The right time to spay

Because I worry about everything, I read this article. It talks about risks and benefits of waiting longer to spay and neuter. I have an appointment for Willow to be spayed in September, she will be 9 1/2 months old. But now I question, should I wait until she's over a year? I know there was a golden retriever study that showed increased risk of mammary cancer if they have a heat cycle before they're spayed. But then there's other articles with studies that show increased incidence of a different cancer and joint issues if they're spayed before a year. There's no chance that she will get pregnant, and I can buy her panties if she goes into heat. And possibly a heat cycle will help with her recessed vulva. I know I'm overthinking, but I just want to do the perfect thing for her, and it seems like we can't come to a single consensus about what the healthiest thing is. I thought that splitting the difference between the vets recommendation of at least 6 months and before her first heat and this article of a year I would be doing the right thing. But now I question!

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  • If it helps at all, both my females had one heat cycle before they were spayed, and both lived long healthy lives; my female Poodle almost made it to her 16th birthday. But they were also minis and had their first heats around 6 months old.

    I'm not sure that there is a "best" time. My big concern with Jasper was that his growth plates be completely closed before neutering. His breeder wanted me to wait til at least 18 months, my vet thought 11 months was fine. I compromised and did it at 14 months. But it's easier with purebreds to guesstimate the age when their skeletal growth is complete. 

    I don't think waiting until she's a year old would hurt. I agree that allowing her to go into heat might help with the recessed vuvlva. But nobody will fault you whatever you decide. 

    • Well, she's 8 months old now and she hasn't gone into heat yet, so it could really be any time. I've never had a dog in heat before, so I'm not really sure on the average timing, but I guess if that happens around the time she's supposed to be spayed that will make the decision for me. I can always reschedule, I just want to have plenty of time to stay home with them afterwards and my schedule is always so far ahead that I have to decide months in advance and then hope for the best! In the end it probably doesn't really matter. But because I got her as a puppy and I'm making all the decisions for her I really want to give her the best life I possibly can. I want her to be well trained and well adjusted, healthy, happy, fearless, and to live her best life. Here she is 8 months old and next week she starts her 4th set of training classes. I think we're off to a good start. I just don't want to mess her up!

  • My reasoning for before first heat with Riley is that cancer is very common in Bernese...and unfortunately she is unlikely to live long enough that joint problems will be a major problem.  If I had a dog that was expected to live well into senior years I would consider delaying until the growth plates are fused.

    • And that makes complete sense to me. The risk/benefit considerations are going to be different for every dog and every owner.

    • Can I ask, and you know I think Riley is the cutest thing ever, but knowing the rates of cancer and short life expectancy of Bernese Mountain Dogs, why did you pick a bernedoodle over all the other doodle combinations out there? 

      If I was to choose a puppy now, instead of a rescue, I think I might lean toward a labradoodle. I haven't done any research, but I feel like labs are healthier than Goldens, who also have such high risk for cancer.

      • We have really loved the Bernese we have met and DH fell in love with the idea of a bernedoodle.  We also wanted a very different dog than Luna was (appearance wise and personality) so another goldendoodle was out. 

        There are also not too many good quality doodle breeders around here and the ones that are good are breeding ALD's which are too "poodly" for DH.  We also wanted to try out having a big dog and there are a lot of breeders only breeding minis.  We also had no luck finding a purebred that we could agree upon but we may revisit that idea for next dog... and because we have young children we wouldn't be allowed to take home a rescue.

        Anyway our hope is that she won the genetic lottery in terms of cancer rates, but we know we may not have her for long.  We discussed it at length and one of the reasons Luna's passing hit us so hard was we were expecting to have her with us for much longer.  With Riley we know she may have a short life but an awesome one. :)

      • Well, I don't know.  Larger dogs tend to have shorter life spans, but again it depends on the dog and the living situation.  I had a labradoodle that died of liver failure at 7 years, a goldendoodle that died of cancer at 8 years, and a labradoodle who died of a massive heart attack at 9 years.  All were males and neutered early.  So, does neutering influence health factors?  Unless you are showing or breeding your dogs, I would say to neuter earlier rather than later.  It is just being a good neighbor to have your pets neutered.  Unneutered pets can rile up an entire neighborhood.

        • Very early spay/neuter has been linked to cancer. Spay/neuter before growth plates are closed can cause orthopedic issues, because bone growth and density is affected by hormones. So yes, neutering does influence health factors. 
          It all depends on what you consider "earlier" or "later". I know many excellent purebred breeders who stipulate in their purchase contracts that you must not spay or neuter the dog before a certain age. And the bigger the dog, the later that age is. 

          • The breeder of my new puppy (not a doodle) stipulates at least 18 months before spay or neuter, if you do it earlier it invalidates the health warrantee of her contract. If you wait until 24 months, she extends the health warrantee. Because I want to do agility with my boy, I plan to wait until 24 months. 

            • Yep. I've seen 1 year to 18 months, the 18 months usually being the bigger breeds. 

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