Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers

Department of Population Health and Reproduction, School of Veterinary Medicine, University of California-Davis, Davis, California, United States of America.
PLoS ONE (Impact Factor: 3.23). 02/2013; 8(2):e55937. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0055937
Source: PubMed


In contrast to European countries, the overwhelming majority of dogs in the U.S. are neutered (including spaying), usually done before one year of age. Given the importance of gonadal hormones in growth and development, this cultural contrast invites an analysis of the multiple organ systems that may be adversely affected by neutering. Using a single breed-specific dataset, the objective was to examine the variables of gender and age at the time of neutering versus leaving dogs gonadally intact, on all diseases occurring with sufficient frequency for statistical analyses. Given its popularity and vulnerability to various cancers and joint disorders, the Golden Retriever was chosen for this study. Veterinary hospital records of 759 client-owned, intact and neutered female and male dogs, 1-8 years old, were examined for diagnoses of hip dysplasia (HD), cranial cruciate ligament tear (CCL), lymphosarcoma (LSA), hemangiosarcoma (HSA), and mast cell tumor (MCT). Patients were classified as intact, or neutered early (<12 mo) or late (≥12 mo). Statistical analyses involved survival analyses and incidence rate comparisons. Outcomes at the 5 percent level of significance are reported. Of early-neutered males, 10 percent were diagnosed with HD, double the occurrence in intact males. There were no cases of CCL diagnosed in intact males or females, but in early-neutered males and females the occurrences were 5 percent and 8 percent, respectively. Almost 10 percent of early-neutered males were diagnosed with LSA, 3 times more than intact males. The percentage of HSA cases in late-neutered females (about 8 percent) was 4 times more than intact and early-neutered females. There were no cases of MCT in intact females, but the occurrence was nearly 6 percent in late-neutered females. The results have health implications for Golden Retriever companion and service dogs, and for oncologists using dogs as models of cancers that occur in humans.

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Available from: Ben L Hart, Oct 07, 2015
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    • "These diVerences can be explained by variations in cultural diVerences and attitudes towards neutering, and diVerences in economic status in rural and urban locations (Berthoud et al., 2011; Torres de la Riva et al., 2013). DiVerences in the rate of neutering have been reported between the United States and Europe (Trevejo, Yang & Lund, 2011; Torres de la Riva et al., 2013). One US study reported the prevalence of castration at 82% in cats and 64% in dogs (Trevejo, Yang & Lund, 2011). "
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    ABSTRACT: Background. Failure among pet owners to neuter their pets results in increased straying and overpopulation problems. Variations in neutering levels can be explained by cultural differences, differences in economic status in rural and urban locations, and owner perceptions about their pet. There are also differences between male and female pet owners. There is no research pertaining to Irish pet owner attitudes towards neutering their pets. This paper identified the perceptions of a sample of Irish cat and dog owners that influenced their decisions on pet neutering. Methods. This study was conducted using social science (qualitative) methods, including an interview-administered survey questionnaire and focus group discussions. Data was coded and managed using Nvivo 8 qualitative data analysis software. Results. Focus groups were conducted with 43 pet (cats and dogs) owners. Two major categories relating to the decision to neuter were identified: (1) enabling perceptions in the decision to neuter (subcategories were: controlling unwanted pet behaviour; positive perceptions regarding pet health and welfare outcomes; perceived owner responsibility; pet function; and the influence of veterinary advice), and (2) disabling perceptions in the decision to neuter (subcategories were: perceived financial cost of neutering; perceived adequacy of existing controls; and negative perceptions regarding pet health and welfare outcomes). Discussion. Pet owner sense of responsibility and control are two central issues to the decision to neuter their pets. Understanding how pet owners feel about topics such as pet neutering, can help improve initiatives aimed at emphasising the responsibility of population control of cats and dogs.
    PeerJ 08/2015; 3(e1196). DOI:10.7717/peerj.1196 · 2.11 Impact Factor
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    • "In addition to reporting the occurrence of the three joint disorders and the three cancers, an analysis of cases with at least one of the joint disorders, or at least one of the cancers, was plotted graphically (Figures 1 and 2). The findings on the Golden Retriever closely resemble the picture presented in the earlier study drawn from this same database with a somewhat smaller data set [14]. "
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    ABSTRACT: Our recent study on the effects of neutering (including spaying) in Golden Retrievers in markedly increasing the incidence of two joint disorders and three cancers prompted this study and a comparison of Golden and Labrador Retrievers. Veterinary hospital records were examined over a 13-year period for the effects of neutering during specified age ranges: before 6 mo., and during 6-11 mo., year 1 or years 2 through 8. The joint disorders examined were hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear and elbow dysplasia. The cancers examined were lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumor, and mammary cancer. The results for the Golden Retriever were similar to the previous study, but there were notable differences between breeds. In Labrador Retrievers, where about 5 percent of gonadally intact males and females had one or more joint disorders, neutering at <6 mo. doubled the incidence of one or more joint disorders in both sexes. In male and female Golden Retrievers, with the same 5 percent rate of joint disorders in intact dogs, neutering at <6 mo. increased the incidence of a joint disorder to 4-5 times that of intact dogs. The incidence of one or more cancers in female Labrador Retrievers increased slightly above the 3 percent level of intact females with neutering. In contrast, in female Golden Retrievers, with the same 3 percent rate of one or more cancers in intact females, neutering at all periods through 8 years of age increased the rate of at least one of the cancers by 3-4 times. In male Golden and Labrador Retrievers neutering had relatively minor effects in increasing the occurrence of cancers. Comparisons of cancers in the two breeds suggest that the occurrence of cancers in female Golden Retrievers is a reflection of particular vulnerability to gonadal hormone removal.
    PLoS ONE 07/2014; 9(7):e102241. DOI:10.1371/journal.pone.0102241 · 3.23 Impact Factor
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    • "In accordance with literature [19], there appeared no sex predisposition for general tumour development. The data provided by the submitting clinic did not consistently included neutering status or date of neutering, prohibiting an examination on the potential effect of age of neutering on tumour occurrence as published recently [29]. "
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    ABSTRACT: A genetic predisposition for certain tumour types has been proven for some dog breeds. Some studies have suggested that this may also be true for the Golden retriever breed. The present study aimed to examine a possible existence of a tumour (type) predisposition in the Dutch population of Golden retrievers by evaluating annual estimated incidence rates compared to incidence rates from previous publications. A second aim was to evaluate whether incidences of various tumours differed as related to the diagnostic method chosen, being either cytology or histology. Tumours submitted to Utrecht University during the period 1998-2004 diagnosed either by means of cytology (n = 2,529) or histology (n = 2,124), were related to an average annual Dutch kennel club population of 29,304 Golden retrievers.Combining individual tumours from both the cytological and the histopathological data-set resulted in an annual estimated incidence rate of 2,242 for 100,000 dog-years at risk regarding tumour development in general.The most common cytological tumor diagnoses were 'fat, possibly lipoma' (35%), mast cell tumour (21%) and non-Hodgkin lymphoma (10%). The most commonly diagnosed tumours by histology were mast cell tumour (26%), soft tissue sarcomas (11%) and melanoma (8%). Both the cytological and histopathological data-sets, showed variation; in patient age distribution, age of onset and incidence of various tumours. Comparing our data with previous reports in non-breed-specified dog populations, the Golden retriever breed shows an increased risk for the development of tumours in general, as well as an increased risk for the development of specific tumour types, including the group of soft tissue sarcomas. Variations in age, location and incidence of various tumours were observed between the two data-sets, indicating a selection bias for diagnostic procedure.
    BMC Veterinary Research 01/2014; 10(1):34. DOI:10.1186/1746-6148-10-34 · 1.78 Impact Factor
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