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I was considering adopting a dog but I'm concerned about the dog being spayed early. Since this would be a medium to large size dog, I know there can be adverse effects on bone growth.
Lots of people adopt dogs and I'm sure they don't all have issues, due to this practice. Should I be concerned about this?
There is no way to adopt without having the dog fixed anyway.
 

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My first dog Scarlett was spayed at 2 months per the guidelines of the Broward County Humane Society. I don't think it attributed to any of her issues. Roxie was spayed at 6 months and still hit 60 lbs and has never been lame a day in her life.

I think it's part of the give and take going to a shelter. They have rules for a reason, because while you may be responsible and spay in a timely manner, their typical customer would not.
 

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Shelters are very pro-active for spay and neuter. I'm sure our local shelter is like most, if not all others, but you can not get a dog or cat out of there without it being spayed or neutered. We adopted Samantha from the local shelter, and the morning of the day we picked her up, guess what was done to her. She was about a year at the time, she suffered no ill-effects from the process.
 

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You could look specifically for dogs that were altered as mature dogs. The rescue/shelter would be able to identify many of these dogs (if they altered them after intake), and often you can tell if a female dog has had heats based on appearance alone. If you are looking specifically for a pet dog (not super active or working), and not of a breed highly prone to cruciate tears or OSA, I'm not sure I would be terribly concerned. I'm casually/sort of looking for another dog, which will mostly be an active pet (biking mainly, which can be hard on joints), and likely of a medium breed prone to cruciate ligament tears, so I'm "shopping" for a mature (8mo+, LOOKS mature) dog with fair/good conformation (especially good rear angulation, good turn of stifle). I give greater preference to dogs that were taken in by the shelter/rescue as intact older adolescents/adults, though I wouldn't discount a dog who was spayed at a younger age and looks good to go at a year old.
 

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I can say I've seen the harm of shelters performing these early Spay's and neuter.

I saw a dog who was neutered at 5 weeks
Yes
5 WEEKS
By a shelter near me


He had health issues after health issue
His growth plates never closed so when he walked he wobbled and he had organ issues and thyroid problems.

Early castration has also been linked to cancers and such.

I would honestly Go to a rescue and get a dog that was spayed around a year old. Or a rescue that allow you to do a ovary sparring spay or wait until the dog became 12 months
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I am interested in agility, so bone growth and fragility of ligaments, etc. are definitely concerns. However, because I have cats, I'm afraid a dog that's a year or so will be harder for the cats to adjust to, and it might be difficult to train a dog of that age to leave the cats alone. I understand the shelter's perspectivs but it definitely makes it difficult for me.
 

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I am interested in agility, so bone growth and fragility of ligaments, etc. are definitely concerns. However, because I have cats, I'm afraid a dog that's a year or so will be harder for the cats to adjust to, and it might be difficult to train a dog of that age to leave the cats alone. I understand the shelter's perspectivs but it definitely makes it difficult for me.
It really depends, I think, more on the individual dog. We got Samantha when she was about a year, and as far as she is concerned, cats are something that are to be actively ignored. When we encounter one on our walks, she looks away and walks past them. Next door neighbor has a cat that is often on our patio, Samantha could care less.
 

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Spay timing should not affect bone growth, however it can affect the urethrae, and in very few cases, epically in large breeds can cause leaking through-out adult hood.

Maybe look into adopting a 1y+, that way it's still young, but you can see how they are coming along with growth and urination.
 

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Not adopting a large breed pet due to having it then spayed young should rarely be a concern, as the problems that are associated with early spay are extremely rare (save perhaps the female incontinence problem later in life... still rare, but common enough that you could end up with a female with that problem... thankfully easy to control, too, though). Some studies show statistical increases in certain cancers and joint problems over unspayed/neutered dogs, but still extremely rare... and other studies do not support these same concerns. Still very controversial conclusions in other words.

I have personally spayed tens of thousands of dogs and have not seen but a tiny fraction of the cancers concerned in the above studies in those dogs I have been able to follow (and I have also seen cancers in unspayed or unneutered dogs as well)- all in such low numbers I could not say they were or were not related to early spay or neuter. My personal experiences, like most anecdotal stories, are hardly scientific and I still hope we finally get enough studies done to really learn what risks, if any there are.

However, just in case there does turn out to a relationship (rarely hurts to put off spaying or neutering a year) we do recommend waiting longer at our practice if you have a big dog... but this is not a hard fast rule yet.
 

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I think it all comes down to the individual dog. Our male German shepherd was an owner-surrender at an animal shelter when he was 10 months old, already neutered. I don't know how old he was when his previous owner neutered him, but I suspect that it happened when he was 6 months old.

We fostered him through a rescue when he was 15 months old (late 2013). Ended up adopting him because no one wanted an 80-lb puppy that was dog aggressive, toy aggressive, and had no manners :p

We've since started him in Mondioring (protection sport). We play frisbee with him every day, he jumps 1-meter hurdle pretty much daily, and is now learning how to do long jumps and climb over a palisade.

We do annual blood-work on him and he has never had any health issues. No skin problems, never had an ear infection, and thyroid levels have been normal. But we do have pet insurance on him just in case.

On the other hand, my working-line German shepherd that was spayed at 4 years of age (she is now 12.5 years old), has atopic dermatitis, hypothyroidism, plasmoma (atypical pannus), and developed a lesion in her mouth (dental vet biopsied it and said it was an allergic reaction to her dental crown) :rolleyes:

If a rescue dog has the right personality/temperament/drive for what I want to do, early spay/neuter wouldn't be a dealbreaker for me.
 

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There are quite a few benefits to spaying (such as eliminating the risk of infection of the uterus and no need for sanitary pads) but it is better to spay before the dog goes into heat for the first time, in order to maintain first-rate health benefits.
It can be done anytime after 8 weeks but they can come into their first heat around 6 months but it really depends on the type of dog (breed).

Spaying can be less controversial than neutering - which is where some of these bone growth and joint problems are being linked based on many incomplete studies i.e. these studies haven't been carried long enough to be absolutely concrete - As long as you spay before the dog's first heat there shouldn't be a problem (which is around 6 months), even so, I would speak to a vet that you know well and trust and base your decision on the info they give you.
 

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AND there are far more studies proving the opposite of both those conclusions. There is still a lot of know and in time we hope we will get there.
 
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