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My girl is currently 8 months old and is getting past her first cycle which has me considering my options regarding spaying. I am not even considering doing it at this time and in fact, her breeder recommends a 2 year wait. Her vet seems hot on 1st heat to 1 year , which I object to. and in my research am finding mounting evidence that advise considering leaving your dog intact altogether!

Now, as in all things ,objectivity tends to be skewed whichever the way the wind blows, but I was curious what everyone is thinking about this most important issue. I understand and agree with allowing time for skeletal/ joint development, behavioral / emotional issues, tendency to roam etc., and toss in the argument that the answer is breed specific, which I particularly understand in the management of cancers, whether you elect to or not spay.

As I alluded, I am somewhere between the two year and leaving her intact threshold but would welcome all input. Thanks in advance for your contribution!
 

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The risk you run with leaving the girlies intact is pyrometra(sp?).

I don’t have girls, so I don’t know much about them. I have heard Ovary Sparing Spays mentioned, though, and that may be something worth looking into too. The boys, in my opinion, tend to be easier to leave intact— my vet recommended a neuter at 6 or 7 to decrease the risk of testicular/prostate cancer.
 

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Does this article help?

Its a tough decision for sure, especially for the girls. I know more and more people who are opting for an ovary sparing spay, but do your research. The surgery must be done by a vet experienced in the procedure to be absolutely sure no uterine tissue is left behind, and your dog will still have some “heat” cycle behaviors as well as a (theoretical) increased risk of mammary cancer.

 
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As Juneau is my first ethically bred dog from a responsible breeder, I was somewhat apprehensive when the contract stated that I could not spay her until at least 18 months, as I've never had an unaltered dog in my house before. I spoke with my breeder extensively on the matter, who told me that I didn't have to spay her at all if I didn't want to. So I started researching options, since pyometra scared me. I eventually settled on an ovary sparing spay, which I had done on April 1st, when she was just over 3 years old.I did travel over 3 hours to take her to my breeders reproduction specialist vet clinic, as she trusts them, and I knew that they knew what they were doing. She has had one heat cycle since her spay, which was just as easy as precious ones but without the bleeding, and I have been perfectly happy with my decision so far.
 

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As Juneau is my first ethically bred dog from a responsible breeder, I was somewhat apprehensive when the contract stated that I could not spay her until at least 18 months, as I've never had an unaltered dog in my house before. I spoke with my breeder extensively on the matter, who told me that I didn't have to spay her at all if I didn't want to. So I started researching options, since pyometra scared me. I eventually settled on an ovary sparing spay, which I had done on April 1st, when she was just over 3 years old.I did travel over 3 hours to take her to my breeders reproduction specialist vet clinic, as she trusts them, and I knew that they knew what they were doing. She has had one heat cycle since her spay, which was just as easy as precious ones but without the bleeding, and I have been perfectly happy with my decision so far.
What is the heat cycle without blood like? When my girl was in heat, other than attracting some unsuitable visitors, she was just kind of tired. I was interested in OSS for her, but went with regular so I could use the local vet we know and trust (it was during the pandemic so I couldn’t go in with her and I didn’t want to hand her off to a stranger…) Very interested in a less invasive procedure for future girls.
 

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Well I can only speak of my experience with 2 girls. Autumn was backyard bred and was spayed at 6 months. She lived to 15 1/2 years and never had cancer that we are aware of-she died from a stroke. I think we were blessed to get so lucky with a backyard bred dog knowing what I know now. April was from a reputable breeder with all clearances, titles, etc. (April herself achieved her OFA clearances as well.) She was intact until she pyo’d at a little over 2 years old. I choose to have her spayed as (in the extremely limited time I had to research spay versus antibiotics) it seemed the most prudent choice for her immediate health. Then when she was 8 years old she died from hemangiosarcoma of the spleen-a cancer which is increased in spayed females. If I get another girl, she will stay intact until 2 and then either stay intact under close watch for anything that seems off (pyo) or get an ovary sparing spay. Problem with oss is finding vets who know how to do it. Problem with intact is risk of pyo. Most girls don’t pyo as young as April did-they say the risk is increased around 5-6 years old. But given that she died of hemangiosarcoma after being spayed...makes you wonder what would’ve happened had she not pyo’d and been left intact or oss’d.
Boys seem pretty straight forward-I would choose to leave a boy intact for his life unless something came up where neutering would be necessary for health.
 

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You may have seen it already, but there is a public Facebook group called “Ovary Sparing Spay and Vasectomy Info Group”. They do have a member-maintained list of vets who perform such procedures, but it is far from complete. It’s a start though. My vet was an early adopter of OSS/vasectomy but he is still not on that list.
 

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My darling girl is 18 months, which is when the breeder told me to spay her. But as I've been researching, I've slowly begun to come to the conclusion that leaving her intact would be better. The UC Davis Study (Golden retriever study suggests neutering affects dog health) clearly shows an increase in cancers in spayed Golden Retrievers, far more than in Labs. On the other hand, leaving her intact leaves her open to a 4% chance of pyometra. But as I've read the studies (the two UC Davis ones and the older ones from the Swedish studies on pyometra), it seems the chances of cancer are greater.

I'd heard of ovary-sparing spays, but I'd kinda forgotten about them. That's something I think I could go for (more research for me!).
 

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What is the heat cycle without blood like? When my girl was in heat, other than attracting some unsuitable visitors, she was just kind of tired. I was interested in OSS for her, but went with regular so I could use the local vet we know and trust (it was during the pandemic so I couldn’t go in with her and I didn’t want to hand her off to a stranger…) Very interested in a less invasive procedure for future girls.
Sorry, I just saw this, so I apologize for my late reply. Juneau has never had any weird behaviors during a heat cycle, so her first heat cycle after her OSS I didn't even know she was in heat until she started to get flirty with my boys.
 
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VeeVee and Gabby. We are so sad - we lost VeeVee to cancer on 3.2.2022. New puppy is Breezy
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Does this article help?

Its a tough decision for sure, especially for the girls. I know more and more people who are opting for an ovary sparing spay, but do your research. The surgery must be done by a vet experienced in the procedure to be absolutely sure no uterine tissue is left behind, and your dog will still have some “heat” cycle behaviors as well as a (theoretical) increased risk of mammary cancer.

The breed specific information in the first cited article seems to indicate that it's best to keep female Goldens intact for many reasons. I also found the comments about UI interesting as I was previously told that 20% of spayed females end up with UI. Seems that may not be true, at least for Goldens. This study found zero with UI after spaying. And UC Davis ran this study - which is the place where I was told 20% chance of UI with spaying. I guess nothing is for sure. Leaves plenty of questions.


Golden Retriever

The study population was 318 intact males, 365 neutered males, 190 intact females, and 374 spayed females for a total of 1,247 cases. In intact males and females, the level of occurrence of one or more joint disorders was 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Neutering males at <6 mo. and at 6–11 mo. was associated with risks of 25 percent and 11 percent, respectively (p <0.01). In females, spaying at <6 mo. and at 6–11 mo. was associated with risks of 18 percent and 11 percent (p <0.01, when combined). The occurrence of one or more of the cancers followed in intact males was a high 15 percent and for intact females 5 percent. Neutering males at <6 mo. and at 6–11 mo. was associated with increased risks of cancers to 19 and 16 percent, respectively (p <0.01). Spaying females at <6 mo. and at 6–11 mo., was associated with increases in cancers to 11 and 17 percent, respectively (p <0.05, when combined) and spaying at 1 year and at 2–8 years was associated with increased risks of 14 percent (p <0.01, when combined). The occurrence of MC in intact females was 1 percent and for those spayed at 2–8 years, 4 percent. For females left intact, 4 percent were reported with PYO. No cases of UI were reported in females spayed at any age. The suggested guideline for males, based on the increased risks of joint disorders and cancers, is delaying neutering until beyond a year of age. The suggested guideline for females, based on the increased occurrence of cancers at all spaying ages, is leaving the female intact or spaying at one year and remaining vigilant for the cancers.
 

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Early spay neuter is only part of the answer. I’ve only had one intact dog, my youngest now, and I haven’t lost a single dog to hemangio. I lost one spayed female to uterine cancer but she was healthy until she passed close to age 14. It seems that there are other factors. Diet, exercise, climate, stress, all factor in. I’m now in favor of keeping dogs intact as long as possible because I think it’s better for them, but I also think it’s an individual decision and everyone needs to decide based on their own dogs and personal situations. Keeping a male intact is easy. Just don’t let them roam or have access to females in heat. A female who has not been spayed is much more difficult to own and relies on everyone with access to the dog to remain vigilant when they are in heat.
 

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The breed specific information in the first cited article seems to indicate that it's best to keep female Goldens intact for many reasons. I also found the comments about UI interesting as I was previously told that 20% of spayed females end up with UI. Seems that may not be true, at least for Goldens. This study found zero with UI after spaying. And UC Davis ran this study - which is the place where I was told 20% chance of UI with spaying. I guess nothing is for sure. Leaves plenty of questions.


Golden Retriever

The study population was 318 intact males, 365 neutered males, 190 intact females, and 374 spayed females for a total of 1,247 cases. In intact males and females, the level of occurrence of one or more joint disorders was 5 percent and 4 percent, respectively. Neutering males at <6 mo. and at 6–11 mo. was associated with risks of 25 percent and 11 percent, respectively (p <0.01). In females, spaying at <6 mo. and at 6–11 mo. was associated with risks of 18 percent and 11 percent (p <0.01, when combined). The occurrence of one or more of the cancers followed in intact males was a high 15 percent and for intact females 5 percent. Neutering males at <6 mo. and at 6–11 mo. was associated with increased risks of cancers to 19 and 16 percent, respectively (p <0.01). Spaying females at <6 mo. and at 6–11 mo., was associated with increases in cancers to 11 and 17 percent, respectively (p <0.05, when combined) and spaying at 1 year and at 2–8 years was associated with increased risks of 14 percent (p <0.01, when combined). The occurrence of MC in intact females was 1 percent and for those spayed at 2–8 years, 4 percent. For females left intact, 4 percent were reported with PYO. No cases of UI were reported in females spayed at any age. The suggested guideline for males, based on the increased risks of joint disorders and cancers, is delaying neutering until beyond a year of age. The suggested guideline for females, based on the increased occurrence of cancers at all spaying ages, is leaving the female intact or spaying at one year and remaining vigilant for the cancers.
One of things I found fascinating while I was reading up was the huge difference in breeds. Up until I found the UC David studies, I was reading general articles about spaying dogs, which I finally realized were no help at all. I feel so lucky to own a breed that's had so much research done on it. (And, of course, for other reasons, lol!)
 

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I have read everything I could get my hands on, and I don't feel any wiser or closer a decision I feel comfortable with.

Last time we had a female from pup was 50 years ago, and I don't have to tell anybody the science and attitudes have changed considerably.
Since then the females we had were rescues and were spayed by the rescue organization, before they came to us.
So here we are, Addy is 2 years old and I am still dragging my feet , and all the info I have gathered isn't helping me making a decision I feel comfortable with.

Where we live, veterinary care is sparse and far between, and nobody is taking on new clients.
Our vet team is diligent and young, not sure if enthusiasm is quite enough to replace experience.

Thank you for letting me vent, I think I just listened to myself, and I am starting to feel that the most comfortable ( or possible least uncomfortable ) version of my dilemma, is leaving her intact.
 
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