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.
A 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
- Surgery is generally considered safe.
- No heat cycles in females.
- Usually a decrease in hormonally related sexual behaviors, such as mounting, flagging and marking etc.
- No risk of pyometra, a life threatening uterine infection.
- Reduces the risk of non-cancerous prostate problems.
- No risk of an unwanted litter of puppies!
Cons of Spaying or Neutering Your Weimaraner Early
- Increased risk of these cancers: osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, lymphoma, mast cell tumors, and prostate cancer.
- Increased risk of hip dysplasia and cruciate ligament tear.
- Increased risk of urinary incontinence in females.
- Increased risk of recessed vulva. (A heat cycle usually corrects this!)
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