@zande said in Spay Early or Spay Later:
Six months is far too young.
Thanks, everyone, for weighing in on the side of waiting. I had a nice long WhatsApp chat with Liz McCargo of Bellator Basenji's last night and even though I did not buy my pup from her, she took the time to share her thoughts, which she said I could share here. This was her original answer.
“For the most part, I recommend delayed spaying and neutering in nearly all cases. For my puppy buyers I recommend waiting until 12-18 months old at the very least, ideally around 24 months old. For a majority of cases, this is best and best for the dogs. Although it means a little more management for the owners, it’s better in the long run for the lifetime of the dog.
“The best resource regarding spaying/neutering is the spay neuter booklet from puppy culture. It goes into all the nuances of why, from a scientific standpoint, and explains things a ton better than I ever could. What it boils down to is it’s better physically, emotionally, mentally, and psychologically for dogs to be allowed to fully mature before removing their sexual organs.
“The sexual organs help regulate the endocrine system which controls growth of joints, bones, organs, and the regulation of the thyroid. This is why many pets become fat after being fixed, the thyroid is negatively impacted by altering pets, and weight control becomes a bit more difficult. So with earlier spay/neuter, a dog can essentially grow disproportionately to what it was genetically designed since early removal of the sexual organs alters the dog genetically.
“So physically you may see no difference but their organs may be smaller or larger than originally designed which may lead to complications in the long run. So your dog may live to 10-12 years old, but had the potential to live to 15. We never really know the full impact as we cannot see into the future. Delayed altering can also reduce risks of many different types of cancers. The issues cited that support altering your pet are still there once you alter at a later age, so you’re not missing out on any of the benefits by waiting, but adding to the ultimate life long benefits by waiting.
“As long as a family can reasonably and responsibly contain their female when in season and contain their male apart from females in season, there’s no need for early altering. Many vets push it because it came from an era of pets breeding at their own will and resulted in many unwanted litters. In today’s day and of age of more fences and less farms, I don’t know any responsible owners who have unwanted litters.
“Most of Europe doesn’t alter their pets ever, but are able to responsibly contain them and prevent unwanted breedings. Anyway, that’s my two cents on it, the puppy culture book is a wealth of knowledge and the more educated you are, the better a standing up to pushy veterinarians.”
So a) I will be buying the puppy culture booklet and b) will do everything in my power to keep my girl from being spayed until she is at least a year old and preferably two. Where I live is rampant with unneutered mutts but I have a secure house for her and am with her 100% of the time, so...we should do fine.
My other two Bs (littermates) were neutered younger than a year. One died of lymphoma at age 9 and the other of a brain tumor at age 10. Not sure if it was the early neutering, disreputable breeder, or what, but I really want to do everything I can to give this little girl the longest and best life possible.