What is early spay neuter?
Early Spay Neuter, or ESN is a popular procedure which includes the spaying or neutering of a puppy before sexual maturity. Most vets recommend de-sexing your puppy before a females first heat (around 5-6 months). So the difference is 3-4 months, which we, and many other breeders consider minimal when taking into consideration all the benefits that comes from it (plus it's a vet bill that you don't have to worry about). By performing ESN before their first heat, you prevent uterine infections and breast cancer which is fatal in 50% of all dogs (1). "Early-age neutering does not stunt growth in dogs or cats . . . morbidity is lower and recovery is faster than in adult animals. To date, adverse side effects are apparently no greater in animals neutered at early ages (7 weeks) than in those neutered at the conventional age (7 months)" (2).
Animals who have ESN done have a faster and less traumatic recovery and there are less complications during surgery and recovery. Studies done by the University of Florida concluded that spaying or neutering an animal before it has reached sexual maturity has no ill side effects (3). The article cited also gives a history as to why 6 months is considered "normal". They state, "Years ago, when safe pediatric anesthetic techniques were not available, waiting until a kitten (or puppy) was older increased the safety of surgery. Altering no longer needs to be delayed for this reason" (3).
Why we choose esn
Everything we do here at Copper Cloud Labradoodles is for the benefit of our puppies. We do everything we can to give these puppies the best life they can possibly have. We found that ESN falls into that category. By choosing ESN our puppies have a faster and more painless recovery and they are able to heal in a place where they feel familiar, comfortable, and safe. They also get to have their litter-mates and mother right along side them the entire time. We have an extraordinary vet whom we love and trust and performs these operations regularly and without a hitch. We've been going to him since day 1 and couldn't be more pleased with the outcomes. This practice is followed by many experienced breeders with extremely positive results.
Do your own research!
If you are worried about ESN, the best thing we can suggest is do your own research and talk to professionals. We've spent hours doing in-depth research by finding scholarly and unbiased articles with facts and reputable citations and talking to our vet. We found that there are many articles discussing the pros and cons of ESN. However, usually they would compare a dog who has ESN to a dog that was never spayed or neutered instead of comparing a dog who had ESN to a dog that was spayed or neutered around the conventional age or sexual maturity. When researching ensure that they are comparing two de-sexed animals so you get an accurate comparison. Remember, there are always risks that come with any surgery at any age, human or canine, but this is what we found through our experience to be the best and safest way. Do what you and your family are comfortable with, just know we would never do something to our puppies if we felt like it wasn't what was best for them :)
3- Early Spay and Neuter (below)