Shecara Bassets Spay / Neuter Recommendations

Spaying/Neutering and your Basset Hound Puppy

© Shelley Klok

 

Spay, neuter, surgically alter, fix, or sterilization, all terms for the removal of the reproductive organs of a dog to prevent the animal from procreating. In today’s world of pet overpopulation, sterilization is an important part of responsible dog ownership. Once proponents of early-age sterilization (before the age of 6 months), researchers are now determining that there are many advantages to delaying the sterilization surgery until the dog has completed the growth phase. Our Basset Hound experience supports these findings, and we’d like to share a little bit of information and provide recommendations for the spay or neuter of your Basset Hound puppy.

 

Sterilization involves the removal of the testicles for male dogs, and the ovaries and uterus in female dogs. In addition to preventing the dog from contributing to pet overpopulation, there are many long-term health benefits for your Basset Hound. There is a marked reduction in the rate of cancer, prostatic in males, and mammary in females, as well as the elimination of testicular cancers in males, pyometra (a life threatening infection of the uterus) and ovarian cancer in females.

 

Traditionally, sterilization was performed before the animal was sexually mature, typically at 6 months of age. The thought was that all of the benefits were realized, without having to have to go through heat cycles in a female, or dominant behaviors tied to sexual maturity in the male. However breeders and veterinarians, typically of larger breeds of dogs, because to notice differences in littermates that were sterilized at an early age, compared to dogs who, due to showing or breeding activity, were sterilized later, once the growth period was over.

 

The process of growth is regulated by the endocrine system and many hormones. Growth plates of the bones respond to these hormones. When the growth plates are ‘open’, growth is occurring, but once the growth plates have ‘closed’, they are closed for good, and no more growth is possible. The removal of the reproductive organs that produce sex hormones means that the balance that regulates growth is thrown off kilter. This results in the growth plates staying open for a longer time, and growing slightly longer than those in their non-sterilized counterparts. Therefore, dogs who are sterilized at an early age are typically slightly longer limbed, lighter in bone, taller and with a narrow skull. The lack of sex hormones also means that they do not mature or ‘fill out’ as a sexually intact dog, and they will retain a puppy-like body structure for life. As each bone in the body has a different growth period, some bones will naturally close earlier than others. When the dog is spayed after only some of the bones have completed their growth, the remaining bones can grow slightly out of proportion to the others, producing a skeleton that is stressed due to lack of balance amount its parts. Anecdotally, there are also health concerns caused by early sterilization, such as incontinence (which may be noticed in Basset Hounds), cardiac tumors, and bone cancer.

 

Every Basset Hound owner wants to do the best they can to ensure a long, healthy and happy life for their pets. Therefore, our recommendation for sterilization of Basset Hound puppies is to wait until 12 months of age. Most Basset Hounds have completed their skeletal growth by 12 months, and while they will still gain mass and fill out, the growth plates have closed. This will result in a strong and healthy skeletal system, as well as the life-long health benefits that sterilization will offer. Be aware though, that males will be fertile, and females will most likely go through their first heat before 1 year of age. Both sexes will need to be monitored for this period to ensure unwanted pregnancies are avoided. While early sterilization will avoid this period of sexual fertility, we believe that by placing our Basset Hound puppies in homes that will be responsible caretakers, providing them with the information and recommendations, they can come to an informed decision which will be of the greatest benefit to the health and longevity of the puppy.