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Spay / Neuter

Yorkshire Terrier Spaying and Neutering


If you are considering having your female Yorkshire Terrier spayed or having your male Yorkie neutered, it is wise to understand both the pros and cons, how the procedure is performed, healing time and changes to expect afterward. 

With a female spaying refers to when the dog’s uterus and the ovaries are surgically removed. For the male, neutering means that the testicles are surgically removed. It is a common belief that this is only done to stop dogs from mating. While this is one of the end results, there are also other important ways in which this will help your Yorkshire Terrier live a healthier and longer life.

Benefits of Spaying a Female Yorkie:

• Stops the chance of her of getting pregnant. Without proper pre-pregnancy testing (including measuring pelvic width), carrying a litter and giving birth can be exceedingly stressful and even dangerous for a dog. And since dogs do not enter the human equivalent of menopause, females of any age can get accidentally pregnant

• Eliminates her chances of developing ovarian cancer and greatly reduces her chances for developing mammary cancer. This will also decrease her odds of developing ovarian infections. The younger she is when being spayed, the better the chances.

• Cuts down on urges to run away when in heat (some females will actively pursue males)

• Stops possible hormone related mood swings

• Helps with marking issues (90% of the time if a female is spayed before the first heat); keep in mind that territorial females mark just as males do.

Benefits of Neutering a Male Yorkie:

• Eliminates the chance that he could impregnate a female.
• Eliminates the possibility of testicular tumors
• Reduces the risk of prostate disease – This is a very common and serious health issue for male dogs. Roughly 60% of male dogs, that are older than 5 years old and not neutered, show symptoms of an enlarged prostate. Some studies suggest the risk increases (more ahead). 
• Cuts down on territorial marking
• Cuts down on urges to run away (males can smell a female in heat 1 to 3 miles away)


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:

Known Risks

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. 

Possible Risks - 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. 

• Cardiac tumors. There is much debate on this topic. At the time of this writing, essentially just 1 study (by Ware and Hopper - Journal of Veterinary Internal Medicine, March/April 1999) concluded that spaying and neutering increased the risk of cardiac tumors; 4 times greater for females and only slighter greater for males. 

• 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. 

Myths about Spaying and Neutering

The two most common mis-truths about both genders is:

1) 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. 

2) 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. 

The Age this is Typically Done 

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. 
rescued Yorkie in car
For those concerned about growth plate issue and possible urinary incontinence issues, vets will propose waiting until the age of 6 to 9 months. 

How the Procedures of Spaying and Neutering is Performed 

Spaying females is performed by giving the dog general anesthesia. A small incision is made in the abdomen. The uterus is then removed from that small incision. The ovarian ligaments and blood vessels are securely tied. The abdominal tissues are stitched back together in layers (internally). Outside (external) stitches are put in place as well. 

Neutering a male is performed by making an incision in front of the dog’s scrotum. The testicles are then removed through this small incision. The blood vessels are tied off and cut. The incision will either have stitches that dissolve or ones which will need to be removed 10 days after the surgery. 

What to Expect Afterwards

Males will recover faster than females, often getting back to normal in just a few days. With females, it takes about 2 weeks to fully heal. For both female and male Yorkies, water should not be given for 1 hour after the procedure. 

For the female Yorkshire Terrier, it is important that she be allowed to completely rest for 10 days. Though rare, if she shows any signs of vomiting, tremors, pale gums or bleeding, this indicates complications and the dog should be brought to the veterinarian immediately. A female may try to lick her stitches and this can cause infection; therefore, steps can be taken to prevent her from doing so. 

In about 2 weeks, she will have a checkup to make sure all is well and stitches will be removed at that time. 

For a male, there is usually swelling for about 3 days. There may be some light bruising. Discomfort is usually low and most dogs do not need pain medication. The majority of male dogs are ready to play, exercise and run around as normal even just days later; however, to make sure that the incision heals correctly, it is recommended to limit these activities for 2 weeks. 

Spaying/ Neutering Senior Dogs

Some Yorkshire Terrier owners do not see the point of spaying or neutering an older, senior dog. However, doing so may help to extend a dog’s life span. There are several reasons why including: 

• A female may have heat cycles for her entire life. Dogs do not have the canine equivalent of menopause. Since a female can conceive during heat, there is always the chance of an accidental pregnancy. Having puppies in the senior years can be very dangerous for both the female dog and impending puppies. 

• It still decreases chances of cancer. Having this done, even to a senior dog, can be very helpful in allowing him/her to live as long as possible. 

• When a female is spayed, this reduces hormone changes in her body. These changes can affect other health conditions a dog may have including diabetes and epilepsy. 
Things to Do Now:

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