The best age to neuter your dog depends on the breed, experts find

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Researchers say each breed responds differently to the procedure

While a great deal of pet-related research has centered around the benefits pets can bring to owners, a new study is exploring what consumers can do to ensure their pets are as healthy as possible. 

Researchers from the University of California, Davis found that the best time to get dogs neutered depends on their breed. They analyzed nearly three dozen breeds and determined that different breeds respond to the procedure differently, and it’s important for pet owners to be aware of the risks. 

“There is a huge disparity among different breeds,” said researcher Benjamin Hart. “Some breeds developed problems, others didn’t. Some may have developed joint disorders but not cancer or the other way around.” 

Knowing when to neuter

The researchers analyzed 15 years’ worth of patient data from the UC Davis Veterinary Teaching Hospital to determine the risks associated with spaying or neutering different breeds. Breed, sex, and age were the primary factors assessed in the study, and the researchers were interested in seeing the risks of cancer and joint disorders. 

The biggest takeaway from this study is that different breeds respond differently to being spayed or neutered. However, sex and body size are important for pet owners to consider when thinking about potential risks associated with the procedure. 

While female golden retrievers were 10 percent more likely than males to experience complications from being spayed, Boston terriers were the opposite, with males more likely than females to develop complications post-procedure. 

Size also played a key role, as the study revealed that smaller dogs tended to have fewer complications overall. The researchers explained that larger dogs were more likely than smaller-sized breeds to develop either joint disorders or cancer. 

Get an expert opinion

Though many consumers worry about spaying or neutering too early, this study found that for most breeds, age wasn’t a huge risk factor. 

Because there are so many specific differences among the breeds, the researchers encourage consumers to look closely at their findings to determine the potential risks for their pet. Moreover, each dog is as unique as their breed, and so it’s important that consumers have an open dialogue with their veterinarians prior to spaying or neutering their pets. 

“We think it’s the decision of the pet owner, in consultation with their veterinarian, not society’s expectations that should dictate when to neuter,” Hart said. “This is a paradigm shift for the most commonly performed operation in veterinary practice.” 

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