Best Age to Spay/Neuter a Shetland Sheepdog (Explained)

Best Age to Spay/Neuter a Shetland Sheepdog

Veterinarians usually advise spaying female dogs, such as Shelties, before their first heat cycle, which typically occurs around six months of age. Veterinarians generally agree that the ideal age to neuter a male Sheltie is between six and nine months.

There are lots of health benefits to spaying or neutering your Shetland Sheepdog, but also a few risks to think about. And it’s important to know what to do before and after your dog’s surgery.

Recommended Age for Spaying Female Shetland Sheepdogs

Traditional Recommendation: Spay Before First Heat

Veterinarians have traditionally recommended spaying female dogs before their first heat cycle around 6-9 months old.

Some of the benefits of spaying at a younger age may include:

  • Preventing accidental pregnancies
  • Avoiding heat cycles which can be messy and annoying to manage
  • Potentially reducing the risk of mammary tumors if done before the first heat
  • More convenient timing to spay around other vaccines and procedures

However, recent research indicates that delaying spaying for some breeds may be better in the long run.

New Research: Better to Wait Until Full Maturity

Several recent studies suggest there may be advantages to waiting until a female Sheltie is fully mature between 12-15 months to undergo spaying surgery.

Potential benefits of spaying at an older age include:

  • Allowing dogs to fully develop and grow
  • Potentially reducing risks of orthopedic injuries like cranial cruciate ligament tears
  • May lower the incidence of certain cancers and urinary incontinence
  • Less risk of adverse effects from anesthesia after maturity

Ideal Age Range for Neutering Male Shetland Sheepdogs

Traditional Advice: Neuter at 6 Months

Traditionally, vets advise neutering male puppies by 5-6 months old before they reach sexual maturity. Potential perks include:

  • Preventing accidental litter
  • Eliminating male hormone-related behaviors like roaming
  • More convenient timing for other procedures
  • Avoiding testicular cancers if done before puberty

New Findings: Wait Until 12-15 Months

According to several recent studies, delaying neutering for male Shelties and some other breeds until 12-15 months old shows notable advantages:

  • Allows dogs to reach full growth potential
  • May reduce orthopedic injury risks
  • Lowers chances of some cancers
  • Less impact on urethral sphincter maturity
  • Avoids risks from anesthesia in younger pups

Health Benefits Of Spaying/Neutering Your Shetland Sheepdog

There are several health benefits for spaying or neutering your Shetland Sheepdog. Just a few of them include:

Preventing cancer. Spaying your female Shetland Sheepdog is proven to reduce the risk of breast cancer and other uterine cancers. And neutering your male Shetland Sheepdog will negate any risk of testicular cancer.

Lower levels of testosterone. Male Shetland Sheepdogs who are not neutered will likely have high levels of testosterone in their bodies. This can lead to aggressive behaviors towards other dogs, and even humans.

Fewer prostate issues. Studies show that more than 80% of male dogs who are not neutered will develop prostate diseases of some sort. The higher levels of testosterone in their systems will likely attribute to this rise in cysts and infections.

Lowered hernia risks. Older male dogs who have been left intact (not neutered) have a higher risk of developing perianal hernias. This is because high levels of testosterone may weaken muscles located near the anus and the colon, bladder, or prostate can begin to poke through the abdominal cavity.

Although this sounds like it would look quite dramatic it’s often hard to notice it in dogs — especially Shetland Sheepdogs.The longer it goes untreated, the higher the risk is to your dog, which can then result in risky surgery or even death.

No “heat” cycle. Female Shetland Sheepdogs who are not spayed will enter into cycles of heat where they are fertile. They will actively seek out male dogs to mate with which may lead to them wandering away and getting hurt.

No issues from pregnancy. Risks can come with pregnancy for a Shetland Sheepdog — especially if she is older or has had issues with other pregnancies.

Cons of Spaying/Neutering

Compared to the pros of spaying or neutering your Shetland Sheepdog, the cons are few.

They’ll never be able to breed. If you’re unsure if you want to breed your dog or not consider genetic testing to see if they are a good match to continue the breed or not.

It’s not always cheap. Some veterinarians may offer to spay or neuter your dog at a lower cost because they feel strongly about getting it done. And if you adopt a dog from a reputable organization, they may even include it in the purchase price, or perhaps they’ve done it already.

As a ballpark figure, depending on where you live and what organizations your veterinarian is involved in spaying and neutering can cost anywhere from $50 to several hundred. You may also need to purchase medications to relieve pain and prevent infection. Spaying is a more complicated procedure than neutering so this could come with some extra costs.

Surgery can bring risks. Although low, especially in young, healthy dogs having surgery still brings risks. And there is some evidence that (although still very rare) Shetland Sheepdogs are one of the more common types of dogs to suffer from an anesthesiaallergic reaction. Vets are aware of this and will likely do what they can to screen your dog before surgery.

Recovery time. With surgery comes recovery time. And it may be hard for some dogs to stay still long enough to recover properly. You may have a few days to a week of watching your Shetland Sheepdog to make sure they’re staying quiet and not scratching or biting at their incision site. You may also need to administer oral medications and/or creams to prevent infection and help control pain.

Risks Associated With Spaying/Neutering Too Early Or Too Late

There have been many discussions between professionals over the past decade or so about when the right time to neuter or spay your Shetland Sheepdog (or any dog for that matter) is.

Some animal shelters and breeders will spay or neuter the dogs they have very early (sometimes as young as six weeks old) because they find if they don’t do it before the dog is adopted often it doesn’t get done at all. They state that controlling the animal population outweighs any potential risk of complicationsfrom doing it so early.

Possible risks of spaying or neutering too early include:

  • Developing osteosarcoma
  • Lack of testosterone can inhibit growth in a male dog
  • Urinary incontinence
  • Hypothyroidism

If you have never gotten around to spaying or neutering your Shetland Sheepdog, or if you’ve just gotten an intact dog you may be hesitant to do the surgery on an older dog. It will be worth weighing the risks of your dog continuing the aggressive behavior of trying to mate with another dog with any risks of surgery.

Tips to Prepare Your Shetland Sheepdog Before Surgery

Once you and your veterinarian have decided it’s time to spay or neuter your Shetland Sheepdog you should receive some instructions on how to prepare your dog for surgery.

If your dog needs to catch up on their vaccinations, these will likely be scheduled before the surgery. And you’ll also be told if (and what) you can and cannot feed your dog in the hours leading up to their surgery and if they need any medications beforehand.

Depending on the age and health of your Shetland Sheepdog your veterinarian may also recommend doing some pre-tests to ensure they’re fit for surgery.

Tips to Take Care Of Your Shetland Sheepdog After Surgery

Spaying your female dog is a much more invasive surgery than neutering your male dog, however, the same general recovery steps should be followed. Your veterinarian or their office staff will give you specific instructions on how to care for your Shetland Sheepdog as well as what to watch out for, but here’s a general idea of what to expect.

Environment.

Your dog should be kept confined to a small area for at least the remainder of the day of the surgery, and possibly the day after. You want them to keep them from wandering around.

Over the next few days, you can let them start to wander a bit, but be wary of taking them out for walks or letting them roam freely around the house for about a week after the surgery.

Keep your dog comfortable during this time and put puppy pads or towels in the area because they may not feel up to walking far to use the bathroom for at least the first day or two.

Diet.

Your dog likely won’t be up to eating too much in the first few days. Provide them with small amounts of water at first and work up to a bit more every time they drink. If they can keep water down without vomiting and seem interested in eating food offer them a small amount of food.

If they keep it down you offer a bit more after a while. Repeat this process, gradually increasing the amount of food you give them. Several smaller meals are much easier to digest than one or two big meals for the first few days.

Recovery.

It can take up to two weeks for your Shetland Sheepdog to fully recover after surgery. However, you should see improvement day by day. Monitor their incision at least once a day and consult your vet if you notice any redness or extra drainage from the area. Make sure the area is kept dry.

Mood.

Your dog may be groggy for the first day or two after surgery and will then start to perk up slowly day by day. Don’t expect your dog to get back to their regular behavior for at least a week — possibly two.

Gear.

Your veterinarian will likely give you (or tell you to get) a cone for your Shetland Sheepdog to wear for the first few days (at least) so they can’t bite or lick their incision.

Medications.

Your vet may have given you medications to keep their pain and inflammation under control. Follow the directions for giving these carefully.

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