Spaying/Neutering before Puberty – Know The Risks

I have been breeding dogs for 50 years.  I have seen many things having to do with pet health change over the years.  This subject, though, is one I am very passionate about.  In today’s world of overpopulation, veterinarians frequently encourage people to spay/neuter their dogs at an early age, usually 6 months old, and even as young as 3 or 4 months old.  This is largely driven by society’s desire to make sure that “breeding” dogs are not running the streets. The people that bring one of our Beagle puppies into their homes are not the people who are going to have dogs running the street, recklessly procreating.  We take great care to ensure that our Beagles go to homes where they will be family members with responsible owners.  Our Sales Agreement requires them to stipulate that the dog cannot be kept outside, or tethered.  We make sure they don’t end up in shelters by including in our Sales Agreement that the dog is returned to us, should it need to be rehomed.  So…. In the face of so much information  that now shows that early spay/neuter could do more harm than good, why do veterinarians continue to tell their clients to do it?  That’s what they are indoctrinated to do, these days…and it is very lucrative.

What is the hurry?  

There is no reason to spay/neuter a young Beagle prior to puberty, and (most importantly) before their growth plates close.  Yet veterinarians continue to push people into it, using scare tactics of certain doom, long ago debunked.  My Sales Agreement says “If you spay or neuter your Beagle before one year old, it will void your health guarantee.”  Why? As a part of our health-testing regiment, we certify that the hips and Patellas of the parents are ok for breeding.  They are Certified through the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals (“OFA”), and their panel of experts.  OFA data is public so that you can see it and have confidence your Beagle puppy is a result of careful, thoughtful, pairings.  When you take that puppy and alter physical factors at an important developmental period for a puppy, you no longer have the puppy we produced, nor will it grow to be what you, or we, expect.  The sex hormones close the growth plates properly – absent them, the long bones don’t close appropriately, creating irregular angles that can lead to orthopedic problems, most commonly the Patella.  So, while we as reputable breeders do our best to produce good healthy dogs, early spay/neuter can completely negate our efforts.  

Again, what is the hurry?  

We aren’t against spaying and neutering, we simply want it to be done at the right time!  Many studies have been done over the past few years as a result of what we have learned from the rush to do this. We have learned that early spay/neuter may have far more risks, than rewards.  Through various studies, they are finding evidence of  links between early sterilization, and cancer.  We must remember that the sex hormones in dogs, as in people, have an influence  on many other parts of the body than just reproduction.  It regulates a healthy immune system, skeletal, and muscular development.

So, when your Veterinarian starts telling you that your Beagle puppy must be spayed or neutered at 4, 6, or 8 months, JUST SAY “NO”!   Ask them, “What’s the hurry?”  Politely tell them you will neuter that dog after the growth plates close, and the dog has gone thru puberty.  Armed with information, ask about the risks…see if they are honest with you.