early spay/neutering and the effects
  • I've been mulling over this question since we had a discussion about the size of our Shibas on the Shiba forum, and for some reason I decided to come over here an ask it (probably because I tend to think of the discussions on the Shiba forum as more practical/experentially based and the ones here sometimes more theoretical).

    What do you all think of early spaying/neutering? I've seen conflicting reports of whether this makes a dog larger or smaller (I believe the latter might be a myth?) I did a quick search and came across rather wildly varying reports, and also came across more "conventional wisdom" than I did actual scientific proof. Are there are well-documented studies that address size (or other issues) one way or the other, or is this still something that is in dispute?

    I was initially most interested in the size issue, but actually am wondering about all issues related to this. I was told, repeatedly, to neuter Toby early, given his dominance and aggression even as a very very young pup, but after doing it (at 5 mos), I didn't notice much change in his behavior (his changes were age related--he became much, much calmer and more mellow after 3). And he is exceptionally large for a Shiba. So I wonder if I simply succumbed to conventional wisdom re: temperment?

    anyway, I'd love to hear what people know about this subject....
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
  • CaliaCalia
    Posts: 3977
    A question I have for you:

    How early do you consider too early? To some people 5-8 months is normal, while to others anything earlier than a year or two is too early. Some people (and shelters that get puppies) have their dogs spayed/neutered as early as 8 weeks, which to me is too early but to others just fine.

    Personally, I'm comfortable with having it done at 6-7 months, and have grown up with the idea that if done later will lead to aggression issues (though since joining this forum I have learned that that is not the case).
    image
    Post edited by Calia at 2010-03-26 11:47:34
  • aykayk
    Posts: 1979
    Purely in the conventional wisdom side, the belief is that neutering a male dog early prevents the growth plates from closing if they haven't closed already. Thus the dog tends to be taller. Taller doesn't necessarily equate to more massive though. The male sexual hormones (I'm not sure of the exact hormone terminology) would normally trigger the onset of masculine traits such as denser bones, larger skulls, and other traits that makes for a "doggy" dog.

    From what I've seen, neutering of adult males can cause an abrupt decrease in metabolism. Unwary owners can find themselves with overweight dogs if they're not watchful. From intact dogs that show every single spine bone when females in heat are around to neutered dogs that have rolls of skin when they sit down. This drop in metabolism, activeness, or obsessiveness gives an edge to the owners when reforming bad behaviors.
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • Akira was neutered around 7 months, he's much taller than standard shiba. However he still has a very macho behaviour (I'll spare you the details). Our vet said we did a good thing in neutering him because she thinks he would have been even spunkier if we did not.

    On the other hand, in France, people don't neuter often their dogs and I've been surprised on how intact dog can interract pretty normally :)
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • tjbart17tjbart17
    Posts: 4055
    I think that first you have to look at lineage. If Toby's parents or grandparents are large, then that's just genes. You know that none of those dogs were neutered/spayed.

    This is what my vet had to say about the growth plates not being closed. Ann is totally correct that the belief is that when you neuter/spay (but I've heard this is more prevelant in boys than girls) before 1 year old that the growth plates will not close as soon as they should have.

    I neutered Koda at 6 months. He is 21.5" tall and 54 pds. That's big for a Kai. I was told by a woman that it was because I neutered him too early. BS his father is the exact same size! Now he is only 11 months old. We will see if he grows any further. But from my vet records, it was predicted that Koda would be 55 pds. and 21-22" tall at full growth. Don't tell me how they did this, but I am assuming that it's similar to how doctors double a person's size between 2-3 years old to come up with their adult size.

    Maymay was spayed at 5 months old even younger than Koda was, but she is only 34 pds. I don't know her exact lineage, but from what I have gotten her dam and sire were both around that size.

    I'm sure none of that helps you. lololol
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • NekopanNekopan
    Posts: 869
    I am a proponent of early spay/neuter for several reasons - I would love to outline them for you but I am currently super busy. I promise I'll come back to this topic in a day or two when I have time.
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • Thanks for your answers--I'm mostly just curious, as I'm quite happy with my big boy and big girl, and don't expect to have a pup of any sort soon, but as I've been reading this forum, I've become more and more interest in the science behind things like this, and while I've heard lots of different takes on the advantages/disadvantages, I've not really seen anything supported with actual evidence; hence, my curiosity. I'm really interested in how the growth plates don't close....I wonder why that is? I'll have to see if I can find more about it.

    I think spaying/neutering is often done around 6 mos., so I guess I'd say anything a lot earlier than that would be early to me.

    Toby was the only pup in the litter (of 3) that didn't seem to have any show possibilities; I suspect he was already looking like he was going to be large. Both his parents were champions, but his father was a Japanese import, and I believe they are allowed to be bigger than the AKC? (That might not be right, but is somehow in my mind as a possibility) so they were "normal" sized Shiba. He's almost as big as Kai! And though I'd been thinking he was fat at 41 pounds, he just blew his coat the poor boy is actually a little on the thin sized!

    Anyway, I was rambling there, sorry!
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • tjbart17tjbart17
    Posts: 4055
    Lol he's bigger than my female Kai
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • I did find something disturbing about early spay/neuter in rotties. (In this case, I believe early meant before 1 year old) This is a link that discusses bone cancer in rotties with the connections to early altering:

    http://cebp.aacrjournals.org/content/11/11/1434.full

    Here is another journal article that discusses the benefits/detriment of altering:

    http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/full/10.2460/javma.231.11.1665?cookieSet=1

    I don't know if anyone else is interested, but thought I'd post them anyway. I know all the social benefits to early spay/neuter, esp. here in the US where there are simply too many unwanted animals, but what I really wanted to delve into was the actual medical effects of this, so these look like a good jumping off point for more research.

    (And I can't believe I'm actually trying to sort through a bunch of vet journal articles....I used to not have a huge interest in science, but now, as it is related to dogs, I'm learning things about biology I never thought I'd read!)
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • tjbart17tjbart17
    Posts: 4055
    That's interesting. I do love my Rott's. I didn't neuter Bear until he was I think 4 years old....maybe almost 5. I know a guy who lives near me and he contends that neutering a Rott is all the way bad around, but that might be his own issues with castration coming through. lol :-)
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • RedAutumnRedAutumn
    Posts: 53
    hmm...interestong on the cancer since my aunt has had about four rotties die from cancer already. Not sure if it was bone cancer or not but, she usually gets them spayed around 6 months. But, I'm not really sure how common it is for Rotties to die from cancer, that my have something to do with it too. I'll have to ask her what kind it was.
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • wliu003wliu003
    Posts: 286
    I spayed my kelly at the age of 1. I have no real reason for doing so, it kind of just happened around that time. But my vet did comment on it as a "late" spay. Hope this helps..
    Kelly (5 year old Shiba Inu) and Benkei (4 month old Kai Ken)
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 5510
    Found this on a breeder's website & thought it was relevant :)

    Good info there...everything from closing boneplates to cancer.~
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • Re: that last study link (thanks Sangmort) and the one I posted on Rotties and cancer....

    ....well, my GSD was diagnosed with bone cancer yesterday. He was neutered at 4 months. Maybe he would have got it anyway. But that's not very comforting right now.

    I don't know when I'll have a pup again, and need to make these choices, but I think I'll do a lot of reading before that point. And I'm thinking I'm going to go for later spaying/neutering and a more conservative vaccination schedule (ie. conservative in less frequent ones, but I will not go for the no vaccine path.)
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • I am quite conservative on vaccines. I do rabies and distemper because they are legally required, I do lepto because my girlfriends who are vets and techs literally begged me to after seeing too many dogs die from it. But that is it. People have tried to make the argument for Lymes to me, but TBQH I know three dogs with Lymes disease all of them had been vaccinated. SO that seems like a waste to me.
    Fuzzy Gang Signature
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • tjbart17tjbart17
    Posts: 4055
    I'm with Jessica. I don't do the Lyme disease, but my vet says that it's a waste of time. I remember him saying that to my mom when I was 8 and it stuck. FYI he's still my vet. I adore the guy.
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • I found this article http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongTermHealthEffectsOfSpayNeuterInDogs.pdf which outlines pluses/negatives of early spaying and neutering. I have to say, watching my GSD suffer with bone cancer at 10, and reading several compelling journal articles about the connections between early neutering and bone cancer, I really think I'm going to wait to alter the next dog I get. I'll probably get a male, so it will be easier to handle then having an intact female, but I really am becoming convinced that it is not a good idea to do this before a year old, at the earliest.

    It just breaks my heart to think that I may have contributed to hypothyroidism, and worse, possible bone cancer or other skeletal problems in my dogs because I listened to conventional wisdom.
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
    Post edited by shibamistress at 2010-04-15 05:47:23
  • One problem with early spay that I have encountered with Miko (not Ruby yet...) is a condition called juvenile vulva. Basically her vulva is difficult for her to keep clean because it is so petite and therefore it can grow bacteria. She developed a little infection that she then spread across her tummy with all her licking. Um, yuck. So something to be aware of, likely could have been avoided if I had waited until she was about a year.
    Fuzzy Gang Signature
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • tobyshibatobyshiba
    Posts: 1058
    I'm so sorry to hear about your GSD, Lisa. :( That is ... awful.

    Hearing all this is making me nervous. I had Toby neutered at 4 months of age, he is super sized. It is literally freaking me out to know that i've pretty much sent my boy on the wrong path and he'll probably end up paying for it in the long run. This really breaks my heart, as well.

    I personally don't believe i'll be altering any of my pets in the future, unless it is for medical reasons. But, that is because I am a responsible person and after seeing Toby grow into a giant Shiba beast, i'm really truly afraid of doing that to another dog again.

    I have learned my lesson.
    Owner of Sesame Shiba Inu (Toby) 8yrs old | Illustrator & Graphic Designer | My Website - Twitter

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    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • dlrobertsdlroberts
    Posts: 6552
    Post hoc, ergo propter hoc.
    dlrobertsdlroberts
    Dave, proudly owned by Joey (Shiba Inu), Tyson (Kai Ken), and PRG's Mason Julien McDieserton III, a.k.a. Diesel (Labrador Retriever).
    "My opinion may have changed, but not the fact that I'm right"
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • StaticNfuzzStaticNfuzz
    Posts: 1671
    Sorry dave I don't know Latin. All the masses in the world and I still have no clue on the reading of latin.


    For what it's worth.....More studies really need to be done. To hinge the final decision to spay/neuter on a limited findings is not valid in my opinion.

    Having seen a lot of dogs come and go in the adoption realm and quite a few show dogs, I'd say that size is mostly genetic. Larger does not always mean poor quality, nor does a petite smaller dog indicate inferior animals in most cases. In humans and in many pets the average to smaller size individual usually has the greater longevity, all other diseases aside. Actually there is a law of averages in respiration where it no longer is optimal for oxygen processing once over size is reached. So when you get to Rotties on up to wolfhounds the life span reduces given the body has to work twice as hard to keep up with respiration. Like it or not it generally is the law of physiology.

    Although it is fact that rotties and dobermans and quite a few of other breeds have a higher incident of osteosarcoma and other cancers which lead to mortality, one has to keep in mind correlation does not necessarily indicate causation in terms of spay and neuter. I don't see from what I have observed that spay or neuter after 7 months of age has as much influence on longevity as the few studies would like everyone to believe. If anything nutrition is a bigger factor in hormone and growth development. Undernourished pups often can have huge growth spurts as hormones try to balance out and catch up for lost time. This also occurs in children who suffer from low nutrition and then are placed on an overly nutrient rich diets before puberty.

    I do think there must be time for ample bone development and hormone processes to occur since they work together as part of maturing, but I don't see that avoiding spaying and neutering altogether at a later age will change much in terms of growth potential or overall lifespan. In Shibas simply some lines have greater longevity.


    Hopefully the mysteries, opinions and conjecture will be further refined and updated with further developed research on spay and neuter.
    Snf
    Post edited by StaticNfuzz at 2010-04-15 17:28:03
  • WrylyBrindleWrylyBrindle
    Posts: 3287
    Snf said "correlation does not necessarily indicate causation"

    hey!
    I *think* that's what dave said too... :)
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • dlrobertsdlroberts
    Posts: 6552
    @Patrice: "Post hoc, ergo propter hoc" translates literally to "after it, therefore because of it." It's a logical fallacy, much in the vein of what you said: "correlation does not necessarily indicate causation." That's what I was trying to point out (albeit poorly): Toby's large size is not necessarily related to his early neuter just because it happened afterward. Unfortunately, there's not way to tell with each individual case what is the cause for over- or under-sizing. The only way to establish any real relationship is to do extremely large and tightly controlled studies across many breeds with many examples of each breed over many generations. And even then it's impossible to make a defensible claim about causation. A correlation is all that can be established.
    dlrobertsdlroberts
    Dave, proudly owned by Joey (Shiba Inu), Tyson (Kai Ken), and PRG's Mason Julien McDieserton III, a.k.a. Diesel (Labrador Retriever).
    "My opinion may have changed, but not the fact that I'm right"
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • dlrobertsdlroberts
    Posts: 6552
    Ooops. Cross posted with Chrys. Yes, that's what I said. :-)
    dlrobertsdlroberts
    Dave, proudly owned by Joey (Shiba Inu), Tyson (Kai Ken), and PRG's Mason Julien McDieserton III, a.k.a. Diesel (Labrador Retriever).
    "My opinion may have changed, but not the fact that I'm right"
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • tobyshibatobyshiba
    Posts: 1058
    Even though it might not the single cause that super-sized my Shiba, I made a lot of very stupid choices when Toby was a puppy. There is a ton of things that obviously would be factored into that; genetics, environment, neuter, ect. But the thing is, I neutered Toby early at 4 months old and I fed him adult food with high protein to him at a very young age -- when he was about 7-8 months old. I simply feel like I just helped multiply the factors that resulted in making him larger than I expected.
    Owner of Sesame Shiba Inu (Toby) 8yrs old | Illustrator & Graphic Designer | My Website - Twitter

    image
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • BradA1878BradA1878
    Posts: 12224
    I was under the impression that it was early spays that caused extra growth (in females). Its due to the spike in testosterone the females received after the spay... Not the case in early neuters in males, there is a short lived testosterone spike in males too, but it comes a long with a spike in estrogen as well which helps to normalize the growth rate post-neuter. If anything an early neuter would reduce growth and muscle mass not increase it.

    ----
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 5510
    I'm with Dave & Patrice on the "correlation does not necessarily indicate causation."

    We all have to make the best decisions we can for our pups. Our decisions are based on the knowledge we had at the time. I think there are too many contradictory studies on this particular issue to determine one is "right" over the other.

    It's like how they say artificial sweetener leads to cancer in humans. Actually, come to think of it, there are a million things that "lead to cancer" in the human world, but when you look at it, it's all really a lot of speculation. Cancer, in general, has so many "unknowns" about it, it's hard to pinpoint a direct cause when it comes to living creatures.

    Genetics are huge, & also too "unknown" to rule out.

    We all need to make decisions based on what we think is right, based on what little knowledge we have, and do it. If 10 years down the line it ended up being a "mistake," then it was just that, a mistake made with the best of intentions for my dogs, not the worst.

    We can't control everything in life. Whose to say bone cancer may have happened anyway? Or that the dog is genetically just a larger dog?

    I know one guy who told me that a dog walking on slippery floors can get HD. Maybe he's right. But I think the dog isn't going to "magically" get HD unless it was already there. & then, maybe I'm wrong. Who knows?

    You do what's best for your dogs, and in the end, that's all your dogs can ask from you, and that's all you can give. What you think is the best. :) ~
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • WrylyBrindleWrylyBrindle
    Posts: 3287
    I recently read a puppy buyer questionnaire/application thingy that asked "Would you consider a vasectomy rather than a castration for a neuter?" in the bundle of neuter questions.

    I wonder if this is done much? and if it isn't, why not? If the object of neuter is just to not allow puppy creation, then a vasectomy would do it. Is it widley assumed that ordinary people can;t handle a male anyway so we might as well go all the way? Is it medically more difficult to do one or the other? I am aware that in horses, stallions are MUCH different than geldings, but my sense is that is not so dramatic in dogs. What do you know?
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • SangmortSangmort
    Posts: 5510
    I actually thought neuters were vasectomies up until recently!!! LOL

    Then I was like...They actually take their balls off?!?! WHY?!?!?!!

    hahahaha ~
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00
  • Vasectomies aren't as popular with the public/vets because they are still concerned about testicular cancer and "undesirable behavior caused by testosterone".
    Post edited by the_november_rain at 2010-04-15 19:32:00
  • It did look like some of the studies believe that a vasectomy is preferable to castration in terms of possibilities of cancer. I'm also wondering about the difference between a castrated male and an intact one...conventional wisdom says they are easier to handle, because of lower levels of testosterone, but perhaps that simply is "conventional wisdom." I've never had an intact male, so I don't know.

    but I agree that more studies are needed....one of the reasons I wanted to start this thread was to see what people thought, if you'd seen other studies that contradict these, etc. It's the bone cancer I'm most concerned with....I know the cancer could have happened anyway, but I don't like the idea that I believe what I have been told (early spay and neuter! early spay and neuter!) without an informed decision, and in fact, I didn't make an informed decision--I simply listened to what I was told. And I think that if I had known my GSD would be more likely to get bone cancer because of it, I would not have done it, not without a lot more research, and perhaps erring on the side of waiting. That's why I want to know more about this, and want to think more about this, because if it means the difference between a few more years of healthy life, I'm all for it.
    Lisa, Toby (Shiba), Oskar and Zora (American Akita), and Leo (Kai Ken)
    Post edited by Unknown User at -0001-11-30 00:00:00

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