It’s hard to know when to spay or neuter – or if you should at all. Here’s the best veterinary advice for your Boston Terrier.
So you’ve decided to spay or neuter your Boston Terrier? – but when?
Often called getting your dog Fixed or Done (nomenclature that bugs me, because, fixed, implies broken, which is kinda mean!), the majority of dogs have this minor procedure performed upon them at a young age. Usually on a veterinary recommendation.
I know when Indie was little, I was told: “Six months, on the dot” – which is common advice given across America and Europe. If you ask the Internet (i.e. Facebook) usually recommendations say later and say a minimum of twelve months.
But is that even right? Or is it founded in any sort of science?
With this conflicting information, how are you meant to know? Trust your vet? Do as your family has always done? Or trust the rando on the internet who appears to know it all.
None of that seems to be a good idea when the potential consequences of these procedures are rumoured to be some of the scariest diseases and ailments a dog can face… Cancer, Hip or Elbow Dysplasia, and other rotten afflictions like pyometra. All of this is the result of removing the availability of hormones…
Luckily, research has come forward which is not just size specific, but breed-specific for 35 breeds! So, here we’re going to discuss the ideal times for spaying or neutering your dog.
First, let’s do a little housekeeping…
What is Neutering?
This is the surgical castration of a male dog – usually by the removal of his testicles (sorry for making you cringe, gents!). This process means that your male dog cannot breed and that they are no longer producing hormones that are important to your dogs’ development – both emotionally and physically.
What is Spaying?
Similar to neutering, spaying is a form of surgical castration that removes the ovaries and most often the fallopian tubes along with it. This means your girl cannot breed, but it also means she is missing some critical hormones.
This process can be done in a ‘keyhole’ surgery at extra cost, though it is much better for recovery times.
So when is the best time for my Boston Terrier?
Male – Beyond 1 year
Female – It’s your choice!
It’s so curious, unlike a lot of breeds, the number of intact males spikes dramatically to 53% of the male population… that’s huge!! Which, to me, says that this information is pretty darn trustworthy.
Generally speaking, it’s quite a small sample size for both genders, so this information should be only a component in your decision. Consider everything that you can and use this to paint a larger picture!
What Are The Risks?
Here’s a quick overview of what the study says the breed suffers from depending on when their surgical castration (Spay or Neuter) was performed. The aim of providing this information is about giving you all the information to make the best decision.
Disorders include – Cranial cruciate ligament tears or ruptures, Hip Dysplasia, Elbow Dysplasia
Cancers include – Lymphoma, Hemangiosarcoma, Mast Cell Tumours, Bone Cancer (Osteosarcoma),
|Disorder risk||Cancer Risk|
|Male||Under 6 months||0%||10%|
|Male||6 to 11 months||0%||12%|
|Male||12 to 23 months||0%||0%|
|Male||2 years to 8 years||0%||8%|
|Female||Under 6 months||0%||6%|
|Female||6 to 11 months||0%||3%|
|Female||12 to 23 months||0%||0%|
|Female||2 years to 8 years||0%||0%|
- For intact females, 7% reported Pyometra
- Urinary Incontinence was reported 2% in early spayed female
- Mammary cancer was reported at 2% in intact females
- Mammary cancer there was a non-significant increase of cancers, reflecting one case, with spaying at under 6 months and 6-11 months
Genuinely? The statistics here have astonished me.
With the popularity of Bostons? I expected more health issues, but it appears that the issues with Bostons aren’t things that can vary with the spay or neuter of your dog (which is really lucky!) Instead of the given conditions within this study, the issues (according to the OFA) are deafness, eyes and Patellar luxation – The last? Is something that may be impacted, but it’s not something that this study reviewed.
Are there other options?
If you’re doing what I am doing and looking at this research and reconsidering? It’s good to know that there are other options available.
Yes! On the presumption that these issues are caused by the lack of hormones (which is almost certainly the issue!) – there are a couple of ways to keep hormones but not facilitate breeding.
This is the surgical removal of the uterus and only part of the fallopian tubes! The removal of these means that your girl is without the ability to breed – however – as she keeps her ovaries, hormones will still be produced and should mean that her risk levels are the same as an intact female – without the risk of pyometra! Though, there is a risk that the breeding instinct can remain? Which may be quite risky if a male tries to breed with her.
The tubes that run from the testes are called the vas deferens – these are what get cut or removed in this instance – rendering your dog without the ability to impregnate a female. It leaves his hormones (and likely his desire to breed as a result) but also means that your dog should have the same risk factors as an entire male.
Did you know that surgical castration is not legal in Norway? Consequently what is common in Sweden, Denmark, and Norway is chemical castration which is an injection your dog will have to have every six months that drop the levels of testosterone by approximately half. Which is proven to be effective in temporary neuter for your dog. This means you can actually test what castration might do to your dog and is often how it’s used in the UK and America – but it’s also a fantastic way of not putting your dog through surgical procedures.
About the Study
The study “Assisting Decision-Making on Age of Neutering for 35 Breeds of Dogs: Associated Joint Disorders, Cancers, and Urinary Incontinence” (Hart BL, Hart LA, Thigpen AP, Willits NH) was released in July 2020 – it covers 35 different breeds – and a separate scientific paper for mixed breeds. The study followed a total of 15,414 dogs over 15 years of recording;
- The age of the dog when neutered or spayed
- Disorders including:
- Cranial cruciate ligament tears or ruptures
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- Pyometra (females only)
- Urinary incontinence (females only)
- Intervertebral disc disorders (Corgis & Dachshunds only)
- Cancers including;
- Mast Cell Tumours
- Bone Cancer (Osteosarcoma)
- Mammary Cancer (females only)
General Thoughts Across The Study
I find it incredibly interesting that there is breed-specific deviance. Prior to this, I was very much of the camp that it was simply a case of variations for dogs of different size brackets – but that appears not to be the case.
For example, a male Labrador (for whom I would have assumed were not dissimilar to Boston Terriers) actually have the best results when neutered at 6 months – yet the females prefer a slightly older age (When Should I Spay Or Neuter My Labrador is here by the way!).
So it’s really worth doing your research about these things.
As always? There’s not quite enough information to make a totally informed decision (yay for variables!) but, you can definitely get a good idea of it.
It is worth noting that this study is a fantastic guideline – and one of the most solid pieces of research we’ve had – it doesn’t take into account many factors that I would imagine should be considered. The limitations I see are as follows;
- Multiple conditions were not recorded if they fell in the same category,
- Genetics were not considered,
- Living conditions were not considered,
- Food quality was not considered,
- The exercise a dog had was not considered,
- Body condition was not factored in because it had been studied previously and no strong correlation was found between body condition and joint issues.
The biggest thing I can say is, that whilst this is the scientific recommendation for when to spay or neuter your Boston Terrier do remember that at the end of the day? This is your decision. You are the only one who can make this decision. So, do your best – you’ve already found a phenomenal resource – just keep reading.
If you have any questions about spaying or neutering your Boston Terrier, drop them in the comments below! I’ll soon be doing a spay/neuter Frequently Asked Questions, which should help!
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Author, Ali Smith
Ali Smith is the Positive Puppy Expert, dog trainer and is the founder of Rebarkable. She is passionate about helping puppy parents get things right, right from the start. To help create a puppy capable of being a confident and adaptable family member and keep puppies out of shelters.
Ali has won multiple awards for her dog training, and has had her blog (this blog!) rated as 2021 & 2022 worlds’ best pet blog!
Thanks to depositphotos.com for the images!
Is it recommended that Boston Terriers be spayed? What are the pros and cons and what is your expert opinion? Will spaying prevent cancers or will it increase cancers in healthy dogs of this breed that are healthy. I am conflicted about this. I love my fur baby more than anything and want her to live as long as possible. Research shows that certain breeds, like Golden Retrievers, should not be spayed or neutered.
actually that’s not accurate for boys! This information comes from the same study. But when we’re talking about boston’s I’d really recommend you reach out to your breeder about any historical rates of problems (if appropriate). If that’s not an option, I would take a conservative approach and pick a part of her development where she’s nice and even in temperament. For example after the second fear phase at around 18 months is likely best from a dog behavioural point of view.
I hope that helps!
What is the healthiest for my male Boston terrier? Do you recommend neutering? He is six months now.
Hey Linda! Per the article and the study? Over 1 year would be ideal!
What is the healthiest for my male Boston terrier? Do you recommend neutering? He is six months now. When we had boxer dogs we did not have them neutered.