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German Shepherd Dogs are important in police and military work, and are a popular family pet. The debilitating joint disorders of hip dysplasia, cranial cruciate ligament tear (CCL) and elbow dysplasia can shorten a dog’s useful working life and impact its role as a family member. For this study, veterinary hospital records were examined over a 14.5-year period on 1170 intact and neutered (including spaying) German Shepherd Dogs for joint disorders and cancers previously associated with neutering. The diseases were followed through 8 years of age, with the exception of mammary cancer (MC) in females that was followed through 11 years. The cancers followed, apart from mammary, were osteosarcoma, lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma and mast cell tumour. In intact males, 7% were diagnosed with one or more joint disorders, while in males neutered prior to a year of age, a significantly higher 21% were diagnosed with one or more joint disorders. In intact females, 5% were diagnosed with one or more joint disorders, while in females neutered prior to a year of age, this measure was significantly increased to 16%. The increased joint disorder incidence mostly associated with early neutering was CCL. MC was diagnosed in 4% of intact females compared with less than 1% in females neutered before 1 year. The occurrence of the other cancers followed through 8 years of age was not higher in the neutered than in the intact dogs. Urinary incontinence, not diagnosed in intact females, was diagnosed in 7% of females neutered before 1 year, a significant difference. These findings, profiling the increase in joint disorders associated with early neutering, should help guide the timing of neutering for this breed.


open access article