Can a dog be neutered at 3 years? Expert Advice

The Benefits of Spaying and Neutering an Older Dog

Spaying and neutering dogs isn’t just about population control, and it isn’t something just done to puppies, either. Many people are not aware that when spaying or neutering is done before disease develops, these surgeries can prevent several forms of cancers as well as pyometras (uterine infections), prostatic disease, prostatic enlargement and a variety of different behavior problems.

Although veterinarians usually prefer to spay and neuter dogs when they are young, neutering or spaying older dogs, or any age dog for that matter, can be done with some careful planning. The benefits for senior dogs differ from those experienced by puppies, but many good reasons exist for doing it, including to prevent some cancers and infection. Unfortunately, I have also had to perform these surgeries on senior dogs on an emergency basis after a health problem has emerged.

The study population was 49 intact males, 72 neutered males, 65 intact females, and 86 spayed females for a total sample of 272 cases. As mentioned in Appendix 1, the Maltese and Chihuahua vie for the smallest breeds and the Great Dane and Irish Wolfhound for the largest, but all four breeds share a low predisposition to joint disorders. For the Maltese in both sexes, there was no occurrence of joint disorders in either those left intact or neutered. Virtually the same picture emerges with cancers, with only one of 64 intact females being diagnosed with a cancer. There was no occurrence of MC in the intact females and only one case among the 19 females spayed at 2–8 years. PYO was seen in none of the intact females. UI did not occur in any of the females.

9. Rzechorzek NM, Saunders OM, Hiscox L, Schwarz T, Marioni-Henry K, Argyle DJ, et al. Network analysis of canine brain morphometry links tumor risk to oestrogen deficiency and accelerated brain ageing. Sci Rep. (2019) 9:12506. doi: 10.1038/s41598-019-48446-0

26. California Food and Agricultural Code. (2017). Division 14. Regulation and Licensing of Dogs. (accessed June 23, 2020).

Looking at the occurrences of these joint disorders and cancers, it is clear that most breeds are unaffected for these diseases by age of neutering. Vulnerability to joint disorders associated with neutering is generally related to body size. Small-dog breeds – Boston Terrier, Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Chihuahua, Corgi, Dachshund, Maltese, Pomeranian, Poodle-Toy, Pug, Shih Tzu, Yorkshire Terrier – do not appear to have an increased risk in joint disorders with neutering compared to the breeds of larger size. However, in the breeds of larger body size there were differences among the breeds with the two giant breeds – Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds – showing no indication of increase in one or more joint disorders with neutering at any age.

One of the frequently mentioned advantages of early neutering of female dogs is protection against MC (22). There may be important genetic, breed-line differences in the occurrence of MC that are not portrayed in our database. However, relevant to the discussion of MC is the recent meta-analysis of published studies on neutering females and MC, finding that the evidence linking neutering to a reduced risk of MC is weak (23). In the data gathered in this study, through 11 years of age, the occurrence of MC in females left intact was rarely above 6 percent and frequently 2 percent or less. For those neutered at <6 months, there was, as expected, no occurrence of MC. Obviously with most cases of intact females not followed through 11 years, and with the 12-year cut-off for those that were followed, many occurrences of MC were missed. However, it seems reasonable, that if MC was a common occurrence in intact females that this disease would have been more frequent in the intact females followed. Further, a very late onset of MC would seem less disturbing to pet owners than the much earlier onsets of joint diseases and other cancers.

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Interestingly though, different breeds and different sized dogs mature at different ages, which means that early spay/neuter may not be bad for all dogs. The wide margin of maturation of dogs varies considerably, as toy breed dogs mature sexually as early as six to nine months of age whereas large and giant breeds may mature as late as 16-18 months of age. The end conclusion is that generally, the larger breeds had possibly more to risk in future health conditions in than small or toy breeds of dogs due to early spaying or neutering since they mature at a later age.

The American Veterinary Medical Association “promotes the professional judgment of the veterinarian in developing an informed, case by case assessment of each individual patient, taking into account all the potential risks and benefits of spay/neuter.”

An age of six to nine months of age may be appropriate for neutering or spaying a toy breed puppy or small breed puppy but a larger or giant breed may need to wait until they are near or over 12-18 months of age. It is also important to understand that often, the earlier these procedures are done, the easier the surgeries usually are for the veterinarian and recovery for the patient. The one rule I recommend is to not knowingly spay a female dog while they are going through their heat cycle as that may exacerbate excessive bleeding.

In the United States, it is now common to have all dogs and cats not meant for breeding purposes spayed (ovariohysterectomy) or neutered (castration). In fact, 78% of dog-owning households have spayed or neutered their canine companions according to the American Pet Products Association’s 2019-2020 National Pet Owners survey.

When Is It Too Late To Neuter A Dog?

I meant to neuter him a bit earlier but life got in the way and now Im wondering what the benefits of doing it at this age are. DDog is a Golden Retriever so I wasnt going to get him done before 18 months anyway and then I had DD and just never really got around to it. Hes got a completely escape proof garden so Im not worried about him going off fathering puppies and Research seems to suggest that entire dogs are the healthiest. Im wondering if it would stop the constant sniffing and marking?

We had our dog neutered at three. Like you we werent bothered about it before and never got round to it. Then when I was pregnant he suddenly started to misbehave and growl at me and several doggy friends suggested I get him done. He immediately went back to being his lovely self but he still marked and peed for England. Oh and he put on weight. He passed away at the age of eleven which was typical for his breed so I dont think it did him any harm.

The main benefit is it prevents testicular cancer…and the lack of puppies, youd be surprised how easily a dog can get out of an escape proof garden if theres a bitch in heat nearby and how many people walk bitches in heat in busy places. It wont stop scent marking though.

Agree that the research seems to suggest that entire male dogs are the healthiest, especially large breeds. We got our lab castrated when he was 2.5 years old because he met a bitch in season and had a complete character change, unsettled and whining and desperate to run off and find her again. Never had any problems before then. He was back to his old self within a short time after the op but quickly put on a lot of weight. We kept cutting his food down and now he has half of what he used to eat and has got his figure back Smile. He still sniffs and marks as much as he used to.

Hmmm. The marking was the one thing I had hoped might improve after neutering. Not sure what to do now. The neighbours (live rurally so neighbours are a field away) bitch goes into heat and other dogs congregate but Bailey is never bothered. Hes always walked on a lead in public (as he loves people and other dogs too much to listen to me) but gets off lead runs in secure fields. At his last vet appointment the vet said his weight is perfect but to make sure he doesnt lose any or hed be underweight.

He might suddenly show an interest in bitches and try to escape when youre least expecting it, like my dog did. But he might not. If you can be 100% sure he can never get access to bitches that might be in season then no need to neuter, IMHO.

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