The Controversy Over Spay And Neuter Timing
We have personally worked with several veterinarians, There is one consistent truth we have learned: there is no black and white answer.
It seems that the more research I do, the more confused I become. Some veterinarians believe that there are many health problems associated with neutering/spaying too early, while many other veterinarians believe just the opposite. It is VERY controversial. The biggest problem I run into is that most veterinarians are very strong on their stance and unwavering in their opinion.
What I am writing below is my OPINION based on years of research. I don’t believe that I am infallible and incapable of being wrong…as many medical practitioners do. Because of this. I allow for a pup to be up to 2 1/2 years old before being spayed or neutered. It’s not that I think you should wait that long, but just in case you are strongly opposed to doing it earlier, I do leave that judgment call to my clients.
The Golden Retriever Gender Gap
My opinion does vary on the gender of the Golden Retriever. I personally have a much stronger opinion on when to spay a female than when to neuter a male. From most veterinarians and multiple websites, I believe that a female should be spayed prior to having her first heat. Again, some veterinarians believe you should wait until the first heat, but the majority of theriogenologists (reproductive veterinarians) and practicing veterinarians agree that it should be done before the first heat.
The reason for this is that studies have shown that females who are spayed prior to a heat have almost little to no chance of many types of reproductive cancers. For example, breast cancer (Mammary neoplasia) is very common in female Golden Retrievers. In fact, it is the most common tumor type in female dogs. Female dogs that are spayed prior to going into their first heat have a 0.5% chance of getting mammary neoplasia. Female dogs that are spayed after going through one heat have an 8% chance, and females getting spayed after going through 2 heat cycles have a 26% chance of having tumors sometime in their life (Click here for 1 out of many studies).
These are astounding FACTS. Because of this I HIGHLY recommend spaying a female before they go into their first heat. Female English Golden Retrievers typically go into their first heat between 8-14 months old. Our average English Golden Retriever goes into heat closer to 10-12 months of age. Our recommendation is to have a female spayed between 7-8 months of age.
When To Neuter A Male English Golden Retriever
I am personally much more unsure and therefore flexible about when to neuter a male. I’ve read that it is good to neuter them around the same time as a female to keep them from becoming dominant. I’ve also read that you should wait until they mature fully or they will have behavior or health problems after neutering them. Because of this extreme controversy, I really don’t have a strong opinion either way.
If it were me, I would probably neuter him somewhere in the middle… around 1 – 1 1/2 years of age. The main danger in waiting until your male is fully grown to neuter him is that he may be prone to “find a soul mate.” Whenever a female goes into heat here, our wonderful, sweet, obedient and loving boys become…obsessed and even seemingly possessed. They are not themselves. They will do whatever they can do to get to the female, even if that means breaking out of their enclosure.
If there is an intact female anywhere near where you live and she goes into full estrus, then beware because your male will do whatever he can to get to her. That could obviously be very dangerous, because he could get run over, stolen or produce a litter of pups.
To Wrap it Up
Find a seasoned veterinarian that has years of experience with spaying/neutering.
Many owners worry about recovery time and try to wait until the “right time”, which can lead to waiting TOO long. But most clients are actually quite surprised at how fast their dog recovers from the surgery. Every dog we have had spayed and neutered has had to be crated and wear the “collar of shame” to keep them from ripping their stitches out, but it is generally very short term. I am always amazed by how tough Golden Retrievers are. Usually they recover in a few short days. Don’t delay…get it done!
~ OC Goldens