Controlling the homeless pet population is important to our communities, and at Prairie Animal Health Centre we believe it’s vital to prevent unwanted litters of puppies. However, a growing body of evidence points to some potential health risks of sterilizing your pet too early, especially for larger breed dogs.
Two different studies—one at the conducted at the Cornell University College of Veterinary medicine and another at the University of California-Davis—showed that large breed dogs who were spayed and neutered before 12 months of age had an increased risk of hip dysplasia, and an elevated incidence of cranial cruciate ligament (ACL/knee) tears or ruptures. This is believed to happen because altering a pet before sexual maturity interferes with hormones needed for proper bone development.
While the sample size of dogs was small, we do believe there’s enough correlation to avoid altering a dog before 12 months for large breed dogs only when there is little chance your pet will be able to wander to find other intact pets or become pregnant.