Complications With Cryptorchidism in Dogs

by Connie Jankowski

    Because most pet dogs should be neutered in the first 6 months of age, cryptorchidism rarely becomes a problem. But the condition, the state of one testicle or both testicles failing to descending into the scrotum, occurs in some male dogs, and it can cause health problems for those who aren't neutered.

    Most male dogs drop their testes by about 8 weeks of age -- you should ensure a male's testes are descended before purchasing. Even if a dog's testes aren't descended, for most pet owners, the issue becomes insignificant at neutering. Neuter surgery for a cryptorchid dog surgery can be slightly more complicated than that for a non-cryptorchid dog, and possibly more expensive; but overall the extra consequences are negligible. However, dog enthusiasts who wish to show their dogs in conformation or those who are considering dogs for breeding purposes should rule out the purchase of cryptorchid puppies.

    In addition to reproduction and appearance issues, cryptorchid dogs who are not neutered can be more likely to develop serious medical conditions, such as torsion of the testicle and testicular cancer. When a testicle is retained in the abdomen, it can twist and cut off blood supply to the testicle, causing severe pain for the dog. Neutering is the prevention and solution for this condition. Neutering prevents testicular cancer from occurring. "Testicular cancer is the second most common tumor in older dogs. Cryptorchid males are up to 13 times more likely to develop testicular cancer than normal dogs," according to the University of California at Davis' veterinary school's website. Clearly, neutering is the best choice for cryptorchid dogs.

    Breeders hope to produce litters with show prospects that will be the future of the breed. Discovering that an apparently outstanding male specimen must be neutered takes a toll on a breeding program. In rare cases, a testicle will descend late, as late as age 16 weeks. Some veterinarians offer medical interventions, but there are no guarantees that the treatments will influence the testicles to drop.

    Cryptorchidism can occur in any breed. The condition is considered an X-linked, autosomal-recessive trait., according to Becky Lundgren, DVM. "If an animal is cryptorchid, he should not be used for breeding," Lundgren wrote for VeterinaryPartner.com. Certain breeds seem to exhibit a higher incidence of the problem. They include poodles, Yorkies, Pomeranians, huskies, Shelties, Chihuahuas, German shepherds and bulldogs. Breeders should closely watch for the condition in the lines they breed. As with any fault, dogs with this condition should not be allowed to breed.

    About the Author

    Connie Jankowski began writing in 1987. She has published articles in "Dog Fancy" and "The Orange County Register," among others. Areas of expertise include education, health care and pets. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in communications from the University of Pittsburgh.

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