Wirehaired Pointing Griffon wearing neck cone from vet.

Early Spaying and Neutering: Are You Aware of the Risks?

Part of PuppyViewer’s mission is to ensure pet parents are well informed when it comes to important topics that affect the health and wellbeing of their furry friends – and that includes sterilization.

While some veterinarians still recommend having your dog spayed or neutered by six months of age, recent data shows us it might not be the be best option for your pup.

In fact, that way of thinking is old school.

While there are doubtless health and behavioural benefits to spaying and neutering, there can be several increased health risks for your pup when sterilization is done too early.

Health Consequences Associated with Early Spay and Neuter

In a new report published by the University of California, Davis (UC Davis), researchers discovered that health risks based on sterilization age varied widely depending on breed and even sex.

The study found that heavier dogs encountered increased health complications ranging from joint disorders to cancer when spayed or neutered prior to one year of age.

The report’s findings are in line with the American Animal Hospital Association’s guidelines on sterilization based on reproductive health data, as shown below:

Neuter (Castration)

Small BreedsLarge Breeds
6 months of ageWait until growth stops (~9-15 months of age)

Source: AAHA

Spay (Ovariohysterectomy)

Small BreedsLarge Breeds
Prior to anticipated heat cycle (5-6 months of age)Wait until growth stops (~5-15 months of age)

Source: AAHA

Small breeds: < 45 lbs projected adult body weight
Large breeds: ≥ 45 lbs projected adult body weight

The 2019 AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines recommend neutering of large-breed male dogs after growth stops (approximately 9-15 months of age).

Recommendations for female dogs are more varied and depend on striking a balance between health risks and benefits for each dog.

Speak to Your Veterinary Professional About Sterilization

It’s important to note that despite the research and guidelines presented, the timing of sterilization in pups can still be a controversial topic – every dog and breed is different. At the end of the day, we only want the best for our pets!

If you have questions about spaying and neutering and what’s right for your pup, follow up with your veterinary professional for more information and professional guidance.

Your new family member is precious and choosing the right puppy takes research and time. With PuppyViewer you can be sure that your time and effort will not be wasted!

Join the community