I have seen a couple of links from vets that recommend against neutering a dog until their growth phase is over. Could you provide me some guidance on what the ideal age would be to neuter a GSD and what the youngest age would be when one can safely do so without affecting the health of the dog?
Barring any medical complications, I would say between eighteen (18) and twenty-four (24) months for a female, and thirty (30) to thirty-six (36) months for a male. For the female, it is important to do this between the eustrus cycles. For the mael, of course it matters not.
There's some interesting info here:
I totally agree with Bob-O,
Even if you are not going to breed your female, I know it can be a pain,
but let her have 1 heat, then spay, I really do believe that they keep growing
after you spay them, I saw a female that a lady got from me,
at obedience training, the lady spayed her
at 5 months old, the dog had unusually long legs, I felt bad, it just creeped
me out, cause all my dogs have east German blood in them and the majority
are thick boned and do not have such length to their legs.
It looked like a medical experiment, she also complained to me right after she had
her dog spayed that her pup was having problems urinating, I asked her to wait
at least till the pup was 9 months, maybe to compromise alittle, but nOOO,
her vet was about to retire she had to spay her dog now,
and guess what, she didn't even get the vet she wanted to spay her dog, it was some
Pros and cons for both. Females neutered before their first season rarely develop breast cancer. After they have their first season most of that benefit is lost. Sometimes a female will develop pyometra at her first or second season making a spay an emergency situation. I've seen bitches with pyo die during a spay. Male dogs with a tendency to be aggressive may benefit from earlier neutering.
I've had dogs neutered very young, some older, never seemed to make much difference in their lifespan or quality of life. A male neutered young tends to not develop a masculine head and may grow taller; not generally a big concern to a pet owner. Females may have an incontinence problem as they age, that is usually controlled with meds. That can also happen to a bitch that is neutered later in life, so is not confined just to those that have been neutered young. I don't really buy into the osteosarcoma is more common in dogs that are neutered young as the resutls of the studies I have seen personally are from breeds like Rotties or Wolfhounds where that type of cancer is very common and seems to have a genetic component. It also seems to me that all the uproar over early neutering has come about since we are seeing so many proposed laws about mandatory neutering. It could be the dog world's defense to not neutering at a young age. I have always neutered my pet dogs young, females usually before their first season, males at around 8 months and will continue to do so as long as I don't see any proof that is is detrimental to their long term health.
The article by Chris Zink is very informative and makes a lot of sense.. growth plate closure is the key ..... whether it be your next sport dog or your family companion.. i see no reason to do anything different.
Growth plates close around 14 months in large breed dogs.. xray will show this
growth plates close at different ages depending on where they are found in the body, and some dogs will be sooner or later than others.
Christine Zink's article is excellent especially if you are considering a competitive career, but also from the point of view of cruciate ligament injuries etc.
Another interesting article on neutering is here:
which looks at the long term health effects of neutering.
I would never neuter a dog prior to it becoming mature unless there were overwhelming environmental issues to do so.
Has anyone here owned a GSD with bone cancer, peri-anal fistulas, hemangiosarcoma or another of the health issues Zink talks about? If so, was the dog neutered young? Also, does anyone think a pet owner cares if their dog grows taller or if their male doesn't develop a masculine head as long as it causes no health problems?
Stastistics are manipulated all the time; I'd much rather hear from people who have had actual experince with any health issues they think may have been caused by early neutering than take internet articles as being 100% accurate. A quick google search turned up 3 or 4 sites with articles supporting early neutering. Who is right? If we can't actually see the results of these studies and know which breeds are involved, if any close relatives also suffered from the same conditions, environmental influences and tons of other factors, then the results may be skewed. I know of one IWH breeder who lost dog afer dog to osteosarcoma, neutered or not, all were related. A friend got out of that breed because 3 out of 3 died from osteosarcoma. One was neutered, the other 2 intact.
Is anyone aware of any surveys asking for input from dog owners or from vets? I think back to the time when I first got interested in dogs and then worked as a tech. We usually neutered dogs early and I honest cannot recall any of them having any problems that could have been attributed to that surgery. I remember one intact 10 year old male GSD with hemangiosarcoma. To be fair the incidence of cancers were much less than today. Might be due to better diagnostic techniques, but most cancers become very evident if not treated. Most times it's a no brainer with or without biopsies, etc.. It's a puzzle to me and I don't want to see dogs suffer because stats are being manipulated to defend someone's political agenda like those opposing PETA. I'm not talking about anyone here BTW.
Thank you for all the responses - they have been quite illuminating.
First, let me clarify that my GSD is a male - I assumed that the use of the term "neuter" as opposed to "spay" would indicate this but apparently the former term is used interchangeably.
My dog is a family pet and has been wonderful in terms of its ability to learn and overall intelligence. He is now 16 months old and I was wanting to neuter him in a couple of months when he would be 18 months mainly because we are going to be out of the country for three months commencing in November. During this period he would be housed with my daughter who already has a female GSD that has not been spayed. It would make life easier for them not to have to worry about our dog when hers is in heat.