker Spaniel where neutering at 6 months was not associated with an increase in joint disorders or cancers in males, but in females there was a significant increase in risk of cancers to 17 percent with neutering before 2 years.

Another important finding that holds across several breeds is that with the small-dog breeds – Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Corgi, Dachshund, Maltese, Pomeranian, Poodle-Toy, Pug, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier –the occurrences of joint disorders were close to zero in both the intact and neutered males and females. In these small-dog breeds, the occurrence of cancers was low in both those kept intact and neutered. Two exceptions were the Boston Terrier and Shih Tzu where there was there a significant increase in cancers with neutering.

Below is the breed summary information, a suggested guideline for neutering age for males and females to avoid increasing the risks of a disease under consideration. When there was no noticeable occurrence of an increase in joint disorders or cancers with neutering, the guideline statement was made that those wishing to neuter should decide on the appropriate age (or briefly stated as choice) When neutering at <6 months was associated with an increased disease risk but no increased risk was evident with neutering beyond 6 months, the default recommended guideline was neutering beyond, 6 months.



Excerpt from "Assisting Decision-Making on Age of Neutering for 35 Breeds of Dogs: Associated Joint Disorders, Cancers, and Urinary Incontinence"  published on Front. Vet. Sci., 07 July 2020 by Benjamin L. Hart, Lynette A. Hart, Abigail P. Thigpen and Neil H. Willits at the University of California, Davis, CA,USA

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