Most veterinarians agree that the benefits far outweigh the risks and this is something that you’ll want to discuss with your Yorkshire Terrier’s vet. There are some possible risks that every owner needs to consider:
• Urinary incontinence for females. There is a known increased rate of urinary incontinence (weak bladder) with spayed females. Of female dogs that are spayed, approximately 20% will develop incontinence sometime during their lifetimes. Incontinence can develop shortly after the procedure or many years later. Many vets suggest that waiting until the age of 3 months will cut down on the chance of later developing this.
- For these listed possible risks, many veterinary experts admit that there is not enough supporting research to conclude if any of these risks are valid.
• Increased rate of other cancers.
Again, there is much debate about this. Some studies show that spaying and neutering prevent cancers. Others studies show it increases the risk. Specifically, some studies have concluded that spay/neutering increases: Osteosarcoma (a type of bone cancer), bladder and prostate cancer (a 2002 study showed prostate cancer was 4 times more likely to develop with neutered males; a 2007 study showed both were 3 to 4 times more likely) and lymphoma (studies show a very slight risk of increase for spayed females).
• Delay in growth-plate closure.
This refers to growth plates closing later than normal, leading to possible increase of bone fractures. It may also lead to a dog growing a bit larger than he/she would otherwise. Just as many vets agree than those that disagree. It is generally accepted that growth plates may close a bit later (12 to 18 months later), though this equals a difference of just millimeters seen on x-rays.
Neutering a dog will automatically make him depressed, lose strength or decrease his activity level. This is a myth. Studies have shown that male dogs do not act out any mating behavior unless they are moved by their own hormones in reaction to a female dog that is in heat. When neutered, it does not trouble a dog that he cannot mate as the urge is gone. A male Yorkshire Terrier will behave normally in all regards of activity and in having endurance to exercise.
A dog will automatically become overweight and/or lazy. This is a myth. When given the appropriate amount of food and exercised properly, Yorkies will not have any noticeable changes in weight or activity.
Most Yorkies should be spayed or neutered before the age of 1 year old. Studies show that a female’s best chance of good health is to be spayed before her first heat;
typically at the age of 3 to 4 months old. The odds of developing mammary cancer increases even if the dog goes through one heat and increases as each future heat cycle is allowed to happen.
However, even if an owner waits, having this done at any age will have benefits. With a male Yorkie, this is typically done before he reaches puberty. This way, there is not a chance for habits such as marking to be established. The age of puberty will be from between 4 and 6 months old.