So, you’ve finally brought home that English Springer Spaniel pup and look forward to a long and happy life with him. And, while giving that puppy all the love you can spare, you suddenly remember that you may need to neuter him at some point, but you’re not sure when. Here’s what I’ve recently learned.
The most common advice is to neuter your springer spaniel once he has reached puberty, or somewhere between four and nine months. A veterinary study conducted in 2020 found that male springer spaniels are safe to neuter at almost any age. Still, the optimal time is six to eleven months.
Like most medically related topics and discussions, you can find yourself falling in and out of the proverbial Matrix when researching the internet. There are many different opinions, understandably compounded by strong subjective emotions. Nevertheless, inside the boiling pot, there are a few essential facts you should know.
The Optimal Age To Neuter Your English Springer Spaniel
We all just want to do what is best for our furry kids, and that’s the main reason why the topic of neutering (males) and spaying (females) can turn contentious.
Some will advise neutering as early as possible; others will advocate delaying the procedure. Some even insist on leaving the dog intact.
The Risks Of Neutering Your English Springer Spaniel Too Soon
I was perhaps one of many people who used to believe in the rule of thumb that you get your dog neutered at six months on the dot. No earlier, no later.
And while this may be a safe estimate for many breeds, especially smaller ones, it comes with some adverse risks.
Much like male humans, a dog’s testicles are responsible for testosterone production. Testosterone isn’t merely what governs your dog’s sex drive or aggression; it is also a vital male hormone that impacts the development and maturing of your doggo.
As you can probably guess, removing the source of testosterone before the dog has reached maturity, can have some detrimental effects on his development.
Imagine it like building a house; inside the mix of cement is testosterone. Suppose you remove that ingredient before actually completing the house. In that case, you risk using weaker cement for the last few layers of bricks.
In practicality, the risk of using weaker cement in the building of a dog runs the risk of him developing certain types of cancers, joint issues, and urinary and prostate problems.
These risks differ from breed to breed; fortunately, Springers fall into the low-risk category. However, their risk of contracting disorders is slightly higher if you neuter them under six months.
There are also claims of drastic personality changes, but little scientific evidence supports or denies that risk.
Nonetheless, it would make some logical sense that if you remove the testosterone fountain too soon, your dog ought to be much more docile. Perhaps too docile if you were trying to raise your Springer Spaniel to be a guard dog (which may be a challenge with any Springer).
The Risks Of Neutering Your English Springer Spaniel Too Late
You may think that to avoid all of the risks, you will simply neuter your pup as late as possible. And while, in some instances, there could be some benefits to that, it doesn’t remove the risk.
For some breeds, the risk of cancers and disorders might increase if you neuter them too late. Unfortunately, Springers fall into that category. Their highest risk period to neuter is between 12 and 23 months, where the study found they had a 10% disorder risk and 9% cancer risk.
Relative to other breeds, these risks are still minimal, but it is worth noting that this is the highest risk period for Springers.
The other risk of leaving your pup intact for too long is that you may just lose the most significant benefit of neutering. What I mean is your baby boy could just “accidentally” end up siring a few babies of his own.
The Best Age To Neuter You English Springer Spaniel
The risk of disorders increases below six months, and the risk of both disorders and cancers increases after twelve months. So the best age is between six and eleven months, with nine months being the potential optimal.
However, it is always best to chat to your vet during the entire proses. Having this data at your disposal is great, but your vet is the expert here.
It is also worth noting that the veterinary study found no risk for disorders or cancers for dogs neutered after 2 years, but then you may as well leave them intact.
Can You Leave Your English Springer Spaniel Intact?
At this point, you’re probably asking yourself, “why even neuter my dog at all? Can’t I just leave him intact?”
Well, the only answer I can give you is “maybe.”
Leaving a dog intact doesn’t actually eliminate health risks. In fact, it comes with its own little menu of risks, with the chef’s special being prostate cancer. And the risk of an unneutered dog contracting prostate cancer is higher than a neutered dog contracting one of those associated cancers.
In other words, there are instances where leaving your dog intact is a greater health risk. As far as cancer goes, this is, unfortunately, the case for English Springer Spaniels.
Other risks include your dog becoming aggressive, marking his territory against your leather sofa, and coming home with a bag full of puppies.
Another vital element to look into is your local laws. For example, where I live, there is talk of it becoming a legal requirement to neuter or spay your pet unless you are a registered breeder.
Alternatives To Neutering Your English Springer Spaniel
While the medical procedure of neutering is relatively simple and low risk, there are alternatives to consider if you are not all that excited about castrating your doggy.
The first option is a vasectomy, which actually gets done on male humans regularly as well. It is the process of removing, tying or cutting the tubes from the testes. Severing that connection also removes the dog’s ability to reproduce but leaves his little hormone generators in place.
Keep in mind that it also leaves the attached risks of those hormones in place.
Your dog won’t know that he can’t breed, so he will still be chasing after females in heat and raising his leg around the yard.
The second option is chemical castration, a bi-annual injection that halves your dog’s testosterone levels. In some countries like Norway, neutering via surgery is illegal, so they all use the chemical solution.
There is a lower risk of English Springer Spaniels contracting the cancers and disorders commonly associated with neutering. But, there is a small chance that they can develop disorders if they are neutered too early (before six months) and cancers if they are neutered too late (after 12 months).
As a result, the best time to neuter your dog should be between six and eleven months, or somewhere around the nine-month mark. You could decide to leave your dog intact, but increased cancer risks are also involved. Therefore, it is best to always consult your vet and get their expert opinion on your dog’s health.