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  1. #1
    Member dalans's Avatar
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    when to spay a large breed dog

    Hi all

    Our bernedoodle is now 8 months and we are considering the right time to spay her. We definitely want to do this - no desire for puppies in the family (one - her - is enough). She is already pretty big - about 65 pounds or so, and is in the process of filling out, so still growing but probably at full height.

    What is confusing me is the contradictory advice and literature out there. Many resources state that tubal ligation is the way to go, but that is not an option for us - I cannot even find a vet in my area that will do this even if we thought it was a great idea.

    The main issue is timing. Many resources say any time between 6 months and one year in order to avoid their first heat cycle and reduce the risks of some cancers (mammary). Others insist on after one to three heat cycles to reduce the risk of other cancers (bone), and still others insist that spaying should be delayed until at least one year to avoid displasia and other bone issues common in large breed dogs.

    Any advice?

    Thanks,

    Dave
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    It's best to wait until the growth plates are formed. Hard to tell with mixes when that would be though. I'd probably wait until 1.5 just in case though.
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    Senior Member PatriciafromCO's Avatar
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    what does your breeder say.. they are the best to know the outcome of what they breeding
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    I've been researching the same subject. As you've noticed, there seems to be two distinctly different camps. One is the spay before first heat cycle (approx 6 months) to avoid mammary cancer (recommended by many veterinarians). The other is to wait until a dog is about 18 months, so the growth plates are fully formed (popular among agility dog owners and recommended by veterinarians specializing in canine sports medicine).

    There also seems to be a political aspect to spay/neuter timing. The earlier a pup is spayed or neutered, the better it is for canine population control which is supposed to reduce the number of pets in shelters. I believe the real problem is pet owners who get a puppy on a whim and are not prepared for the responsibility that comes along with pet ownership. I can relate. Having recently acquired a new pup of my own, I'm experiencing a bit of canine culture shock. I had forgotten how much work goes into raising a young furball with a mouth full of sharp teeth, the energy of a tornado and the attention span of a gnat.

    If I planned to have my dog become a canine athlete, taking part in regular competitive sports, I'd likely wait on the spaying and be diligent about checking for tumors.

    But I plan only to introduce my dog to the "lite" versions of Frisbee and agility strictly for fun and confidence building, not competition. So, I will follow my vet's advice to spay at six months to ensure spay is completed before her first heat cycle.
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    Quote Originally Posted by oldNgray View Post
    I've been researching the same subject. As you've noticed, there seems to be two distinctly different camps. One is the spay before first heat cycle (approx 6 months) to avoid mammary cancer (recommended by many veterinarians). The other is to wait until a dog is about 18 months, so the growth plates are fully formed (popular among agility dog owners and recommended by veterinarians specializing in canine sports medicine).

    There also seems to be a political aspect to spay/neuter timing. The earlier a pup is spayed or neutered, the better it is for canine population control which is supposed to reduce the number of pets in shelters. I believe the real problem is pet owners who get a puppy on a whim and are not prepared for the responsibility that comes along with pet ownership. I can relate. Having recently acquired a new pup of my own, I'm experiencing a bit of canine culture shock. I had forgotten how much work goes into raising a young furball with a mouth full of sharp teeth, the energy of a tornado and the attention span of a gnat.

    If I planned to have my dog become a canine athlete, taking part in regular competitive sports, I'd likely wait on the spaying and be diligent about checking for tumors.

    But I plan only to introduce my dog to the "lite" versions of Frisbee and agility strictly for fun and confidence building, not competition. So, I will follow my vet's advice to spay at six months to ensure spay is completed before her first heat cycle.
    I have a newfoundland. I haven't found ANY reputable source saying that it's ok to spay at 6 months. None. Everyone will tell you to wait until 2 years. My vet told me that I could neuter mine at 1, amusingly. Considering that his father grew until 3, needless to say, I didn't listen to his advice.

    Bernese and poodles are typically smaller though, so 1 year is probably ok.
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    Unfortunately my breeder did not seem to have strong advice - just stated that her vet says btwn 6 mos. and a year in order to avoid mammary cancer.
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    I had ONE dog that I spayed pre first heat. I did so because her mother died of mammary cancer. The result was a juvenile vulva and the need to do an episioplasty (like a vulval face lift) due to some level of vulval inversion.

    Mammary cancer is not all that prevalent in dogs and early spay (prior to any heats) has been found to increase the risk of some cancers.

    All other bitches I waited. Rule of thumb is after age 2 and before age 3 and a half in a non breeding bitch. Bitch must be isolated and hand walked during heat cycles (typically lasting 21 days 2X a year).
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    Quote Originally Posted by dalans View Post
    Unfortunately my breeder did not seem to have strong advice - just stated that her vet says btwn 6 mos. and a year in order to avoid mammary cancer.
    am very sorry to hear that.. I wouldn't consider altering my Xlarge breed until 3 years old. I don't alter agree with not wanting puppies to provide a proper set up for them.
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    Hi all,

    Thank you for helping me think this through. We will continue to consider this decision, but I am leaning towards waiting a few more months to let her bones grow. Even if she goes through one heat cycle, the possibility of mammary cancer is still quite low compared to an intact female, and the danger of hip displasia and other issues related to prolonged bone growth are reduced significantly.

    The pdf here
    http://www.naiaonline.org/pdfs/LongT...uterInDogs.pdf
    is very informative, and I have done a lot of other research besides. I can share more links if anyone has interest.

    BTW - I have a friend with a similar breed that definitely has that 'leggy' look from a relatively early spay, and she already has hip problems at about 6 years old. That is just anecdotal of course.

    So now I need to think about waiting until Lila is a year old, or older. This may involve her going into heat. I have never had a female dog before and I really do not know what to expect. I understand there may be some blood and discharge, and that the cycle will last something like two weeks. Obviously I will stay away from the dog park for that period of time and keep a very close eye on her.

    But I am wondering - what else will this involve? I currently take her to work with me most days. Will I still be able to do that? Is there a significant mess involved? Is she likely to be very hyperactive? What else do I need to consider?

    I suspect these are foolish questions, so thanks in advance for bearing with me.

    D
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    I don't alter, majority of females keep themselves very clean, only had one dirty bitch she just bled all over herself and everywhere freaked me out for never seeing such a mess on a bitch.. My other bitches cleaned her up and she learned from them to take care of herself and kept herself and the area clean.

    the cycle general is 21 days give or take for individual bitches. the bleeding is during the first 7 day phase coming into heat, runs clear and stops generally by the end of the first phase. Second phase is ovulation, standing for allowing breeding, give or take for individual bitches, generally 7 days. Then next 7 days coming out of heat, depending on the individual bitch of how long after ovulation they are still fertile to be bred. so you take the 7 days after standing heat for safety. It's general,, you can get some sanitary pads and panty for the first phase of heat.

    Once you understand it is an actual cycle that runs it's course you feel a bit better and be prepared to handle it confidently. Like you said it does mean keeping her while outside. Caution about leaving unattended outside even in a fenced in yard. Some bitches are not driven, and other bitches are driven to go find a male. You have a short window for actual breeding,, and if you are around other dogs, you may see them paying extra attention to your girl up to 3 weeks before they even start the first phase of coming into heat. And you may notice your bitch be more snappy as well to both males and females. When your prepared and set up it goes by really quickly to not be fearful of it.. over 30 years with intact males and females together, and no puppies... Be informed and have a plan and you will be fine.
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    My female was spayed at about 6 months old (Boxer/Rottweiler) mainly because I didn't know about all the controversy and information out there. She's 6 years old now and we haven't had any issues yet. Recent x-rays did show some slight hip displaysia, but there's nothing to say it was caused by an early spay.
    <a href=http://s876.photobucket.com/user/jenelleswitzer/media/Tellier%20-%20Dogs_zpsidzysuwq.jpg.html target=_blank><img src=http://i876.photobucket.com/albums/ab325/jenelleswitzer/Tellier%20-%20Dogs_zpsidzysuwq.jpg border=0 alt= /></a>
    Kane & Pepper
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    I wanted to post a link to a paper written by two Cornell University veterinary specialists addressing the spay/neuter time-frame controversy. The information in it might help dogforums members make an informed choice on when to spay or neuter: https://www.cuvs.org/sites/default/f...SpayNeuter.pdf

    It seems there are good reasons to hold off neutering a male pup. But when it comes to spaying a female, things are more complicated. I've noted a few highlights from the paper below but I would urge forum members to read through the paper in its entirety before making their spay/neuter decisions.

    re Mammary tumors:
    *** "dogs spayed before the first estrus have a 0.5% risk of mammary neoplasia. Dogs spayed after the first or second estrus have an 8% and 26% risk, respectively, compared to sexually intact dogs."

    *** "Among males neutered before 1 year of age,the incidence of hip dysplasia was 10%, which was higher than the occurrence in intact males (5%) and males neutered after 1 year (3%).
    *** "OVH (either age group) had no effect on the incidence of hip dysplasia in females." (NOTE: OVH is ovarian hysterectomy)
    *** A follow-up study included Labradors had this finding: "Among female Labradors, early neutering (allgroups = or <1 year of age) was associated with an increased incidence of hip dysplasia(5%) compared to intact dogs (2%)."

    *** "There were no cases of cranial cruciate ligament(CrCL)rupture in intact males, intact females, or in females spayed after 1 year. The incidence of CrCL rupture in dogs neutered prior to 1 year of age was 5% for males and 8% for females, which was higher than both the intact dogs and dogs neutered after 1 year."

    *** "Almost 10% of early-neutered males were diagnosed with lymphoma, and early neutered males had nearly 3x the occurrence of lymphoma as intact males.
    *** "no cases of lymphoma were observed in the late-neutered males."

    *** "Late neutered females were diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma (HSA) >4x more frequently than intact females and early-neutered females."
    *** "No differences were apparent in males with regard to neutering and the occurrence of HSA."

    *** "Mast cell tumors did not occur in intact females, but was diagnosed in 2.3 percent of early-neutered females and 5.7 percent of late-neutered females."
    *** "No differences were found in the occurrence of MCT in male Golden Retrievers."

    *** "The authors postulate that the timing of estrogen removal may influence the development of MCT and HSA in females spayed later in life. This may be related to the fact that in early spayed females potentially neoplastic cells are not sensitized to estrogen, so removal of this hormone by spaying does not influence cancer development. Once the cells have been exposed through several estrous cycles, the cells become sensitized, although the estrogen is protective. Once removed, these cells could become neoplastic."

    There is a lot more information in the paper than what I've posted. Some of it has to do with early versus late spay/neuter, but much of it has to do with non age-defined spay/neuter versus intact.

    My girl is 17 weeks old today. Because I don't plan for my dog to compete in sports, the cancer numbers are what give me the most concern. At this point, I still plan to go with my vet's 6-month spay recommendation. However, if someone has access to a more detailed study or other information that would convince me that waiting is in my girl's best interest, please post the links here in the next couple of weeks (BEFORE my girl turns 6 months).
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    Quote Originally Posted by oldNgray View Post
    I wanted to post a link to a paper written by two Cornell University veterinary specialists addressing the spay/neuter time-frame controversy. The information in it might help dogforums members make an informed choice on when to spay or neuter: https://www.cuvs.org/sites/default/f...SpayNeuter.pdf

    It seems there are good reasons to hold off neutering a male pup. But when it comes to spaying a female, things are more complicated. I've noted a few highlights from the paper below but I would urge forum members to read through the paper in its entirety before making their spay/neuter decisions.

    re Mammary tumors:
    *** "dogs spayed before the first estrus have a 0.5% risk of mammary neoplasia. Dogs spayed after the first or second estrus have an 8% and 26% risk, respectively, compared to sexually intact dogs."

    *** "Among males neutered before 1 year of age,the incidence of hip dysplasia was 10%, which was higher than the occurrence in intact males (5%) and males neutered after 1 year (3%).
    *** "OVH (either age group) had no effect on the incidence of hip dysplasia in females." (NOTE: OVH is ovarian hysterectomy)
    *** A follow-up study included Labradors had this finding: "Among female Labradors, early neutering (allgroups = or <1 year of age) was associated with an increased incidence of hip dysplasia(5%) compared to intact dogs (2%)."

    *** "There were no cases of cranial cruciate ligament(CrCL)rupture in intact males, intact females, or in females spayed after 1 year. The incidence of CrCL rupture in dogs neutered prior to 1 year of age was 5% for males and 8% for females, which was higher than both the intact dogs and dogs neutered after 1 year."

    *** "Almost 10% of early-neutered males were diagnosed with lymphoma, and early neutered males had nearly 3x the occurrence of lymphoma as intact males.
    *** "no cases of lymphoma were observed in the late-neutered males."

    *** "Late neutered females were diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma (HSA) >4x more frequently than intact females and early-neutered females."
    *** "No differences were apparent in males with regard to neutering and the occurrence of HSA."

    *** "Mast cell tumors did not occur in intact females, but was diagnosed in 2.3 percent of early-neutered females and 5.7 percent of late-neutered females."
    *** "No differences were found in the occurrence of MCT in male Golden Retrievers."

    *** "The authors postulate that the timing of estrogen removal may influence the development of MCT and HSA in females spayed later in life. This may be related to the fact that in early spayed females potentially neoplastic cells are not sensitized to estrogen, so removal of this hormone by spaying does not influence cancer development. Once the cells have been exposed through several estrous cycles, the cells become sensitized, although the estrogen is protective. Once removed, these cells could become neoplastic."

    There is a lot more information in the paper than what I've posted. Some of it has to do with early versus late spay/neuter, but much of it has to do with non age-defined spay/neuter versus intact.

    My girl is 17 weeks old today. Because I don't plan for my dog to compete in sports, the cancer numbers are what give me the most concern. At this point, I still plan to go with my vet's 6-month spay recommendation. However, if someone has access to a more detailed study or other information that would convince me that waiting is in my girl's best interest, please post the links here in the next couple of weeks (BEFORE my girl turns 6 months).
    I'm going to wait until my boy is a year old to have him neutered, just to be on the safe side. But I do wonder whether the figures are skewed, as someone who's planning on breeding their dog will leave it intact, and someone is more likely to plan to breed a healthy dog from healthy lines. It wouldn't surprise me if these owners were also fussier about nutrition and whatnot. Whereas random "whoops" dogs are more likely to get snipped - basically guaranteed to be snipped, in fact, if they go through a shelter or rescue. So unless they've deliberately controlled for these sorts of factors, the population pool of juvie spay/neuter is different from the population pool of dogs that were left intact into adulthood.
    Last edited by parus; 02-04-2019 at 06:22 PM.
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    Member mustluvdogs66's Avatar
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    I wish there was a bit more research done on this. Although because of so many variables, maybe they can’t find a good “one size fits all” approach. It could depend on breed(s), sex, activity levels, weight, diet, environment, etc... There seem to be pros and cons at any age. Pyometria is another concern if one doesn’t spay a female dog early enough. It can be deadly if not caught in time (I had an acquaintance that lost 2 dogs to this.) It can happen anytime after the first heat cycle, although i believe it’s not very common in young females.
    In the end you’re just going to have to go with your gut.
    I’ve always had my dogs neutered or spayed around 6 mos. except my last rescue was 3 when he was neutered, right before I got him. They were all small breeds and males (but I now have my first female, who was spayed at 6 months).
    The concern I have with males is marking territory (peeing on everything) if they don’t get neutered before their hormones kick into high gear. Although, again, this doesn’t happen to all dogs.
    My childhood Shih Tzu wasn’t neutered until he was 14 years old (it wasn’t as popular to neuter/spay all pets back then) because he had developed tumors. He then lived until 18+.
    Good luck with your decision.
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    We had our pup neutered at 3 months. He was humping like crazy and we didn't want him pissing everywhere inside.
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    Quote Originally Posted by oldNgray View Post
    I wanted to post a link to a paper written by two Cornell University veterinary specialists addressing the spay/neuter time-frame controversy. The information in it might help dogforums members make an informed choice on when to spay or neuter: https://www.cuvs.org/sites/default/f...SpayNeuter.pdf

    It seems there are good reasons to hold off neutering a male pup. But when it comes to spaying a female, things are more complicated. I've noted a few highlights from the paper below but I would urge forum members to read through the paper in its entirety before making their spay/neuter decisions.

    re Mammary tumors:
    *** "dogs spayed before the first estrus have a 0.5% risk of mammary neoplasia. Dogs spayed after the first or second estrus have an 8% and 26% risk, respectively, compared to sexually intact dogs."

    *** "Among males neutered before 1 year of age,the incidence of hip dysplasia was 10%, which was higher than the occurrence in intact males (5%) and males neutered after 1 year (3%).
    *** "OVH (either age group) had no effect on the incidence of hip dysplasia in females." (NOTE: OVH is ovarian hysterectomy)
    *** A follow-up study included Labradors had this finding: "Among female Labradors, early neutering (allgroups = or <1 year of age) was associated with an increased incidence of hip dysplasia(5%) compared to intact dogs (2%)."

    *** "There were no cases of cranial cruciate ligament(CrCL)rupture in intact males, intact females, or in females spayed after 1 year. The incidence of CrCL rupture in dogs neutered prior to 1 year of age was 5% for males and 8% for females, which was higher than both the intact dogs and dogs neutered after 1 year."

    *** "Almost 10% of early-neutered males were diagnosed with lymphoma, and early neutered males had nearly 3x the occurrence of lymphoma as intact males.
    *** "no cases of lymphoma were observed in the late-neutered males."

    *** "Late neutered females were diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma (HSA) >4x more frequently than intact females and early-neutered females."
    *** "No differences were apparent in males with regard to neutering and the occurrence of HSA."

    *** "Mast cell tumors did not occur in intact females, but was diagnosed in 2.3 percent of early-neutered females and 5.7 percent of late-neutered females."
    *** "No differences were found in the occurrence of MCT in male Golden Retrievers."

    *** "The authors postulate that the timing of estrogen removal may influence the development of MCT and HSA in females spayed later in life. This may be related to the fact that in early spayed females potentially neoplastic cells are not sensitized to estrogen, so removal of this hormone by spaying does not influence cancer development. Once the cells have been exposed through several estrous cycles, the cells become sensitized, although the estrogen is protective. Once removed, these cells could become neoplastic."

    There is a lot more information in the paper than what I've posted. Some of it has to do with early versus late spay/neuter, but much of it has to do with non age-defined spay/neuter versus intact.

    My girl is 17 weeks old today. Because I don't plan for my dog to compete in sports, the cancer numbers are what give me the most concern. At this point, I still plan to go with my vet's 6-month spay recommendation. However, if someone has access to a more detailed study or other information that would convince me that waiting is in my girl's best interest, please post the links here in the next couple of weeks (BEFORE my girl turns 6 months).
    These are labs and golden retrievers though. Most of them won't be bigger than 60-70 lbs, and will be fully grown at 1. Most extra large dogs grow until 2 or 3 year old, and OP having a Bernese mountain dog mix, it's very possible that she will be on the large size. OP, I strongly encourage you to read about Bernese Mountain Dogs spaying and neutering. As I said, I have a newfoundland, and NO reputable breeder will ever spay or neuter one before 2.
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    Thank you and thanks to everyone on this thread. I am keeping up with the research and am in no rush on this!
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    Re: when to spay a large breed dog

    When to spay/neuter is pretty controversial. Years ago when we had large dogs (Rotties) the breeders and vet wanted to neuter them as soon as possible, maybe around 6 months? I was too young to really remember. With my dachshund, she was strictly on a no breeding contract, and the breeder didn't really care if she was spayed or not, so long as we never allowed her to breed. Admittedly, we didn't spay her until she started having pseudo pregnancies and it was really stressing her out. We also wanted to reduce the risks of mammary cancer. With my mom's French bulldog, it was in his contract that he had to be neutered earliest as possible or we'd have to pay a fine for breach of contract and he would be taken back by the breeder. Now, the vet didn't really want to neuter him so early, and neither did we, but it happened.

    I've heard and seen more often now is to wait for the growth plates formed, which seems to be around 18 months for most dogs? Others have mentioned that as well here. I haven't owned an extra large dog so I don't know how that works, but like Franl27 said, might have to wait longer for larger dogs. For my next dog I'd probably wait until they're around 18 months to neuter or consult the breeder of when to do this.
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    Quote Originally Posted by blujacket View Post
    We had our pup neutered at 3 months. He was humping like crazy and we didn't want him pissing everywhere inside.
    This is very young to be neutered. It can also cause issues if done too early. I wouldn’t recommend this, but I hope it worked out fine for you. Did it stop the humping?
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    Member mustluvdogs66's Avatar
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    Thank you so much for the detailed info!
    Quote Originally Posted by oldNgray View Post
    I wanted to post a link to a paper written by two Cornell University veterinary specialists addressing the spay/neuter time-frame controversy. The information in it might help dogforums members make an informed choice on when to spay or neuter: https://www.cuvs.org/sites/default/f...SpayNeuter.pdf

    It seems there are good reasons to hold off neutering a male pup. But when it comes to spaying a female, things are more complicated. I've noted a few highlights from the paper below but I would urge forum members to read through the paper in its entirety before making their spay/neuter decisions.

    re Mammary tumors:
    *** "dogs spayed before the first estrus have a 0.5% risk of mammary neoplasia. Dogs spayed after the first or second estrus have an 8% and 26% risk, respectively, compared to sexually intact dogs."

    *** "Among males neutered before 1 year of age,the incidence of hip dysplasia was 10%, which was higher than the occurrence in intact males (5%) and males neutered after 1 year (3%).
    *** "OVH (either age group) had no effect on the incidence of hip dysplasia in females." (NOTE: OVH is ovarian hysterectomy)
    *** A follow-up study included Labradors had this finding: "Among female Labradors, early neutering (allgroups = or <1 year of age) was associated with an increased incidence of hip dysplasia(5%) compared to intact dogs (2%)."

    *** "There were no cases of cranial cruciate ligament(CrCL)rupture in intact males, intact females, or in females spayed after 1 year. The incidence of CrCL rupture in dogs neutered prior to 1 year of age was 5% for males and 8% for females, which was higher than both the intact dogs and dogs neutered after 1 year."

    *** "Almost 10% of early-neutered males were diagnosed with lymphoma, and early neutered males had nearly 3x the occurrence of lymphoma as intact males.
    *** "no cases of lymphoma were observed in the late-neutered males."

    *** "Late neutered females were diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma (HSA) >4x more frequently than intact females and early-neutered females."
    *** "No differences were apparent in males with regard to neutering and the occurrence of HSA."

    *** "Mast cell tumors did not occur in intact females, but was diagnosed in 2.3 percent of early-neutered females and 5.7 percent of late-neutered females."
    *** "No differences were found in the occurrence of MCT in male Golden Retrievers."

    *** "The authors postulate that the timing of estrogen removal may influence the development of MCT and HSA in females spayed later in life. This may be related to the fact that in early spayed females potentially neoplastic cells are not sensitized to estrogen, so removal of this hormone by spaying does not influence cancer development. Once the cells have been exposed through several estrous cycles, the cells become sensitized, although the estrogen is protective. Once removed, these cells could become neoplastic."

    There is a lot more information in the paper than what I've posted. Some of it has to do with early versus late spay/neuter, but much of it has to do with non age-defined spay/neuter versus intact.

    My girl is 17 weeks old today. Because I don't plan for my dog to compete in sports, the cancer numbers are what give me the most concern. At this point, I still plan to go with my vet's 6-month spay recommendation. However, if someone has access to a more detailed study or other information that would convince me that waiting is in my girl's best interest, please post the links here in the next couple of weeks (BEFORE my girl turns 6 months).
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