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New to having a puppy. We lost our yellow lab last year and couldn’t think of replacing her. My son has always want a golden so I started the search for a rescue. I had no luck at all and then someone my daughter knew from high school posted she had golden puppies. Marley is 16 weeks old now and the Vet recommend we spay her before she goes into heat.... He talked about her risk of getting cancer being higher if we waited...Help

Worried in Vero,
Patricia
 

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With increased risk of different cancers if spayed before 1 year and if spayed after 1 year and the long bones in the leg grow for longer periods if spayed before 1 year. I chose not to spay my girl. She's intact and will stay that way for the foreseeable future, with no pyo, I can see her staying intact till at least 5 or 6. I don't like any dog after 6 to go under anesthesia unnecessarily so by then I'll make the choice to spay or leave intact.

The risk is pyometra leaving them intact and isn't very common, you need to know signs of pyo and be responsible for no accidental breedings.

You should do a little research on early or late spay (under or over 12 months of age) or not to spay and weigh the pros and cons for what you're comfortable with.
 

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Vets usually push for early spay mostly due to tradition and a desire to prevent unintended litters. They talk about the increased risk of cancer, but I think that's more to "scare" their clients into following their advice and they are usually referring to mammary cancer, which is fairly low risk and highly treatable if caught early. What they don't always tell you (or may not even know), is that early spay can INCREASE the incidence of more aggressive/fatal cancers, especially in Golden retrievers. Also, spaying before the dog is mature and the growth plates have closed increases the chance of joint issues and future injuries and often results in an abnormally tall dog.

That said, spaying a female dog, at any age, seems to increase her chances of acquiring some of the scarier cancers. Keep them intact decreases that risk, but raises the risks of pyometra (a uterine infection which can be life threatening) and unwanted pregnancies, and means the owner has to deal with heat cycles once or twice a year. Some people have started to do what is referred to as "ovary-sparing spay", where the uterus is removed but the ovaries (and the related hormones) are left intact. However, the "OSS" has it's own issues, and there are few vets who know how to do it correctly.

As Eric said, it's best to do some research on your own and weigh the pros and cons and decide which risks and inconveniences you are willing to live with.

Here is a link to what is commonly referred to as "The UC Davis study" which examined the effects of "pediatric spay/neuter" in Golden Retrievers. Golden retriever study suggests neutering affects dog health

And here is another article about the effects on a dog's structure: http://www.caninesports.com/uploads/1/5/3/1/15319800/spay_neuter_considerations_2013.pdf

And here is another thread in this forum from a few years ago that you might find interesting (there are probably other threads if you search). Spay Question
 

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The ovary sparring spay has the same risk if pyometra if the surgeon leave any part of the uterine stump and it's very easy to miss some of it. So if you do OSS (1 surgery} and they pyo later, that's a second surgery. It's rare they can treat a pyometra infection without doing a full spay.

This is why I decided to leave her intact rather than an OSS. I didn't want the chance of 2 surgeries. So I left Maggie intact. Just make sure if you leave intact, learn how to watch for the pyo signs and know the most likely time for infection is the first 6-8 weeks after a heat cycle
 

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Marley is 16 weeks old now and the Vet recommend we spay her before she goes into heat.... He talked about her risk of getting cancer being higher if we waited...Help
Welcome to the third-rail of golden retriever (especially female) ownership. 😁 This issue almost convinced me to not get a golden retriever, especially since we wanted a female.

This video from a veterinary oncologist played a significant role in helping me make a decision, especially after reading all the back-and-forth between the early-spay/late-spay/no-spay camps.

Here are the data points that helped solidify things for me...
  • Early spay (i.e., before first heat) can reduce mammary cancers to about 0.5%
  • Early spay delays closure of growth plates, which can increase chances of joint/ligament issues
  • Early spay can increase the risk of "other cancers", harder to detect than mammary tumors
  • For mammary tumors, only 25% will require treatment beyond surgery to remove the tumor
  • Spaying (at any age) reduces cancer risks associated with the reproductive organs
  • Spaying (at any age) is "much more convenient" for the dog's owner
Our decision, in concert with our veterinarian, is to spay after 12-months of age, irrespective of heat cycles. I will be the first to admit that there are many good arguments against our decision. But, it's a decision made after considering the ramifications of all possible choices, and the general health concerns associated with each choice.
 

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After weighing all the options, we are going to be spaying at 6 months.

I can keep my pup close to me and be responsible but I can not do anything about the intact male dogs who are not always contained in yards or on lines.
We kept Molly with us on a leash at all times unless she is chasing a ball in our yard. We do not have a fence and it really isnt an option.
Unfortunately our choice is due to other dog owners and my handicap. Both myself and my pup could be injured .
 

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Welcome to the third-rail of golden retriever (especially female) ownership. 😁 This issue almost convinced me to not get a golden retriever, especially since we wanted a female.

This video from a veterinary oncologist played a significant role in helping me make a decision, especially after reading all the back-and-forth between the early-spay/late-spay/no-spay camps.

Here are the data points that helped solidify things for me...
  • Early spay (i.e., before first heat) can reduce mammary cancers to about 0.5%
  • Early spay delays closure of growth plates, which can increase chances of joint/ligament issues
  • Early spay can increase the risk of "other cancers"
  • For mammary tumors, only 25% will require treatment beyond surgery to remove the tumor
  • Spaying (at any age) reduces cancer risks associated with the reproductive organs
  • Spaying (at any age) is "much more convenient" for the dog's owner
Our decision, in concert with our veterinarian, is to spay after 12-months of age, irrespective of heat cycles. I will be the first to admit that there are many good arguments against our decision. But, it's a decision made after considering the ramifications of all possible choices, and the general health concerns associated with each choice.
SoCalEngr: your posts always make me chuckle. I work with an office of engineers, I am a finance person. The methodology you use and they way you write your posts is so inline with emails I receive every day from them :) Can I ask what type of engineer you are? My son is going to school for civil and he is interning with an electrical this summer.
Jules
 

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SoCalEngr: your posts always make me chuckle. I work with an office of engineers, I am a finance person. The methodology you use and they way you write your posts is so inline with emails I receive every day from them :) Can I ask what type of engineer you are? My son is going to school for civil and he is interning with an electrical this summer.
Jules
I am a software engineer, with a B.S. and M.S. in Computer Science. :) Early on in life, I started out studying EE (electrical engineering), but I hate analog circuits. My sons claim I am one of the few people they know who thinks in boolean logic. 😁
 

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After weighing all the options, we are going to be spaying at 6 months.

I can keep my pup close to me and be responsible but I can not do anything about the intact male dogs who are not always contained in yards or on lines.
We kept Molly with us on a leash at all times unless she is chasing a ball in our yard. We do not have a fence and it really isnt an option.
Unfortunately our choice is due to other dog owners and my handicap. Both myself and my pup could be injured .
I hate when a few people being, ya know, and ruin it for everyone else.
 

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I hate when a few people being, ya know, and ruin it for everyone else.
Yes. Same.
I would love to wait and would if we could. It seems like we see a loose dog around here almost daily.
One large mixed male up the street is very obviously unaltered. Lol . He is usually on a line but occasionally pulls it out of the ground.
I would be an am 100% willing to wait, if other people watched their darn dogs
 

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Ask your vet. Or maybe not. Early spay/neuter is not good. I advised my puppy people against it. For the record, I don't spay/neuter until/unless medically necessary.
 

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Yes. Same.
I would love to wait and would if we could. It seems like we see a loose dog around here almost daily.
One large mixed male up the street is very obviously unaltered. Lol . He is usually on a line but occasionally pulls it out of the ground.
I would be an am 100% willing to wait, if other people watched their darn dogs
You're raising a good point. People should absolutely consider the cancer risks of spaying early but people should also consider the risk of an unplanned breeding. I'm lucky. I benefit from living in an area with a high spay/neuter and a low percentage of dogs who free roam, so I was able to wait because the risk of an unplanned breeding is low. (I just had to be mindful of the coyotes who would show up if my female went into heat in the January/February time frame. No coy dogs!)
 

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That is a sad commentary. But, it also highlights the fact that each person's decision is unique to that person, and there is no one-size-fits-all that everyone can align to.
Early spay does increase the chance of extra growth in the legs leading to significant risk of ACL tears and late spay leads to increased chance hemangiosarcoma.

Kinda damed either way if you spay. Just gotta weigh the factors.
Two very accurate and astute comments.

Unfortunately, there is no clear cut best practice when it comes to females. There are increased risks of some issues with early (pre-first heat) spay, there are risks to later (after first heat) spay and risks to keeping girls intact. It is much clearer when it comes to males.

For owners of females, I always say, read the science that is out there, and then make the best decision you can based on the information you have, and your own life circumstances. Living in a city, where you rely on daycare or a dog walker, or need to use public parks to exercise your dog is a legitimate factor when making the decision. The safety of your female dog and the prevention of an unplanned pregnancy is as important as her longterm health.
 

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Some good stuff here. I'll just add that I'm not special in any way, yet we have multiple intact females and intact males, and have never had a problem with loose males or unintended pregnancies. Our worst problem is boys who get whiny and go off their food for a few days. So, an intact girl is pretty easy to manage, if that's the concern.

(Full disclosure: we did have an "oops" litter once. Someone here actually has a puppy from that litter. But that happened while our bitch was being boarded at a facility for show dogs and we were on vacation, so I don't count that as our fault, except that we learned not to board a bitch in season.)
 

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Some good stuff here. I'll just add that I'm not special in any way, yet we have multiple intact females and intact males, and have never had a problem with loose males or unintended pregnancies. Our worst problem is boys who get whiny and go off their food for a few days. So, an intact girl is pretty easy to manage, if that's the concern.

(Full disclosure: we did have an "oops" litter once. Someone here actually has a puppy from that litter. But that happened while our bitch was being boarded at a facility for show dogs and we were on vacation, so I don't count that as our fault, except that we learned not to board a bitch in season.)
I think if we were at a place with a fence, it would be a no brainer.
When we got her were just assumed we would spay her like any other dog (adopted from humane society before) and not have an issue. Us getting a fence and having it under our strict city rules would require us to remove 18 trees and shrubs and move a utility pole.
 

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Some good stuff here. I'll just add that I'm not special in any way, yet we have multiple intact females and intact males, and have never had a problem with loose males or unintended pregnancies. Our worst problem is boys who get whiny and go off their food for a few days. So, an intact girl is pretty easy to manage, if that's the concern.

(Full disclosure: we did have an "oops" litter once. Someone here actually has a puppy from that litter. But that happened while our bitch was being boarded at a facility for show dogs and we were on vacation, so I don't count that as our fault, except that we learned not to board a bitch in season.)
I just can't imagine how you handle intact males in the home while females are in season. Emily was in season in February, and my neutered male lost his mind. I was constantly having to remove him from her (neutered at 3 yrs old). I couldn't let them out together for three weeks, and he was in full on freak out being kept separated from her. It was a nightmare.
 

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I got my girl fixed a couple of weeks after she turned 1. She never had a heat cycle. My vet recommended spaying at 6 months but I wasn’t comfortable doing it that early.
 
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