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Reconsidering The Industry Standard Of Spaying And Neutering Very Young Dogs

A puppy dog named Tim.
A puppy dog named Tim.
Photo by Stewart Black via Flickr / Creative Commons

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For years, spaying or neutering your dog as soon as possible has been the law of the land – but some studies in the last few years have shown that for some breeds, completing the procedure too early can have consequences down the line.

The most recent study shows a higher risk of obesity and nontraumatic orthopedic injuries (like ligament tears) in golden retrievers who were spayed or neutered under six months of age.

This supports the idea that spaying or neutering should possibly be delayed for larger dogs, which go through puberty later and therefore may suffer more consequences from the hormone changes associated with being fixed.

Most shelters, however, fix dogs early to avoid contributing to existing animal overpopulation – a problem causing many healthy animals being euthanized.

Larry sits down with advocates on both sides to debate the issue.


Kelly Diehl, senior director of science and communications at Morris Animal Foundation, a nonprofit organization investing in science to advance veterinary medicine for dogs, cats, horses and wildlife; she is a veterinarian and co-authored the recent study “Age at gonadectomy and risk of overweight/obesity and orthopedic injury in a cohort of Golden Retrievers” (July 17, 2019)

Lisa Lange, senior vice president of communications at People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), the largest animal rights organization in the world; she oversees PETA’s “Let’s Fix L.A.” program