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Thread: new puppy-when to neuter?

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    Question new puppy-when to neuter?

    Hello all! I just got an almost 19 week old Cavalier puppy and am posting to ask for recommendations for when to have him neutered. Other than his puppy behaviors (zooming around the apartment and trying to eat everything outside), he is a well behaved pup. Oliver's breeder asked that I try to wait until 14 months (warning of increased cancer risk and possible growth issues), and the vet said 6 months (warning of marking and other unwanted behaviors) for neutering. I have read studies and article after article about the best age to neuter and I just can't decide when to do it. I'm sure there are people in both camps here too (early vs. later neutering) but I would like to hear some opinions/experiences. My top priority is Olie's health and temperment, then appearance (does their coat change or become curly if neutered early?). Thanks for your opinions!

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    I wouldn't be as concerned about neutering early with a male as with a female. With females I'm strongly in the camp to have it done before their first heat due to the risk of cancers. With the males, it's more about behavior problems like marking, running away, aggression, and the drive to get to a female if they smell them while they're in heat. But I would say anytime after 6 months is ideal. If you don't see many of the associated behaviour problems I don't see the harm in waiting until around a year if you want him to be finished growing. And as for coat, I do hear it changes slightly but honestly I wouldn't be able to tell the difference and it is definitely not a good enough reason to not neuter.
    Courtney
    Lady (1.5 year old tricolour) & Gracie (4 year old blenheim)
    "Happiness is a warm puppy" - Charles M. Schulz

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    Thank you for your opinion Cpell! Although I'm feeling some pressure from the vet (I know it's her responsibility to try to limit the number of unwanted puppies), I think I am going to hold off as long as I can on neutering (maybe around 10 months or so as I will be off work for the holidays and better able to spend time with my little guy as he heals...what a Christmas present for him! ). I live in a major city and Olie is never outside without a leash, harness and me. I think with some extra precautions (always crating or playpen when going in and out the back door and such), we'll be OK. Anyone else care to share their opinions/experiences? I would appreciate it!

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    I think there are plenty of studies that say delayed neutering is best for the dog. They need the hormones to help their bones grow properly. 14 months is probably old enough for a small dog. Large breed dogs need to wait until they are 18 months or older.

    Personally I like to neuter my pet dogs between 7-9 months. This is about the age when the boy dog's sex hormones wake up. I think it makes a male dog easier to live with if neutered and less likely to be aggressive toward dogs of the same sex. But I also have a multidog house and anything that makes life easier for me is a must do.
    owned by BratBoy ^see avatar

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    As you can see there are a lot of opinions (based on different research) when is the "best" time to neuter. So honestly its something you need to work out for yourself. I did choose the have Fletcher done right at 6 months.

    When our older poodle came to live with ME (he was my husbands dog before we married) he was 6 and not neutered. At the time I had a neutered male in the house too. We never had any problems with marking, aggression or running off.
    Melissa
    "If you don't own a dog, at least one, there is not necessarily anything wrong with you, but there may be something wrong with your life."
    -Roger Caras

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    Thank you both for your opinions! I think what I am going to do is take it week by week and see if and how Oliver's behavior changes and if it is or isn't something I can deal with in the short term until he is slightly older. I do not have any other pets in my home but our neighborhood is full of dogs so that is also something to consider.

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    I think we had Skippy done when he was around 7 months or so (we lived in a high-rise apartment in downtown L.A. back then). He had one undescended testicle so it was a more invasive surgery than usual, but also part of the reason why we could not wait too long in case it became cancerous.

    In terms of changes after the procedure, the only one of noticeable significance was that he stopped humping completely.

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    Luke was done at 6 months. He also had a hernia repair done at that point, and he had some teeth removed that hadn't fallen out on their own at that point. I think now, unless there were some other reasons to have it done at that point, I would probably wait a bit longer. I'd definitely never do it before 6 months.

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    Bosco was done at 6 months as well. During the procedure the vet discovered that he had an undescended testicle, and even with that complication, he was fine within a day.

    Just a thought - I have watched friends male dogs in my house on occassion, and I have found that if the male was neutered closer to a year or later, he marks in my house. Might not do it in your house as his "domain" is already established, but it is very likely he will do so in others homes. So, if you plan on having your dog visit others or boarding in a private home, an earlier neutering might make sense.

    Unneutered dogs are also more likely to develop cancer -- it's not just a female thing.

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    I think you have the two opposing viewpoints in the recommendations from your vet and breeder.

    This is a highly personal decision.

    There is some evidence that waiting til 12 months or so (til growth plates close) may reduce the risk of some potential illnesses.

    There is a higher chance that you will have a dog that marks a lot more and is harder to manage if you wait until after these behaviours are ingrained.

    I do feel 6 months is too early, in the balance. Vets do push for this age but most males will not really start a lot of marking etc anyway til they are around 9 months old. I did my two boys at 10 months. Neither marks except as normal on walks. But I also have taken in probably a hundred or more male cavaliers that are mature adults of all ages and neutering always quickly brought rampant marking under better control.

    Both marking and any other unwanted behaviours such as humping (BUT note they may be unwanted by some of us but they ARE normal!) can also be managed through good training and management.

    I do find the arguments to wait til a dog is 12+, male or female, compelling now.

    But that said -- a male dog that acquires unwanted behaviour and is full of hormones is a dog that may make himself unwanted in his home, result in his being left outside (not where any cavalier is happy to be), be more likely to escape and wander and get lost/hit by a car... I don't think that's a better choice and risk to take, just because of some studies! This is where owners and there own comfort level for training and management also comes in. I feel very strongly that it is far better to neuter at 6 months than risk an abandoned, unwanted, neglected or injured/dead dog. In other words, neutering decisions have a larger context then whether a dog has a small, fractionally greater chance of a joint issue at age 9.

    Anyone doing rescue or working in a pound or doing dog training will confirm the most frequently abandoned, lost or difficult dogs are intact males -- some owners have a harder time managing and controlling them, for any range of reasons. But all males are different and some really have no unpleasant behaviours or are easily trained. A good rewards/positive methods-based trainer can give advice -- I'd look for CPDT-certified trainer around now anyway as puppy classes make a big difference for many dogs and they hugely benefit from lost of socialisation and playful exposure to other dogs and people (and learning in a distracting environment).

    My recommendation would be not to automatically neuter at a given age -- just see how things go. If you find around age 9-10 that you really prefer to have the neuter done, then do it then. If you are comfortable waiting til 14 months, then do so.
    Karlin
    Cavaliers: Jaspar Leo Lily Tansy Libby (foster) Mindy (foster)
    In memory: Lucy
    Cavalier SM Infosite:www.smcavaliers.com

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