What Age Should Dogs Be Desexed

When is the Best Age to Desex Your Dog?

Many dog owners find themselves wondering when the best age to desex their puppy is. Should I do it while they are young so that they don’t remember it and are able to recover more quickly? Or should I do it when they are older so that they are less likely to rip the stitches out in frustration?

If you’ve found yourself wondering the same thing, then you’ve come to the right place. This article will discuss the issue of desexing and attempt to provide a guide on what age is best for your dog. Unfortunately, there is no black and white solution to this question. The right age to desex your dog may be different to that of another. For this reason, it is important to be educated on the procedure and be in consultation with your veterinarian regarding your specific puppy.

What is Desexing?

Desexing is a surgical procedure which removes some of the reproductive organs from you dog. It thereby sterilises them so that they cannot produce offspring. Deciding to desex your dog is a major decision. It holds significant implications for your dog’s life and, because it is irreversible, must be carefully thought out before any commitment is made. For more information, and to explore our discussion on the advantages of desexing your dog, visit our article Should I Desex My Dog?

Being Cautious of Simple Answers

There are generally four ages advocated for the sterilisation of puppies. These come from different groups, with different interests. These four ages are listed below:

  1. Very Early Age (Prior to 6 months) Advocated by rescue shelters and some breeders
  2. 6 Moths Desexing Advocated by most Vets
  3. Late Age Desexing (After 12 Months) Advocated for some breeds
  4. Not At All.  

So why are there so many different recommendations? Firstly, different groups have different goals. Shelters advocate for early desexing in a bid to reduce unwanted pregnancies and overloaded shelters, whereas, vets are generally advocating for the choice which will extend the life of the puppy. Secondly, the age to desex a dog can vary based on a number of factors, including breed, sex, and purpose. In an attempt to clear the air, we’ll unpack the pros and cons for each.

  1. Very Early Age Desexing (EAD)

Desexing between 8 weeks and 6 months. Important for shelters to avoid overpopulation. Few good studies exploring early desexing which means less information to base your decision off.

Pros

Very Early Age Desexing is valuable for reducing unwanted pregnancies. For female, dogs early desexing allows owners to avoid the first heat cycle and reduce the likelihood of infection, and mammary and ovarian cancers. For male dogs, early desexing pre-empts potentially negative behaviour changes such as aggression and territorial spraying. EAD surgeries and recovery times are quicker than those in older dogs.

Cons

EAD potentially increases the risk of joint issues occurring because the dog is potentially deprived of growth hormones from earlier.

Who is this best for?

EAD is more suitable for breeders and shelters who feel as though they have a responsibly to reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancies. The benefits of EAD can outweigh its potential risks in smaller or lightweight dogs who are not as prone to joint diseases such as Hip Dysplasia and Cruciate Ligament problems.

  • 6-Months Desexing

Recommended by most vets.

Pros

Desexing dogs prior to 6 moths usually pre-empts any significant behavioural changes in male dogs. Likewise, in most cases, it will avoid the onset of a female dog’s first heat cycle. By waiting until 6 months to desex your dog, you allow it to fully develop, which reduces the risk of diseases related to joints occurring in life.

Cons

By waiting until 6 months to Desex your dog, you potentially risk missing the first heat cycle and therefore risk exposing your dog to an increased risk of infection, and mammary and ovarian cancers. In addition, in early-to-develop males, potentially negative behaviours such as aggression and territorial spraying may begin prior to the 6-month mark.

Who is This Best For?

Desexing your dog at 6 months is generally recommended by most veterinarians. It allows the puppy to develop, while, in most cases, pre-empts and negative changes associated with a dog’s ageing. This method is best for most dog breeds, with the exception of larger breeds, or breeds which are prone to joint diseases such as hip dysplasia and Cruciate ligament problems. In this case it is best to consult with your vet about the risks and benefits for your dog specifically.

  • Late Age Desexing

Pros

Evidence shows that late age desexing significantly reduces a dog’s risk of experiencing joint related diseases. In addition, it may be helpful for anxious males or females with incontinence issues.

Cons

Dogs who are desexed after 12 months are more likely to display potentially negative behaviours such as aggression, spraying, shyness, and less affection. Females which are desexed late are likely to have begun their heat cycle. In addition, they are more at risk of infection, and mammary and ovarian cancers.

Who Is This Best for?

Late Age Desexing is best suited to owners of larger breeds or breeds which have a pattern of joint related diseases. Like always, this should be done in consultation with a trusted veterinarian. Many owners of male dogs find that the development of negative behaviours can make postponing desexing a difficult task. Because the research into desexing and joint disease is only preliminary, you should only prolong as long as you feel comfortable.

As with any medical procedure, it’s important to consult directly with your veterinarian before making any decisions regarding your dog’s health. This article is intended to guide you through the question “When is the Best Age to Desex My Dog”, not to act as professional advice.

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