So, you recently adopted a golden retriever. Congratulations! There will certainly be many wonderful adventures in store for you. One of the biggest questions after getting a golden retriever is, “What is the best age to spay a female golden retriever?”. Now, we know there’s a ton of differing information out there. So today, we’ll look at each opinion and the science behind it to give you an answer!
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- Golden Retriever breed info
- Golden Retriever Health: Your Complete Guide!
- Golden Retriever Nutrition: The 5 Best Dog Food Brands For Retrievers!
- Raising a Golden Retriever: A Complete Guide!
- Feeding Schedule For a Golden Retriever Puppy
Veterinarians, Breeders, & Owners
In most cases, a veterinarian will recommend spaying your golden retriever at 6 – 7 months old. This has been the standard for decades now. However, more recent evidence suggests that spaying this early can actually be detrimental to your dogs health. Vetsmall compiled a list of studies (From 1980 – 2017) evaluating the risks of spaying.
As with all dogs, your retriever’s bones will break down as she ages. If your retriever was spayed too early, this break down occurs more quickly. Your retriever could experience additional bone problems in her later years. In addition, certain studies have linked early spaying with higher cancer rates among older dogs. This evidence has lead some to question the 6 month standard. So below, we’ll look at the pros and cons of spaying your retriever, and answer your question, “What is the best age to spay a female golden retriever?”
The Pros of Spaying Your Golden Retriever
1. Stops Pregnancy
The most obvious pro of spaying your dog is to prevent an unwanted pregnancy. If your female golden retriever is likely to be around other dogs unsupervised, spaying your dog is a must. While everybody loves golden retriever puppies, it’s better to plan ahead for them!
2. Prevents Pseudo Pregnancy
Pseudo pregnancy is not entirely understood by vets. Basically, your retriever can go through the symptoms of pregnancy without being pregnant. This most often happens 2 – 3 weeks after her heat cycle ends. The cause of pseudo pregnancy comes from hormone imbalance created by her cycle. If pseudo pregnancy occurs too often, it can take a toll on your retriever’s brain.
3. Eliminate Your Retriever’s Heat Cycle
Just like preventing pregnancy, eliminating your dog’s heat cycle is a major motivator behind the decision to spay. Heat cycles last approximately 3 weeks. Heat cycles usually cause restlessness, neediness, and frustration in your dog. Also, heat cycles are generally a messy experience for owner and dog alike. Spaying your retriever will stop their heat cycle and spare both of you the trouble.
4. Reduced Risk of Certain Cancers
Once you’ve spayed your retriever, they will (Obviously!) no longer be at risk for ovarian cancer. In addition, Golden retrievers spayed before 2 years old have also shown a reduced risk for mammary and kidney cancer. Spaying can be a great way to protect your retriever from future sickness.
5. Reduced risk of Pyometra
Pyometra is a fatal infection of the uterus that can occur due to irregular hormone levels in your retriever. After her heat cycle, your retriever will continue producing extra estrogen, which thickens the walls of her uterus. This thickening allows bacteria to build more easily, and increases the risk for pyometra and other urinary tract infections. By stopping your female golden retriever’s heat cycle, the risk of pyometra is decreased.
The Cons of Spaying Your Golden Retriever
Despite these pros for spaying, there are many in the community that still do not approve of the procedure. Of course, any surgery carries risks, and it is always possible for something to go wrong during the procedure. Beyond that, there many be long-term effects of spaying your retriever that science is just now beginning to understand. Below, we’ll discuss some cons of spaying (Especially spaying early), and figure out the best age to spay a female golden retriever
1. Higher Risk of Obesity in your Golden Retriever
After the spaying procedure, your golden retriever’s hormones and metabolism will be permanently altered. Because of this, you will have to keep a closer eye on how much food you’re feeding your retriever. Obesity, and obesity-related illness, are one of the biggest problems for older female golden retrievers. So, be sure to discuss with your vet how much food your retriever will need post-spaying.
2. Increased Risk of Hip Dysplasia & Torn Ligaments
Earlier in this article, we mentioned that there were differing opinions of what exactly the best age to spay a golden retriever female is. Before 6 months of age, some of your female golden retriever’s bones are still fusing together, specifically their hip plates. Bones and tendons are usually not set by 6 months old. Because of this, it is a good idea to wait longer than the recommended 6 months to ensure strong and healthy bones. The golden retriever is a very active breed, so they will be putting strain on their body throughout their entire life.
3. Increased Risk of Urinary Imbalance
It is expected that about 20% of female Golden Retrievers dogs will generate urinary incontinence within three years of being spayed. Dogs spayed before three months of age have a tremendous risk, and dogs spayed before their first heat have a more moderate risk. This is yet again another reason to waiting longer than 6 months to spay your retriever. You will want to wait until your dog is fully developed to reduce the risk of harmful side-effects.
4. 3x Risk of Developing Hypothyroidism
Hypothyroidism is another condition that affects golden retrievers at a higher rate than other dogs. The thyroid is responsible for much of the chemical secretions throughout the body, including those that regulate metabolism and other routine bodily functions. Golden retrievers that develop hypothyroidism can gain excessive weight and be more prone to depression and a lack of energy.
5. 2x Risk of Hemangiosarcoma
Hemangiosarcoma is a severe type of cancer that all ready affects Golden Retrievers at a higher rate than other breeds. Spayed Golden retriever females are two times more expected to grow Hemangiosarcoma of the spleen, and five times more likely to develop Hemangiosarcoma of the heart than non-spayed Golden Retrievers females. Once again, this risk can be greatly reduced by feeding your golden retriever a balanced diet and ensuring proper exercise daily.
Spaying your dog too early, before the bladder has fully matured can cause inadequate bladder muscles to flow later on during the Golden retriever dog’s life.
6. Increased Risk Of Osteosarcoma
Spaying your female golden retriever slightly increases their risk of Ostesarcoma, a fatal bone disease that specifically affects large-breed dogs. The increased risk is smaller than that of the other diseases we looked at, but it is still important to keep in mind when deciding the best age to spay your female golden retriever.
Is Spaying The Best Option For Your Female Golden Retriever?
Spaying your Female Golden retriever used to be the obvious choice and the responsible thing to do, but modern evidence is starting to contradict the old rules.
The solution used to be simplistic, and if you didn’t prepare on breeding your female golden retriever, then you got your dog spayed. Spaying was the obvious choice in the medical profession for decades, but is that still the case?
By and large, yes, it is still ideal to spay your retriever. However, the age to spay your retriever has changed. While some vets still recommend the 6 month rule, evidence suggests that 8 months is better for your retriever’s long-term health. At this age, your retriever will be fully developed, and will have a lower rate of risk than dogs spayed at an earlier age.
So… What’s The Best Age to Spay a Female Golden Retriever?
Choosing to spay your female Golden Retriever is hard, and picking at the appropriate time can be even extra challenging.
Spaying your dog too early before your female dog has fully developed poses many future health hazards for your dog. Your Golden retriever requires her reproductive hormones to build her joints, bones, and internal organs completely.
There are several advantages to waiting until later to spay your Golden retriever, and even more benefits should you choose an ovary-sparing spaying procedure. The decision of when to spay your retriever should not be taken lightly. While it may feel like something to just “Get it over with”, this can have long-term effects on the health and happiness of your retriever. Instead, it is best to be patient and wait approximately 8 months until you spay your retriever. By doing this, you reduce the risks mentioned earlier that affect retriever that were spayed too early.
Listen to Real Experts on Spaying Female Golden Retrievers
But, don’t take our word for it! Listen to real vets describe the long-term effects that they have seen from spaying dogs too early. Below, OurPetsHealth compiles great evidence, and gets advice from real vets, that challenge the traditional 6 month rule.
I hope that this article answered any questions you have regarding the best age to spay a female golden retriever! If you have a specific question that was not answered, please leave it in the comments below, or contact us directly. I will be more than happy to get back to you with the most accurate information!