Ask A Veterinarian: When Should I Neuter My Boxer?

duke intact boxer puppy in shirt

Clara recently reached out to the Not A Bully veterinary team with a question (and an amazing picture of her puppy in a button-up shirt):

I have a 6 month old male Boxer (Duke), My veterinarian says there are new studies that show it is beneficial to delay neutering a dog until age 1-1/2 to 2 years of age. I believe she said they need the hormones for bone health. What are your thoughts on this?

Also, I’ve lost two Boxers to malignant Mast Cell tumors in spite of surgery and chemotherapy. Do you know if delayed neutering helps with preventing Mast Cell tumors in Boxers… or ANY advice on preventing them? Thank you

Thank you so much for the question, Clara! And thank you for the super cute pictures of Duke!

There are a few schools of thought on the best time for neutering Boxers (or really any medium to large breed dog). In the case of Boxers, some studies have suggested a potential link between neutering and an increased risk of certain cancers, such as mast cell tumors, lymphangiectasia, osteosarcoma, and hemangiosarcoma.

However, the evidence is not entirely consistent, and more research is needed to fully understand the specific risks associated with neutering in this breed.

According to the AVMA (American Veterinary Medical Association) for Boxers, given the breed’s high cancer rates, the recommendation is to delay neutering until 1.5- 2 years of age if possible; this always allows them to reach behavioral and physical maturity.

But that’s not without its own set of problems and delaying neutering can also make dominance behaviors and training more difficult. The longer we wait to neuter, the longer circulating testosterone levels remain high in the body.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, early neutering between 6-12 months of age has proven benefits to decrease testicular and prostatic cancer, as well as unwanted behaviors like roaming, marking, and aggression. As long as we are planning to neuter, a few months of discrepancy may not make a world of a difference.

Please also consider your lifestyle, how training is going or any concerning behaviors that are presenting that may change the timing of the neuter to be optimal for your life and lifestyle. While there is an optimal range, the idea of what’s “best” will depend on the individual dog in most cases.

While neutering early has been associated with an increased risk of certain cancers, it is important to note that the specific risks can depend on factors such as the type of cancer, diet, exercise, and the individual dog’s genetics as well.

I hope that helps!

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