Like many pet owners, I had previously bought into the justifications for early spay and neuter. We’ve all been inundated with spay-neuter information that suggests that the Thing To Do is to have your pet neutered at around 6 months of age, or possibly earlier. Heck, the kittens I’ve had here have undergone pediatric neutering before going to their new homes.
However, Sid is intact, and going to stay that way until he’s about two years old. For the short version of why, Caninesports.com has the Reader’s Digest version. Specifically check out the section titled “orthopedic concerns”. Dogs neutered before 5 1/2 months have a higher risk of rupture in the Cranial Cruciate Ligament, an important one for stabilizing the knee. They’re also at higher risk of hip dysplasia. Also check out the section on cancer below that; dogs neutered before one year of age are at increased risk of bone cancer and hemangiosarcoma, which most commonly affects the heart in dogs.
For the long version, this is an excellent article on the health risks associated with sterilizing your dog. The author reviewed available studies and found
On the positive side, neutering male dogs
• eliminates the small risk (probably <1%) of dying from testicular cancer • reduces the risk of non-cancerous prostate disorders • reduces the risk of perianal fistulas • may possibly reduce the risk of diabetes (data inconclusive) On the negative side, neutering male dogs • if done before 1 year of age, significantly increases the risk of osteosarcoma (bone cancer); this is a common cancer in medium/large and larger breeds with a poor prognosis. • increases the risk of cardiac hemangiosarcoma by a factor of 1.6 • triples the risk of hypothyroidism • increases the risk of progressive geriatric cognitive impairment • triples the risk of obesity, a common health problem in dogs with many associated health problems • quadruples the small risk (<0.6%) of prostate cancer • doubles the small risk (<1%) of urinary tract cancers • increases the risk of orthopedic disorders • increases the risk of adverse reactions to vaccinations
But Sid is still going to get neutered eventually, because he’s cryptorchid (only one testicle descended). My vet found the other in the inguinal canal where it stayed all warm and cozy instead of moving on down. I’m not terribly sad about it, because if he had two normal testicles, he would have wound up being someone else’s dog from a young age, rather than coming to me to be my Mobile Cane. But it does mean he’s at severely increased risk of testicular cancer, as this FetchDog article details:
…if the retained testicle is left in the body, the chances are increased that the dog will develop a testicular tumor (cancer) in the retained testicle. The risk of developing testicular neoplasia is estimated to be approximately ten times greater in dogs with cryptorchidism than in normal dogs. In fact, 53% of all Sertoli cell tumors and 36% of all seminomas occur in retained testicles.
So it’s kind of a line I’m walking here. I need him to be orthopedically sound and to have a long working life, but at the same time I also need him to not get cancer of the testicle. Which all means that in about a year and a half, when his bones and musculature are pretty fully developed, that Siddymonster will go under the knife. But before then, he will live a life of bliss as a one-ball wonder, which is the best chance I can give him for a long and healthy life.