Big Dogs Face More Joint Problems if Neutered Early

a small brown, wire-haired dog standing in a grassy field
A new study by UC Davis researchers shows large, mixed-breed dogs are at higher risk of joint problems if neutered early in life. (Getty)

Study Provides Guidance on Best Age to Neuter Mixed Breeds by Weight

By Amy Quinton on August 13, 2020

"Heavier mixed-breed dogs have higher health risks if neutered or spayed early, according to a new study from researchers at the University of California, Davis. The study found mixed-breed dogs weighing more than 44 pounds as adults are at higher risk for one or more joint disorders if neutered before 1 year of age. Dogs weighing up to 43 pounds had no increased risk for joint problems. The study was published in the journal Frontiers in Veterinary Science.

It’s standard practice in the U.S. and much of Europe to neuter dogs by 6 months of age. This study, which analyzed 15 years of data from thousands of dogs at UC Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital, suggests dog owners should consider their options carefully.

'Most dogs are mixed breeds,' said lead author Benjamin Hart, distinguished professor emeritus at the UC Davis School of Veterinary Medicine. 'We hope this study will influence the spay or neuter process in order to give people wishing to adopt a puppy the time to make an informed decision on when to spay or neuter.' 

Researchers examined common joint disorders including hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia and cranial cruciate ligament tears, a knee injury, in five weight categories. They also looked at risks of mixed-breed dogs developing cancers based on weight but found no increased risk in any weight category compared to intact dogs."

Read the full story at UC Davis News

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