There was an interesting study done at at the University of California, Davis on the effects that neutering has on a dog. Depending how old the dog was when neutered could put the dog at a higher risk for certain cancers and even joint problems.
“The study results indicate that dog owners and service-dog trainers should carefully consider when to have their male or female dogs neutered,” says Benjamin Hart, professor emeritus at UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine and lead investigator in the study.
The study involved examining health records of some 759 golden retrievers. Researchers discovered a doubling of hip dysplasia among male dogs neutered before the age of one.
Researchers reviewed the records of male and female golden retrievers from one to eight years of age.
The data pool came from UC Davis’ William R. Pritchard Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital.
Researchers examined it for two joint disorders (hip dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament tear) and three types of cancer (lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumor).
For all five conditions, researchers discovered disease rates significantly higher in both male and female golden retrievers neutered either early or on the late side. These findings were consistent with earlier studies.
Hart insists that things are more complex than some might want them to be, though. The increased incidence of joint disease in dogs neutered prior to the age of one could be a combination of the effects of neutering on growth plates and an increase of the weight put on joints seen in neutered dogs.
“It is important to remember, however, that because different dog breeds have different vulnerabilities to various diseases, the effects of early and late neutering also may vary from breed to breed,” he says.
Over the last 10 years, numerous studies have indicated that neutering can lead to adverse health effects in different dog breeds. Some of these studies used breed-specific databases, just like the golden retriever study, and some have used data from all sorts of different breeds.
Spay & Neutering Common in US – Not So Common in Europe
Neutering is a common procedure in the United States and is generally recommended by the medical establishment for a number of reasons, including pet overpopulation and other concerns. Surgical neutering is usually done when the dog is less than a year old.
In other parts of the world, including in Europe, dog neutering isn’t as common. Interestingly, a Swedish study turned up a 99 percent intact rate for dogs there. In the UK, a 46 percent intact rate has been reported.
The point here isn’t to suggest that neutering is good or bad. But there are some questions to ask, I think, and some good research to indicate that dog neutering may carry some complications and concerns that we should be aware of.