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 estrogen and progesterone in females and testosterone in males. And while the surgery itself is safe to do as early as 8 weeks old, recent studies have started to question if doing so early might adversely affect health since hormones aren’t just about reproduction. They give us those annoying boy behaviors and bitch behaviors, and 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.
In fact, 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 early spay/neuter:
- 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! Cleaning up after a litter and trying to place them all in good homes can be a lot of thankless work! Believe me, the whole “miracle of life” thing wears off super fast once you have to clean up a dozen puppies’ poop!
Cons of early spay/neuter:
- 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).
Summarized from and full list here.