elbow dysplasia in my Rottweiler

by connie lunn

my male rottweiler has elbow dysplasia a very sad thing to have. i have been doing research and came across some information that said you should not neuter your male rottweiler until he has matured.

if you neuter him while immature you GREATLY increase his chances of dysplasia because he is still in his growing years, if you wait until he is mature there is a good chance that if he has elbow dysplasia it would fix themselves.

i understand this is hereditary, but if this information is true are we not carrying it further and making it worse for these large dogs?

Hi Connie
This is an area where there are a lot of very different viewpoints and opinions, and research that supports all of them - even when they conflict!

I am not a veterinary professional and can only go by what I understand from research, my personal experience, and the input from my own veterinarian and other professionals that I consult.

Given that, I believe that there are both pros and cons for early neutering (and spaying). On balance though, given the information and experience available to me I still feel that doing the surgery between 6 and 8 months of age gives a pup the best protection against reproductive order diseases without causing other issues with growth/development. Neutering before 6 or 8 weeks is another issue, and may cause more problems. But again there's no consensus on that from the professional world.

Hip and elbow dysplasia is mostly caused by hereditary components. A pup who has joint abnormalities due to his genetic makeup may develop the full-blown condition regardless of whether he's neutered, or whether his diet is adequate, or his exercise level is appropriate. It's often a combination of nature and nurture, but it's different for every pup. Luck or fate also often plays a role and we have no control over that.

From my personal experience I would consider diet and exercise to be much more important in terms of minimizing the chances of dysplasia developing (even in a pup who has a genetic weakness in this area) than neutering or spaying. As a breed, Rottweilers are also very prone to developing cancers of all types, and 'altering' a pup before full sexual maturity helps to significantly reduce the risks of reproductive organ cancers and malignancies.

I'm so sorry to hear that your pup is suffering from elbow dysplasia, it's a very painful and debilitating condition and I can only imagine how difficult it must be for you, and obviously for him. If his parents both had good OFA (or equivalent) hip/elbow ratings, he is very unlucky to have developed the condition, and it's possible that an environmental factor was involved. But it could also be just 'one of those things' that happen sometimes without adequate explanation.

I definitely wouldn't blame yourself or feel that you were responsible for this by neutering him, or by any other action you took (or didn't take). He's obviously very much loved and you are taking good care of him, life is often unfair and all we can do is the best we can at any given time.

I know this doesn't give you a definitive answer to your question, but I don't believe there is any one 'right' answer that science is aware of at this point. Hopefully it has helped in some way though and I wish you both the very best of luck in the future.

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