What Is The Best Age To Neuter A Shetland Sheepdog?

Updated April 13, 2021

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 Shetland Sheepdogs.

While the paper isn’t perfect (more on that later), it does provide the first evidence for Shelties 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):

HDCCLEDAt Least One
Male < 6 months1/5 (20)0/5 (0)0/5 (0)1/5 (20)
Male 6 – 11 months0/14 (0)0/14 (0)0/13 (0)0/13 (0)
Male 1 year0/2 (0)0/2 (0)0/2 (0)0/2 (0)
Male 2 – 8 years0/4 (0)0/4 (0)0/4 (0)0/4 (0)
Male Intact0/31 (0)0/31 (0)0/31 (0)0/31 (0)
Female < 6 months0/7 (0)0/7 (0)0/8 (0)0/6 (0)
Female 6 – 11 months0/21 (0)0/21 (0)0/21 (0)0/21 (0)
Female 1 year0/7 (0)0/7 (0)0/7 (0)0/7 (0)
Female 2 – 8 years0/15 (0)0/15 (0)0/15 (0)0/15 (0)
Female Intact0/19 (0)0/20 (0)1/20 (5)1/19 (5.26)
Joint disorders. For ages 1 through 11 years and for each neuter period: no significant findings.
LSAMCTHSAOSAAt Least One
Male < 6 months0/5 (0)0/5 (0)0/5 (0)0/5 (0)0/5 (0)
Male 6 – 11 months1/14 (7.14)1/14 (7.14)0/14 (0)0/14 (0)2/14 (14.29)
Male 1 year0/2 (0)0/2 (0)0/2 (0)0/2 (0)0/2 (0)
Male 2 – 8 years0/3 (0)0/4 (0)0/4 (0)0/4 (0)0/3 (0)
Male Intact1/32 (3.13)1/32 (3.13)0/31 (0)0/31 (0)2/33 (6.06)
Female < 6 months1/8 (12.5)0/8 (0)1/8 (12.5)0/8 (0)2/8 (25)
Female 6 – 11 months1/21 (4.76)0/20 (0)0/21 (0)0/21 (0)1/20 (5)
Female 1 year0/7 (0)0/7 (0)0/7 (0)0/7 (0)0/7 (0)
Female 2 – 8 years0/15 (0)0/15 (0)0/15 (0)0/15 (0)0/15 (0)
Female Intact0/20 (0)0/20 (0)0/20 (0)0/20 (0)0/20 (0)
Cancers. For ages 1 through 11 years and for each neuter period: no significant findings.

One female spayed at 6-11 months and two spayed at 1 year developed UI.

Summary: The Best Sheltie Spay & Neuter Times

There is minimal evidence that Sheltie health problems are influenced by the age of neutering. Owners of either sex are therefore free to choose the age of desexing that suits them best.

Recommendation: 6 months for both sexes.

Problems With This Study

The authors 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 the Sheltie at least, they’ve made the decision a lot easier.

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

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By Andrew Spanner BVSc(Hons) MVetStud, a vet in Adelaide, Australia. These articles are from a series regularly posted on email and Twitter. Subscribe via email here to never miss a story!

Andrew

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