Assisting Decision-Making on Age of Neutering for 35 Breeds of Dogs:
Associated Joint Disorders, Cancers, and Urinary Incontinence
Neutering of male and female dogs has become a routine practice, increasingly performed at 6 months of age or earlier. At the same time, it has been observed that joint disorders and some cancers may increase in association with neutering in males and/or females. A study with over 40,000 dogs found that neutered males and females were more likely to die from cancer than intact dogs.
The aim of this study was to analyse the increased risk, if any, of developing joint disorders and cancer in various breeds, in order to provide more information to veterinarians and pet owners to consider when deciding to neuter their dogs.
The main conclusion drawn from the study is that there are differences between breeds and sometimes even between sexes related to an increased risk of developing these disorders and diseases. For example, the Boston Terrier is cited as a breed in which spaying females at 6 months of age had no impact; however, neutering males of this breed before one year of age was associated with a significant increase in the development of cancer.
Another important conclusion, common to several small breeds, is that the risk of developing these disorders and diseases is almost none in both neutered and intact animals.
There are limitations to the study, such as the limited number of breeds included compared to those actually existing. The authors have developed a table that can be used as a guideline with age recommendations for neutering, taking into account the analysed breeds. The authors recommend using genetically similar breeds when a specific breed is not found in the provided table as a reference.
In conclusion, veterinarians and pet owners can and should take into account the data from this study when making decisions regarding neutering their dogs to avoid increasing the risk of developing these conditions.
Hart BL, Hart LA, Thigpen AP and Willits NH (2020) Assisting Decision-Making on Age of Neutering for 35 Breeds of Dogs: Associated Joint Disorders, Cancers, and Urinary Incontinence. Front. Vet. Sci. 7:388. doi: 10.3389/fvets.2020.00388 (www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fvets.2020.00388/full)
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