Every good German Shepherd owner should know, or should want to know the ins and outs of spaying or neutering their German Shepherd.
Things like what the best age is to neuter or spay, the pros and cons, behavior changes, and access to case studies about neutering and spaying are all important to consider when making the decision for your dog.
We’ve listed and discussed those things below so you have somewhere to start in getting an idea of what it’s all about.
(NOTE: this is a general information guide only, and is not professional advice, or a substitute for professional advice. A qualified vet or animal expert is the only person qualified to give you expert advice in regards to your pet/s, especially when it comes to spaying and neutering)
German Shepherd Neutering and Spaying: Info Guide
Difference between neutering and spaying your dog
Spaying refers to the removal of a female dog’s reproductive organs while, as the word is commonly used, neutering refers to the procedure in males.
What Is Spaying?
“When a female dog is spayed, the vet removes her ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus. Spaying renders a female dog no longer able to reproduce and eliminates her heat cycle. Any behavior related to breeding instincts may or may not cease, says the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA). The procedure is also known as an ovariohysterectomy.”
What Is Neutering?
“When a male dog is neutered, both testicles and their associated structures are removed. Neutering renders a male dog unable to reproduce and any behavior related to breeding instincts, like humping, may or may not cease, the AVMA says. The procedure is also known as castration.”
What Is Sterilising?
Spaying and neutering are de-sexing techniques that remove the sex hormone secreting tissues and the dog can no longer re-produce.
Sterilising is keeping the sex hormone secreting tissues, but the dog can no longer reproduce.
In a male dog a vasectomy can be performed where the tubes from the testes that conduct sperm are severed – this is called a vasectomy.
In a female the ovaries can be removed – this is called a ovariectomy.
These are not as common as spaying and neutering.
German shepherd spaying age – when is the best time to spay a german shepherd female?
A dog can be spayed any time after 8 weeks.
Generally, a vet might recommend you spay your German Shepherd between 6 months to 9 months – this is most common.
BUT, some vets and some breeders think that with German Shepherds who are large breed dogs – your dog may benefit from being spayed later in life as sex hormones can contribute to a longer and higher quality of life.
Check with your vet what is best for your dog.
German shepherd neutering age – when to neuter german shepherd male?
The same goes – a dog can be neutered any time after 8 weeks.
Most veterinarians might recommend neutering at 6 months of age up to 9 months, and this is fairly standard and most common.
Check with your vet what is best for your dog – some male German Shepherds may be better served not being neutered until older after their sex hormones and growth plates have had a chance to take affect.
What factors can affect when a German Shepherd is spayed or neutered?
Whilst 6 months is generally the standard age for most family owned pets to be spayed or neutered, there are factors that might affect this:
- German Shepherds are large breed dogs. Large breed dogs tend to mature later than smaller breeds. As a result, a German Shepherd may be spayed or neutered at an older age after certain growth hormones or growth plates have had the chance to take affect. A large breed dog may be more susceptible to orthopadic or joint issues if they are spayed or neutered too early
- If you have female and male puppies living in the house, the dogs may be spayed or neutered earlier before the female goes into heat
- If you only have one in tact dog in the house (a dog with their sex hormone secreting tissue still in place), there is less reason for the dog to be spayed or neutered earlier unless they are trying to escape the house, the female is dropping blood around the house, the male is overly dominant or sexual, and so on
- A spay clinic or a dog shelter may spay or neuter a dog at 8 weeks old
- If a dog is not in general good health, or other tests like blood tests return unfavorable results – a vet may choose not to spay or neuter the dog until the dog is in better health. Overweight and older dogs are at a higher risk of complications too. It is up to the vet and the owner to decide when the best time to spay or neuter is
How much does it cost to spay or neuter a German Shepherd?
A low cost clinic might spay or neuter for anywhere from $45 – $135, while an animal hospital might cost anywhere up to $300.
Recovery from Spaying or Neutering for A German Shepherd
Your vet should tell you how long recovery should take, and what you need to do during the recovery/healing process. Here are some precautions to consider by the ASPCA:
- Provide your pet with a quiet place to recover indoors and away from other animals.
- Prevent your pet from running and jumping for up to 2 weeks following surgery, or as long as your veterinarian recommends.
- Prevent your pet from licking the incision site, which may cause infection, by using an Elizabethan collar ( a cone)
- Avoid bathing your pet for at least 10 days after surgery.
- Check the incision site daily to confirm proper healing. Redness, swelling or discharge are signs you might want to contact your vet
- Call the vet if the dog is uncomfortable, lethargic, eating less, vomiting or has diarrhea
- If your vet recommends pain medication – make sure you feed them to your dog as required
One way to gauge a dog’s recovery is that if the dog is comfortable and energetic enough to play, and the incision site looks healed, he or she is probably doing okay.
Pros and Cons of Spaying or Neutering A German Shepherd
Pros and Benefits of Spaying and Neutering
- There are thousands of homeless dogs in shelters and rescues across the world – spaying and neutering helps combat this issue, and means less dogs have to be euthanised because there is no one to care for them
- If a female is spayed before her first heat, the likelihood of uterine infections and breast tumors decreases later on in their life
- Neutering a male prevents testicular cancer and some prostate problems.
- Females won’t go into heat during breeding season – can include inconsistent temperament, barking, urinating and dropping blood
- Males and females less likely to try to escape the house
- Males less likely to mark their territory with urine, mount other dogs and objects and less likely to show aggression
- Spaying and neutering is much more cost effective than a female getting pregnant and you having to raise the litter
Cons of Spaying and Neutering
- Large breeds that are spayed or neutered too early can experience physical issues like an increase in joint problems or hip dysplasia issues as they age
- Some vets argue that the sexual hormones like testosterone and oestrogen give dog’s a better quality or life and sometimes longer lives
- Spayed and neutered pets do have a lower calorie requirement – so you’ll need to watch more closely what you feed them and ensure they are getting exercise
- Female dogs who are spayed might be at higher risk of urinary incontinence
German shepherd spaying and neutering behavior change and aggression
Spaying or neutering just decreases the level of sex hormones in your dog, but doesn’t eliminate it altogether.
Females won’t go into heat, while males may settle down and decrease territory marking by urination, mounting and sometimes aggression problems.
Generally, there shouldn’t be a long term behavior change in a dog after spaying or neutering as far as the personality of the dog goes.
Whilst the genital area could be slightly sore to touch immediately after surgery (a cone placed around the neck and over the head will prevent your dog from licking or biting this area and making it worse) and this could be a trigger point for short term aggression – this should go away after the area heals.
Evidence or Opinions AGAINST early spaying or neutering at a young age
So, we do know it is up to a dog owner and their vet
But, we do know most pet owners get their dog spayed or neutered at around 6-9 months of age – and this is generally considered the industry standard.
But, is there any evidence AGAINST getting your dog spayed or neutered this young, or at all?
You might like to check out this video by Dr. Karen Becker, who discusses her experience in spaying and neutering dogs.
In particular, at around the 9:50 minute mark, you will hear her speak about her experience with a female dog of hers who she got from a rescue, and she only spayed her at 7 years of age – that dog went on to live to 17.
Link to video – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=enPCZA1WFKY
Spaying and Neutering Case Studies and Data
There are few case studies which have officially tracked dogs throughout the entirety of their life after having a spay or neutering procedure, and tracked their health and behavior.
But, Petmd put together a very interesting article by way of the AKC Canine Health Foundation, which is called ‘When Should You Get Your Dog Spayed or Neutered?‘.
In this article they have data from several individual studies where they provide feedback on:
- Why dogs are usually spayed or neutered at 6 months to 9 months of age
- Effects of spaying or neutering on health
- Effects of spaying or neutering on behavior
If you look at page 2, there are some interesting results for the German Shepherd breed when it comes to the chance of Mammary Neoplasia and Hip Dysplasia both decreasing and increasing respectively after spaying and neutering.
Leema kennels also has put together some data regarding German Shepherd spaying and neutering.
What MIGHT be the best age to get a German Shepherd spayed or neutered based on the case study data?
This is only speculation based on case study data, but it could be:
- A female dog might be spayed at less than one years old if you want to decrease the risk of mammary cancer
- A male dog might be neutered at older than one year old if you want to decrease the risk of Hip dysplasia
Talk to your vet about what is best for your individual dog – and make the decision based on the data you provide and your vet’s professional opinion.
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