What Is The Best Age To Neuter A Boxer?

Updated July 28, 2022

Whether you call it neuterspaycastrate or desex, the right time to get it done in dogs is a subject of much debate. This is because it varies from breed to breed. Recently, a study was published on the best age for neutering in Boxers.

While the paper isn’t perfect (more on that later), it does provide the first evidence for Boxers on choosing a time of desexing with the fewest health problems. The study compared dogs neutered at different ages for their rates of:

All of these have been suspected to be linked with the age of neutering. Here’s what they found (only bold values are significant, my summary to follow):

Male < 6 months0/30 (0)1/30 (3.33)0/30 (0)1/29 (3.45)
Male 6 – 11 months0/60 (0)1/58 (1.72)0/60 (0)1/56 (1.79)
Male 1 year0/39 (0)1/37 (2.7)0/39 (0)1/37 (2.7)
Male 2 – 8 years0/64 (0)0/62 (0)0/65 (0)0/62 (0)
Male Intact0/217 (0)4/219 (1.83)0/218 (0)4/214 (1.87)
Female < 6 months0/48 (0)1/48 (2.08)0/50 (0)1/46 (2.17)
Female 6 – 11 months0/70 (0)2/69 (2.9)0/70 (0)2/69 (2.9)
Female 1 year0/29 (0)0/29 (0)0/29 (0)0/29 (0)
Female 2 – 8 years0/60 (0)3/58 (5.17)0/60 (0)3/58 (5.17)
Female Intact1/126 (0.79)3/129 (2.33)0/127 (0)3/126 (2.38)
Joint disorders. For ages 1 through 11 years and for each neuter period.
Male < 6 months4/30 (13.33)2/30 (6.67)0/31 (0)0/30 (0)6/28 (21.43) †
Male 6 – 11 months5/56 (8.93)4/56 (7.14)0/57 (0)0/61 (0)9/52 (17.31)*†
Male 1 year5/39 (12.82)7/37 (18.92)1/39 (2.56)0/39 (0)12/38 (31.58)
Male 2 – 8 years1/61 (1.64)3/54 (5.56)2/63 (3.17)0/65 (0)5/51 (9.8)
Male Intact9/210 (4.29)26/224 (11.61)2/214 (0.93)1/218 (0.46)37/213 (17.37)
Female < 6 months1/42 (2.38)6/48 (12.5)0/47 (0)0/50 (0)7/43 (16.28)
Female 6 – 11 months3/68 (4.41)5/68 (7.35)1/67 (1.49)0/70 (0)9/64 (14.06)
Female 1 year3/27 (11.11)2/27 (7.41)0/29 (0)0/28 (0)5/25 (20)
Female 2 – 8 years1/57 (1.75)3/52 (5.77)0/57 (0)0/59 (0)4/46 (8.7)
Female Intact3/126 (2.38)11/132 (8.33)0/125 (0)0/128 (0)14/129 (10.85)
Cancers. For ages 1 through 11 years and for each neuter period. Bold values indicate significance over the intact group. The asterisk (*) indicates when there was significance using the log-rank test, but no significance using the Wilcoxon test. The dagger () indicates significance over the intact group when the early groups (< 6 mo. and 6-11 mo.) are combined.

UI was reported in 1-2% of the spayed females.

Summary: The Best Boxer Spay & Neuter Times

The authors state that Boxers of both sexes should not be desexed until 2 years of age due to the high rate of cancers. However, a look at the data shows that females do not have an increased risk after desexing, and that males desexed at 6-11 months share the same risk as intact males.

Recommendation: between 6 and 12 months for males and one year for females.

This allows for the general trend of later times with higher body weights. It is later with females as they will come into season at 7-9 months, and we want this to settle down completely before surgery.

This is so far the only science we have for the best desexing age in Boxers. Your vet, breeder or online group may have a different opinion based on their experience or personal beliefs. It’s perfectly reasonable to take their advice into consideration as well.

The decision may also be based on other factors such as:

Problems With This Study

In the original paper, the authors appear to make some recommendations based on very limited evidence. I have published the original study data so you can see the actual numbers involved and decide for yourself.

The authors also do not mention the well-known increase in lifespan associated with desexing male and female dogs, which tends to counteract most concerns about specific cancers. The following comment in the paper is a clue that it might also have been true for this population:

Across all breeds the mean age of last entry in the record for neutered males was 5.5 years (range 3.71–6.54), for neutered females 5.7 years (range 4.21–6.97), for intact males 4.9 (range 4.15–7.11), and intact females 4.7 (range 3.41–6.32)

The study tries to also look at the rates of mammary cancer & pyometra in females, but cannot give an accurate assessment for two reasons:

  1. the mean ages listed above are far too young to pick up most cases
  2. pyometra and mammary cancer are rarely referred to university hospitals

Regardless of any concerns, the authors are to be applauded to bringing into focus one of the most common questions from dog owners. For Boxers at least, they’ve made the decision a lot easier.

Related: Best Desexing Age For 35 Breeds | Desexing Choices For Dogs | Costs Of Desexing

Have something to add? Comments (if open) will appear within 24 hours.
By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. Meet his team here.

6 Replies to “What Is The Best Age To Neuter A Boxer?”

  1. It dosen’t seem like that much difference in risk for Boxers who have been de sexed and not as far as cancer goes rought 21% get it either way?

    1. Hi John. Thanks for reading the article closely – it’s why I added the data. Just to say that there is an increased risk doesn’t cover the nuances such as just how much of an increased risk there is. If you look through all of the similar pages, you’ll see that in most cases, this is true. It means that, although the neutering age recommendations we make fit the best available evidence, they should not be seen as hard and fast rules and should be adjusted in light of other environmental and health factors as well.

    1. Hi Hannah. In these cases, we feel that the first heat was clinically silent, but nonetheless happened. Therefore, our recommendation remains the same.

  2. Thanks for sharing these findings! Boxer male–6 to 11 months neuter, now with a lot less ambivalence about it!

  3. Thank you for this clear information. We have a female boxer and were confused by all the studies and recommendations.

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