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One of the most common questions we get is "When should we spay or neuter our puppy?"
The reality is that the answer to "If or when to spay or neuter" is not clear cut and is an individual decision.
I urge you all to do your own research in addition to consideration of your vet's personal opinion.
Unfortunately, the typical vet still suggests the 'one size fits all' traditional method of neutering/spaying at 6
months of age- and this is primarily because there is a large population of people who are not proactive in
preventing unwanted pregnancies- certainly, this is a valid concern and something that should play into
your own decision - can you prevent an unintended breeding under all conditions??? Besides the
oopsie-puppy issue though, current research indicates that 6 months is NOT the best time to sterilize
every puppy when we are considering long-term health and behavioral reasons.
MY current recommendation for our Eromit puppy owners is to wait until the puppy is completely done
growing (14 months of age at least). There are two main reasons that I recommend this:
a) Sex hormones are removed during the spay/neuter process. These hormones are crucial to the proper
structural development of your puppy, as well as mental maturation. If you get him or her 'fixed' before
they are completely done growing, your puppy is likely to mature somewhat disproportionately because the
sex hormones are not there to tell the body when to properly stop growing, or where to develop muscles-
this 'lanky' look will be permanent and it's not just about looks - changing your dog's intended physique
can put your puppy at higher risk for injury, arthritis, etc. A very serious consideration for all potential
competitor and working puppies, but also important for family companion puppies- no one wants their
puppy to be at higher risk of injury.
b) There are several types of health conditions that are more prevalent in dogs that are fixed at a young
age, such as oscteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, and hypothyroidism (to name a few). The articles below
explain this in more detail.
I believe this is so important that puppies going home in 2013 or later have this condition (spay or neuter
after 14 months of age) as part of their purchase contract and health warranty, although there are
provisions for those who just can't wait for one reason or another (see website for the current version of
our puppy health warranty). That is the age when nearly all of our Eromit puppies will be completely done
growing. With the large boys, it may be prudent to wait an extra few months. With other breeds, the age of
maturity may be earlier or later so having a discussion with your breeder can help pinpoint a good age for
this surgery, should you choose to have it done.
Having an intact animal can be a bit of a nuisance, and an extra responsibility in that you do have to be
very careful to prevent accidental litters. The responsibility is equally great with a male as it is with a female
- so don't let those boys wander! Typically, our females do not go into heat for the first time until about 1
year of age at the earliest (14 months is average), but it is certainly possible for them to go into heat as
early as 6 months- and puppies from different breeding programs will mature at different rates. Dealing
with a heat cycle is not as bad as you think, provided that you are prepared for the possibility and can
keep your girl safely contained away from the option of an accidental breeding. If you need more
information about how to prepare for this, (and how to tell if your female is in heat), please contact me.
Here are some links to further reading. Please feel free to read these, and print them off to discuss with
your vet. Your vet may have additional information or thoughts about why it is important to spay or neuter
your puppy sooner, or later than average. Alternatively, there are procedures that can be done which will
preserve your puppy's hormones, but remove their reproductive ability; although not all vets are familiar
with or able to perform a vasectomy, tubal ligation, or ovary-sparing spay, they may be able to give you
more information about these alternatives or direct you to a vet who can.
|When To Spay or Neuter
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