In the not so long ago past spaying and neutering dogs when they were young pups was not uncommon. Spaying females before their first cycle and neutering undescended males was an accepted practice. It was routine to take your puppy into a veterinarian’s office and schedule the surgery in the not too distant future. A lot of time has passed since then, and current research points towards slowing down and waiting awhile. But how long should you wait to spay or neuter your German Shepherd Puppy? Let’s find out.
First, What Is Spaying and Neutering
Performed by a veterinarian, a spay is when a female dog’s uterus and ovaries are removed. Typically, the surgery happens through an incision or with a minimally invasive laparoscopic approach. When a female dog is spayed they no longer go into heat, and they are unable to have puppies.
Considered less invasive than a spay, a male dog is neutered by removal of both testicles by a veterinarian. Male dogs are unable to reproduce following this procedure. In part, neutering has led to the expanding market of canine sperm banks (source).
Considerations for Spaying or Neutering Your German Shepherd Puppy
While a lot of science has happened since the early days when dogs were spayed and neutered while young, some things haven’t changed. However, we do know more about the pros and cons of these surgeries and the effects they can have on a dog’s body.
Benefits: Spay or Neutering Your German Shepherd Puppy
- No future unplanned pregnancies. According to recent data, there are nearly 3.3 million dogs at shelters (source).
- Reduction of health issues. Females experience fewer infections of the uterus and minimal mammary tumors. For males, there’s less chance of developing a large prostate gland or testicular cancer.
- Neutered dogs are purported to have a lessened desire to roam, and other problematic behaviors (e.g. humping, marking, etc.,).
Areas of Attention: Spay or Neutering Your German Shepherd Puppy
- Only intact, non-sterilized dogs are allowed to compete in conformation shows. Why? Because the goal is to rate a dog’s full appearance to how well her or she ‘conforms’ with the breed’s standard. And thus produce pedigree German Shepherd puppies.
- There is data to indicate that spayed dogs are more apt to gain weight. This is likely due to the hormonal changes that occur post-surgery.
- Again, due to hormonal changes, dogs that are spayed may have an increase in cancer of the blood vessels (hemangiosarcoma). And, neutered dogs could have an increased potential for hyperthyroidism.
- As with any surgery, there is the general risk of anesthesia associated with spaying or neutering your German Shepherd dog.
How Long Should You Wait to Spay or Neuter Your German Shepherd Puppy?
A recent American Kennel Club (AKC) Canine Health Foundation sponsored research study found that holding off a little while can offer long-term health benefits to your GSD puppy. How long? Until after a puppy has gone through puberty. The study found that waiting until after a dog goes through puberty can result in a benefit orthopedic health, breed-specific cancers, and provide potential behavior benefits (source). Additionally, it showed that spaying and neutering early increased bone growth, resulting in a taller pet, creating concern for proper joint alignment. Considered the first study of its type, and while it did have many veterinarians surprised by the results, future research is planned to further our understanding of this very important topic.
Discuss With Your Veterinarian
In light of the spay and neuter study along with the general care of a dog, there are things to consider and perhaps discuss with your veterinarian. These include:
- Does your dog have the potential for orthopedic concerns, and if so, would spaying or neutering increase the risk?
- What’s involved with caring for a female dog that is in heat or a fully intact male, and is that feasible with your lifestyle?
Where Do We Stand
As you know, we at Roche’s German Shepherds are one of the premier breeders of pedigree GSD puppies. We take pride in our dogs and work with numerous dog professionals. Our primary veterinarian, Dr. Marty Greer, is well regarded in the industry for her special interest in pediatrics and reproduction (Greer, Marthina L. Canine Reproduction and Neonatology. Teton NewMedia, 2014). Through numerous discussions and research, we recommend waiting a minimum of one full year before spaying or neutering your German Shepherd puppy. For female GSD puppies, we advocate spaying after they have gone through one heat cycle.
Here To Help
Pedigree German Shepherds are one of the most intelligent dogs, and spaying or neutering has no effect on their IQ, ability to learn, play, work, or hunt. It truly comes down to the health of your dog. So, if you are looking to add a GSD puppy to your family, you may be wondering when is the right time to spay or neuter your dog. Hopefully, the information contained in our article will help you reach the right decision for you and your German Shepherd dog.
After all, we are passionate about championing the excellence of German Shepherd dogs, and helping those who love this breed as much as we do.