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Neutering age & growth plate development?

Running, catching, leaping; this is the forum to discuss dog sports and agility training with other active pups!

  
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Ringo

Rapid Fire!
 
 
Barked: Wed Apr 18, '12 11:14pm PST 
Ringo is my new sport prospect puppy. He is a 13wk old German Coolie and I plan on working him in Agility and hopefully Canine Disc, possibly Dock Diving..the possibilities are endless. I have always heard many, many opinions on when/if to neuter sport dogs, and I wanted to hear what people here have to say about it.

This is my first dog I got with the intention of doing sports, and am really looking for any/everyone's input. Does anyone find that waiting until 18 or more months for the growth plates to close helps prevent injury in sport dogs? Or any other benefits I should be aware of? I know of the behavioral benefits of neutering earlier, but would like to know if there are any better reasons to hold off on neutering if it is beneficial for his physical self.

Also to add- I am a responsible owner and am able to prevent my dog from fathering an unwanted litter if I waited until after sexual maturity to neuter, etc., etc. Any advice regarding neutering age and how/if it can/cannot effect his growth plates/body is greatly appreciated! big grin
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Rexy

I dig in mud- puddles!
 
 
Barked: Wed Apr 18, '12 11:34pm PST 
Congrats! cloud 9

Here are a few links for you to check out:

Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete

When to Neuter: Pros and Cons of Early Sterilization

Long Term Health Risks and Benefits....
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Huck

GO!!!
 
 
Barked: Thu Apr 19, '12 9:00am PST 
It really depends on the size of the dog. I had Huck checked and exrayed before I had him neutered to make sure his bones had finished growing and he was done at 10 months, so I had him neutered then. The larger breeds mature later so you may have to wait until even 2 years old for some of them. I will not spay or neuter until the bones have finished growing, after that depends on what you want to do in my opinion. I know many dog sport people who do not spay/neuter at all, they feel it gives their dog an edge, personally I feel if I am not going to breed then I am going to get the dog fixed and I am perfectly capable of keeping them from breeding but I like to take my dogs to public places, like dog beaches, etc and it seems like the intact males have a target on their backs for some reason.
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Huck

GO!!!
 
 
Barked: Thu Apr 19, '12 9:00am PST 
It really depends on the size of the dog. I had Huck checked and exrayed before I had him neutered to make sure his bones had finished growing and he was done at 10 months, so I had him neutered then. The larger breeds mature later so you may have to wait until even 2 years old for some of them. I will not spay or neuter until the bones have finished growing, after that depends on what you want to do in my opinion. I know many dog sport people who do not spay/neuter at all, they feel it gives their dog an edge, personally I feel if I am not going to breed then I am going to get the dog fixed and I am perfectly capable of keeping them from breeding but I like to take my dogs to public places, like dog beaches, etc and it seems like the intact males have a target on their backs for some reason.
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Samson

Work? What's- that?
 
 
Barked: Thu Apr 19, '12 9:40am PST 
It depends on what kind of sport you are doing. I'm not terribly familiar with the specifics of most, but something like Schutzhund? I would never neuter a Schutzhund dog. The hormones give them a drive and intensity that really shines, and a kind of dominant pride that is favorable in a Schutzhund dog. For something like that, it's not just the physical side that being intact offers, but the behavioral side of things as well.

For less "intense" sports - that's not the right word, but it's the closest I can come up with at the moment - you're probably safe getting him neutered if his frame is done growing. I would not know how to classify what you're interested in, though, you would probably know better than me. Schutzhund is one of the things I'd consider right at the top in terms of "intensity." As you get further down in that "intensity," a neutered male isn't going to have as many issues competing at the same level as intact males.

Keep in mind however that muscle growth is highly dependent on testosterone. Once you neuter him he's not going to gain very much muscle mass - and it's going to be an uphill battle to put it on. If he has *any* skeletal issues, muscle can offset the damage that can cause to his body. A lot of the physical therapy for dogs suffering from hip dysplasia involves building up the muscles around the hips to offset the brunt of the force borne by the hip & socket.

Samson is now almost two and a half, and his frame is STILL growing. We noticed it the other day when his backline was to the top of the dining room table - it wasn't that high at the beginning of the year. So at this point, if I were planning on getting him neutered (I'm not, unless a health issue comes up which necessitates it), it would alter his normal development.

That said there's sort of a sharp drop-off in just how much it would affect his growth (imagine an exponential graph, it rises VERY steeply very quickly, and then drops off - at age two you're at the point in the "graph" where there is very little change any more). Having him neutered right now would likely do very, very little. At 18 months, maybe slightly more. At a year? Significant differences. Six months? Very drastic, I bet. Two months? He'd be an absolute wreck.

If he's primarily a pet and companion, and the sports are the thing you do together - rather than the other way around (I'm issuing no judgement on that, I know several folks who have different dogs to fulfill different needs, and I don't have a problem with that) - that may weigh in on your decision too. You may wind up coming to the conclusion that there are enough risks with neutering him at a certain age, enough to make you uneasy, but find you prefer the behavioral changes that a neuter brings on in a male dog enough to take that chance.

Everything is a balance. With an issue like this there are so many numbers and statistics and different angles and lights to see things in that it is very hard to get a big picture to make an informed decision. Very easy to fall into your blinders, but do your best to take it all in :3.

Edited by author Thu Apr 19, '12 9:44am PST

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Jackson Tan

Lad about town
 
 
Barked: Sat Apr 21, '12 2:21am PST 
I would wait until he is fully grown for physical and emotional reasons (18 months minimum). Herding dogs particularly, when neutered too young, can get stuck in a sort of lifelong adolescence that can make them very hard to train. In Australia, serious working koolies and kelpies are not neutered at all. As long as you're responsible and your dog isn't suffering any testosterone related issues, there is no need to neuter him. But certainly don't do it until he had matured both in body and mind.
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Samson

Work? What's- that?
 
 
Barked: Sat Apr 21, '12 6:40am PST 
*munch*

Misread my *own* post.

Edited by author Sat Apr 21, '12 6:41am PST

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Ringo

Rapid Fire!
 
 
Barked: Tue Apr 24, '12 8:23pm PST 
Thanks everyone for the input and great info! Sorry I'm late on the response..busy week red face

Thank you Rexy for the links- very informative. Everyone has made some very valid points, and I am finally confident in that it is the best idea to keep him intact, at least for a year or so. I'll ask my vet about when his plates are closed.

I will admit, I am a little nervous with this being my first male in many years- and definitely the most confident one I've had, and that he will be intact for so long! But it will be worth it..wish me luck! shock
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Farley

Farlekiin the- Dragonborn
 
 
Barked: Wed Apr 25, '12 9:26am PST 
Good luck with Ringo! He's a gorgeous pup. big grin

Jackson- maybe that's why Farles is such a turkey. People who meet him always ask if he's still really young because he behaves like an overgrown, exuberant puppy. No one ever guessed he is 6 naughty
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Jackson Tan

Lad about town
 
 
Barked: Sat Apr 28, '12 10:44pm PST 
Farley, it's definitely possible! Depends how young he was done I guess. NO farmer ever neuters his dogs around here, that I do know! The results are not conducive to serious work!

Jackson is five this year and has turned into the calmest dog now balls and all ... He still has his moments of course but spends most of his time mooching around the house or hanging in our fenced garden. We always say 'you got old!' Lol. Can put on the energy when he wants it but has an off switch. Definitely a middle aged man personality, not a pup's!
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