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Spay/Neuter Articles

9/30/2016 -They Studied Dogs That Had Extreme Longevity and Guess What They Found?


3/1//2016 - The rish of neutering dogs at 6 months



Most of us are bombarded with messages about taking the socially correct actions and that includes early spay and neuter of our dogs. But we need to be aware that early spay and neuter can leave dogs with their long-term health impaired and in the case of Golden Retrievers, it significantly increases the likelihood they will die of hemangiosarcoma, one of the most common types of cancer in Goldens.

GamblerIn Sweden spaying and neutering is against the law, under the animal cruelty ordinances. It is a very uncommon practice in Western Europe and yet there is no animal overpopulation problem in those countries. The reason is responsibility. Puppies are produced either because people breed dogs on purpose, whether or not they should be doing so. Or we get puppies from accidental breedings because owners were not knowledgeable or did not pay attention. Since you are reading this website we assume you are responsible and are trying to learn about how to best acquire and care for a Golden Retriever.

How Did We Get Here?

How did we get to this place where it is socially preferable to subect our dogs to invasive surgeries that leave them less healthy than just to be responsible for their behavior? There are a tremendous number of people who get their dogs from shelters and unlike responsible hobby breeders, the shelters cannot screen who is allowed to take their dogs. We know that in California 47% of the dogs adopted from shelters end up back in the shelters. So in that case it is appropriate to help society, even as it hurts the long-term health of the dogs, by making sure all shelter animals are altered before they are adopted.

What Does The Science Say?

For a long time there was no research done on this. Dogs were altered, they lived, no one followed sets of altered and unaltered dogs until recently, when medicine for dogs has become a profitable business. The only side by side study of effects of early spay and neuter was done by Canine Companions for Independence. CCI would like to alter their trainee puppies as soon as possible to make life easier for their puppy raisers. CCI found that animals altered early could not be used as service dogs because of behavior issues.

Nature gave animals endocrine glands for the same reason people have them. They play a large part in behavior and physical development, the rate at which bones develop, the size of the dog and how the dogs behave. It is only in the last ten years that veterinary medicine has been profitable enough to fund the studies that are not being done, most of which provide surprising data on early spay and neuter. There are a number of attachments on this subject, some more technical than others. I would urge you to read at least the one by Christine Zink, DVM. See the bottom of the page.

Many uninformed people and veterinarians would probably tell you that six months of age is the optimum time. But there is absolutely no research to support this. Your veterinarian probably attended a vet school before this research was available. And they may have attended a school supported by HSUS (Humane Society of the United States). HSUS* promotes early spay and neuter without regard for the health of the dogs but even they no longer promote mandatory spay and neuter.

What About Goldens Specificially?

If you are considering a Golden Retriever, we assume temperament and behavior matters to you. If you have not considered Golden Retriever rescue, they have some wonderful dogs. If you feel you need to know more about the breeding, health and temperament of a potential family pet, that may be why you are at this website. And if you are wanting a Golden that looks like the dogs on this website, let me assure you that a Golden Retriever puppy that is altered early will have longer legs, less bone, a narrow and longer muzzle, be a couple inches taller and not resemble its littermates. It will NOT look like the dogs you are seeing here.


But let's start with the benefits of early spay and neuter and there are some. Bitches that are spayed prior to their first season will not develop mammary cancer and not get pyometra. Dogs that are neutered have no testicles and therefore no testicular cancer. These are all low-incidence events and usually easily treated surgically.



Urinary incontinence.
Increased barking and aggression toward people and dogs.
The likelihood of getting hemangiosarcoma (a non-treatable cancer that is the most common cancer in Golden Retrievers) is increased by 5 times.
Triples the risk of hypothyroidism.
If done before one year increases the risk of osteosarcoma.
Increases the risk of orthopedic disorders, possibly including hip dysplasia.
Recurrent urinary tract infections.
Increases the risks of adverse reactions to vaccines.
Increases the risk of obesity by 1.6 - 2 times.


Quadruples the small risk of prostate cancer.
Increased barking and aggression toward people and dogs.
The likelihood of getting hemangiosarcoma is increased by at least 1.4 times.
Triples the risk of hypothyroidism.
If done before one year increases the risk of osteosarcoma.
Increases the risk of CCL injuries.
Significantly increases the risk of orthopedic disorders, including hip dysplasia.
Triples the risk of obesity.
Increases the risks of adverse reactions to vaccines.
Increases the risk of geriatric positive impairment.


Article from Dr. Chris Zink

Opinion of the Society of Theriogenology (A specialty group in the AVMA)

AVMA Letter on MSN


2/16/2014 - Dangers of small incisions on spays - a must read article -

1/4/2014 - Spay and Neuter health issues a must see video:

Posted: 9/25/2013 - Study finds neutering-disease link in Golden Retrievers

Posted: 7/21/2013- Neuering Dogs effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers:

Article on golden retriever health issues from spaying and or neutering to early.

  • Spaying and Castration
    (Neutering) Dogs and Cats
    A Stark Warning

    Neutering is the general term used for the surgical removal of the reproductive organs in both male and female dogs.

    What Your Vet and the Rescue Centre's May Not Tell You and why you should never spay or castrate early

    Neuteringcan make for a better and more affectionate family pet. It is a medical fact that spaying and castration can prolong the life of our pets and may reduce the number of health problems in later life.  Females can benefit from spaying by reducing the incidence of uterine, mammary, and ovarian cancers. It can also reduce the incidence of uterine infections such as Pyometra.
    Castrating a male reduces the risk of prostate and testicular cancer. They are less likely to develop unwanted behaviour's such as marking, sexual aggression, and mounting, they are also less likely to escape, roam, or fight with other dogs.

    Some vets recommend that our dogs are spayed or neutered anywhere between 5 to 16 months. In America some are being done as early as 8 weeks and they routinely neuter at between four and six months. Many of the Vets, Trainers and Behaviourists in both America and the UK are recommending this course of action, without understanding the numerous problems this advice may create.

    Some rescue centre's such as the RSPCA often spay and neuter as a matter of course, whatever the age. In fact I have written an article pointing to the fact that a few of our "Welfare Societies" are neutering both male and female dogs as young as SIX WEEKS. And some breeders are doing it at the same age so that the owners cannot breed from these poor dogs later. This is especially prevalent in some breeders of Labradoodles, but other breeders are involved as well. May I recommend that you never buy from a breeder that is prepared to mutilate a tiny puppy this young.

    I know of a case recently, where the breeder sold siblings (two dogs from the same litter) which on its own is a recipe for disaster, and something very fewgood breeders would ever do. See "Siblings the Worst of Both Worlds" But to compound the problem she had both of them neutered at six weeks. The buyer was warned but chose to ignore that advice.

    It is not just the owner that will suffer. As these poor little dogs start to grow and start to reach maturity. They will become more and more anxious, distressed, and frustrated. It is these poor dogs that will unfortunately be impaired for the rest of their lives, both physically and mentally. It is an absolute travesty that we can allow these people to do this to young pups.

    What happened to the five freedoms under the Animal Welfare Act of 2007. Where number three of the five freedoms states. "The need to to exhibit normal behaviour patterns" How can these poor pups exhibit normal behaviour patterns when they have had this start in life.?

    Grave Concerns
    I have some very serious reservations about neutering even at six months, but six weeks is ludicrous, I believe that for the behavioural health of our dogs this advice and practice must stop. See the RSPCA article. Click Here

    There have been numerous scientific studies on the beneficial outcome of neutering, especially on a physiological level. But none I can find on a psychological and behavioural level.

    I noted some six years ago that the incidence of frustration, lack of attention, and puppy like behaviour, appeared to be far more prevalent in dogs that were castrated and spayed at a younger age, rather than those that were allowed to mature naturally before attempting this operation.

    As behavioural consultants and obedience trainers, I find that we are treating many more cases where dogs are displaying (paedomorphic) tendencies. That is puppy like behaviour's in adult dogs, which I believe is related to the incidence of early spaying and neutering.

    I also observed that bitches spayed too early, may be far more interesting to intact males; unwanted male attention can cause the female to become aggressive and protective of this attention in adulthood.

    I asked the members of PAACT
    “The Professional Association of Applied Canine Trainers”

    to start to monitor the dogs they were treating and to record the time they were spayed and neutered. Their feedback appeared to bear out my initial findings.

    When should we spay and neuter?
    With regard to neutering, I believe that males should not be castrated until they have been cocking their leg for at least one month, and should be at least 10 to 27 months of age (depending on size and breed). The larger the breed then the later they mature,. therefore something like a German Shepherd would be much later than the 10 months stated. Probably more like 17 months. Unless of course there are medical or serious behavioural issues to take into consideration.

    In females, I believe that they should have at least one season; but preferably two, then wait approximately 3 months after the season before considering spaying, allowing the internal organs to settle down after the season.

    It has also been observed that young female dogs that show aggressive tendencies towards owners, especially before the age of six months; often demonstrate increased aggression after spaying.

    Spaying removes the production of progesterone, which is a natural calming hormone and a Serotonin uplifter. Spaying may therefore escalate any observable aggressive behaviour, either to humans or other dogs.

    Despite popular belief spaying does not calm a female dog down. It may help to calm certain behaviour's in males, but not female dogs. How could it when you are removing hormones that raise serotonin?

    Many vets and rescue centre's will neuter a male dog before they have cocked their leg. It is at this point dogs start to seriously mark territory. Not the half-hearted attempts we see in immature dogs. The immature castrated dog may squat for the remainder of it’s life, and may be more interesting to intact males.
    There appears to be a testosterone surge at between 10 and 24 months depending on breed and size, which clearly turns on a dormant hard-wired program that establishes this cocking behaviour. Male dogs also produce Progesterone.

    Progesterone and testosterone switches on many of the hard-wired behaviour's we see in maturity and are not isolated to just one action, therefore other functions that are not so obvious may be switched on at this time.

    These may have social implications and behavioural effects that aid in the development of dogs psychological and physical growth. If we switch these off by neutering or castrating too early, we may be denying the opportunity achieve both mentally and physically the dog’s full adult potential.

    Progesterone receptors are found in brain cells, in nerve sheaths and in bone cells, In both male and female dogs. indicating that progesterone is involved in their function. It also appears to be involved in a range of other biological activities. Therefore neutering before both physical and psychological maturity may have numerous other long-term detrimental effects.

    Many dogs that have been neutered early, appear to retain far more juvenile characteristics than those neutered when mature. In other words, they retain perpetual puppy like characteristics, whilst this may appear to be initially endearing, who would really want a dog that shows low concentration levels and frustrated puppy like behaviour for the remainder of its adult life?

    Can it also cause physiological problems?

    Because early neutering removes sex hormones, this delays maturation of “osteoclasts” resulting in the delayed closing of the growth plates of the long leg bones creating leggy taller than average dogs, thereby increasing the risk of some orthopedic disorders such as cruciate ligament disease, Hip problems and possibly bone cancer.

    It was long believed that eunuchs (castrated humans) were castrated to stop them being interested is the ladies of the Harem. However they were also used as palace guards, because of the affect neutering has on the “osteoclasts” these eunuch's were therefore appreciably taller, making them more imposing as guards and soldiers.

    It has been observed that Spaying can significantly increase the risk of urinary incontinence in bitches. Early neutering also increases risk of urethral sphincter incontinence in males (A. Aaron et al., Vet Rec. 139:542-6, 1996.)

    In conclusion, I am all for neutering, but at the right time, thereby allowing your dogs to reach full maturity in both body and mind. I believe that a full psychological and physiological set of tests and experiments should be scientifically undertaken, to study the effect of early castration and spaying on all our animals, not just dogs and cats.

    These findings though purely observational, have also been borne out by observation and experiences of behaviourists and trainers who are members of PAACT “The Professional Association of Applied Canine Trainers” An organisation dedicated to enhancing and bringing together the two main canine disciplines of obedience training and behavioural therapy. It is PAACT’s belief that to be able to work with dogs on a professional level, you need to be versed in both of these disciplines.

    Article written by.

    Stan Rawlinson MTCBPT. MPAACT
    Chairman and Founder Member
    Professional Association of Applied Canine Trainers.

    Contact details for PAACT
    0208 979 2019


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