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When Should A Female Golden Retriever Be Spayed

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Doesnt Spaying Or Neutering A Dog Prevent Behavioral Problems And Certain Kinds Of Cancer

So how and why did spaying or neutering dogs at six months come to be the norm? “Population control” is the most common answer. Canine cognitive scientist Dr. Alexandra Horowitz, writing in the New York Times, describes the way spaying and neutering dogs rapidly became an easy answer to the apparent problem of stray dogs and overfull shelters. But as we’re learning, an easy answer isn’t always the best one.

For a long time, many also believed that spay-neuter could prevent behavioral problems as well as prostate and mammary cancers. But when Dr. Hart investigated these claims, he found a more complicated picture. For instance, his research revealed that neutering male dogs with aggression problems only resolved aggression in 25 to 30 percent of cases. In other words, three out of four dogs did not show an improvement in aggressive behavior after neutering alone. And significantly, those behavioral improvements were equally likely if neutering was delayed until after a dog had reached sexual maturity.

Neutering also does not prevent prostate cancer. “As a matter of fact,” Dr. Hart told me, based on available data, “prostate cancer in males is more common in neutered than intact dogs.”

It Is Important To Note That Neutering And Spaying Effects Bone Growth And Cancer Rates

Neutering prior to your dogs growth plates closing can cause complications that result in hip and elbow dysplasia. Growth plates begin to close around 6 months of age. Dogs neutered before 6 months of age have a 4 to 5 times chance of developing a form of dysplasia. As for cancer, any dog who is neutered or spayed has a higher chance of cancer compared to a dog that is intact. The affects of neutering males and cancer rates are not as evident as compared to females. With spayed females there is a 3 to 4 times increase of chance in developing some form of cancer.

For me though, reading the results isn’t just enough. When I looked at their charts, it showed that if a female is spayed prior to 6 months, she has a less increase of cancer rates compared to 6-12 months. It isn’t until 2 years of age, that the chance of cancer rates drops again nearing intact levels. However, if a female is spayed before 6 months then we know she will likely develop a form of dysplasia. We have to consider which one is worse, and quality of life is then important to consider.

Study Evaluates The Effects Of Early Neutering And Spaying In Golden Retrievers

A search for a quality Golden Retriever to handle in junior showmanship led Liz Bultman to breeder Rhonda Hovan. As they got acquainted by e-mails, Hovan was impressed that Bultman wanted to be sure that Hovan would not require her to neuter or spay the dog at an early age.

The possible health effects of early spaying and neutering is a topic Hovan, the research facilitator for the Golden Retriever Club of America, holds close to her heart. “For years when I looked at adult dogs that I’d bred, I saw marked physical differences between those sold as show prospects and those sold as pets,” says Hovan, of Akron, Ohio, who has bred Golden Retrievers under the Faera prefix for more than 40 years. “The dogs sold as pets were tall and lanky, with no bone and pointy muzzles. I’d look at them and wonder how they got so tall.”

Hovan began to realize a key difference was that the Goldens intended as show prospects were kept intact. Those sold to families as companion animals, or pets, were routinely neutered. Hovan, like most breeders, requires pet owners to spay and neuter dogs. She began noticing that the age at which dogs were spayed or neutered played a role in the way they looked as adults.

Beyond Behavioral Changes 

An Individual Basis 

“Most buyers are surprised when I point out the risks and benefits,” Hovan says. “I have a discussion with them in which I tie into my health guarantee the age of neutering, exercise recommendations and target weights.”

My Personal Summary About The Best Age To Neuter A Labrador Or Golden Retriever

It is impossible to determine what is the absolute best age to neuter a Labrador Retriever when you are talking about a specific puppy. These studies tell us what is “probable” when talking about many dogs.

In any specific dog, it is possible to get any specific result. There are anomalies in every study. Your dog may be one of those anomalies.

When I am talking to my children, I try to teach them not to be exceptional without trying to be the exception. They should not try to exempt themselves from following the rules. I also apply the same policy to raising a puppy.

Many people will hold to the old traditions of the past. I am not one of those people. I believe that a person should, according to these studies, put off neutering or spaying a dog until they are at least one year old.

The best age to neuter a Labrador or Golden Retriever is as late as you can but wait at least one year.

Final Summary Regarding Females

Waiting to spay a female has some risks.

Your female may get pregnant in her first heat cycle. She may develop pyometra, which can be dangerous to your dog’s health. It is curable if treated properly.

If your Lab or Golden Retriever is a service dog, then neutering your dog will avoid the inconvenience of twice-yearly cycles. This will be a major consideration if you rely on your dog for daily routines such as guiding services or other working situations like hunt trials. If your female is in heat, you will not be permitted to enter your dog in the competition.

Other Golden Retriever Health Issues Related To Spaying Or Neutering Too Soon

Timing Key When it Comes to Spaying and Neutering

There are other health issues that have been linked to spaying or neutering your pet too soon.

Golden Retriever females that were spayed before their first birthday are at an increased risk – 60 percent – of developing hypothyroidism, which is a metabolic abnormality. Hypothyroidism causes weight gain, poor hair coat quality, and a host of other issues.

Dogs that were spayed earlier are also at an increased risk of developing certain cancers. Osteosarcoma is a bone cancer. While the rates of it in Golden Retrievers are only around 5 percent, it tends to occur significantly more commonly in spayed and neutered Goldens.

Hemangiosarcoma is another type of cancer that Golden Retrievers can get:

Roughly 20 percent of Goldens die from this cancer that affects blood vessels and organs such as the heart and spleen.

According to the survey done of the Golden Retriever Club of America, spayed and neutered Goldens were two to five times more likely to develop this cancer within their heart.

Neutering Health Effects More Severe For Golden Retrievers Than Labradors


Labrador retrievers are less vulnerable than golden retrievers to the long-term health effects of neutering, as evidenced by higher rates of certain joint disorders and devastating cancers, according to a new study by researchers at the University of California, Davis, School of Veterinary Medicine.

Results of the study now appear online in the open-access journal PLOS ONE.

“We found in both breeds that neutering before the age of 6 months, which is common practice in the United States, significantly increased the occurrence of joint disorders – especially in the golden retrievers,” said lead investigator Benjamin Hart, a distinguished professor emeritus in the School of Veterinary Medicine.

“The data, however, showed that the incidence rates of both joint disorders and cancers at various neuter ages were much more pronounced in golden retrievers than in the Labrador retrievers,” he said.

He noted that the findings not only offer insights for researchers in both human and veterinary medicine, but are also important for breeders and dog owners contemplating when, and if, to neuter their dogs. Dog owners in the United States are overwhelmingly choosing to neuter their dogs, in large part to prevent pet overpopulation or avoid unwanted behaviors.

Health records of goldens and Labradors examined

Neutering and joint disorders

Neutering and cancers

Neutering in female Labradors increased the cancer incidence rate only slightly.

Spaying Or Neutering My Golden Retriever: Are There Any Other Options

Now that you know the risks, it’s natural that you ask: Are there other, safer options? 

The answer is YES!

The most probable cause of elevated risks of developing orthopedic disorders and cancer is the lack of critical hormones in the dog’s body. So the logical step is to perform procedures that will prevent your Golden from breeding, but still, keep the production of critical hormones.


With this procedure, your female Golden will have its uterus and part of fallopian tubes removed. However, ovaries will be left intact, thus ensuring the production of body critical hormones. The downside is that there is a probability that your female will still have a breeding instinct.


Vasectomy is a procedure with which we remove the tubes that run from testicles . Thus removing your male Golden’s ability to breed. However, his hormone production will be intact.

Chemical Castration

In Europe, particularly in Nordic countries such as Denmark, Sweeden, and Norway, the most common way to stop unwanted breeding is chemical castration. If you opt for this procedure, your Golden Retriever will have an injection every six months. This will decrease the levels of testosterone by 50%, thus removing breeding instinct for some time. This method is very effective. Besides, your Golden Retriever is still capable of breeding in the future if you decide you want to do that, something that is impossible with spaying and neutering.

Disadvantages Of Tubal Ligation Hysterectomy Or Not Spaying Your Dog

An OHE eliminates most, if not all, of the female hormone production. In so doing, the real advantages of this procedure are realized. In human cases, great efforts are undertaken to maintain or restore hormone production in the body, but the same is only rarely true in canine practice. These hormones play key roles in reproduction in the dog. However, they can also have many unwanted side effects.

Estrus: During the heat cycle there are behavior and hygienic problems that develop. Females in heat will actively search out male dogs and may attempt to escape from the house or yard, putting them in the danger of traffic, fights with other animals, etc.

Often there is a sudden influx of male dogs around the home and yard. These dogs leave numerous droppings and spray plants and trees with urine in an attempt to mark their new found territory. Owners also need to contend with the vaginal bleeding that typically lasts for 4 to 13 days.

Mammary cancer: Estrogen is one of the primary causes of canine mammary cancer, the most common malignant tumor in dogs. Animals that are spayed prior to one year of age very rarely develop this malignancy.

Spaying a dog before her first heat is the best way to significantly reduce the chance your dog will develop mammary cancer. The risk of malignant mammary tumors in dogs spayed prior to their first heat is 0.05%. It is 8% for dog spayed after one heat, and 26% in dogs spayed after their second heat.

Reasons To Consider All Options Before Spaying Or Neutering A Puppy

Dr. Benjamin Hart of the University of California, Davis, has been researching the effects of spay-neuter for a decade, with support from the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation. His first paper on the subject, published in 2013, revealed that Golden Retrievers that had been spayed or neutered had a correlation of being three or four times more likely to develop certain cancers, including lymphosarcoma and hemangiosarcoma, and also more likely to develop joint problems such as hip dysplasia and damage to the cranial cruciate ligament. The team later published data on German Shepherd Dogs and Labrador Retrievers, finding that early spaying and neutering had varying effects on these dogs’ likelihood to develop joint disorders, cancers, and urinary incontinence.

And when it comes to dogs weighing more than 20 kilos, the study found that the impact of early spay-neuter varies hugely across breeds and sexes. For instance, since most small dogs didn’t experience higher rates of the studied cancers and joint problems, Dr. Hart conjectured that at the other end of the scale, Great Danes might suffer them at a high rate. Yet he found that the gentle giants had no increase in joint disorders after early spay-neuter. “That was completely unexpected,” Dr. Hart told me.

Golden Retriever Behavior After Neutering: Things To Watch Out For

Check with your vet if there is a discharge from the incision or if your dog appears to be in excessive pain. It’s unusual for a dog to need pain medicine, but it’s not unheard of.

If the dog keeps licking the stitches, use an Elizabethan collar to prevent this from happening. Some dogs have trouble walking while wearing these, and they’re trapped indoors and at tables. However, even during sleep, the dog should wear it since scratching will prevent the incision from healing properly.

Know When To Spay Or Neuter Your Puppy For Optimal Health Benefits

The influence of neutering on the development of cancer and orthopedic diseases varies between different dog breeds and sexes, as well as the age of the pet. 

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Q: We have just added a golden retriever puppy to the family. She is 4 months old and our veterinarian has discussed the benefit of spaying her before she goes into heat to reduce the chance that she will get mammary cancer.

I have been told by our breeder to wait until after she has gone into heat a couple of times so she can mature normally. What do you recommend? 

A: Let me begin by stating that I firmly advocate that all dogs and cats, which are not specifically intended to breed, should be sterilized. In the traditional sense, that means neutering. More specifically, it means castrating the males and at least removing the ovaries of the females.

However, we are beginning to understand the health benefits conferred by gonadal hormones and the possible consequences of their removal. This growing body of knowledge has sparked an interest in sterilization procedures that allow retention of the gonads, which is commonly referred to as tubal ligation and vasectomy.

A few years ago, requesting such a procedure for a dog or a cat would have been reserved for “kooks.” But as in so many other instances, science has caught up and proven that the “kooks” may just have a point.

More Evidence That Neutering A Labrador Retriever Cause Damage

In a study cited in the Veterinary Medicine and Science, they found that intact dogs were less likely to develop hip dysplasia and other joint disorders.

7% of intact dogs tracked for 14 years developed one or more types of joint diseases. Over the same period, 21% of dogs that were neutered before one year old developed one or more type of joint disease.

That study was done on German Shepherds instead of Labrador Retrievers.

Unfortunately, researchers have found the same to be true for Golden Retrievers and Labradors.

A 2014 study found that neutered Labradors are twice as likely to develop joint diseases. It is worse for neutered Golden Retrievers. These long-haired beauties are four times as likely to have hip dysplasia or other joint diseases.

The study shows that the longer an owner waits to neuter or spay their dog, the less probable the dog is to develop the joint problems.

Limitations of These Studies

There is a potential for bias or error in every study.

It is important to understand where these studies can help and what the limitations are to the application of the findings. They may or may not answer the question about the best age to neuter a Labrador or Golden Retriever

For example, the study on the Vizslas may or may not be the perfect study to determine what is the best age to neuter a Labrador Retriever.

The same can be said for the study on German Shepherds.

What can be learned from these studies about the best age to neuter a Labrador?

Golden Retriever Study Suggests Neutering Affects Dog Health

This DOG


Neutering, and the age at which a dog is neutered, may affect the animal’s risk for developing certain cancers and joint diseases, according to a new study of golden retrievers by a team of researchers at the University of California, Davis.

The study, which examined the health records of 759 golden retrievers, found a surprising doubling of hip dysplasia among male dogs neutered before one year of age. This and other results were published Feb. 13 in the online scientific journal PLOS ONE.

“The study results indicate that dog owners and service-dog trainers should carefully consider when to have their male or female dogs neutered,” said lead investigator Benjamin Hart, a distinguished professor emeritus in the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine.

“It is important to remember, however, that because different dog breeds have different vulnerabilities to various diseases, the effects of early and late neutering also may vary from breed to breed,” he said.

While results of the new study are revealing, Hart said the relationship between neutering and disease-risk remains a complex issue. For example, the increased incidence of joint diseases among early-neutered dogs is likely a combination of the effect of neutering on the young dog’s growth plates as well as the increase in weight on the joints that is commonly seen in neutered dogs.

In Europe, however, neutering is generally avoided by owners and trainers and not promoted by animal health authorities, Hart said.

When Should A Golden Retriever Be Neutered Age Pros And Cons


Timing can play a huge role in the consequences of neutering your dog, which is why you should know exactly when you should do it and why you should do it at this age.

So, when should a golden retriever be neutered? You should neuter your male golden retriever one year after their sexual maturity and neuter your female golden retrievers 8-10months after their first heat cycle.  

We all want the best for our dogs and neutering your dog is a very important subject, so keep reading to learn more about and to know what is the right thing to do? 

When Should I Have My Golden Retriever Spayed Or Neutered

Whilst recommendations vary, vets typically suggest that you should have your Golden Retriever spayed or neutered between the ages of four and nine months. There are various reasons for such a broad timeframe, although some vets suggest that timing can have positive effects on your Golden Retriever’s behaviour, dependent on their sex.

Although there is no 100% definite answer, it is often suggested that you should have your male Golden Retriever neutered after he has reached the age of puberty. This is thought to have long-term health benefits, as well as helping to prevent behavioural traits, such as marking and aggression.

For female Golden Retriever’s, there is no dead set answer as to when you should have them spayed. Whilst some recommend spaying before first heat , others suggest that this can increase the risk of mammary tumours. We would always recommend consulting your vet for a personalised opinion.

Most studies have said that spaying a dog can calm them down in most cases. However, it should not be seen as a cure-all for puppy problems.

Golden Retriever Behavior After Neutering: Things To Know

Tom Thorpe Blog

Pet neutering is a common procedure that provides a variety of advantages to both animals and owners alike. Many golden retriever owners have their dogs neutered or neutered to prevent unwelcome breeding. Others do so to prevent health complications. Do you know the golden retriever behavior after neutering? Find out here!

Why Should I Have My Golden Retriever Spayed Or Neutered

There are many reasons why you should have your Golden Retriever spayed or neutered, not least of all because it will likely improve their quality of life . Here’s what you need to know:

Firstly, you’re going to have a happy and healthy Golden Retriever. Spaying is proven to reduce the risk of breast cancer and uterine infections, and neutering similarly prevents testicular cancer. So, if you want to prevent these major Golden Retriever killers, neutering and spaying is a sure fire way.

Neutering your male Golden Retriever will also ensure that he is on his best behaviour at all times. Neutering prevents aggressive and territorial behaviours, and also means that he wont be spending his entire walk hunting for a partner. So, if you want to prevent these embarrassments, get your Golden Retriever neutered early on!

You could save the lives of countless Golden Retriever puppies ! Millions of animals are euthanised every year because there are simply not enough willing owners to cater for endless litters of puppies. Having this done will prevent unwanted litters and ultimately save the lives of millions of baby Golden Retriever that would end up in shelters.

How Long Will My Dog Be In Pain After A Fixing Operation

Your dog should only feel discomfort for a few days after a spaying or neutering operation, and shouldn’t be showing symptoms of distress for more than a week. That is except the discomfort of wearing a cone and not being able to jump around. They should be prevented from damaging their stitches for at least two weeks after the operations.

So What Age Do We Choose To Neuter/spay And At What Cost

If I had a male, I would wait till at least one year of age. That way we limit the risk of dysplasia which is it’s lowest, and cancer rates drop to the normal range comparing to an intact dog. Any sooner you would have higher cancer rates and dysplasia. For females it’s a bit more confusing. If it were me, I’d wait till two years before spaying a female if at all. At that age the risk of dysplasia is low, and cancer rates also return lower nearing intact levels. However, not everyone wants to deal with a female in heat. It’s not a cleanly process, especially if you have carpet. You will also have to deal with unwanted male dogs coming around and also risk an unwanted pregnancy. That can also be costly. For anyone other than breeders, waiting that long is probably not the likely or best scenario. In that case, I would suggest discussing with your vet to make a risk-benefit analysis as to when to spay your female. The closest cancer rates to intact female cancer rates, other than beyond 2 years, will be around 6 months. However, you have a higher risk for dysplasia at 6 months. For anyone still reading, I would seriously look at the charts from the study. I’ve shared them below so this way you can make an better informed decision with your veterinarian.

Incidence of Cancer

Incidence of Dysplasia

Golden Retriever Behavior After Neutering: Pros And Cons

Much like other things in life, there are pros and cons to spaying and neutering. Generally speaking, there are undoubtedly more pros of spaying and neutering than cons. That being said, every dog and pet owner has their own needs and goals.

When determining whether or not to spay or neutralize your Golden, work closely with your veterinarian, and discuss all your issues. Together you can make a decision about what’s best for you and your particular pup.

The most obvious thing about Spaying and Neutering is that your dog is not going to have puppies. Now, depending on the plans for the future, this can be classified on both the Pro and Con side, so we left it off the list.

Common Reasons To Spay Or Neuter Your Labrador Retriever

When Should a Golden Retriever Be Neutered? Age, pros, and ...

There are several reasons to neuter or spay your dog. Some of the most common reasons people cite as their reasons, however, don’t hold water.

Let’s look at what neutering dogs really accomplishes and what it does not.

Of the most four common reasons to fix your pet, only two of them seem legitimate.

  • Birth control

“Puppies for sale. ½ Labrador and ½ sneaky neighborhood dog”

The last thing you want to do is have your trained, healthy female get pregnant and risk the problems that can be associated with pregnancy.

Even if there are no health complications, you don’t want an unplanned pregnancy to ruin a hunting season—especially if you only get one week to hunt Sage Grouse like in Idaho.


There is nothing desirable about having your female comes into season.

For the next three or four weeks, you cannot go out into public without worrying about other male dogs.

In addition to the limitations, vaginal discharge can stain carpets or furniture. You can always go with the diapers, but I hated changing my children’s diapers and I don’t look forward to doing it with my dog.

Service Dogs

It is a small percentage of people using service dogs, but if a female goes into heat, her ability to carry out the provided service will likely be inhibited for a period throughout the animal’s life.


This is their best effort to preserve the breed integrity.

Prevent illnesses and cancer

  • Spayed females do not go into heat

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