01840: Health Implications of Early Spay/Neuter on Canine Health
The effects of neutering at various ages are also examined with regard to mammary cancer, urinary incontinence, and pyometra in females.
The research over the past year covers the popular German Shepherd Dog, the most important military and police canine.
German Shepherd Dog
We found that 7% of intact males and 5% of intact females were diagnosed with one or more joint disorders. But neutering in either sex at less than 6 months, or between 6 months and 11 months, increased the incidence of one or more joint disorders by 3-fold over that of the intact dogs, resulting in as high as 22% of dogs having a joint disorder. The occurrence of the cancers we followed in this breed was especially low in the intact males and females – 3% or less – and was not affected in either sex by neutering. Urinary incontinence, a very inconvenient problem in some females, did not occur in any intact females, but got as high as 7% in females neutered in the first year.
German Shepherd, Bottom Line
Delaying neutering and spaying (if done) in German Shepherd Dogs until they are at least 1 year old markedly reduces the likelihood of one or more disabling joint disorders. Delaying spaying of females beyond 1 year also reduces the chance of urinary incontinence, while not increasing the chance of mammary cancer.