Here at Big Rock Labradoodles, we do not believe in early spay and neuter (ES/N). Through exhaustive research we have made the decision to vasectomize our male pups and perform ovary sparing spays on our females at 7-8 weeks of age. Studies have shown that anesthetizing pups of this age is safe and uneventful. Our pups are very well cared for by our top notch, board certified, veterinarian and given take home pain medication with strict instructions that they are to take it easy….no one tells the pups though, because within 24 hours they have no idea that anything even went down and they want to run and play like always.
There is a wealth of information demonstrating that preserving innate sex hormones, especially in the first two years of life, will be beneficial to pets.
Here are just some of the possible side effects of early spay/neuter:
Shortened lifespan, Atypical Cushing’s Disease, cardiac tumors, bone cancer, abnormal bone growth and development, higher rates of CCL ruptures, hip dysplasia, urinary incontinence in female dogs and urethral sphincter incontinence in males are some of the physical side effects of ES/N, but there are behavioral effects as well, such as separation anxiety, fear of noises, timidity, excitability, submissive urination, aggression, hyperactivity, and fear biting.
What does all this really mean for you and your pet
Your new Wonderful Woofie is an in-tact dog, until you choose to either spay or neuter them, of course, not before they have reached sexual maturity.
There is no physiological reason to ever neuter a male dog.
Once your female is 18-24 months of age, it is recommended that you have her spayed. As she will still have her ovaries and her cervix, there is a slight risk that she could develop stump pyometra (infection), with continued cycles. It is a small risk and something most commonly seen only in females over the age of 3-4.
The spay surgery done later, after an OSS procedure, is no more difficult than a traditional spay, in fact, it is made all that much easier by the fact that half of the equipment has already been removed. The ovaries do not migrate from their original position in the body, as they are attached by large ligaments near the kidneys.
Female dogs have a “season,” when they smell ripe and delicious and irresistible to male dogs. Sometimes referred to as being “in heat,” this period occurs twice a year in most dogs, usually every five to nine months. First occurrence is typically between 9-12 months.
The complete estrus, or heat, cycle typically lasts two to three weeks. You may notice that your dog’s vulva is swollen or that she has a bloody discharge. This stage, called proestrus, averages nine days but can last as little as three days or as long as 17 days. The discharge usually occurs during the second week. Many dogs keep themselves so clean during this time that you may not even notice the discharge, but others must wear protective panties that keep the discharge off clothing and furniture and prevent males from gaining access to them.
In the next phase of the cycle, known as estrus, females are ready for male attention — and willing to allow it — and that’s when you need to be extra-careful to make sure they don’t hook up with the dog next door. Go outdoors with her on leash and stay with her, just in case there are any interested males in the vicinity. It’s best to keep her indoors the rest of the time.
The third stage is called diestrus, when the female is no longer interested in mating or is not interesting to males. Her hormone levels drop, eventually returning her to the stage known as anestrus, the quiet period that lasts an average of 130 to 150 days until the cycle begins again.
When we think of living with intact male dogs, the assumption is often that they are going to be humping everything in their path and lifting their legs in the house and that they will inevitably be aggressive toward other male dogs.
But that's not really so. Like any other dog, an intact male can and should learn manners. There’s no reason he can’t learn that humping and leg-lifting in the home are no-nos. And as far as aggression, it’s most often the case that neutered males are aggressive toward intact males — possibly because they smell different.
Preventing humping and urine marking inside the house is a matter of management and training. To help prevent humping, occupy your dog with other activities such as play, training and puzzle toys. If you catch him in the act, redirect him with a game of fetch or a run through his obedience commands. Training teaches him control and focus, while play relieves stress and wears him out. When you're out and about, keep him on leash and at your side so he lacks opportunity.
Adolescent males who seemed to be house-trained may start lifting their leg in the home as a way of marking territory. (Intact females may also do this to attract mates.) That’s not cool. Do some remedial house training, restrict your dog’s freedom in the home with a crate or by leashing him at your side and thoroughly clean the area he marked with an enzymatic odor neutralizer. If he is whiny or barky in the presence of in-season females, give him the canine equivalent of a cold shower: extra walks, play and training to help take his mind off the hot girl. He’ll still want her, but the desire will be slightly dampened.
Living with an intact dog requires some extra care — keeping females confined and not allowing males to be pests — but with consistent training and appropriate management, there’s no reason they have to be any more difficult to live with than a spayed or neutered dog.