What is the Best Age to Neuter or Spay your Australian Labradoodle Puppy?

People frequently ask, at what age should they neuter/spay their puppy? According the AAHA (American Animal Hospital Association), in recent times, the common practice has been to spay/neuter your puppy as soon as it is safe for the puppy to tolerate the anesthesia. However, there is renewed interest in the question of age-appropriate spay and neuter of puppies, in view numerous scientific studies that found significant health implications related to this common procedure.

When looking at the canine health authority, AAHA recommends that puppies be spayed/neutered between 5-15 months of age. As a guide, 5-6 months for puppies that will weigh under 45 lbs when adults and between 9-15 months of age for puppies that will weigh over 45 lbs when adults. Larger dogs take longer to grow, and the age difference is mainly to do with the growth cycle.

Are there risks and benefits to spaying and neutering?

Risks: Research shows that there are many reasons why pet owners do not spay/neuter their dogs. Some of these include fear of anesthesia, anesthesia complication and financial constraints.

Benefits: Pet owners should know that while there are some risks involved, spay/neuter caries benefits of fending off cancers and infections. Some benefits include a decreases in the risk of mammary and testicular cancers, uterine infections, prevents pet overpopulation, and prevents undesirable behaviors.

Risks and benefits of early spaying and neutering

Risks: University of California, Davis, performed a study on golden retrievers in 2013 that suggested while early sterilization prevented many diseases, it may have increased the risk of other problems (cranial cruciate ligament rupture, hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumors, lymphosarcoma, and orthopedic issues). Despite these findings, the study stressed that more studies on the link between sterilization age and the onset of certain diseases are needed to help understand the implications. Multiple health implications on early spayed/neutered dogs were voiced in the 2017 article “Spay-neuter considerations to maximize health.” The article was published by Innovative Veterinary Care that indicated that early sterilization leads to “orthopedics, cancer, behavior and other health issues” for the dogs.

Benefits: According to Dr. Philip Bushby, DVM, MS, DACVS, with the Veterinary Medicine Center, early spay/neuter has the benefit of faster anesthesia recovery and shorter healing than in older dogs. The Association of Shelter Veterinarians’ 2016 Veterinary Medical Care Guidelines for Spay-Neuter Programs. J Am Vet Med Assoc 2016;249:165-188.

Risks and benefits of late spaying and neutering

Risks: Unwanted pregnancies, financial obligations and ethical dilemmas regarding the newborn puppies. Many people simply either do not know that their female dog is pregnant or the dog experiences complications that lead to costly medical interventions. Some people are also not equipped to deal with newborn puppies and the many demands that come with raising socialized and healthy puppies. These puppies can die from either inadequate care or diseases. Other adverse effects of late sterilization include obesity, stunted growth, joint dysplasia, and musculoskeletal disorders, to name a few.

Benefits: In 2014, the AKC Canine Health Foundation Funded Research Suggests Potential Health Benefits to Dogs When Spay and Neuter is Delayed, suggests that there are some benefits to delaying spaying and neutering in fending off some of the health issues associated with early spay/neuter.

What you really need to know

Every dog owner must eventually deal with the issues of spaying or neutering their pet as clearly, there are health advantages and disadvantages for both early and late spay/neuter. Despite many scientific studies and guidelines, it remains a complex question that encompass many factors that each pet owner needs to carefully consider. The decision should be made on objective findings, such as your dog’s disease risk and your lifestyle.

Based on our experience and the research, there seems to be an overwhelming evidence that early spay/neuter is adverse to the health and long-term well-being of dogs. Therefore, we recommend that you delay spaying/neutering until 9 months of your puppy’s age.

We also recommend that you consult with your veterinarian to help figure out best timing for this procedure. Spend some time with your veterinarian discussing your goals for your pet and your personal concerns. Do not be afraid to ask questions. We believe that sharing the most accurate and current information with your veterinarian is the best plan to figure out the best timing for spaying and neutering of your pets. While you cannot predict when your dog is going to get sick or injured, you can protect yourself from expensive veterinary bills. Familiarizing yourself with the evidence-based research regarding the risks and benefits, may enable you to make an educated choice regarding your pet.