Pet parents are strongly advised to spay/neuter their puppies and kittens as early as possible for health reasons, behavior control and population control. Most responsible people living with pets believe neutering and spaying is important to reduce the risk of certain diseases or to avoid contributing to homeless animals due to free mating.
But, how valid are these reasons for neutering and spaying our dogs? Are there health risks or benefits to waiting for our animals to age, not spaying/neutering at all, or alternative surgeries?
With many retrospective studies to date, there is no clear evidence which indicates neutering male dogs, especially young male dogs, will prevent future health issues.
In fact, the negative health issues far exceed the benefits.
The following information is taken from a meta analysis preformed by Laura J. Sanborn, M.S. in 2007:
Starting with the benefits for neutering male dogs, the procedure eliminates the small risk (<1%) of developing testicular cancer. However, this is a very treatable disease with a high incidence of cure. Neutering may possibly reduce the risk of non-cancerous prostate disorders, perianal fistulas, and diabetes (data inconclusive).
10 Reasons Neutering Your MALE Dog Negatively Impacts His Health
#1: Most pets are neutered prior to their first year of age which disrupts proper hormonal processes. Removing the hormone generating organs of the body so early in age will impact other essential growth processes.
#2: Hormonal disruption in neutered male dogs heighten the risks of other growth centers. Neutering may triple the risk of hypothyroidism.
#3: Early neutering of male dogs increases the risk of developing bone cancer. Osteosarcoma is a common cancer in medium/large and larger breeds with a poor prognosis.
#4: Male dogs who are neutered are more likely to develop other orthopedic diseases. The potential for hip dysplasia and cruciate rupture rises when male dogs have inadequate time to fully hormonally develop and grow healthy bones.
#5: Neutering male dogs increases the risk of cardiac hemangiosarcoma. The likelihood of developing this common cancer in many breeds after neutering rises by a factor of 1.6 and has a very poor prognosis.
#6: Male dogs neutered during their first years have a tripled potential for obesity. Similar to humans, overweight dogs are more susceptible to numerous other health problems.
#7: The originally small risks for prostate and urinary tract cancers increase for neutered male dogs. The risk for urinary tract cancer doubles (<1%) while the risk for prostate cancer quadruples (<0.6%).
#8: The vaccines recommended to pet parents may result in adverse side effects in neutered male dogs. By decreasing the immune stimulation and protection from the testosterone surges during puberty, negative reactions to vaccinations are more likely to occur.
#9: Neutering male dogs may negatively impact their quality of life as they age. Testosterone soaks the brain and provides protection from amyloid deposits, protein deposits that clog brain pathways. The risk of progressive geriatric impairments rises in neutered male dogs.
#10: For the behavioral symptoms pet parents believe will be helped by neutering male dogs, other negative symptoms in behavior may develop. Studies indicate neutered males are susceptible to anxious or fearful behaviors, noise phobias, aggression, and undesirable sexual behaviors.
If you're still confused about neutering your male dog, it's not your fault.
But here's what I suggest - keep your animal intact as long as possible. Take the time to educate yourself, think about your lifestyle, ask your vet questions and then proceed carefully. You should spend more time researching this than you do buying a new mobile phone!
If you have access to a vet who will perform a vasectomy, I suggest you consider this option in lieu of neutering. Also, a really important tool is to make sure your dog gets adequate training to insure they are well socialized and less likely to be a hormonal misfit!
Regarding neutering male dogs, here's how they do it in other countries:
It's useful to know what is possible for your animals if you chose to delay or forgo the surgeries. For example, in many European countries dogs are much better behaved overall than our American dogs. Part of this includes an unspoken rule about ignoring other people's dogs. Children are taught early to not 'distract the dog.' Dogs are everywhere with their humans and rarely interact with other dogs or people when they are sitting for an espresso (the human, that is), or walking down a street. It's a lovely sort of dance where dogs are closely attached to the human and just go about the business of their human without fuss or bother.
Most of those animals are not hormonally 'altered' and seem to maintain harmony without an over-populated dog mess. Now, that's what I call a great dog society!
To learn more about the consequences of spaying your female dog, please, read 10 Good Reasons You Should Not Spay Your Female Dog.