Should I Neuter My Dog
There is a long-standing belief that spaying or neutering your dog is beneficial for their health. They were less prone to some forms of cancer, like testicular and ovarian (figures since these organs are removed), and neutering your dog means there is no possibility of accidental pregnancies. The American public is not too fond of dogs that haven’t been neutered.
Dogs that still have their reproductive organs can be banned from doggy daycares and come across plenty of disapproval in the dog park. It is a standard and common practice among American dog owners, and if you decided not to do it, you are risking being called an irresponsible dog owner. The answer to the question “Should I neuter my dog?” was mostly yes, but in recent years, there have been AKC-funded studies that have come to conclusions there are correlations between dog neutering and some forms of cancer.
The University of California has been researching neutered dogs for decades, and the research leader, Dr. Benjamin Hart, told the AKC some troubling news. In his published paper in 2013, Dr. Hart talks about the correlation between neutered or spayed Golden Retrievers and hemangiosarcoma, lymphosarcoma, and joint issues.
In his research, he concluded that neutered dogs, especially young dogs, are three to four times more likely to develop these issues than intact dogs. Some time later, the research broadened to German Shepherds and Labrador Retrievers, where their conclusions were confirmed.
Dr. Hart and his team of scientists made their research even more comprehensive, and they have studied thousands of dogs from 35 different dog breeds. They were focused on early dog neutering and spaying. In almost all cases, they have concluded the same things - early dog neutering and spaying increase the risk of certain cancers, joint issues, and urinary incontinence.
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Another popular belief is that dogs with aggressive tendencies and behavior can be “fixed” by neutering. Americans started dog neutering and spaying processes to solve one problem - population. Stray dogs and overcrowded dog shelters were reason enough for the general public to adopt the dog neutering practices. However, as American Kennel Club puts it so eloquently, “An easy answer isn’t always the best one!”
Dr. Hart decided to check the claim that behavioral problems go away after dog neutering or spaying. He organized research and found out that only 25 -30 percent of dogs with behavioral issues had a de-escalation and were “fixed.” Even dogs spayed later in life (Dr. Hart’s research was focused on early dog neutering) showed the same results. 3 out of 4 dogs had no significant improvement.
This is another long-standing belief that dog neutering prevents prostate cancer and spaying prevents mammary cancers. However, the truth is a lot different. Dr. Hart’s team concluded that dogs that were neutered early are more likely to develop prostate cancer. The results about mammary cancer in female dogs are still being discovered. The only types of cancers dog neutering and spaying prevent, are testicular and ovarian cancers. Besides, these are most common in older dogs, and the treatments are usually pretty successful.
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Dog neutering is very complicated. It would be impossible to give general advice regarding all dogs. There are many factors to include, things like how old the dog is, what breed it is, or what breeds make the mixed dog. Dr. Sharon Albright from AKC Canine Health Foundation said there are severe health concerns regarding dog neutering. Her advice is to talk to a vet familiar with recent studies and research, and only after consulting should you make a decision.
When the leading researcher, Dr. Hart, was asked the same question,
“Should dog neutering be done?” he gave an interesting answer. He said, “One of the things I emphasize is the need for a paradigm change with regard to veterinarian-client relationships,” he added, “if and when to spay or neuter to be a true discussion point between the veterinarian and the client, in which both are equipped with all the necessary information about the likely impacts on the dog in question.”
The question still remains somewhat unanswered. Dog owners should be more informed, and they should familiarize themselves with recent studies about the health impacts early dog neutering can have on their dogs. There is still a lot of space for spay-neuter research, and the more answers vets and dog owners get, the better decisions they can make about their dogs.
There is another crucial point that needs to be made. It is essential to know that although the risk of developing certain cancers is higher, most dogs will not develop them. All dogs are unique, and even dogs from the same breed can have different health needs, characters, needs, and quirks. Luckily, more and more information about dog neutering is available. Dog owners should have an honest discussion with their vets about raising concerns about their dog’s health and neutering/spaying.
You can read more about the most common forms of cancers in dogs here - All about cancer in dogs.
World Dog Finder team