Baja Dog Rescue (BDR) Spays or Neuters all dogs at 6 months of age, as fixing them any younger than that is not healthy and highly recommended against by the majority of veterinarians and vet schools in this country. We do adopt dogs out younger than 4 months that are un-altered, but we make the adopters sign a contract committing to getting them fixed, supply with low cost option to get the dog spay/neutered and have a stringent system in place to follow-up and ensure compliance with our policy. Adopters are contacted via e-mail, telephonically and via certified mail to ensure 100% compliance with BDR’s policy.
Here are several scientific abstracts from which we have referenced our research:
California State Law on Spay & Neuter
California State Law § 30522. (c) If a veterinarian licensed to practice veterinary medicine in this state certifies that a dog is too sick or injured to be spayed or neutered, or that it would otherwise be detrimental to the health of the dog to be spayed or neutered, the adopter or purchaser shall pay the public animal control agency or shelter, society for the prevention of cruelty to animals shelter, humane society shelter, or rescue group a deposit of not less than forty dollars ($40), and not more than seventy-five dollars ($75). The entity shall establish the amount of the deposit at the level it determines is necessary to encourage the spaying or neutering of dogs. The deposit shall be temporary, and shall be retained only until the dog is healthy enough to be spayed or neutered as certified by a veterinarian licensed to practice veterinary medicine in this state. The dog shall be spayed or neutered within 14 business days of that certification. The adopter or purchaser shall obtain written proof of spaying or neutering from the veterinarian performing the operation. If the adopter or purchaser presents proof of spaying or neutering to the entity from which the dog was obtained within 30 business days, the adopter or purchaser shall receive a full refund of the deposit.
In an article by Dr. Karen Becker, a premiere veterinarian and graduate from the Iwo State School of Veterinary Medicine and University of Wisconsin Wildlife Resource Management writes
It’s unfortunately true that a growing body of research is pointing to early sterilization as the common denominator for development of several debilitating and life-threatening canine diseases.On one hand, we certainly want to know what’s causing our precious canine companions to develop disease. On the other hand, it’s troubling to learn a procedure we’ve historically viewed as life-saving and of value to the pet community as a whole, has likely played a role in harming the health of some of the very animals we set out to protect.
A Veterinary Medical Database search of the years 1982 to 1995 revealed that in dogs with tumors of the heart, the relative risk for spayed females was over four times that of intact females.
For the most common type of cardiac tumor, hemangiosarcoma (HAS), spayed females had a greater than five times risk vs. their intact counterparts. Neutered male dogs had a slightly higher risk than intact males. The study concluded that, “… neutering appeared to increase the risk of cardiac tumor in both sexes. Intact females were least likely to develop a cardiac tumor, whereas spayed females were most likely to develop a tumor. Twelvebreeds had greater than average risk of developing a cardiac tumor, whereas 17 had lower risk.”
In a study of Rottweilers published in 2002, it was established the risk for bone sarcoma was significantly influenced by the age at which the dogs were sterilized. For both male and female Rotties spayed or neutered before one year of age, there was a one in four lifetime risk for bone cancer, and the sterilized animals were significantly more likely to develop the disease than intact dogs of the same breed. In another study using the Veterinary Medical Database for the period 1980 through 1994, it was concluded the risk for bone cancer in large breed, purebred dogs increased twofold for those dogs that were also sterilized.
It’s commonly believed that neutering a male dog will prevent prostatic carcinoma (PC) – cancer of the prostate gland. But worthy of note is that according to one study conducted at the College of Veterinary Medicine at Michigan State University, “…castration at any age showed no sparing effect on the risk of development of PC in the dog.” This was a small study of just 43 animals, however. And researchers conceded the development of prostate cancer in dogs may not be exclusively related to the hormones produced by the testicles. Preliminary work indicates non-testicular androgens exert a significant influence on the canine prostate.
Abnormal Bone Growth and Development
Studies done in the 1990’s concluded dogs spayed or neutered under one year of age grew significantly taller than non-sterilized dogs or those not spayed/neutered until after puberty. And the earlier the spay/neuter procedure, the taller the dog. Research published in 2000 in the Journal of Pediatric Endocrinology and Metabolism may explain why dogs sterilized before puberty are inclined to grow abnormally: At puberty, estrogen promotes skeletal maturation and the gradual, progressive closure of the epiphyseal growth plate, possibly as a consequence of both estrogen-induced vascular and osteoblastic invasion and the termination of chondrogenesis. In addition, during puberty and into the third decade, estrogen has an anabolic effect on the osteoblast and an apoptotic effect on the osteoclast, increasing bone mineral acquisition in axial and appendicular bone. It appears the removal of estrogen-producing organs in immature dogs, female and male, can cause growth plates to remain open. These animals continue to grow and wind up with abnormal growth patterns and bone structure. This results in irregular body proportions.
According to Chris Zink, DVM:
“For example, if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at 8 months when a dog gets spayed or neutered, but the tibia, which normally stops growing at 12 to 14 months of age continues to grow, then an abnormal angle may develop at the stifle. In addition, with the extra growth, the lower leg below the stifle likely becomes heavier (because it is longer), and may cause increased stresses on the cranial cruciate ligament.”
Higher Rate of ACL Ruptures
A study conducted at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center on canine anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) injuries concluded that spayed and neutered dogs had a significantly higher incidence of ACL rupture than their intact counterparts. And while large breed dogs had more ACL injuries, sterilized dogs of all breeds and sizes had increased rupture rates.
In a retrospective cohort study conducted at Cornell University’s College of Veterinary Medicine, and published in the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association, results showed that both male and female dogs sterilized at an early age were more prone to hip dysplasia.
Other Early-Age Spay/Neuter Health Concerns
Early gonad removal is commonly associated with urinary incontinence in female dogs and has been linked to increased incidence of urethral sphincter incontinence in males. Spayed and neutered Golden Retrievers are more likely to develop hypothyroidism. A cohort study of shelter dogs conducted by the College of Veterinary Medicine at Texas A&M University concludedthat infectious diseases were more common in dogs that were sterilized at less than 24 weeks of age. The AKC’s Canine Health Foundation issued a report pointing to a higher incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines in sterilized dogs. Among the reports and studies pointing to health concerns associated with early spaying and neutering, you can also find mention of increased incidence of behavioral problems including: Noise phobias, Fearful behavior, Aggression, Undesirable sexual behaviors
Risks versus Benefits of Early Sterilization
Every important decision in life comes with risks as well as benefits. As responsible animal guardians, I believe we owe it to our pets to make the best health choices we can for them. As responsible members of society, we owe it to our communities to proactively protect our intact pets from unplanned breeding at all costs. We must hold ourselves to the highest standard of reproductive control over the intact animals we are responsible for. Clearly, there are health benefits to be derived from waiting until after puberty to spay or neuter your dog. However, there are also significant risks associated with owning an intact, maturing pet. How seriously you take your responsibility as a pet owner is the biggest determining factor in how risky it is to leave your dog intact until he or she matures. If you are responsible enough to absolutely guarantee your unsterilized pet will not have the opportunity to mate, I would encourage you to wait until your pet is past puberty to spay or neuter. If you are unable to absolutely guarantee you can prevent your dog from mating and adding to the shameful, tragic problem of pet overpopulation, then I strongly encourage you to get your animal sterilized as soon as it’s safe to do so.
Cardiac tumors in dogs: 1982-1995.
Ware WA, Hopper DL.
J Vet Intern Med. 1999 Mar-Apr;13(2):95-103.
PMID: 10225598 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Endogenous gonadal hormone exposure and bone sarcoma risk.
Cooley DM, Beranek BC, Schlittler DL, Glickman NW, Glickman LT, Waters DJ.
Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002 Nov;11(11):1434-40.
PMID: 12433723 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Host related risk factors for canine osteosarcoma.
Ru G, Terracini B, Glickman LT.
Vet J. 1998 Jul;156(1):31-9.
PMID: 9691849 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
The influence of castration on the development of prostatic carcinoma in the dog. 43 cases (1978-1985).
Obradovich J, Walshaw R, Goullaud E.
J Vet Intern Med. 1987 Oct-Dec;1(4):183-7.
PMID: 3506104 [PubMed – indexed for MEDLINE]
Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers
Gretel Torres de la Riva,
Affiliation: Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, California, United States of America, Benjamin L. Hart Affiliation: Department of Anatomy, Physiology and Cell Biology, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, California, United States of America Thomas B. Farver,
Affiliation: Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, California, United States of America, Anita M. Oberbauer,
Affiliation: Department of Animal Science, College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences, University of California-Davis, Davis, California, United States of America Locksley L. McV. Messam,
Affiliation: Department of Public Health Sciences, School of Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, California, United States of America Neil Willits,
Affiliation: Statistics Laboratory, Department of Statistics, University of California-Davis, Davis, California, United States of America Lynette A. Hart
Published: February 13, 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055937
In contrast to European countries, the overwhelming majority of dogs in the U.S. are neutered (including spaying), usually done before one year of age. Given the importance of gonadal hormones in growth and development, this cultural contrast invites an analysis of the multiple organ systems that may be adversely affected by neutering. Using a single breed-specific dataset, the objective was to examine the variables of gender and age at the time of neutering versus leaving dogs gonadally intact, on all diseases occurring with sufficient frequency for statistical analyses. Given its popularity and vulnerability to various cancers and joint disorders, the Golden Retriever was chosen for this study. Veterinary hospital records of 759 client-owned, intact and neutered female and male dogs, 1–8 years old, were examined for diagnoses of hip dysplasia (HD), cranial cruciate ligament tear (CCL), lymphosarcoma (LSA), hemangiosarcoma (HSA), and mast cell tumor (MCT). Patients were classified as intact, or neutered early.