AKC Clarifies Position Statements Related to Spaying and Neutering

The American Kennel Club recognizes the benefits of spaying and neutering dogs that are not part of a responsible breeding program or are not being shown. 

However, the decision of when and whether to spay or neuter a dog is not one to be taken lightly. Though commonplace, these elective procedures are major surgeries and there are many important factors to consider, especially when it comes to the long-term health of the dog and the age at which the surgery can be performed safely. The American Kennel Club believes that these important decisions should be made on an individual basis by the owner of the dog in conjunction with his or her veterinarian.      

The AKC Board of Directors recently approved clarifications to three AKC legislative position statements, which refine AKC’s perspective on spaying and neutering in general and emphasize AKC’s opposition to mandatory spay/neuter laws. These changes take into account recent scientific studies that find that sterilizing a dog, particularly before it has fully matured, can lead to significant future health issues, including cancer (such as osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma and lymphosarcoma), hip dysplasia, ligament damage, chronic incontinence and even a shorter lifespan. 

The newly-revised positions are as follows:

Spaying and Neutering

 The American Kennel Club® opposes laws that mandate the spaying/neutering of dogs. Spaying/Neutering are major surgeries and the decision to spay or neuter a dog should be made by the dog’s owner in conjunction with their veterinarian. Recent scientific studies demonstrate that spaying/neutering, particularly before a dog is fully mature, may result in detrimental long-term health impacts. In light of this information, AKC encourages breeders, owners and veterinarians to consult on the appropriateness and timing of spaying or neutering an individual dog.

Canine Population Issues

 AKC® commends experienced breed enthusiasts who are educating the public and other breeders about the need for long-term commitments and responsibilities. We encourage them to help new owners address issues that could result in the relinquishment of pets. National research organizations have reported that the majority of unwanted dogs in the United States come from owners who are unable or unwilling to train, socialize, and care for their dog. The American Kennel Club also encourages pet owners to consider spaying or neutering their dogs at an appropriate age if they do not want to participate in AKC conformation events or engage in responsible breeding programs.

Purebred Dog Rescue

 The American Kennel Club supports and encourages the efforts of clubs, organizations, and individuals to rescue adoptable purebred dogs. These dogs may originate from animal shelters, or from owners who can no longer care for their dogs in a responsible manner. The American Kennel Club encourages all such groups and individuals, after exhausting all possible means to contact the breeder of such animals, to spay or neuter rescue dogs prior to placing them with a responsible owner.

Visit the AKC Legislative Action Center’s Key Issues page on Mandatory Spay/Neuter policies for more background on AKC’s position and talking points on this important issue that protects the health and safety of dogs and the rights of responsible dog breeders and owners. Go to the AKC Government Relations Toolbox to view a full list of our policy position statements.