Another Study Links Sterilization with Certain Health Risks

Basenji Pups

The results of a retrospective study recently published in Canine Genetics and Epidemiology provides additional evidence of a link between sterilization status and certain health risks.  Correlation of Neuter Status and Expression of Heritable Disorders, by Belanger, et al., concludes that several conditions showed an increased risk associated with neutering.  The authors emphasize that, “the complexity of the interactions between neutering and inherited conditions underscores the need for reflective consultation between the client and the clinician when considering neutering.  The convenience and advantages of neutering dogs that will not be included in a breeding program must be weighed against possible risk associated with neutering.” 

The study found that gonadectomy (including both neuter and spay procedures) was significantly associated with an increased risk for males and females for some cancers, including hemangiosarcoma, herperadrenocarticism, lymphoma, mast cell tumor, and osteosarcoma.  Additionally, association was found between sexual sterilization and ruptured anterior cruciate ligaments and epilepsy, while intervertebral disk disease was associated with increased risk in females only. 

The study also found that neutered dogs were less at risk for certain early and congenital conditions, including aortic stenosis, early onset cataracts, mitral valve disease, patent ductus arteriosus, portosystemic shunt, and ventricular septal defect.  Neutering was also associated with reduced risk of dilated cardiomyopathy and gastric dilatation volvulus in males. 

This report joins previously published articles that link sterilization procedures with some health risks.  Others include Endogenous Gonadal Hormone Exposure and Bone Sarcoma Risk, Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers, Long-Term Health Effects of Neutering Dogs: Comparison of Labrador Retrievers with Golden Retrievers, Evaluation of the Risk and Age of Onset of Cancer and Behavioral Disorders in Gonadectomized Vizslas, and Neutering of German Shepherd Dogs: Associated Joint Disorders, Cancers and Urinary Incontinence

Recent scientific studies, including those cited above, 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 and neutering an individual dog.  Furthermore, these reports support AKC’s opposition to 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.