The question of when you should neuter or spay your Cane Corso is important for all owners. It should be noted that many problems may arise if you were to neuter or spay your Cane Corso at a time that's not ideal. So, timing becomes important.
Research in the last few years has shown that the standard guideline for spay/neuter at 6 months of age may no longer be appropriate. There are potential health risks for dogs treated at this young age. In particular, increased risk of certain cancers and joint problems. Spaying/neutering your Cane Corso at 18 months or 2 years of age is likely to be a better choice.
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In this article, we will fully explore the age at which you should spay or neuter your Cane Corso. We'll also look at the benefits and risks for your Cane Corso, and the consequences of spaying and neutering at different ages and weights.
Reasons For Spaying Or Neutering Your Cane Corso
There are two popular arguments for spaying or neutering your dog. The first is to prevent unwanted pregnancies. There is little doubt that there is a problem with over-population of dogs in America, and many other places. It is widely thought that spaying/neutering is therefore an ethical responsibility for a pet owner.
However, there is a counter argument to this. Those opposed to spaying/neutering say that responsible dog owners will ensure that their dogs are properly controlled, and not allowed to roam free and add to the over-population problem.
The second reason, widely quoted by vets, is that there are health benefits. Specifically, that spaying/neutering reduces the risk of certain types of cancer.
However, a study undertaken by UC Davis showed that the reverse may be true: "Some dog breeds have higher risk of developing certain cancers and joint disorders if neutered or spayed within their first year of life"*
The argument in favor of spaying/neutering your Cane Corso will be found everywhere For example, many dog daycare owners will not accept puppies who are not spayed or neutered. And many vets, breeders, and trainers will encourage you to spay or neuter your dog.
At What Age Should You Neuter a Cane Corso?
Neutering is when the testes are removed from a male dog. And the answer to this question is not universally agreed. The standard advice is to neuter your Cane Corso at 6 months old.
The UC Davis researchers concluded that it is standard practice to neuter dogs by the age of six months. However, they note that there are certain issues involved, which we shall cover later in the article. Neutering your Cane Corso at this young age has definite drawbacks.
Dr. Danielle Rastetter** says that the growth plates are not fully closed until 14 months of age, for the average dog. Accordingly she recommends not spaying/neutering until 18 months or 2 years of age.
At What Age Should You Spay a Cane Corso?
Spaying is when the the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus of a female dog are removed. It is recommended to spay a Cane Corso bitch if you do not want her to have puppies. This surgery is typically recommended for bitches before their first heat cycle.
So, at what age does this translate to? Most vets recommend spaying your dog at around 6 months old, just like male Cane Corsos.
However, just as with neutering, there are risks and downsides with performing this procedure too young. We will look at this further, a little later in this article.
Should You Always Spay or Neuter Your Cane Corso?
No, there are some cases where you should not spay or neuter your Cane Corso. Neutering or spaying your Cane Corso has some drawbacks. In particular, if you neuter/spay your Cane Corso at the typically recommended age of 6 months old, they are more likely to develop some complications. It is also not advised to spay your Cane Corso if they are pregnant or nursing.
Does Spaying/Neutering Increase Risk Of Joint Disease?
Yes, spaying or neutering your Cane Corso may increase their risk of developing joint disease. In particular, spaying or neutering a Cane Corso before they are 12 months old can increase the risk of hip dysplasia.
The situation is different for small dogs and large dogs. The research done by UC Davis found that neutering dogs weighing more than 43 pounds before the age of one year could result in joint disorders.
“The smaller breeds don’t have these problems, while a majority of the larger breeds tend to have joint disorders"*
Clearly, your Cane Corso will fall into this category, because a Cane Corso will inevitably weigh more than 43 pounds by the time it is 6 months old.
In particular, spaying or neutering a Cane Corso before they are 12 months old can increase the risk of hip dysplasia or ligament problems.
(1) Hip Dysplasia
Hip Dysplasia is a condition in dogs where the hip joint is not formed correctly. This can cause problems with movement, and in severe cases, may require surgery. The typical advice to spay or neuter your Cane Corso at 6 months old is likely to increase risk of developing hip dysplasia.
(2) Ligament Problems
Ligament problems can occur when the ligaments that hold the bones in the joint together are damaged. This can cause pain, immobility, and even joint dislocation. The Cane Corso dog breed is particularly susceptible to ligament problems and, again, spaying or neutering at 6 months old is likely to increase the risk of these problems.
Does Spaying/Neutering Increase Risk of Cancer?
Spaying or neutering your Cane Corso before they are 12 months old may increase their risk of developing cancer. In particular, spaying or neutering a Cane Corso before their first heat cycle may increase their risk of developing mammary cancer as well as ovarian cancer.
Research done by Dr. Hart of the University of California found out that spayed and neutered mixed-breed dogs were more prone to develop some form of cancer. It was also found that spayed or neutered purebreds of medium or large size were more prone to developing cancer than those of small size.
Spay/Neuter Effect Of Behavior
Some people believe that spaying or neutering your Cane Corso will make them lazy and obese. However, there is no scientific evidence to support this.
While many people claim that neutering or spaying your dog might change their behavior, the American Kennel Club found out that there was, in fact, little change.
Spaying or neutering might however make your dog controllable and less aggressive especially when they meet other sexually receptive dogs. For male Cane Corsos that have aggressive territorial behaviors, neutering may make them calmer, but this change occurs in only around 30% of dogs.
Summary — Pros And Cons
Spaying or neutering your Cane Corso is a big decision to make. If you are going to do this, it is best not to spay or neuter your Cane Corso too young.
Pros Of Spaying Or Neutering Your Cane Corso
There are some benefits to spaying or neutering your Cane Corso. Neutering your male dog can help to reduce the risk of prostate cancer. Spaying or neutering your dog can also help to reduce the number of stray dogs and puppies, as well as the number of dogs that are euthanized every year.
Spaying a Cane Corso bitch before her first heat cycle significantly reduces her risk of mammary cancer, and prevents uterine or ovarian cancer entirely. Spaying your Cane Corso female before her first heat cycle also reduces the risk of urinary incontinence.
Neutering could also reduce the aggression of your Cane Corso. But, as we saw above this will only affect a minority of dogs.
Cons Of Spaying Or Neutering Your Cane Corso?
There are also some potential problems spaying or neutering your Cane Corso. Spaying or neutering your dog may increase the risk of obesity and urinary incontinence, especially in female dogs. In male dogs, neutering can increase the risk of some types of cancer when done before the age of 6 months. Spaying or neutering your Cane Corso can also increase the risk of developing joint disease.
Spaying Or Neutering Our Cane Corsos
It was 14 years ago when we first became Cane Corso owners. The studies and academic research on spay/neuter did not yet exist. The prevailing opinion was still to spay/neuter at 6 months of age. This was the advice we received, and we knew of no reason to question it. So for our guys, it was 6 months.
Our female Cane Corso suffered from hip dysplasia and our male had panosteosis.
Hip dysplasia can’t be accurately diagnosed until about 2 years of age, so we can’t be sure if spaying her at 6 months had anything to do with it.
As soon as we discovered she had hip dysplasia, we were careful to avoid any activity which might make it worse. No jumping, we lifted her in and out of vehicles. No long walks. We watched her weight and kept her slim. Thankfully it doesn’t seem to have had much effect on her life.
And panosteitis is fairly common in large breeds. And, at 130 lbs, our male Cane Corso was certainly that.
But one thing is for sure — if we had known then what we know now, we would have held off on spaying and neutering until they were 18 months to 2 years of age. Just as the recent research suggests.
Alternatives To Spaying Or Neutering
Dr. Rastetter offers ovary-sparing spaying, for female dogs, and vasectomies instead of neutering, for males. These procedures avoid many of the potential long-term health problems of the standard procedures.
These alternatives are not yet widespread, but the benefits are such that it is worth asking vets in your area.
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* When Should You Neuter Your Dog to Avoid Health Risks?
Amy Quinton July 15, 2020
** Why Dr. Rastetter Offers Ovary Sparing Spays and Vasectomies
Health risks of spaying and neutering
Dr. Karen Becker
Dr. Becker: The Truth About Spaying and Neutering