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Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete

July 10th, 2006, 04:44 PM
from a discussion on the frequency of torn cruciate ligaments on another forum, this information was brought up and i found it to be very interesting. we already see maika's rear angulation turning quite straight at only 8 months old (bad breeding), and she was spayed at 6 months old, am praying she will not tear her ligaments as she gets older during one of her spazz moments... :(


Those of us with responsibility for the health of canine athletes need to continually read and evaluate new scientific studies to ensure that we are taking the most appropriate care of our performance dogs. This article provides evidence through a number of recent studies to suggest that veterinarians and owners working with canine athletes should revisit the standard protocol in which all dogs that are not intended for breeding are spayed and neutered at or before 6 months of age.
Orthopedic Considerations
A study by Salmeri et al in 1991 found that bitches spayed at 7 weeks grew significantly taller than those spayed at 7 months, who were taller than those not spayed (or presumably spayed after the growth plates had closed).(1) A study of 1444 Golden Retrievers performed in 1998 and 1999 also found bitches and dogs spayed and neutered at less than a year of age were significantly taller than those spayed or neutered at more than a year of age.(2) The sex hormones, by communicating with a number of other growth-related hormones, promote the closure of the growth plates at puberty (3), so the bones of dogs or bitches neutered or spayed before puberty continue to grow. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered well before puberty can frequently be identified by their longer limbs, lighter bone structure, narrow chests and narrow skulls. This abnormal growth frequently results in significant alterations in body proportions and particularly the lengths (and therefore weights) of certain bones relative to others. For example, if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at 8 months when a dog gets spayed or neutered, but the tibia, which normally stops growing at 12 to 14 months of age continues to grow, then an abnormal angle may develop at the stifle. In addition, with the extra growth, the lower leg below the stifle likely becomes heavier (because it is longer), and may cause increased stresses on the cranial cruciate ligament. In addition, sex hormones are critical for achieving peak bone density.(4) These structural and physiological alterations may be the reason why at least one recent study showed that spayed and neutered dogs had a higher incidence of CCL rupture.(5) Another recent study showed that dogs spayed or neutered before 5 1/2 months had a significantly higher incidence of hip dysplasia than those spayed or neutered after 5 1/2 months of age, although it should be noted that in this study there were no standard criteria for the diagnosis of hip dysplasia.(6) Nonetheless, breeders of purebred dogs should be cognizant of these studies and should consider whether or not pups they bred were spayed or neutered when considering breeding decisions.

July 10th, 2006, 07:51 PM
I don't think I would worry too much about age spayed

Callie my bridge girl is the tallest female I have seen to date she was spayed at 3 1/2 year old,she had a fragile appearance, her hock length was an 1" longer than my males, she had a tiny head for her body size and very narrow build, especially across the chest , and she also tore the cruciate ligament but it occured from a bad hard fall, she was a very rough and tumble girl constantly jumping over the other dogs or the pond at full run even as a senior , she had went thru her racing career without an injury
Her description very much matches that of a girl spayed at 7 weeks

These pictures in this links shows how narrow she is

My other girl Maya is 13 lbs lighter at racing weight than Callie , 2" shorter in both length and height , with short hock and traditional build she was spayed at 17 months she is no where near the roughness in playing and running around as Callie was, she had no race career and is constantly spraining legs

Another thing trainers notice that the greyhound with the short hock lengths had a much greater risks of breaking their hock, as was the case with Sunny, he is a very compact sturdy looking wide chested greyhound, the fall when his right hock shattered resulted in injuring his knee and his back and ended his racing career

July 10th, 2006, 08:32 PM
i guess every breed has their "weak points", depending also on the job they do... so many akitas on my forum are tearing their cruciates lately, it's like a plague :( there is talk about straighter rears (less than desireable angulation) being more prone to weak ligaments, just wondering if breeds whose standard calls for straight rears report more CCL tears than other breeds? :confused:

ps: OG, all your dogs are beautimous! i LOVE greyhounds!

July 11th, 2006, 07:09 AM
I've read the same article, which has had me thinking carefully about the timing of Amos' neutering. Considering I have an end goal of agility, I am waiting until close to the 1 year mark to have him done.

Luckily, I own a dog and breed that is not significantly affected by puberty in behaviour. It would be an even tougher decision then.

Its interesting to wonder after reading that article how much CCL rupture, hip displaysia etc could possibly be prevented? It sure doesn't tak much of a change in angles to through off the ideal balance

July 11th, 2006, 07:16 AM
This is something that I have been told by numerous breeders and owners of Mastiffs is they like to neuter at 15-18 months and spay at 18m to 2 years. They say that it gives the bones and joints more time to form and harden to be able to handle there weight. This may vary with Greyhounds and Borzoi type dogs because there weight is not such a big issue. Akitas can be very heavy and muscular so I would think that even though they are not a giant breed I would think the longer the better as for there developement.