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Spay/Neuter: What Hormones Have to Do with It

By Anne Taguchi | Last Updated: July 16, 2021

We’ve talked about the good and bad of having male or female Weimaraners, and a large part of those discussions were about hormonal stuff! Girls in heat, boys lifting legs…. Dealing with all this can be a pain, but there is more and more evidence that shows that keeping your Weimaraner intact longer may actually be healthier for your dog.

Spaying and neutering of course removes the hormones. In females, estrogen and progesterone, and testosterone in males.

Pediatric spays are generally safe as far as the surgery procedure itself goes. And quick Google search reveals the oft repeated “fact” that intact females are at higher risk of breast cancer (mammary neoplasia), but more reliable information from published scientific studies are finding the association inconclusive.

One review article looked at over 11,000 published scientific papers and concluded that, “evidence that neutering reduces the risk of mammary neoplasia, and the evidence that age at neutering has an effect, are judged to be weak and are not a sound basis for firm recommendations”

Further, recent studies have started to question if altering your dog early might actually adversely affect health since hormones aren’t just about reproduction.

Hormones give us those annoying boy behaviors and bitch behaviors, but they also do things like control the closing of growth plates (in neutered dogs the growth plates close more slowly). The lack of hormones also seems to play a role in some cancers.

recent article by a team at UC Davis said that there is “rather strong evidence for neutering males and/or females as a risk factor for OSA (osteosarcoma), HSA (hemangiosarcoma), LSA (lymphosarcoma), MCT (mast cell tumor) and prostate cancer,” and that, “evidence for neutering as protection against a dog acquiring one or more cancers is weak.”

The team at UC Davis looked at health records of 759 Golden Retrievers with diagnosis of hip dysplasia (HD), cranial cruciate ligament tear (CCL), and three types of cancers. The records showed that of those five diseases, there was less likelihood of the disease if the dog was intact.

It’s important to note that the Davis study was done on Golden Retrievers and should not be extrapolated to Weimaraners because there may be breed specific issues at play. However this study does raise important questions!

So, if your Weim is around 5 or 6 months and you are starting to think about this topic, rather than the usual “my Weim is 6 months old, time for the neuter,” spaying and neutering should be a well thought out decision, not a given. 

While the most recent evidence and various studies are pointing towards leaving your Weim intact until they are over 12 months for growth and development benefits, this decision should be made on a case by case basis with your vet and breeder. Here are some points to consider.

Pros of Spaying or Neutering Your Weimaraner Early

Cons of Spaying or Neutering Your Weimaraner Early

Further Reading

Considering leaving your Weimaraner intact? You can find more information and get a better understanding of what to expect by reading these articles: Living Dogs and Living with Bitches.

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About Anne Taguchi

Surviving life with Weims!

28 responses to “Spay/Neuter: What Hormones Have to Do with It”

  1. Zoe says:

    my male weim is 6 months old.. Should I get him neuted?

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      If you can keep him away from any accidental breedings, personally I would not neuter at 6 months. But as you can see from the article there are reasons you may want to now.

  2. Jennifer says:

    My Weimaraner was just fixed two days ago,is it normal for her to whine and when I sit down she sits on me and cuddles like a human and then sleeps?

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      Hi Jennifer, she might be in a little discomfort. It sounds like she’s looking for comfort. Has she stopped doing it now?

  3. Kiki says:

    My weim is 2 years old and he is VERY hyper, nervous and deffensive with big males. We are thinking about neutering him but I’m not sure if that would help with these behaviours (he’s my first dog ever!). From your experience, does neutering make the animal more relaxed? We live in the countryside, so he has plenty of space to run twice a day, but he’s still very nervous at home. We will probably neuter him anyway, but I don’t know what results to expect!

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      It’s hard to say whether it would help or not. If you are in the countryside, perhaps the issue may be a socialization issue rather than hormones? Either way, at age 2, you can safely neuter, and it will help with roaming.

  4. Evelin Davsi says:

    If a weimaraner has disraphism. what are the long term effects on the animal. I researched it and they said it will not get worse.

  5. Marnie says:

    My Weim is marking a lot-not just outside but inside the house AND now on the humans. He’s 8 months old. Ideally we’d like to wait until he’s 18 months old but I don’t know if we can take another 10 months of this. Any suggestions?

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      It may help deter the marking if you neuter him, but there are no guarantees. If it were me personally I would wait as long as possible, even until 12 months, if you can deal with 4 more months. You can try a belly band when he’s in the house to see if that would help, and also keep him in a crate when you can’t supervise him. Good luck!

  6. Anne Smale says:

    My weim is 28 months. We have left him intact after research suggested later was better. We are now experiencing alit of aggression from other dogs, mostly neutered males. It happens wether he’s on or off leash and generally any breed large or small. It’s really impacting on our walks. I’m considering neutering him but concerned it may change his behaviour. He’s never been the aggressor in any clash and always wants to get away from the situation. Would appreciate your thoughts. Many thanks

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      Hard to say… I think it might be more related to his personality, it sounds like he’s the more submissive type and I don’t think neutering would change that.

  7. Marilyn L. says:

    I have an 8 year old female Weimar. I had 3 females but lost the 11-year-old litter mates from 2 different types of cancer 2 years ago. Life with 3 females was easy. Along comes my husband with two 2-lb. puppies found thrown in a ditch so we naturally adopted them, as did my now-lonely Weimar. They are males. I had to get them fixed early, because she is intact.
    I am at my wit’s end because fixing males does not stop them from fully mounting a female in heat. Life is now a constant circus of trying to isolate dogs (the males are kenneled while I am at work for 5 hours a day). But then I work another 5-7 hours at home.
    I did not want to put her through the spaying surgery…but I now have no choice. I am also tired of her constant false pregnancies, once she had a serious milk duct infection (thank God a steroid shot helped her quickly, but I still held and rocked her for 4 hours while she was in pain before it took effect).
    Can you offer some encouraging words about putting her through this surgery at 8 years of age? Please?

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      Hi Marilyn, I spayed a bitch at around that age with no problems. She was healthy and physically fit so it was not as hard on her as you might think. Best of luck with the surgery!

  8. Evangeline V. says:

    We have two 5 month old Weimaraners, male and female from the same litter. We’re really not sure when the right time to have them spayed/neutered. We want to wait as long as possible but afraid we might have accidental “in-breeding” OMG! What to do?

  9. Tanzz says:

    I have an 8 month old weim who is mounting everything, female and male. I have spoken to the vet who says I should get him done, but would like your opinion as I am all over the place due to so many views on the internet. He has recently got a whiff of an intact female, couldnt get to her, so started to hump my leg (Water spray stopped that…lol)
    I am wondering do I go with the vets recommendation is my question as i have had females in the past and waited with all until they’ve had two seasons, but with the boy unsure how to proceed.

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      There’s no right or wrong answer for this one, but I think that if you are not sure, I would wait until he’s a bit older, his hormones will calm down eventually. Neutering will also “calm down” the hormones, ie, they won’t be there. So in a way it’s a matter of how long can you deal with his behavior? That is, assuming the mounting is hormonally related and doesn’t have to do with dominance behaviors.

  10. Randy H. says:

    I have a six month old weim that has been diagnosed with HOD. I’ve read just about all that I can find on the subject so I’ve seen the work out of UC Davis. According to that there is a 70% chance of surviving into a healthy adult. You pointed out the the growth plates close more slowly on a spayed dog. If that is the case early spaying might leave her open to HOD and increase the time she’ll spend on prednisone. Is there anything else to take into account as I’m wrestling with the spay issue atm.

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      Hi Randy, great question! There is no data about spay/neuter relative to HOD, but it would make sense that early spay/neuter (before 24 months) could make HOD recovery more difficult since it has been demonstrated that HOD unhealthily alters skeletal development and balance.

      • Randy H. says:

        Thank you. It certainly make sense. I was leaning for an early spay based on my vets advice that doing so would reduce the chances of various cancers. HOD complicates that line of thinking. Fae is a little underweight. She just turned 6 months and weighs in at 35 lbs. Giving her a longer time to develop might be the better choice.

  11. Paris says:

    Do you know how much they will stop growing after getting fixed?

    I live in an apartment and have a female 9 mo weimaraner who’s getting spayed at 10months. I feel bad for not waiting until 12 mo but I am VERY nervous about her going into heat in my apartment. She has also already had two UTIs and I saw your note about the heat cycle helping.

    She is extremely hyper, even though she gets plenty of running time and socialization – 3-4 hours of active exercise a day minimum.

    Is it going to be terrible if she gets fixed earlier?

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      Hi Paris, no don’t worry about it. It is not terrible if she gets fixed earlier, especially since you have good reason.
      If her vulva is an in-ee (recessed vulva with a more prominent hood) rather than out-ee, then the heat cycle can help it “pop out” which can help with UTIs so that the bacteria from her pee doesn’t get trapped in there. You can also wipe her after she pees if that is the reason she’s getting more UTIs.

  12. Tiffany says:

    I have a 4 1/2 month old Weimereimer male. The vet I go to recommended neutering between 4-6 months of age. So I had him neutered about 3 days ago and he’s 4 1/2 months. I spoke to the breader today and she said they should not have told me this and it should have not been till at the soonest 6months. I had no idea… So now I’m worried my weimer won’t grow to his full size now.
    He is currently 4 1/2 months 35lbs. He was one of the bigger puppies. The breader said his dad is about 85lbs. Do you think this will make him a smaller dog now?

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      It’s hard to say, and your breeder probably knows best if he/she has a long standing line and have been breeding consistently. More than likely he will not be smaller, just lankier. He will be fine, I wouldn’t worry about it. 😉

  13. Jo Goodwin says:

    Hi, I have a 5 year old Weim, who I’ve had from 7 months. We were advised by the vet not to do the op as he was quite anxious, and this could make his anxiety levels worse. We live in an area where there are lots of opportunities for off lead exercise, and he loves been off lead, but at least at the start and end of the walk there are lots of other dog walkers Up until recently his recall and obedience has been good. There would be the odd occasion when someone would be walking a female on heat when I would have to put him on his lead and walk him for a while before risking taking him off, and the odd younger dog he seems to want to dominate by mounting them; however this was all infrequent and manageable. More recently he has been running off, and whilst coming back is gone for 10 minutes or so, and his hormones seem to be all over the place. A few days ago he mounted an older male dog after running off and was literally possessed, he slipped his collar several times, and I thought he was going to give himself a heart attack (other dog owner was fortunately very patient). This is becoming more problematic with him wanting to mount male or female dogs. I’m considering the chemical castration implant, as this would last for up to 6 months, but would be reversible if it didn’t suit him. Do you have any advice / thoughts on this?

    • Anne Taguchi says:

      Hi Jo, unfortunately I don’t know anything about chemical castration. Castration in general may or may not alter his behavior and at 5 hormones usually aren’t raging. Could it be that he is becoming more confident and dominant as he gets more comfortable at his new home? If so working on training may be worth doing before considering either method? Just a thought. Let us know what you decide and the outcome!

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