At What Age Should Your GSD be Speyed or Neutered???
Neutering of German Shepherd Dogs: associated joint disorders, cancers and urinary incontinence
Benjamin L. Hart*, Lynette A. Hart†, Abigail P. Thigpen† and Neil H. Willits‡
German Shepherd Dogs are important in police and military work, and are a popular family pet. The debilitating joint disorders of hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear (CCL) and elbow dysplasia can shorten a dog’s useful working life and impact its role as a family member. For this study, veterinary hospital records were examined over a 14.5-year period on 1170 intact and neutered (including spaying) German Shepherd Dogs for joint disorders and cancers previously associated with neutering. The diseases were followed through 8 years of age, with the exception of mammary cancer (MC) in females that was followed through 11 years. The cancers followed, apart from mammary, were osteosarcoma, lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumour. In intact males, 7% were diagnosed with one or more joint disorders, while in males neutered prior to a year of age, a significantly higher 21% were diagnosed with one or more joint disorders. In intact females, 5% were diagnosed with one or more joint disorders, while in females neutered prior to a year of age, this measure was significantly increased to 16%. The increased joint disorder incidence mostly associated with early neutering was cranial cruciate ligament tear . Mammary cancer was diagnosed in 4% of intact females compared with less than 1% in females neutered before 1 year. The occurrence of the other cancers followed through 8 years of age was not higher in the neutered than in the intact dogs. Urinary incontinence, not diagnosed in intact females, was diagnosed in 7% of females neutered before 1 year, a significant difference. These findings, pro- filing the increase in joint disorders associated with early neutering, should help guide the timing of neutering for this breed.
The findings reported here on the popular German Shepherd Dog with regard to joint disorders are particularly important because joint disorders, such as CCL and HD, are painful for the dog, create a burden for those caring for the dog, and can disqualify the dog as a working partner in military and police work.
This study reveals that in males, neutering within the first year of life is associated with a highly significant, threefold risk of acquiring at least one joint disorder: up to 21% compared with 7% in males left intact or neutered beyond the first year. In females, neutering within the first year is also associated with a highly significant threefold risk of acquiring at least one joint disorder: up to 17% compared with 5% in females left intact or neutered beyond 1 year.
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