We feel compelled to write this follow-up article after the first one written two years ago on the topic of spaying or neutering your Golden Retriever puppy. I am motivated by the numerous calls we get from wonderful Golden owners whose hearts are broken and pockets empty. I know that may sound pitifully uncompassionate, so let me explain. A very common scenario from a caller asking about one of our upcoming litters often goes something like this…
Caller: “Hello, I was calling about one of your upcoming litters of Golden Retriever puppies. We recently lost ours and are looking to find a replacement because we miss him (or her) so dearly.”
EnD: “Oh my, we are so sorry to hear of your loss and we know it must be hard as you are going through this process.”
Caller: “Yes, we were so attached to our Golden. He was just like an endeared family member and had the sweetest personality ever. We just don’t know if we will ever be able to find one like him again…”
EnD: “We understand. They hold a piece of our hearts and when we lose them, it feels like a piece of our heart goes with them. May I ask how did your Golden pass?”
Caller: “Well, we bought him as a puppy from a breeder when he was only a couple of months old, and this was about 6 years ago. About a year ago we took him to our Vet because he was having some health issues and the Vet diagnosed him with a disease that we elected to treat. He underwent several surgeries and was on a regimen of medications for the past year, but in the end we lost him to the disease.”
Caller: “Yeah, it has been a rough period for us these past 6 months while we’ve been mourning his loss, but now we think we are ready to get another Golden, and hopefully a healthier one.”
End: “Well, we’ll try and help you in whatever way we can, what questions do you have for us?"
Caller: “Well, we just want a healthy pup that will live longer than 6 years. We spent so much money in Vet bills trying to save our Golden and we have no regrets about that, but we would like to make sure we are buying from a reputable breeder with healthy bloodlines. Our Vet told us that the terminal disease of our Golden was probably due to defective bloodlines or poor genetics from the parents, so that has made us a little more skeptical this time. So, can you tell us anything about your Goldens to help us have confidence in the puppy we would be buying?”
End: “Mmmm… Well please don’t think I’m trying to skirt around your question, but can I ask you another question about your Golden?”
EnD: “Was your beloved Golden neutered?”
Caller: “Yes! At the recommendation of our Vet, we had him neutered when he was about 6 or 7 months old.”
And the conversation continues on… But when we hear that a Golden owner lost their beloved pet at such a young age, we always ask these same questions, and remarkably, the answers are often the same or very similar to what you read in the dialogue above. The average age of a Golden Retriever is 9 to 11 years according to some statistics. But we think the average age should be much longer than that if certain steps are taken throughout the life of your Golden. Before we say anything else, we want to strongly urge our readers to watch this video prepared by a licensed veterinarian in another state whom we have never met or done any business with. After we first watched her presentation a number of years ago, we were shocked! Please watch it for yourselves before reading what we have to say next…
Although the opinions and practices in veterinary communities across the U.S. are slowly changing (very slowly, unfortunately), there is a great deal of evidence that has been determined by medical research over the past 10-15 years confirming that many health issues in dogs prior to 7 years of age, most notably and especially in Golden Retrievers, are caused by early spaying and neutering practices by most veterinarians (between 6 and 8 months of age). Before a puppy has a chance to develop physiologically, the hormone production system is completely removed and the puppy is forced to finish out its development without hormones, which are absolutely essential to a puppy’s healthy development. Research has shown that early spaying and neutering is often the cause of early failure of various internal organs, premature bone and joint issues, and various kinds of cancers affecting the bones, blood, skin, and internal organs.
But many veterinarians are quick to point fingers at breeders for using breeding dogs with unhealthy genetics in their bloodlines. And, we must admit that this may be true to some degree in more recent years because many breeders these days make irresponsible choices and do absolutely no research in choosing their sires and dams before breeding. A responsible breeder should always put a great deal of time, effort, and expense into the selection of their Goldens who will participate in a breeding program to avoid problems which could result in health defects among the puppies from those litters.
Unfortunately, veterinarians across the U.S. are being throttled by the ASPCA to practice early spaying and neutering. The ASPCA claims to be a champion organization in the interests of dogs and cats, but their real interest is animal population control, even if it means your beloved puppy may end up with premature health issues resulting in a shortened life span. The only thing we have against Vets in this cover up is that 95% of them are unwilling to claim any responsibility for being the real cause of health issues in dogs that they spayed or neutered as a puppy. Instead, they are very quick to point the finger at breeders. Then, to add insult to injury, many vets are all too happy to charge pet owners 1000’s of dollars for all kinds or surgeries, treatments, and medications to treat the problem they most likely caused, and they know full well that people who deeply love their pet will spend that kind of money.
It probably sounds like we are unfairly accusing all veterinarians of being guilty of a crime that is pre-meditated. No, we don’t think it is pre-meditated at all, but more like negligent animal-slaughter, or turning a blind eye to part of their veterinary practice that generates a significant amount of money. And, they are helping a noble cause championed by the ASPCA! So then, why is all of this happening? Well, we think it is for two major reasons:
First, it is a fact that in most major cities in the U.S., there is a dog and cat overpopulation problem and the ASPCA seeks to help get this problem under control. While this may be a worthy cause, it may not have the best interest of your beloved pet in mind. Thus, the ASPCA feels compelled to urge every school of veterinary medicine, every veterinary clinic, every animal rescue, and every pet shelter in all the cities throughout the U.S. to help in this seemingly noble effort by removing any possibility for dogs and cats to breed. There is also a push to get people to adopt from shelters and rescues rather than from breeders. The ASPCA believes breeders are part of the problem since they cannot spay or neuter at an age when their young puppies are old enough to be sold and go to their new homes. Currently, there are U.S. house and senate bills that are being considered which would put 95% of all breeders out of business either by choice or by unreasonable requirements, and the ASPCA is primarily behind this proposed legislation. If this legislation is passed, then by choice we will no longer participate in the breeding of Golden Retrievers, and the ASPCA will have successfully managed to throw out the baby with the bathwater, and torpedo the American Kennel Club.
The second reason is sadly enough, but not surprisingly, money. When you bring your puppy in to your vet for its first check up shortly after you bring it home from the breeder, your vet is probably going to recommend a number of booster shots and treatments that will go on for the next 3 to 4 months and then every year thereafter. Each time you go in, the cost is somewhere between $75 and $200. In many cases your Vet is also going to recommend you buy your pet food from them which will either be Hill’s Science Diet, or Royal Canin with a picture of your dog breed on the packaging. These are two of the most expensive dog foods on the market, but in our opinion two of the worst dog foods you can buy for your dog. Then at around six months of age after all the series of vaccination boosters and other treatments are completed, your vet will most likely urge you to have your puppy spayed or neutered. With the anesthesia, they will charge you around $150 to $300 for this procedure. So now by the time your puppy is 6 months old, you’ve spent between $400 and $1000 on veterinary bills. And if you’ve opted for the recommended pet food sold by your veterinarian, add another $200 to $400 to that bill.
Then comes the bad news 5 to 6 years later when you take you dog in to be looked at for some symptoms you have noticed, and your Vet informs you that your pet has heart disease or cancer of some kind. “But we’ll help you through this,” your Vet says. So they recommend an operation immediately, and then another follow-up operation, along with some expensive medication which is imperative to extend the life of your pet. But you, being completely in love with your furry family member (and the Vet knows this), are not going to deny these necessary expenses. Thousands of dollars later, your beloved pet passes and your Vet offers their sincere condolences, but also says to you, “You may want to touch base with the breeder where you bought your puppy and let them know the puppy died of a disease probably due to bloodlines or genetics.”
But does your Vet think for one moment that they played any part in the loss of your pet because they insisted on spaying or neutering it at too early of an age before it had fully developed? And, that they probably over-vaccinated your pet during the first six years (see )? Not likely, because your Vet profited greatly from your dog’s health issues and your broken heart which wreaks of massive liability on all the veterinarians across the U.S. But the evidence shows they were more than likely the primary cause, not genetics. Does it sound like we have and axe to grind against veterinarians? Not really. We have a vet and we like him and use him often, but not all vets are the same. Some are honest and some, well, not so much when it comes to persuading you to put your money in their pocket; I mean after all, they have their schooling, their vet clinic building, their staff, and veterinary equipment to pay for… and unless your dog is sick, they can’t pay their bills.
Two years ago, we wrote a very informative article on spaying and neutering with much more scientific evidence and references than what we have presented here. That article can be found . But for convenience sake we will repeat a few of our findings from that article below:
Fact: When a dog’s reproductive organs (testicles or ovaries) are removed, the dog cannot produce the hormones that are necessary to develop and maintain healthy bones and muscles (keep in mind that one of the larger and more critical muscles in a dog’s body is the heart). In one study spanning 14 years of research and involving 3062 purebred dogs who developed bone cancer, and an additional 3959 purebred dogs in that same study group who did not develop bone cancer, it was concluded that spaying/neutering increased the risk of bone cancer in large breed purebreds by 200 percent. In another study using 683 male and female purebred dogs that were spayed or neutered before one year of age, it was concluded that both sexes were found to be 25 percent more likely to develop bone cancer than the intact dogs in that study. Imagine all the heartache and blame that gets misdirected when a dog experiences these kinds of health problems which in reality may have been caused from spaying/neutering.
Fact: When a dog’s reproductive organs (testicles or ovaries) are removed at an early age, numerous studies have shown that this can be the cause of cancer. A study in the Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, compiled over a period of 13 years found that “… neutering dogs appeared to increase the risk of cardiac tumors in both sexes”. The results showed that spayed females were five times more likely to suffer tumors of the heart than the intact females in that study. Imagine all the heartache and blame that gets misdirected when a dog develops cancer which may have resulted from spaying/neutering.
Fact: In a study of 759 Golden Retrievers that included both intact males and females as well as others that had been spayed or neutered, almost ten percent of the early-neutered males were diagnosed with lymphoma (cancer in the lymph nodes), three times higher than the males who were intact.
Fact: A survey by the Golden Retriever Club of America of 1444 one-year-old Golden Retrievers, found that those who were spayed or neutered at less than one year of age were significantly taller than those that were spayed or neutered over one year of age. Interestingly to go along with this, other studies have concluded that taller, more lanky dogs were more susceptible to cruciate ruptures and hip dysplasia. The study involving 759 Golden Retrievers (mentioned above) also concluded that five percent of the males and eight percent of the females who were neutered and spayed before one year of age developed cranial cruciate ligament tears, while none of the intact dogs developed this joint problem. The same study also concluded that in the early-neutered males, 10 percent were diagnosed with hip dysplasia, double the occurrence of that found in the intact males in that study.
In conclusion, we strongly urge our customers not to have their puppy spayed or neutered until after two years of age for the welfare and longevity of your beloved pet. We’ve never had a spay or neuter contract in our purchase agreement as many breeders do, but we never will. However, we do want our customers to be responsible pet owners who do not allow their pet to roam the neighborhood off leash. This kind of irresponsible behavior of dog owners causes unwanted pregnancies and too many puppies that are being sold for $50 down at the local Walmart parking lot.
There is probably a little something here which will manage offend everyone, and please accept our apology in advance. Our primary aim is to educate pet owners to be able to make informed decisions on their own without having Vet clinics or the ASPCA make those decisions for you. Your comments (in good taste are welcomed here). Thank you for considering Emery-n-Denise’s Golden Puppies!