Thursday, November 12, 2015

Early Spay & Neuter, Vasectomies, Ovary Sparing Spay....the many choices - what to do???

This is a topic I have struggled with morally. Since I began breeding Labradoodles over 12 years ago, I believed in and have done ES & N (Early Spay & Neuter).  It has been sanctioned as a successful, safe and noninvasive method to prevent unplanned puppies. It is the responsible route breeders take so shelters are not burdened and puppies do not suffer at the hands of puppy mills. I supported this surgery 100%....until now.

As with all things, it takes time for research to make discoveries and PROVE them. Many products are sold in the market only to be recalled after years of documentation show probable health ramifications. With regard to sterilization, I have read numerous articles over the years but the provability was not solid and too many questions left unanswered. I simply was not convinced, I am now.

With this new information, ADNE will only do vasectomies on all males and ovary sparing spay on the females at 9 weeks of age. These new and innovative procedures allow the hormones to continue to nourish the bones, tissue, brain and cellular layers for your pup to fully achieve structural and mental integrity. This is not without some caveats however. Both genders will 'think' they can breed. Males will still show mating behaviors with females and females may have a vulva enlargement but no discharge during normal 'heat cycles'. However, neither will be able to produce puppies.

Why have I made these changes? The scientific articles and research cannot be ignored any longer. The results are solid - puppies with ES & N have had some issues regarding growth plates and muscular development; along with some cruciate fragility. There is no doubt, reducing the hormonal flow by ES & N has had a negative impact. The studies show that there is a slightly higher incidence of joint issues, some small increases in cancer types and longer leg bones.  Each breed reacts differently to the percentage increases: Golden Retrievers, Rotties, Labs, Bernese Mountain Dogs are all prone to cancer and bone issues, so keep that in mind. On most of the studies, the above breeds were heavily used.

It is my desire to make the best decisions I can with regard to the health of the puppies produced here at ADNE. After numerous talks with my incredible repro vet, Dr. Jen Estle of Broadview Animal Hospital, she has agreed to due vasectomies and OSS on my pups which I am grateful for. There are very few vets willing to do these types of surgeries because they are not 'traditional'. Thank goodness for those vets willing to see the benefits of cutting edge surgical procedures and have the skill to implement them.

Wouldn't it be wonderful if our country's mindset was more in line with the Europeans and Scandinavians where vets will not do sterilization at all on dogs or cats - yet the pet population lives in harmony with very responsible pet ownership?

Here are some links to peruse regarding my change in sterilization methods:

There are many, many more articles, just use Google and type in your question regarding vasectomies or ovary sparing surgery.

I know that some breeders use contracts as a choice but ADNE will not do this because accidents happen. Children leave a door open, a phone rings, a wayward male jumps your fence - life is a bowl of accidents waiting to happen! It is my responsibility to prevent unwanted pregnancies in my pups and the best method I know right now for both health and sterility is with the above procedures.

Although many articles suggest that traditional sterilization is common at 6 months, I strongly suggest that if you wish to do this second surgery that you wait until your pup is past a year for the best health benefits. My purpose for changing to vasectomies and OSS is for long term health of your intended companion. To not wait the year or more defeats this strategy in it entirety.


  1. You definitely piqued my interest on this topic when you mentioned it quite a while ago. I have always thought this might be the best compromise for the health of the dog and a guaranteed method of reproduction prevention.

    Will the male dogs exhibit behavior that we sometimes associate with intact dogs, such as marking? As a breeder, can you tell us if it is true that intact dogs mount, mark, etc...? Will dogs who undergo a vasectomy/OSS exhibit the same types of behaviors as intact dogs? Or is it only a myth that intact dogs have many more behavior problems than altered dogs? I see a lot of conflicting information on these questions on the web, but you are probably better able to give us the correct info for your doodles.

    1. This is cutting edge surgery and the vets who will do it are far and few. My repro vet is forward thinking and will do this type of surgery. Hence, my actual experience is limited to articles that I have read with no personal input...yet!

      I can tell you that I live with five females and at any given time, I have a couple who will hump each other. A quick voice command ends the 'happy dance'. :+)

      With OSS and vasectomies, both progesterone and estrogen (hormones) remain with the dog so yes, the behaviors may or may not exhibit based on whether or not you are training your pets well. These procedure only prevent pregnancies.

      I deliberated long and hard and have read articles regarding this subject for years because longevity and health are very important to me. This decision was based solely on your ADNE companion's longevity and health. Training and socialization is critical to a pet's success in this world and that is part of responsible pet ownership. My job is to stay informed on the best methods to satisfy both - breeder and pet owner.

      So, will a vasectomized male still mark? Maybe, if allowed to do so. Will he be interested and want to mate a female in heat? Yes, so don't allow him to roam. Will he become aggressive? It is possible, but no more than any other dog that is not being socially trained. Will females seek out a male for breeding? Yes. If mounted, will she stand? Yes, but this could cause trauma for her due to the removal of the cervix and uterus, so do not allow her to be in this situation.

      This new form of surgery has many, many health benefits as the articles I posted show. Does it require a more vigilant eye on your dogs when a situation arises, yes. We live in a society of leash laws. I can see no difference on how you manage doodles with this surgery than a full surgery except in a dog park (which I do not recommend anyway).

      I am not a 'size fits all breeder'. Decisions like this one does not come lightly. However, my purpose is for the doodles health first and foremost. ALL dog show participants of the Westminister or Cruft Dog shows we watch are fully intact dogs that have been trained to behave under many stimuli; and most do wonderfully. That is commitment to training.

      Give your doodle a year to grow and develop to its best potential and then do a traditional spay/neuter if you are so inclined but I bet most will be very happy with the knowledge that their doodle will have a longer, healthier life if they don't.

    2. Thank you for the long reply. I was wondering how much of the behavior issues were exaggerated. You are so right in that nothing replaces training. I have liked the idea of V/OSS ever since you introduced the concept earlier.

      Funny Story. Sundog was spayed by her breeder. However, there have been a couple of studs I've met at agility that I swear were batting their eyes at her. It happened on a regular basis with one stud in class and once with another stud at a trial. They must think she is one foxy little lady. She really made the owner of a poodle stud mad at an agility trial because he could not keep his eyes off her. As a courtesy, I removed her from the immediate area while he ran his course. Of course, being the proper little lady that she is, she completely ignored the smitten studs. And their owners did have control, so there was no attempt at wooing by the gentlemen. But to see the lovesick look in their eyes. Oh my!

    3. Some dogs are just 'interested' no matter what surgeries were performed, they simply have a strong drive. My girls are all spayed that live with us and they still have humping desires and I have never had a stud live here! It is the animal world and we need to both respect and accept certain traits. Those that are undesireable, need stronger training to focus back on you. You are far better to focus on that than to weaken their endocrine system.

    4. I love how you always do such great research! You are always at the forefront with what is best to have our furry friends healthy and with us for as long as possible.

    5. I enjoy reading and learning what is on the horizon for a healthier pet.