Neutering a pet is a common practice that offers a number of benefits to the animals and owners alike. Most golden retriever owners get their pets neutered or spayed to avoid unwanted breeding. Others get it done to avoid health issues.
A study in 2016 found that 61% Golden retrievers die from cancer. Neutering can be a solution to this in some cases. In this article we will talk about the best age to neuter a Golden Retriever.
Why Resort to Neutering?
Neutering is the removal of a dog’s reproductive organs either completely or most of them. You can get your Golden neutered for multiple reasons such as:
- preventing unwanted breeding
- reducing the risk of male-to-male dominance/aggression
- reducing roaming behavior
- curb urinary problems
- reduce the risk of some cancers
- reduce risk of congenital conditions
It is important to consider your dog’s age before you get it neutered or spayed. The age of neutralization plays an important role in growth, behavior, and hormonal development and in certain cases even life spans.
What is the Best Age to Neuter a Golden Retriever?
There is much debate about the ideal age at which a Golden should be neutered. The two top contenders are before 12 months of age and after 12 months. Let’s take a look at the pros and cons of both sides of the debate.
Before One Year
Behavioral problems in retrievers are aggravated after sexual maturity. In the past, veterinary doctors recommended getting your dog neutered before they reach sexual maturity. Recent studies have provided contradictory evidence.
Development of sexual hormones is essential to your dog’s growth. Getting them neutered before one year can have significant side effects on your retriever’s health.
A male retriever neutered before one year of age is at 80% higher risk of Hypothyroidism then dogs neutered after one year of age.
A female retriever neutered before one year has a 60 % increased chance of getting hypothyroidism than those neutered after.
Studies conclude that dogs neutered before sexual maturity tend to grow taller. That is not good news for your retriever. Taller retrievers are believed to have shorter life spans. The shortest male Golden Retriever lives around 2.2 years longer than the tallest retriever. The shortest female retriever lives 1.1 years longer than the tallest one.
Goldens neutered before sexual maturity also develop a narrower bone structure. It is unlikely that neutering is going to make a huge difference in the height of your retriever. However, as a pet owner you should keep all possible side effects in mind before taking a decision.
After One Year
There are multiple side effects of early neutering in Golden Retrievers. Agility is one of them. They are already at high risk of hip dysplasia and joint pain. Early spay and neuter surgeries may contribute to cruciate ligament and other orthopedic injuries.
Females neutered before their first heat cycle have less than 0.5 % chance of developing mammary cancer. Females neutered after their first cycle but before the second have a 4% chance of getting mammary cancer. Waiting until the second heat cycle or after can increase the risk to 13%.
However, females neutered before their first cycle are at an increased risk of urinary incontinence. Urinary Incontinence is common in retrievers and is not often treated successfully. There is some evidence to prove that the risk of urinary incontinence is less significant in females neutered after sexual maturity.
Mammary cancer is easily detectable through regular examination. It is highly unlikely that your Golden will get mammary cancer so soon. Most mammary cancers are treatable through surgery and sometimes additional therapies so we suggest you wait for at least one heat cycle.
Males with one or more testicles located in their abdomen are at high risk for testicular cancer. They should be neutered before 15 months of age. This eliminates the risk of cancer. It is not necessary to neuter your dog prior to sexually maturity to avoid testicular cancer.
The Ideal Age
For Male Golden Retrievers
The ideal age to get your male golden neutered is around one year just after sexual maturity. This helps your pup grow properly. It also reduces the risk of early onset of orthopedic problems in your retriever.
Some veterinary doctors suggest waiting up to two years before the process. Neutering your dog after two years of age will not have much of a difference on their behavior. So if that is not your main point of concern, you can wait for that long.
During this time it is important that you make sure there are no involuntary breeding mishaps.
For male retrievers, we suggest that they are neutered by 12 -14 months maximum.
For Female Golden Retrievers
For females, their sexual hormones play an important role in their growth. It is ideal that you wait out at least one heat cycle before you get their reproductive system removed. Again it is important that you keep them on a tight leash and not let them leave the house.
The ideal age for neutering is around 8-10 months, right after their first heat. Some females can go into heat as early as five months so make sure to watch out for that.
Again these are our suggestions and it is best that you consult a vet to determine the best age to neuter a Golden Retriever.
How To Care for Your Dog After Neutering
It is important that you provide a comfortable environment for your retriever to recover after an operation. Proper care can help them heal faster. Even the slightest bit of carelessness can make the healing process agitating for your pup.
Here are a few tips to keep in mind for the recovery time period:
- Keep your pup inside during the recovery period. It is essential that they be kept away from other dogs so as to avoid unnecessary activity.
- Do not let your dog jump up and down or on and off furniture for as long as the vet advises. The ideal recovery time period is 2 weeks.
- Use a cone to cover the incision. This ensures that your dog is unable to lick the stitches allowing them to heal properly.
- Check the incision regularly. Watch out for redness, swelling, foul smell and discharge. Contact your vet immediately if you notice any of these signs. Your golden might be developing an infection and could possibly be in a lot of pain.
- Do not bathe your dog for at least 10 days after the surgery. Get the go ahead from your vet before bathing your dog even after that.
As a precautionary measure, discuss pain medication with your vet before you pup goes into surgery. It is not required in most cases, but it is good to have it on hand. Pain medication may come in handy if you notice your dog being lethargic or is eating less.
If your dog is energetic and comfortable enough to play then they are probably recovering well. Immediately contact your vet if your retriever has diarrhea or is vomiting post surgery. Even though vomiting is normal as neutering and spaying require general anesthesia. Prolonged vomiting and an upset stomach are causes for alarm.
Our Final Thoughts
Spaying and neutering are good practices. Pet shelters all over the country are brimming with unwanted dogs as a result of uncontrolled breeding. A common misconception associated with the process is that it induces obesity in retrievers.
That is not true. You as pet owner can ensure that your golden remains fit with plenty of exercise and the right diet.