NEUTER / SPAY
There is always a lot of debate and controversy as to whether one should neuter / spay their dog and if so when is the best time to do it. But it most certainly is an important one to give a lot of thought to, especially when it comes down to the long term joint health of your dog and particularly with respect to IVDD in dachshunds.
Why is it important?
Hormones are part of the dog’s endocrine system that helps develop your dachshund to full maturity. Estrogen in particular is required to ensure the growth plates close. Stripping these important hormones before maturity and before bone growth (known as the epiphyseal plates fusing together) has fully completed can lead to long term joint problems and affect a young dog’s ability to tolerate increased levels of exercise without damaging its growing bones and muscles. So if you are considering having your dachshund neutered / spayed we recommend that you do not do this before 12 months of age.
Research articles have been written including the Dachslife 2015 Lifestyle Survey which was conducted by the UK Dachshund Breed Council where some statistically significant results came to light. The odds of a neutered dachshund suffering IVDD over the age of 3 is nearly double (1.8x) than that of an entire dachshund and neutering under the age of 12 months has higher odds of IVDD than neutering /spaying over the age of 12 months. In 2018 further evidence of this association also reported in a peer-reviewed paper: Neuter status as a risk factor for canine intervertebral disc herniation in Dachshunds.
Whilst this does not mean there is a direct cause and effect relationship between neutering and IVDD, it does coincide with a study that was conducted on Golden Retrievers whereby early neutering / spaying contributed to hip dysplasia. You can read more about this here Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers.
There are also other significant health reasons not to neuter / spay before maturity, but because dachshunds have a high heritable 1:4 chance of getting IVDD then it is particularly important that we allow the important growth hormones to fully develop the skeletal system.
It is also important to note that many vets are not aware of the latest emerging evidence therefore often advise to neuter / spay as early as 6 months however with all the recent research emerging it is advisable to wait.