The proper age to castrate a male dog is a controversial topic. While castration offers many health benefits aside from unwanted reproduction, there is uncertainty on whether early castration raises the risk of certain cancers and orthopedic complications, especially in large-breed dogs. Dogs can safely undergo castration as young as 6 to 8 weeks, but most veterinarians recommended castration between 6 and 9 months of age.
Benefits of Castration
Aside from preventing unwanted mating and pregnancy, castrating provides various medical benefits for your dog. Testicular cancer, which can be life-threatening, is common in male dogs. The removal of the testes eliminates this cancer risk. Castration reduces the risk of benign hyperplasia, or enlarged prostate, as well as prostatitis, inflammation of the prostate. In addition to medical benefits, castration reduces urine-marking, aggression and roaming.
Early vs. Later Castration
Veterinarians recommend castration between the ages of 12 weeks and 9 months, there are some things to consider, especially if you have a large breed dog. A 1998 study in "Veterinary Journal" shows an increased risk for osteosarcoma when a dog is castrated before reaching 1 year old. Another cancer connected to early castration is hemagiosarcoma. Early castration also shows a possible increased risk of cranial cruciate ligament injuries and hip dysplasia.