Reader Question: Spaying an Older Female Golden Retriever

A Golden Retriever at 12 years old with hip pr...
A Golden Retriever at 12 years old with hip problems (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A reader commented on my post On Cancer and Spaying or Neutering Your Golden Retriever and I thought he raised a few good questions.  Was wondering if anyone had any advice for him.  I have only owned male goldens, so I can’t offer any personal advice.

I am currently fostering a 7 yr old golden who supposedly was a breeder dog. In order to go ahead and adopt her. ( She had some health issues we were fostering her for), she also needs to be spayed. My questions are 1. What are the risks at this age ? 2. Does she really need to be spayed from a health standpoint since she will be staying with us forever at this point. Do dogs still go into heat at this age?

Some points are we have other dogs and everyone including the golden get along perfectly by the way.
I guess my main question is is that is it worth the risk to get her spayed for the sake of getting her spayed?

Does anyone have any advice for Mike?


5 thoughts on “Reader Question: Spaying an Older Female Golden Retriever

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  1. Hi Mike –
    I have been a breeder of goldens for over 25 years.
    Dogs do not have a menopause. Therefore, she will have heats as long as she has her girl parts as long as she lives.
    A spay surgery poses no unusual surgical risk at 7 compared to doing it at 1. What matters is the current health of the dog at the time of spay/neuter regardless of the dog’s age. Your vet should advise you of her particular health risk for any surgery.
    Unless you are able to keep her safe during her heats, please spay her. Keeping her safe means that for 3 weeks (twice a year or so) she will need to be in your company away from male dogs 100% of the time. I have seen male dogs rip a chain link kennel apart or chew through a door to get to a female in heat. I have known folks to have their girls slip from their grasp before the leash was put on to dart out the door and run off with a stray suitor. You have no idea how strong the drive to breed is at that time.
    Spaying her will change her coat, she will no longer shed out her undercoat and need more grooming. Sometimes removing the hormones will also make the girls more prone to bladder leaks and infections in old age. Her metabolism will slow and you will need to adjust her diet.
    As far as minimizing cancer risk – no uterus, no uterine cancer. At this age there really is no benefit for other cancers as she has already been exposed to the risky hormones and some studies have shown an increase risk of cancer in the older dog following spaying.

    Here is our history on the girls we have spayed after retirement from breeding: Tessa was spayed at 8, she lived to 16.5. Nellie at 8, she lived to 13. Blaze – 8, died the same year from aflatoxin poisoning not related to spaying. Blaze’s breeder spayed Blaze’s mother at 9, she lived to 16. All other breeding females I have known have remained intact after retirement from motherhood, and they had heats until they died.
    There is no way to know what is in your dog’s health future or whether or not spaying at this age will make her life shorter. You must evaluate your ability to keep her safe and evaluate her current health status as a risk of surgery.
    As far as the increase risk of cancer issue, I don’t know. The study makes me wonder.

  2. I work for a holistic veterinarian and agree 100% with what was stated above. It’s the smart thing to do for your girl.

  3. Thanks for the info mary. I am retiring my 6 year old female Maisie from breeding. I want to spay her now (about 1 month since she had her last heat) I retired my last breeding Golden “Madison”, Maisie’s mother at 8 years old. Sadly Madison dies of stomach cancer at 9’1/2.

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