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When to neuter?

(10 Posts)
clam Mon 25-Jul-11 12:47:16

I have a male cockapoo, 16 weeks old. The vet suggested taking him in to be neutered at 4.5 months (possibly in response to me telling her that he'd been humping his teddybear). A number of other people (inc dog trainers) have raised eyebrows at this and said it seems very young.

What are the thoughts on here?


alice15 Mon 25-Jul-11 14:48:37

There's a lot of controversy about best age for neutering. Obviously in a rescue situation, preventing breeding is the number one priority. However, in your situation, you have the luxury of choosing the time that best suits your dog. Some vets advocate early neutering and quote studies that show no disadvantage. Some prefer later neutering. In contrast to bitches, there's not a lot of difference IMO in the difficulty of surgery at different ages, although recovery may be a bit quicker if they are v young. Many dog behaviour type people dislike neutering during the brainless teenager phase, on the basis that it may perpetuate that mindset. Personally, I think it's horses for courses - if your puppy is very masculine and confident generally, and mounting everything in sight, then it may be good to do him early, but if he is generally a bit shy or worried, then there may be a case for leaving him till later, on the basis that a bit of testoterone may help his brain mature more. I currently have a young male who will be 2 in November, who is a complete wimp, and I'm deliberately delaying neutering him until he's 2-3 so that he matures a bit first - he still hasn't even lifted his leg once, and is definitely finally beginning to gain a bit of confidence, so I'm glad I've waited with him - but maybe yours is at the other end of the spectrum.
The tide may be beginning to turn a little against neutering again - I went to a lecture a few months back by a well respected American canine behaviourist and vet, who said that early studies are beginning to show that levels of canine senior cognitive dysfunction (doggy Altzheimer's) may be higher in neutered males than entire males. To my mind, that's another reason against doing them very young in a situation where they are not going to be breeding anyway - it just seems sensible to me to let the brain mature a bit first.
So, basically, as you already found out, there are lots of different views on this! I bet I haven't helped at all!

clam Mon 25-Jul-11 15:00:21

grin but thanks for your detailed reply!

I didn't think he'd been lifting his leg - only ever seen him squat like a girl - but the doggy daycare woman who 'minded' him yesterday said he 'marked' her sofa.

He's not mounting other dogs particularly (only his teddy who offers little resistance!) - although same woman said he was yesterday, but I've watched him roll around with a number of other dogs and whilst there's rough and tumble, there's not much actual "stuff" going on. If there is, I call him off.

Think I may leave it 'til October half term. It's not as if I need to put him in kennels or anywhere where they might request he be neutered. He'll be six months then.


Spamspamspam Mon 25-Jul-11 15:05:31

alice15 - what are your thoughts with bitches? My puppy is 21 weeks tomorrow and I hear that I can expect her first season in a few weeks. We don't have any desire to breed from her so are going to get her done.

Happymm Mon 25-Jul-11 15:14:29

Our vet says to do it at 6months, unless they are particularly loopy and juvenile then to put it back a month. Says the benefits far outweigh any we'll be following that with our bitch. Hopefully will calm devil pup down grin

elmofan Mon 25-Jul-11 15:32:50

My springer had his op 3 weeks ago , he is 15 months .

My vet recommends waiting until 8 + months (not sure why) .

alice15 Mon 25-Jul-11 16:10:37

Bitches: big divide is before or after first season.

Before: - easier surgically, therefore quicker, safer operation and quicker recovery (broadly speaking, the older and/or fatter the bitch, the worse in surgical terms, although in practice obesity matters more than age)
- no chance of getting pregnant or season nuisance, even once
- risk of mammary tumours in later life cut to pretty much zero

After - genitals have chance to mature, therefore some people think reduced risk of "infantile vulva" - v small recessed vulva, more prone to infection - personally I think this is true
- some people think better mentally if slightly more mature, though probably makes no difference
- still strong protective effect against mammary cancer if has had only 1 or maybe 2 seasons, but none if has had 4 or more before spaying

Benefits of spaying at any age - big one is pyometra (infection of the womb) - life-threatening emergency which is quite common in unspayed bitches and almost unknown in spayed ones.
Disadvantages of spaying at any age - if also overweight, increased risk of urinary incontinence due to lack of female hormones - this can generally be managed well by medication and/or weight loss
- increased tendency to weight gain - need not become overweight, however, as long as food and exercise adjusted ruthlessly - may need only 2/3 or less of previous amount of food for adult
- changes in coat - especially setters and spaniels - often develop thick wooly undercoat - not a health problem but worth knowing about.

Personally, where I work we generally spay either before or after the first season, depending on owner preference - but we are in a fairly rural area with quite clued-up and traditional-minded clients. In urban areas, I can well see why spaying before the first season may have the edge (having just survived a bitch in full season with aforementioned young male also in the house - not fun...)

Slower metabolic rate and coat changes also apply to males, so OP, be aware that your cockerpoo may grow a coat like a Yeti after neutering!

Hope I haven't left anything out!

alice15 Mon 25-Jul-11 16:13:22

ps - first season can be anywhere between about 6 and about 15 months, usually, with 8-10 months being commonest. If you aren't sure if your bitch puppy is imminent or not, have a look underneath. Baby bitches have a bald tummy and a decorative tuft of hair on the vulva. When the tummy gets hairy and the vulva loses the tuft, they may come in season any time from then on. Spaying should be delayed until 3 months or so after a season, to avoid spaying during a false pregnancy - because if a bitch has milk when spayed, it tends to linger for ages after the surgery, which is a real pain, rather than because it's dangerous as such.

alice15 Mon 01-Aug-11 18:25:15


Spamspamspam Mon 01-Aug-11 21:49:34

Thanks alice15, whilst I don't really welcome a season I look at her and think she is far to young for surgery {sad} its particulay interesting to read about the changes in her body when she might be coming into season. I knew nothing on that but if I am warned at least I can keep her in a clean place and deal with it!

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