The Science Of Spay & Neutering


Dog owners at some point would think of spaying or neutering their German Shepherds, and the big debatable question is whether they should or shouldn’t spay or neuter their dogs. According to the old school of vets, they opine that there are many benefits a German Shepherd could have when the process is done at an earlier stage, far more than the risks concerned. But in most cases it has been reviewed that there has been a sway when such decisions have to be made, sometimes even before they have enough evidence to prove the benefits for the same.

With due diligence and exhaustive research done by speaking to AVMA, RSPCA and other well known veterinary clinics and German Shepherd dog experts across the nation, we have penned down this write up for you to know everything that encompasses the domain of spaying and neutering of German Shepherds. Right from how the health of the German Shepherd could be impacted by the process, to various other related issues that can happen to the dogs, such as “osteosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, hypothyroidism” etc., mostly found in male dogs who get neutered.

As a responsible vet, one would have to know the pros and cons of getting their German Shepherd’s spayed and neutered, this would be directly responsible to the health of the German Shepherd and the well being too. But remember, spaying and neutering as discussed so far could be different for males and females, with the latter becoming complex at later stages. Hence vets have to use individualistic approaches when planning the operating processes for the German Shepherd’s. The review thus would speak with the help of facts gathered from various reputable sources (mentioned at the end). And once again it is emphasized before the consideration of spaying and neutering is made, a health evaluation of every German Shepherd is made prior to the process being undertaken.

What a vet needs to check individually?

- The age of the dog
- The long term affects
- The well being of the dog post the operation
- The training of the dog
- The gender of the dog, and
- The breed of the dog (German Shepherd in this case)

Why is the review important?

This review on spaying and neutering of German Shepherd is an important write up, because it would help German Shepherd owners and vet medical staff understand the need to make diligent and informed decisions. Across the nation most German Shepherd owners are advised that spaying and neutering should be done to ensure that their dogs live healthy and have a good lifestyle. Yes, there are many health benefits associated with the process, but sadly not all reviews and papers written on the process would speak much about the health risks for the same. There are many papers reviewed and published about the complexities and risk of spaying and neutering German Shepherd’s, not all of them would speak of the severe risks though. Thus what we attempt to do here is to give you a clear picture of what you really need to know. Right from the Pros & Cons of spaying and neutering your German Shepherd, to specific for males and females as well. You would also have some information now on the surgical walkthrough of spaying and neutering your German Shepherd, the side effects or even the long term effects involved for the same. And we haven’t forgotten to include some details about the effects specific for the German Shepherd Dog as well, after all you own a German Shepherd and you need to know the truth behind Spaying and Neutering.


All of the research penned down here is done through various reputed channels. The findings on this article are from epidemiological and retrospective research done on German Shepherd’s. This allows one to research the process of spaying and neutering in totality, right from the time it was introduced in the early 1930’s. When you do read through this medical research, you would understand various complexities of the process with regard to the health of the German Shepherd and even the benefits one would get by administering the process on their dogs. Evidence speaks highly that there is certainly a link which has its pros and cons when the health and well being of the dog is talked about post the process of spaying and neutering.

This brings us to a question “how much do we actually know and understand about the process of spaying and neutering of German Shepherd’s?”

With regard to neutering immature male German Shepherds there can be no specific case which can be spoken off when health and well-being of the dog is concerned. However, vet experts opine for German Shepherds that are grown and in the stages of adulthood, the following would be the health issues that come with neutering. Sadly, the health risks are more than what it was earlier believed to be, take a look below for the good and bad f spaying and neutering;

The Positives When You Neuter A Male German Shepherd

- You remove the fear of losing your dog to testicular cancer in future.
- The dog is less at risk of attaining disorders of the prostate gland which is non- cancerous.
- The risk of attaining Perianal fistulas is reduced.
- Tests have proved the male dog would suffer less from diabetes; the risks for attracting it are less.

The Negatives When You Neuter A female German Shepherd

- If the dog is neutered before she reaches her first year in age terms, she would be at risk of attaining bone cancer, which is very common with such breeds.
- One in every six German Shepherd bitches when spayed or neutered before age one would attain cardiac hemangiosarcoma.
- Hypothyroidism is another issue that affects neutered German Shepherd bitches.
- Progressive geriatric cognitive impairment happens to many German Shepherd bitches as well.
- Most German Shepherd bitches that are neutered run the risks of becoming obese.
- The German Shepherd could also suffer from prostate cancer, which is very frequent amongst the breed which is neutered of spayed.
- One in ten German Shepherd bitches shows signs of urinary tract cancers as well.
- Orthopedic disorders are common with neutered German Shepherd bitches, and most of them show negative responses towards important vaccinations administered to them in future.

Thus we see when spaying and neutering is compared between males and female German Shepherd’s, the complexities for the females are more. One has to even look into the age of the German Shepherd bitch to know if spaying could improve her health and well being overall.

The Positives Of Spaying Female German Shepherd’s

According to experts from AVMA if the German Shepherd bitch is spayed before she attains 2.5 years of age, she would be spared of the horrible mammary tumors, which is very prevalent amongst females of the German Shepherd kind.

The German Shepherd bitch would also be spared (almost) of pyomtera, a health condition which attacks nearly 25 percent of female German Shepherd’s and kills around one percent of them annually.

Perianal fistulas could become a thing of the past for the German Shepherd bitch

Other tumors such as tumor of the uterine, tumor of the cervical, and ovarian tumors are shown the door if the German Shepherd bitch is spayed.

The Negatives Of Spaying Female German Shepherd’s

If the female German Shepherd has been administered spaying before she attains a year of age, she could be at risk of attaining bone cancer, which is prevalent with large breeds of her kind.

The female German Shepherd could also attain “splenic hemangiosarcoma” and even “cardiac hemangiosarcoma” as well. Death has been recorded for many female German Shepherd’s who suffered from such issues, and this was post spaying mind you.

High risks of attaining hypothyroidism and obesity post spaying.

Incontinency with urinary issues post spaying in four to twenty percent of female German Shepherd’s. This also leads to urinary tract infections amongst many female German Shepherd’s.

Post spaying some of the female bitches show signs of a recessed vulva and even vaginitis, if the spaying is done before they attain puberty.

The female German Shepherd is at great risk when spayed before puberty for urinary tract tumors, orthopedic disorders and wouldn’t respond to future vaccinations.

What is clear now?

Whatever you may have been told or you may have read online or otherwise about spaying and neutering your German Shepherd’s is not balanced. There are many exaggerated claims and evidences out there which have no support whatsoever, and this is such a shame, because instead of pet owners rather German Shepherd owners being helped, most of it has knowledge which is misconstrued with regards to the PROS AND CONS OF SPAYING AND NEUTERING German Shepherds.

In the days gone by

Traditionally it was told to German Shepherd owners that their dogs should undergo the process by the time they were six months of age, since this would do away with any health risks that could come by when the process is administered to dogs that are healthy and grown physically. In some cases, especially for male dogs, it should get done by six months to a year or else forget about it for good. With the advancement of studies on spaying and neutering of German Shepherds it has been seen that the process should be conducted on various factors (as mentioned at the beginning of the write up), which means long term health benefits and risks associated with the process is individualistic and should not be a general sweep to say the least.

What studies and research says

There are complications that can arise with spaying and neutering German Shepherds, and this would be prevalent with any type of surgery. Some of them would be improper response to anesthesia doses, inflammation, hemorrhage and even infection as well.

Surgical studies and evidence quoted

To quote from a research paper by Larry S. Katz, PhD (Associate Professor and Chair, Animal Sciences, Rutgers University, New Brunswick, NJ 08901) “Complications include only immediate and near term impacts that are clearly linked to the surgery, not to longer term impacts that can only be assessed by research studies. At one veterinary teaching hospital where complications were tracked, the rates of intraoperative, postoperative and total complications were 6.3%, 14.1% and 20.6%, respectively as a result of spaying female dogs1. Other studies found a rate of total complications from spaying of 17.7%2 and 23%3. A study of Canadian veterinary private practitioners found complication rates of 22% and 19% for spaying female dogs and neutering male dogs, respectively4. Serious complications such as infections, abscesses, rupture of the surgical wound, and chewed out sutures were reported at a 1- 4% frequency, with spay and castration surgeries accounting for 90% and 10% of these complications, respectively. The death rate due to complications from spay/neuter is low, at around 0.1%2.”

With regard to prostate cancer in German Shepherd’s

Now most of the information given to German Shepherd owners online or otherwise wouldn’t speak much about prostate cancer, which affects male German Shepherds mostly. In humans it would be blamed on testosterone but the same wouldn’t be the case for male German Shepherds. In fact studies have now revealed it is just the opposite. Epidemiological studies show that there have been high and low cases with regard to neutered German Shepherds attaining prostate cancer. Such research was not done to study how the overpopulation of dogs could be controlled and hence it became quite a challenge to interpret the varying results about the interconnection between prostate cancer in German Shepherds and neutering.

In recent studies conducted on male German Shepherds both in Europe and America, it was noticed that the risks for prostate cancer in male German Shepherds that were neutered was more than what it was found in those that were left intact. With such results coming forward in the recent times, it was quoted in the paper by Researchers suggest a cause-and-effect relationship:

“this suggests that castration does not initiate the development of prostatic carcinoma in the dog, but does favor tumor progression”5 and also “Our study found that most canine prostate cancers are of ductal/urothelial origin….The relatively low incidence of prostate cancer in intact dogs may suggest that testicular hormones are in fact protective against ductal/urothelial prostatic carcinoma, or may have indirect effects on cancer development by changing the environment in the prostate.”6 This needs to be put in perspective. Unlike the situation in humans, prostate cancer is uncommon in dogs. Given an incidence of prostate cancer in dogs of less than 0.6% from necropsy studies7, it is difficult to see that the risk of prostate cancer should factor heavily into most neutering decisions. There is evidence for an increased risk of prostate cancer in at least one breed (Bouviers)5, though very little data so far to guide us in regards to other breeds.”

More information can be found on the same review site in detail on the following;

- Testicular Cancer
- Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer)
- Mammary Cancer (Breast Cancer)
- Female Reproductive Tract Cancer (Uterine, Cervical, and Ovarian Cancers)
- Urinary Tract Cancer (Bladder and Urethra Cancers)
- Hemangiosarcoma
- Hypothyroidism
- Obesity
- Diabetes
- Adverse Vaccine Reactions
- Urogenital Disorders
- Pyometra (Infection of the Uterus)
- Perianal Fistulas
- Non-cancerous Disorders of the Prostate Gland
- Orthopedic Disorders
- Geriatric Cognitive Impairment

In conclusion

When you objectively read the literature on spaying and neutering doled out by the vet world, you would be given a very complex situation to understand with regard to the process of administering spaying and neutering. This would include all the pros and cons, benefits and health risks etc which is associated with neutering and spaying German Shepherds.

It also goes to show that the evidence given talks about a correlation which is positive and negative about the effects German Shepherds have when spaying and neutering is administered to them. This only goes to tell us how little we know and how misinformed are we as German Shepherd owners of the process and the subject at large.


Burrow R, Batchelor D, Cripps P. Complications observed during and after ovariohysterectomy of 142

bitches at a veterinary teaching hospital. Vet Rec. 2005 Dec 24-31;157(26):829-33.

Pollari FL, Bonnett BN. Evaluation of postoperative complications following elective surgeries of dogs and

cats at private practices using computer records, Can Vet J. 1996 November; 37(11): 672–678.

Teske E, Naan EC, van Dijk EM, van Garderen E, Schalken JA. Canine prostate carcinoma:

epidemiological evidence of an increased risk in castrated dogs. Mol Cell Endocrinol. 2002 Nov 29;197(1-


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Schneider, R, Dorn, CR, Taylor, DON. Factors Influencing Canine Mammary Cancer Development and

Postsurgical Survival. J Natl Cancer Institute, Vol 43, No 6, Dec. 1969

Norris AM, Laing EJ, Valli VE, Withrow SJ. J Vet Intern Med 1992 May; 6(3):145-53

Marmor M, Willeberg P, Glickman LT, Priester WA, Cypess RH, Hurvitz AI. Epizootiologic patterns of

diabetes mellitus in dogs Am J Vet Res. 1982 Mar;43(3):465-70. ..

Verstegen-Onclin K, Verstegen J. Non-reproductive Effects of Spaying and Neutering: Effects on the

Urogenital System. Proceedings of the Third International Symposium on Non-Surgical

Contraceptive Methods for Pet Population Control

Martin RB, Butcher RL, Sherwood L,L Buckendahl P, Boyd RD, Farris D, Sharkey N, Dannucci G. Effects

of ovariectomy in beagle dogs. Bone 1987; 8:23-31

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