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  1. #1
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) TexasKat's Avatar

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    Default Age at Spaying/Neutering and Bone Cancer

    My little girl, Gypsy, is approaching 7 months old and the vet is lobbying to have her spayed soon. I have no intention of breeding her but the more I've researched, the more concerned I've become about the links between early spaying/neutering and bone cancer in dogs.

    Though the incidence is less in female dogs than male dogs (neutered male dogs are 3x more susceptible to osteocarcoma than intact males), females are still prone to a risk.

    http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongT...uterInDogs.pdf

    So my question is.... given the risks of an unwanted pregnancy, when have you had your female spayed, and/or can you recall her age in first heat?

  2. #2
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) nick's spirit's Avatar

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    TexasKat
    This is an interesting topic...one that it seems a person can find reference to validate which ever side you may be on! I have asked this question of the breeder of my second Pyr, Nick, who died from osteosarcma at the age of 6. The reason I asked her was because she was on the board of the GPCA. To date the GPCA has not done specific research to find out if early altering has any thing to do with cancer in Pyr's (Nick was neutered at 8 weeks) my first Pyr, a female, Spirit, was spayed at 6 months old, she died in her sleep at the age of 10. Holly, my current girl was spayed also at the age of 6 months...so far so good at 5 years of age. If you would like to read the GPCA report, just google Great Pyrenees Library, there are a whole list of topics worth reading.
    Love the name Gypsy, by the way...a true Pyr name!

  3. #3
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    Hi, Bijou is 19 months old and not yet spayed. I too have absolutely no intentions of breeding her but am concerned about timing of spay and her growth and cancer risks. My plan from the beginning was to let her go through the first season before spay. She came into her first season very late, at 17 months. My current plan is to have her spayed before her second season. But I have worries.

    My first pyr, Fifi, had her first season at 9 months and was spayed at 10 months. Fifi died of hemangiosarcoma at age 8. There are some data on the net that contend that spayed females are more than twice as likely as intact females to come down with hemangiosarcoma. This cancer is undetectable other than by an ultrasound. In many instances the cancer is only diagnosed when the dog collapses and within days of dying. We were one of the lucky ones that got to keep Fifi for 9 months after diagnosis.

    As for bone cancer, I wonder that if the dog is allowed to reach full growth before spay/neuter, whether the rate of bone cancer would be quite as different between intact/speutered dogs. The common belief is that neutering a male dog young will cause the dog to grow taller and bigger than it otherwise would had the testosterone been in place to close the growth plates. The larger than "normal" size of the dog then contributes the incidents of bone cancer. I've also heard that spaying young also causes a female dog to grow larger - true or not, I don't know.

    As you are already doing research, I would encourage you to research hemangiosarcoma as well. I believe it is second behind osteosarcoma of cancer in pyrs.

  4. #4

    Flock Guardian (Moderator)


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    This is a awesome topic.
    There are several studies that prove that neutering dogs causes more harm then good. Personally, I would only neuter a male if it had testicular cancer, but only <1% of intact males die from it!!!, females however are a different story. If you are a responsible person, because a bitch is a HUGE responsiblity. I have two, my bitch is 17mth and won't be spayed, for a while yet, if at all. I also have an intact male. I have enough control over him to manage but there is a time when I hand her back to the breeder for a while, as it is not fair to him.
    Health wise, I'd wait atleast five years, know your lines, talk to the breeder if you know who it is, see if they have problems with mammary cancer.
    CAREFUL WITH VETS. PErsonally, I hate them all, and they have to prove to me they know what they are doing. They have NO KNOWLEDGE ON nutrition, behavior and new studies that come out. Only ones that go out, keep an open mind, do research and legitimately care about the dogs not the cash flow do I consult. IF it weren't for altering pets, vaccines and heartworm (HE not a big deal up here), they would make very little money. I don't vaccinate very much at all, and I hold off everything else.
    The longer you wait, the better, however, if you have concern over males roaming etc or don't think you can handle it, do it.
    Another thing to remember, a bitch comes into season twice a year, bleeds for aprox three weeks, and there are only a few days which she will flag the male, and is ready to be bred, they become real flirts then, it's almost embarressing. That is also when they stop bleeding and are VERY swollen.
    Use your judgement, I'm in the city, so very few roaming dogs, everyone has different circumstances.
    Small breeds don't seem to have the same risk as large breeds do. But I agree that more studies need to be done on it! I've seen enough for my own eyes to know that altering rarely does anything with the temperment, I've seen dogs get WORSE after altering, on the odd time I hear they get better. I have yet to see one get better for myself.
    Make sure you have all the behavioral stuff taken care of (ie trained)

  5. #5
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) nick's spirit's Avatar

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    Jewel & Texaskat
    Just as an addition...Nick being neutered at 8 weeks...he was a very "square" boy...stocky, he never got tall. Yes he did gain weight...or was that me giving him too much food (example, to get him to "come I used the cheese snack, Goldfish, we went through almost a bag every other day...too much I guess!!)

  6. #6
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) TexasKat's Avatar

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    Thanks for all your responses! I've never neutered a male dog, and since my male has no real aggressive tendencies, I probably won't consider it for Scout.

    Our home situation is such that neither dog roams. The worst behavior comes from my little girl who wants to play with every child and dog she sees -- and wants to pull me along for the ride. (We're working on that in our neighborhood walks and she's learning that if she sits quietly, more kids will come up to pet her).

    Having Gypsy in heat will be awkward with Scout being her constant companion, but Pyr "adulthood" seems to come a bit late and I'm hoping for a bit more 'growth' time.

    In a Pyr listerve I'm on, there seems to have been a rash of Pyrs having to be put to sleep because of bone cancer. The latest is only 5 years old. I certainly don't want to have to go through that myself. I couldn't bear it. We've recently lost our 17-year old Pyr mix, and that was heartbreaking enough.

    Again, fluffy, you and all the others here have given me some very valuable information and a lot to think about.

    If anyone had more advice, I'm all ears.

  7. #7
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Milu's Avatar

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    Fluffy- I looked into it and found plenty of studies that say exactly what you had told us- that neutering may increase bone, bladder and prostate cancers for males. It's unfortunate that a lot of these studies are contrary to what vets learned in school and they think otherwise.

  8. #8
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Jewel's Avatar

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    So, fluffylove, tell us, how do you really feel about vets?? My vet's not that bad, as vets go. She's happy to titer instead of vaccinate, and they have no problems with the raw diet. Okay, they actually sell pre-made raw, so there is an incentive for them to encourage raw She's also not tried to push me to spaying Bijou but probably because she thinks I may want to show Bijou. Another vet in the same office was very pushy about neutering my male when he was young, so I "fired" her (she's also since left that hospital, all the better).

  9. #9
    Old Dawg (Senior Member) Milu's Avatar

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    I kind of dislike some of the vets' attitude - sort of, "If you're not breeding, you're fixing". I guess they don't see many cases of responsible intact dog ownership. I can't really blame them though, we border a city where the dog population was unchecked for many years and became a really bad problem. What I do like about our vets is that they're open to alternative treatment and pretty good about follow up care.

  10. #10

    Flock Guardian (Moderator)


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    haha I'm passionate, can you tell??? I keep an open mind though! ) I will never think I know everything!

    My vet is pretty good, wish she were more holistic. I am still my dog's advocate. I used to train people/dogs and it was horrible seeing how dogs reacted to vaccines and being neutered. I can't tell you guys how many times people were told "neuter him and he'll settle down". Not ONCE did this happen, infact, there was one dog that started attacking them, really bad. EVERY single dog I saw that was vaccinated with rabies had an adverse reaction. They got aggressive, or had several separation anxiety, they were nuts for about three days straight after the vaccine, how on earth is this good? Most people do not know to watch for this. So sad.

    I've done enough research and seen it enough myself, neutering does not solve problems. The only one it solves is the puppy thing. If you aren't responsible enough to own an intact dog, you aren't responble enough to own a dog. The only place I would bend on this is with bitches. I would sooner spay a female than neuter a male. I know many people that run intact males together and get this, they are fine even with bitches in heat! Labs, goldens, beagles, German sheps, etc. I went into training thinking intact males will not get along, they do, it all depends on temperment, and altering them does not change who they are, does it!

    For all those men out there, if you were castrated, how would that change you? I bet you'd be pissed! lol

    I don't mean to offend anyone, I say it with a bit humour )
    You guys make me laugh at times! lol

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