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The Spaying and Neutering Dilemma...

Have you been thinking about spaying/neutering your dog? But don't know if you are making the right decision?

Spaying/neutering has become one of the most common surgical procedures in dogs.
Over 50+ years ago animal rights groups began a serious campaign of adopt don't shop in the early 1970's, and they have been very successful. Before the 1970's spaying and neutering was quite rare, now approximately 85% of all pets in America have been sterilized.
There are plenty of pros and cons and plenty of unsubstantiated opinions and myths. Very often, especially in Dobermans, this action is performed to gain benefits in the following areas:

  • Combating unwanted behavior that is perceived as dominant. Castration may limit the amount of dominant behavior the male dog displays. This can be a solution, while in most cases the dominant behavior in the male is due to incorrect upbringing and lack of consistant training as to what is appropriate behaviour. So the cause lies elsewhere.

  • Or to prevent discomfort in the bitch during heat.

  • Or because people believe that it is better for the dog's health. 

  • It often happens that veterinarians recommend that, if you do not want to breed a litter, sterilization or castration at a young age to prevent cancer. 

Is that a good thing to do or not?

Joint and other problems due to castration.
Research on German Shepherds conducted by Canine Health Foundation and Center for Companion Animal Health at the University of California has shown that castration/sterilization can have consequences for the dog's health later in life and can be the cause of joint problems such as: Hip Dysplasia , osteoarthritis and spondilosis. Cancer and urinary tract infections are also mentioned as possible common problems.
The risk of rupture of cruciate ligaments (CCL) and Hip Dysplasia (HD) is 4 to 5 times higher.
A previous study in 2007 showed that neutered dogs are more likely to develop bone abnormalities (e.g. osteoarthritis, spondilosis), as well as certain forms of cancer. Other studies also showed that neutering has an influence on the development of cruciate ligament ruptures and a recent 2014 study among Golden Retrievers and Labradors showed that the risk of joint disorders and Hip Dysplasia in neutered males and sterilized females was even 4 to 5 times higher! That is double the 5% of cases involving unsterilized animals.
Although it is often stated that neutered bitches have a lower risk of mammary cancer, this appears not to be the case. Recent studies even show that neutered and sterilized dogs die more often from cancer than non-neutered/sterilized dogs. Osteosarcoma, lymphatic cancer and mast cell tumors are more common in dogs that have been “helped”.
In animals that were castrated before 6 months of age: the Hip Dysplasia percentage increases to 20.8%. The most recent study among German Shepherds examined the influence of the age at which neutering/neutering takes place and the incidence of joint problems and cancer. The study spanned 14 years, with 1,170 dogs included in the study. This showed that hip dysplasia or cruciate ligament tear was found at some point in 6.6% of the cases in intact males. For the dogs that were neutered before their 6th month of life, this ultimately amounted to 20.8%! Three times as much as in the intact dogs. In the group of dogs that were neutered between the 6th and 12th month, 16.4% of the dogs developed a joint disorder. Hip Dysplasia turned out to be the most common condition. It was striking that Cruciate Ligament Tear was the condition that occurred much more often in neutered males. In intact females, 5.1% of dogs were diagnosed with joint disease at some point.

Urinary incontinence due to sterilization.
Urinary incontinence in sterilized bitches is a concern of many dog ​​owners as the dog ages. In bitches sterilized before their 6th month, the incidence was 12.5% ​​and in bitches sterilized between their 6th and 12th month, even 17%. For the dogs monitored for an average of 8 years for this study, urinary incontinence reached a level of 7% in females spayed before reaching 1 year of age. In bitches spayed at 1 year and older, the incidence of this problem was reduced, and was not diagnosed at all in intact bitches. In practice, it seems that Doberman bitches are more likely to suffer from incontinence.
....and cancer
When looking at the occurrence of cancer in both males and females, there appeared to be slightly more cancer in the untreated animals, but in none of the cases was the difference significant. The difference was too small to draw any conclusions from it and therefore too small to spay/neuter a bitch or male for that reason, it does not appear to be a means of prevention. Of course, cervical cancer no longer occurs in bitches after sterilization, and no more testicular cancer occurs in males after castration. After all, the uterus or testicles have been removed. But due to the increased occurrence of other types of cancers after the disruption of the hormonal balance, spaying/neutering does not provide any benefits.
The conclusion is that castration/sterilization offers no benefits in reducing the development of cancer. Unfortunately, it often causes joint problems. Castration/sterilization at a young age, before the first year, is a clear risk factor.

Source: Neutering of German Shepherd Dogs: associated joint disorders, cancers and urinary incontinence.

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