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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Spaying, Neutering and Cancer in Rottweilers

Updated: November 20th, 2018

Okay everyone, today I am going outside the realm of politically correct. You will see me do this from time to time, and some readers are not going to like it. Sorry, but I want to present information, and I don’t care if it is not PC if it saves lives.

As a vet, I am trained to promote spaying and neutering so dogs in shelters are not euthanized (killed) before they find homes.  This is sensible wisdom, and I agree.  But guess what… whenever we intervene with a surgery, medication, or a supplement, there are effects on our dogs.  And some of these effects are called “side effects”, because we don’t like them.

A little background first: Osteosarcoma is a brutal, aggressive cancer of the bone, common in large dogs such as Rotts, Wolfhounds, Goldens are more.

Here is some information that has been more or less kept under wraps, or has not been spread in the veterinary community for whatever reason:

If a male Rott is neutered before a year of age, his rate of osteosarcoma ALMOST QUADRUPLES.

If a female Rott is spayed before a year of age, her rate of osteosarcoma MORE THAN TRIPLES.

If a purebred dog is spayed or neutered before a year of age, his or her rate of osteosarcoma MORE THAN DOUBLES.

This information has massive ramifications, especially among owners of Rotts.

These figures were taken from an article in Cancer Epidemiology Biomarkers and Prevention, Nov. 2002.

To be sure, spaying and neutering saves lives, especially those of dogs in shelters and those in need of homes.  But we must not be rigid in our thinking, because the “facts” of today are not those of tomorrow.

It’s my viewpoint that Rotts should be spayed and neutered after a year of age. Just my two cents, friends.


Dr Dressler


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  1. Louise on June 6, 2018 at 8:29 am

    My 12y7m old rottweiler had a gdv operation in October 2017 and they found some cancer and told me to put her to sleep… I refused as she has so much life in her. Today 6 June 2018 we had another episode of bloat but due to her tummy being stiched onto her ribs we could get all the air and water out with a tube they placed into her tummy. Now my question is, she is a anxious dog and when I get home from a trip to the shop she is like a puppy whom haven’t seen their mom for a week. I’m a stay at home mom….. how can I get her to chill out and not stress so much at this age as it is making the bloat return. She ain’t reday to be pts so I’m not giving up on her until she is done with living.

  2. Hi on February 26, 2017 at 10:18 pm

    […] The reason we waited was to let her develop to try and reduce the risk of bone cancer in later life:Spaying, Neutering and Cancer in Rottweilers – Dog Cancer Blog Our vet was very keen to get her spayed after 6/8mths, i spoke to our breeder he explained none of […]

  3. Old Army Dog on December 28, 2016 at 7:46 am

    I have decided to pay for vasectomies for my Males. I rescue Rotties but I also have a few Pitt mixes and the puppy I have now is just over one year and he will be my first to NOT castrate. I firmly believe the hormone connection is real and so Ill spend the bucks to have the dog I rescued grow old and lively.

  4. Leslie on October 26, 2011 at 5:19 pm

    I am so glad I found this info. I had a male rottie growing up and he died of bone cancer. I now have an 11 month old rottie and want to get him neutered. I wasn’t sure what age would be best. I didn’t want to do it too early and keep him from filling out, but didn’t want to wait to long and have him get aggressive. I didn’t even know that age would be a factor in his chances of getting cancer. I am definitely going to wait now. Is there an ideal age for neutering to assure maximum growth potential?

  5. Cricket on September 7, 2011 at 5:14 am

    Dr Dressler,
    I just put my 25 year old BFA parrot to sleep yesterday. he was diagnosed with hermangiosarcoma. I left him with my vet to autopsy. This insidious cancer, also rare ( common in GSD and GOLDENS I read) took over all the organs in my beloved parrots’ body and I can barely key this through my tears. Dr. Scott, bless him, is having a hard month with me. We put our beloved Lexi down 8/26 as she was no longer able to stand from the edema in her front leg and the Osteosarcoma on her rear leg. We buried her just before Hurricane Irene hit. The day we buried her, we discovered a lump on Max, my last GSD’s tail. He saw Max that day and said this tumor is not attached to the bone like with Lexi. First round of Amoxi because he is Lyme Pos (been treated for it in 2008) and fever of 104.3. 10 days pass, I took him back yesterday when I euthanized Buster. Max’s temp is down to 103.2, now on Doxi for another round. Hoping to surgically remove the mass in 3 weeks if his temp is down. Dr. Scott asked me about radon testing the house. Getting a kit today. Any correlation seen by you between radon and all these cancers? I can not take much more. Many thanks.

    • DemianDressler on September 13, 2011 at 8:43 pm

      Dear Cricket,
      I am very sorry to hear this news. My heart goes out to you.
      yes, radan is a known carcinogen, at least as far as lung cancer:
      There are a variety of other environmental ones too- asbestos in water, high voltage (suspected), airborne emissions from engines (aromatic hydrocarbons and more), waste in groundwater, heavy metals like lead, cadmium, mercury, petsticides and herbicides, inhaled solvents, and endocrine disruptors that may be in water from pharmaceutical metabolites…just to name a few. There is a large section on this topic in the Guide if you want more details.
      I hope this helps

  6. JS on August 23, 2011 at 9:24 am

    My approximately nine year old rescued dachshund is facing neuter due to a significantly enlarged prostate. In the past month he has had some bloody discharge, which cleared up in a few days and he has had some recurrent discharge (not-bloody) for a few years now. His urine was of high gravity and did not contain significant white blood cells at the point when he was having bloody discharge about a month ago A recent ultrasound has confirmed prostatomegaly with multifocal anechoic cysts of varying sizes (<2.0 CM) as well as a thickened bladder wall. Blood work and neuter has been recommended, and I am in agreement with this treatment, but I am somewhat concerned about other possible health effects such as bone cancer, weight gain etc. Bladder wall biopsy could also be performed to confirm cause of bladder wall thickening. He is otherwise very healthy, but I believe he has become uncomfortable. I am likely to proceed with neuter but I would like your "at a distance" opinion. Thank you, JS

    • DemianDressler on August 24, 2011 at 7:31 pm

      Dear JS,
      do what your vets are recommending…

  7. Cricket on August 8, 2011 at 9:28 am

    Dr. Dressler – Thank you for your reply. I am only quoting a time period of what was told to me by my vet based on the results he has seen of dogs with this bone cancer. We found more tumors on her chest this weekend while bathing her and a trip to the dr this morning with my BFA (parrot) he told me if we take an x-ray of her chest we would probably find a lot more tumors because he said, and I have read, by the time the tumor on her leg showed up, the cancer cells had already moved to her lungs. He removed a fatty tumor on my Amazon aged 25, and this morning I discovered a mass of blood in his cage. Thinking he had ruptured a suture we went in only to find that he believes it to be a hemangioma – looks like hemongia-sarcoma, sorry can not spell it. I have had a rough few week with all this cancer in my family and I am very distraught. He doesn’t have a good prognosis for either my dog or parrot. I will definitely download the diet for my existing GSD. My vet said he could put me in contact with an oncologist but after losing two other GSD to cancer (one was a tumor behind his right eyeball of all places) and another between her lungs and heart, I do not have any hope of beating cancer once it has been detected. The Rotty in my dr’s practice that also had an eye tumor, had 2500.00 + in sx done only to be put to sleep one week after my dog was put to sleep with no sx and treatment. Thank you very much for taking the time to respond.

    • DemianDressler on August 17, 2011 at 5:39 pm

      Dear Cricket,
      sorry to hear about all this. Cancer is depressing, putting it mildly. However, sometimes it helps to view it as a chronic disease that we can perhaps manage and improve things (both life quality and lifespan) by doing some things. One of the most important things is to have no regrets, and sometimes doing things that can help a little makes the whole deal easier to handle. There are some nice techniques in the Guide that can help with some of the bad feelings we feel in this arena that you could try if you wanted.

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