Haven Lake Animal Hospital

300 Milford Harrington Highway
Milford, DE 19963




January 29, 2015 by Haven Lake Staff

6 months old may be too early to spay or neuter large breed dogs.

Older Recommendations Challenged by New Studies

The recommendations for when to spay or neuter your pet have changed in recent years. Previously, it was common to recommend that these procedures be done at around 6 months of age for both dogs and cats. The reasoning was that by avoiding the first heat cycle in females, we would be preventing unwanted pregnancy, avoid uterine infections (pyometra), and prevent reproductive cancers that are tied in to the hormonal changes associated with each cycle. For the males, early neutering was considered to avoid certain unwanted behaviors associated with increased testosterone as well as to prevent prostate issues that may present later in life. New studies have shown that there are some significant health reasons  to wait for dogs to mature beyond 6 months of age before being altered. Current research indicates that by allowing larger breed dogs to mature, there are then decreased risks for some cancers and ligament tears.

Updated Recommendations

Therefore, our new recommendations at Haven Lake Animal Hospital for dogs over 30 pounds are to let females go through one heat cycle and to wait until male dogs are 18-24 months old. The ideal spay or neutering age for most felines remains at 6 months old due to pregnancy concerns as well as behavorial changes such a marking for the males. The overall benefits of spaying or neutering your pet are undeniable, the consideration should be in the timing of these procedures to maximize the positive effects and minimize any negative ones.

By Dr. Chris Coon, DVM, CCRP