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Discussion Starter #1
We are not going to breed our girl but would like to know what has the best benefit vs. risk ratio:

Spay before 1st heat?
Spay after 1st heat?

The vet would like us to do it at around 8 months to make sure she doesn't go into heat. He thinks that it's better to catch them before their heat. But from the way he is it seems like he just wants a quick and routine surgery.

I've read a few studies and it seems like for females spaying AFTER the 1st heat lowers the risk of many complications in the future (bone cancer, mental health, etc) at the cost of a few other risks going up slightly (breast cancer, etc).

What have you other GSD owners done for your girls? She's 17 weeks right now.
 

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I've been wondering this too. I was planning on getting her spayed at 6 months (She's 5 months now).
But I've been hesitating a little bit and haven't scheduled anything with the vet.
 

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We let Abby have her first heat at 9 months and then were going to get her spayed before her second heat ~ however she went into heat again at 12 months (going on now). We now have to wait at least a month after she is finished to do her spay, so she now has a spay appointment on Oct. 7th.
 

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If you're definitely going to spay her after the first or second heat, then there's no scientific medical argument to wait. You're better off spaying before the first heat.

Here's why - If you spay before the first heat, her lifetime risk of mammary cancer drops to near zero. Waiting even one heat raises the risk significantly. Conversely, the osteosarcoma study showed an association between lifetime months spent unaltered and risk of osteosarcoma (in Rottweilers - a breed that is especially prone to osteosarcoma). The longer a dog was unaltered, the lower the lifetime risk but there was no indication that waiting until after sexual maturity to alter conferred any benefit, other than a small reduction of risk because of a couple of extra months.

I haven't seen any medical or scientific evidence whatsoever to support the mental maturity hypothesis and in thousands of dogs I've had come through our rescue and shelters, maturity seems to have a lot more to do with individual variation and breed than when a dog was altered. The main place it gets mentioned is in that awful sportsdog article, which is a bunch of bunk anyway. People will present their anecdotal evidence of "I had a dog who was neutered at 5 months and he was a perpetual puppy" but then if you wander over to the breeding and working lines threads, you see plenty of evidence of intact males who are "slow to mature" because of their lines etc. I think people see what they expect to see and are quick to blame early S/N when there's no evidence to back that up.
For my anecdote - I've got a female GSD who was spayed at 5 months and she's serious as a heart attack. I've got a male in foster care who was neutered at 4 years and he's a big baby. Just different dogs. So anyway.

A lot of people think that by waiting until after the dog has had a couple of heats they are getting the best of both worlds in terms of cancer risk but the science does not back that up - in fact, doing it that way may be the worst of both worlds for cancer risk. Some people may still chose to wait, and that's fine, but don't do it because you think you're reducing lifetime cancer risk because you're not. You're exchanging a clear and substantial reduction in mammary cancer risk (a common cancer) for a very small reduction in osteosarcoma risk (a less common and less well studied cancer).
 

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Sorry don't mean to hi-jack! Just one quick question.
I wasn't too worried about her maturing but what about stunted growth?
I've heard that puppies that are S/N too early are subject to stunted growth. Has anyone heard of that?
 

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Quote:I've heard that puppies that are S/N too early are subject to stunted growth. Has anyone heard of that?
Nope.
There has been research that shows that when dogs are altered before puberty they may (won't necessarily but may) wind up being about a centimeter taller (so bigger, not smaller) than they would have been if they had been altered after they reached sexual maturity. The reason for this is that the sexual horomones that are part of the system which tells the body when to stop long bone growth. Altered dogs don't keep growing indefinitely obviously, but they may continue to grow just a bit beyond when unaltered dogs do.

The genitalia for dogs altered very very young (like <15 weeks or so) will often be a bit smaller than that of dogs altered later. It's all there, it's just a little more immature looking. That's the only thing that might be stunted and that's for animals altered super young, not at the age we're discussing.
 

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This addresses your exact question.

http://www.oregonvma.org/petowners/spayneuter.asp#5

5. Should the female have a heat period or a litter before being spayed?
If your pet is going to be a companion animal rather than a breeding animal, then there are no benefits to allowing her to have a litter or to go through a heat period.

It is actually healthier for your dog or cat never to experience a heat as it lessen’s the animal’s chance of getting mammary cancer and decreases the animal’s stress and risks due to pregnancy and delivery.

Research indicates that dogs spayed prior to their first heat have less than a half of one percent chance of experiencing mammary cancer as compared to an eight percent chance after the second heat.

Cats spayed after their first heat have a seven times greater chance of suffering from mammary cancer than cats spayed prior to their first heat.
 

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I believe in waiting until a bitch has had at least one heat cycle before being spayed and waiting until a male is around 18 to 24 months.
 

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Re: When to spay? Before 1st heat or after 1st he

Originally Posted By: pupresq
Quote:I've heard that puppies that are S/N too early are subject to stunted growth. Has anyone heard of that?
Nope.
There has been research that shows that when dogs are altered before puberty they may (won't necessarily but may) wind up being about a centimeter taller (so bigger, not smaller) than they would have been if they had been altered after they reached sexual maturity. The reason for this is that the sexual horomones that are part of the system which tells the body when to stop long bone growth. Altered dogs don't keep growing indefinitely obviously, but they may continue to grow just a bit beyond when unaltered dogs do.

The genitalia for dogs altered very very young (like <15 weeks or so) will often be a bit smaller than that of dogs altered later. It's all there, it's just a little more immature looking. That's the only thing that might be stunted and that's for animals altered super young, not at the age we're discussing.
Thanks puresq!
 

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Re: When to spay? Before 1st heat or after 1st he

I had my female GSD spayed at almost 6 months of age, and she is doing great!
 

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Originally Posted By: ArycrestI believe in waiting until a bitch has had at least one heat cycle before being spayed and waiting until a male is around 18 to 24 months.
im not sure i understand this since it significantly increase the chance for mammary cancer yet does not appear to have any confirmed benefits.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thank you guys for the replies. We just want to do what's best for her. I can deal with the mess of one heat cycle if that's what's going to be in her best interest over the long term. Our carpets need replacing anyhow!

That sporting dogs article was one of them that I read, but there was also another more scientific article that I found that seems to show more benefits to 1 heat vs. before the 1st heat.

I will consult with one more vet before we make our decision. Our regular vet is advising to do it at 8 months to give her some time to grow, but still be pretty safe in catching it before the 1st heat.
 

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Originally Posted By: Bimmergirl84I...., but still be pretty safe in catching it before the 1st heat.
Not necessarily. I have had female GSDs have their first heat as early as 6 months.

I wouldn't even bother to talk to a vet. They will tell you to do it basically ASAP. A lot of them these days want to spay them at 4 months.
 

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Originally Posted By: roxy84 im not sure i understand this since it significantly increase the chance for mammary cancer yet does not appear to have any confirmed benefits.
1. Despite what's been posted, I feel hormones have an extremely important role in the development of the minds and bodies of both man and beast.

2. I am also not keen on whacking off body parts in the name of "cancer prevention". I've lost Hooligans to osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma of the heart, hemangiosarcoma of the spleen, one "thought" to have had cancer but was too ill to wait for diagnostic tests to find out, and two who were diagnosed with hemangiosarcoma of the heart but they had so many senior illnesses I had to have them put down. Using the rationale that removing the ovaries/testicles prevents cancer, we could go on and on - whack the legs off to prevent most common places for osteosarcoma, whack out the heart and spleen, whack out the liver and other sites that are common sites to find cancer.

3. IMHO the only reason to spay/neuter should be to prevent procreation.
 

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Quote: I can deal with the mess of one heat cycle if that's what's going to be in her best interest over the long term. Our carpets need replacing anyhow!

That sporting dogs article was one of them that I read, but there was also another more scientific article that I found that seems to show more benefits to 1 heat vs. before the 1st heat.
Can you post a link to the second article? I have done a lot of research on this and have never found any scientific evidence that waiting 1 heat has any benefits, especially in terms of cancer or mental health. You are essentially giving up some of the mammary cancer benefits for no real return in osteosarcoma benefits and there's zero evidence that waiting one heat to spay changes mental development.

Now, a lot of people on this board feel the way Arycrest does - that even though the medical literature doesn't indicate a benefit, they believe that it does and that's okay. Ultimately this does come down to owners trying to do what they believe is best for their dog.

I just hate to see anyone base a decision on that Sportsman article. It would be like my posting a website that says feeding some random diet is healthiest for your dog and some fake citations and people getting suckered into doing it.
 
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