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Vet and Breeder at odds for when to spay

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
I'd welcome some opinions from people who have spayed female puppies recently.

We recently got a female boxer puppy. She is four months old. Her breeder recommended letting her have one heat, waiting about 1-2 months, and then spaying her. She said waiting confirms their bone maturity/size, as well as helps prevent certain female cancers later in life.

The vet, on the other hand, wants us to spay her right now. She says the puppy has mature bone structure already and matured-looking genitals and epithelium, and spaying her should be no problem. She said her office gives a 25% discount for spaying before 8 months (??).

We have not had a puppy in over 10 years, when it was common to spay pretty early in the puppy's life. I have no objection to waiting til she has a heat, but I'm curious, between the breeder and the vet, is one of them "right" about when to spay? She is a big puppy (31 pounds already), but I want her to fulfill "her" growth potential, not just be "big enough" for a boxer, so it's OK to spay her now.

Hope this made sense!

Thanks, Jane
post #2 of 24
4 months is young! I would not spay that early. I personally so not wait for first heat, though many do. With my Dane, her line normally has their first heat around 12-14 months so I spayed her at 11 months.
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks greenmagick. The breeder said her mother had her first heat at about 10 months. Waiting that long is OK with me.

Just curious why you chose 11 months, not really early, or after first heat? Not having had a puppy in a long time, I don't know what drives the different choices - that's what I'm trying to get a handle on.

Jane
post #4 of 24
A lot of vets push for early spay because it can be fairly easy to miss the signs of your dog going into heat, and end up with an "Oops!" litter of pups.

There is also some evidence that even one heat cycle can increase the risk of various cancers.
post #5 of 24
Especially with giant breed dogs, waiting to make sue they get most of their growing done first is important. I chose 11 months figuring if she went into heat early we would deal with it, but still felt farly confident we would get it done before her first heat. There are pros and cons to letting them have their first heat so each person has ro decide that for themself.
post #6 of 24
I have to agree that 4 months seems pretty young. I absolutely wouldn't do it before 6 months. I can't say I have any good reason for that, but it's how I feel! I know that certain cancer risks are lower when spaying occurs before heat. Not sure about what risks may be lower by waiting until after heat, but now I'm interested and off to look into it!
post #7 of 24
We'll be spaying at 4 months. I would prefer to get it done at 6 months, but my pup has an umbilical hernia that needs taken care of soon. I figure it is better to spay a little early than go through two surgeries! I honestly do not think it will hurt her any to get spayed at 4 months.
post #8 of 24
Thread Starter 
I've just done some googling myself. It would seem that the proponents of early spay say it drastically reduces mammary cancer later in life, and the proponents of later spaying cite an increase in bone cancers, and other bone growth related issues later in life.

Hmmmm - 2 days before Halloween last year we our 12 yo boxer to sleep after she was diagnosed with bone cancer so bad her hips were crumbling. She was spayed early.

Our new puppy is from big dogs, and she is growing fast. It seems her own body's hormones should determine her growth rate. If those hormones can operate through their full cycle because of an early spay, what will that do to her?

This is definitely me utilizing "anecdata," but I sure don't want to go through hip cancer again.
post #9 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by tinuviel_k View Post
We'll be spaying at 4 months. I would prefer to get it done at 6 months, but my pup has an umbilical hernia that needs taken care of soon. I figure it is better to spay a little early than go through two surgeries! I honestly do not think it will hurt her any to get spayed at 4 months.
I agree. In your case, why risk anesthesia twice and have two surgeries done at a young age? My guess is that with most breeds, the age of spaying really doesn't matter too much. I did some searching, and couldn't find any empirically based studies or anything, so it seems to pretty much opinions and theories floating around out there.
post #10 of 24
In this case, I trust the breeder much more than the vet. Sorry but vets have become insane with pushing spay and neuter younger and younger. My sister worked a place that did them on pups that were as young as 8 weeks. It's crazy.
post #11 of 24
The breeder we're getting our pup from asks that the dog be spayed/neutered by 8 months of age. We'll probably get him neutered around 6 months.
post #12 of 24
We got our pup from the shelter and part of the contract was for him to be neutered on their date(he was around 3 months old).

Now I'm worried...is there anything I should look out for?
post #13 of 24
Size of the dog makes a differnce too. Small dogs mature earlier and early spay/nueter doesn't seem to necessarily affect them as much. For giant breeds before a year is considered early by most. You can almost tell by looks what Dane males were nuetered really young, they remain tall and gangly.
post #14 of 24
Unless you're prepared to deal with the responsibility that comes with an intact female in heat (supervision at all times outside, cleaning up indoors and/or using diapers, the possibility of males coming to your house at all hours, your female trying to get out or over the fence to find a male, etc.) for 3 weeks *and* you know how to determine when she's in heat (still not 100% certain with silent and split heats as possibilities) then I'd suggest spaying before heat. There are just too many puppies needing homes already.

The studies cited for the increased cancer risk have some flaws - using breeds known for cancer, how they determine "early age s/n", etc. - so I'd not put that much weight on them honestly.

ETA: article that is refuting the claims of Chris Zink's article on early age s/n: http://www.sheltermedicine.com/docum...20rebuttal.doc

And a good selection of resources on the topic:
http://earlyspayneuter.blogspot.com/
post #15 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by stardogs View Post
Unless you're prepared to deal with the responsibility that comes with an intact female in heat (supervision at all times outside, cleaning up indoors and/or using diapers, the possibility of males coming to your house at all hours, your female trying to get out or over the fence to find a male, etc.) for 3 weeks *and* you know how to determine when she's in heat (still not 100% certain with silent and split heats as possibilities) then I'd suggest spaying before heat. There are just too many puppies needing homes already.

The studies cited for the increased cancer risk have some flaws - using breeds known for cancer, how they determine "early age s/n", etc. - so I'd not put that much weight on them honestly.

ETA: article that is refuting the claims of Chris Zink's article on early age s/n: http://www.sheltermedicine.com/docum...20rebuttal.doc

And a good selection of resources on the topic:
http://earlyspayneuter.blogspot.com/
While I appreciate your concerns, we're pretty well situated to keep her under control during the time she's in heat - a surprise of unwanted puppies is extremely unlikely.

As for the clean up, I'm already cleaning up after everyone else around here.

Jane
post #16 of 24
I'm glad to hear it Jane - way too many people think that a female in heat is easy and underestimate the task of keeping her safe from intact males. I worked at a shelter that took in 18000 animals a year, so the topic of responsible pet ownership is very close to my heart.

(I also know that personally I wouldn't want to have to deal with a female in heat despite knowing exactly how to do it right, so that does color my perspective a bit more lol)
post #17 of 24
I would go with your breeder on this one. Spay and neuter does prevent certain cancers, but doing it early raises the risk of other cancers. I believe Boxers are prone to some of these other cancers, which makes it more applicable to your situation. Of course, as a PP said, you should only wait if you are positive you can properly contain your dog while in heat and are educated about the process. For instance, your dog needs to be supervised while outside while in heat- they've been known to scale fences to go mate. And for that matter, dogs can mate and tie through chain link if they are determined. Also, know what signs to look for of impending heat and when the fertile period is.

Anyway, I keep some links on the benefits of waiting to spay and neuter and thought I'd post them so you can do a little reading yourself and come to a decision you feel comfortable with. I think the facts are far from presenting a concrete case one way or the other, and the age you feel most comfortable at may not be what another would conclude.

Easy to read, from a vet's website
http://www.mmilani.com/commentary-200509.html

Spay specific, a study done in Rottweilers
http://www.gpmcf.org/respectovaries.html

Easy to follow, mostly focuses on canine athletes
http://www.caninesports.com/SpayNeuter.html

Technical and long, but excellent and comprehensive
http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongT...uterInDogs.pdf

For pet owners, from a Labrador breeder
http://www.claircrest.com/Problemswi...pay-neuter.pdf

Long and technical but excellent, from the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association
http://avmajournals.avma.org/doi/pdf...ma.231.11.1665
post #18 of 24
My boxer girl will not be spayed until she is almost fully mature at around 14-16 months I dont want to do anything to her that might increase her risk of cancer and in the case of boxers early spay from what I have read can play a part. I also want her body to do what it is meant to in the first 1.5 years so that she wont have bone issues down the road.

There is always a slight chance my Isis may get away and breed (I have 2 young kids who run in and out the door and no fenced in yard) but to me the risk of to early of a spay outweighs the slight risk of an accidental breeding since boxers just dont live that long anyway due to cancer

Also from the Boxer owners I have spoken to online the ones spayed earlier under a year of age do not reach full growth potential compared to litter mates who where spayed later.
post #19 of 24
AKC's Canine Health Foundation published a paper about early spay neuter, which can be read here:

Their conclusions on early spay of bitches:
Quote:
For female dogs, the high incidence and high percentage of malignancy of mammary neoplasia, and the significant effect of spaying on decreasing its incidence make ovariohysterectomy prior to the first heat the best recommendation for non-breeding animals. The demonstrated increased incidence of urinary incontinence in bitches spayed before 3 months of age and possible effect of CCL injury in bitches spayed before 6 months of age suggest that spaying bitches after 6 months of age but before their first heat is most beneficial. For bitches of breeds predisposed by ovariohysterectomy to highly malignant tumors and for breeding animals, spaying at a later age may be more beneficial.
post #20 of 24
personally, if you have experienced the bone cancer issues and if you are in a good situation to keep a girl in heat protected from an oops litter, than I vote you wait. Sure, you are going on anecdata, but its hard to ignore experience especially when it comes to putting a young creature through surgery.

I had a boxer/jack russel mix in the home during her second heat. I was surprised at how easy it was. We had a fenced yard and I never left her alone out there (kept her on a long leash actually during heat) and just shoo'd the one male dog that kept coming around away. it was no big deal honestly since I was able to keep her in the house (no one to open the door and let her out accidentally since the kiddo was too little and our door going out is after the mudroom which also has a door... close one before opening the other!) and put a diaper on her to catch the blood (which there actually wasn't much of with her.) She didn't seem too obsessed with getting away either to find a male. She DID try to dig under our fence to get next door where our neighbors have male dogs, but the leash and some boards cured that no problem. That was our first for sure sign of her being in heat and we adjusted our habits accordingly.

waiting seems kinder anyway. They won't ever really understand but at least being older gives them a bit more experience to handle a surgery.
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