Monday, February 22, 2010

The Low Down

Perhaps Dexter is physically incapable of standing up straight!

Didn't his mother ever tell him that if he keeps it up, it'll stay that way?

I used to call him "Legs" but now his nickname is "Shorty."

But the bigger question than "Where are his legs?" is "Where are his balls?"

Seriously. I left Dexter intact because I got tired of hearing from people that dogs neutered at a young age are taller than dogs who aren't. Since Dexter is the tallest of the bunch, and the only one who is intact, he is either a lousy control, or that old myth needs to be laid to rest.

However ... Dexter has no more testicles than any of his neutered brothers. He's almost 6 months old and there is no evidence that he's ever going to invite them out of hiding to greet the sun either. When I took him for his wellness exam and vaccinations, the vet wrote "neutered" on his sheet - when I said "actually, he's not neutered" the vet asked me if I was sure about that. He did a little groping, and asked me again.

Crud. But he was only 15 weeks old then, so I didn't think much of it. Now here we are a couple months later and I'm starting to think Dexter is a natural eunuch. I did some internetz surfing and learned that no two vets have the same opinion on when testicles should appear. I've read everything from they should be visible at 8 weeks, to give the dog a year or so, to if they don't stand up and wave at you by 4 months, they are never showing up at all.

Does anyone have any first hand experience with late bloomers, as it were?


  1. Mom and I have a neighbordog who had 1 testicle that was a bit took almost 8 months before it decided to show its face.

    If Dexter truly has 2 shy boyz, make sure to talk to your vet about neutering. Undescended boyz are linked to a higher rate of cancer, and nobuddy likes that!

    wags, wiggles & slobbers

  2. Our BC Ike only had one testicle descend. We had him fixed just before 7 months, and it still hadn't descended. Turns out it was a good thing that we did it when we did because he ended up having a genetic problem (congenital B12 malabsorption, which reared it's ugly head around 6 months and got worse over the next few months). He's now almost 17 months and healthy but very small (25 lbs).

  3. I'm waiting for them to show on my 14 week old. Late bloomers run in his line though.

    Your "experiment" isn't over until growth plates close. The early neutered dogs tend to close theirs later while the intact dogs close their plates sooner. So check on those littermates in a year or so!

  4. The timing of their descent can vary a lot, but the incidence of cancer in undescended testicles is much higher than in normal ones. It's not common in juveniles, so you're probably safe for awhile yet, but if he were my dog I would definitely not wait more than a year.

    (My verification word is irocket) :)

  5. Just in case I was not clear - Dexter IS going to be neutered at some point - my plan was to leave him until a year, maybe 18 months, to see how he ended up size wise compared to his siblings. I do not let puppies go intact to homes, ever, but since I run the rescue and I know for a fact he'll never father anything, this seemed an interesting way to satisfy my curiosity. However, I do know that retained testicles can cause cancerous growths, so he would have been neutered either way. I just wonder what people think or know about when testicles may show up, or when we can assume he is cryptorchid for sure.

  6. Interesting because I've heard the exact opposite - testosterone is what provides proper growth, so early neutering causes unbalanced growth, which is more likely to end up in a dog too small, though possibly too large. Either way, what I understood is that neutering at 6-12 months will result in a more properly built dog more than anything.

    Philip was a cryptorchid (no balls in sight) and most things I read said that if they don't show up by 3-4 months of age, they are most likely no going to. I had him neutered around 6 months old, and they were both found in his abdomen.

    Like MurphyDog said, monos and cryptos are more prone to cancer, so it's very important to find and eliminate his treasures from wherever they are. While it's possible for dogs to not have any at all, it's unlikely, and just because the vet couldn't feel them, doesn't conclude anything - boys are great at shrinking those things up! Often they are easier to find once the dog is completely relaxed under anesthetic for the procedure, sometimes it takes a bit or poking and prodding to find them.

    Also regarding weave poles on 3WAW, Philip relearned them from regular muscle memory method to the channel method. He was a bit confused going back to basics at first, but the benefit is quite obvious now. Never tried the 2x2 method, but the channel definitely did the trick for us.

  7. I've read in several places that there is a higher risk of certain cancers in dogs neutered too soon. I asked my vet and he said he prefers to wait till the dog is 1 to 1-1/2 before neutering now. I didn't ask about spaying because we were actually discussing a male dog I got intact from a shelter and had neutered when he was about a year old.

  8. Nothing to add to Dexter's missing balls but he looks very coyote-ish in the first photo. And I note that his ears are up in most of the photos - maybe he is compensating for you know what.

  9. oh, ball-less Dexter. I left Buzz in tact for about 8 months because I had read about growth plates/joint health. and he wasn't gonna doink anyone on my watch! had him snipped when I did because he had a growth on his lip that had to get cut w/ general anesthesia. Anyway, Buzz is tall as all get-out, but I've no idea about siblings or parents, so its crap as far as science goes.

    Dexter's probably hiding his balls in one of those ears...

  10. As a third year veterinary student I can help with both questions.

    1) Dogs who are neutered early DO grow longer and lankier - it's not a myth. This is because closure of the growth plates of bones is testosterone dependent and without the testicles producing that en masse - the plates will close at a later date (some testosterone is produced in both males and females even sans gonads due to the adrenal glands).

    2) If his testicles have not appear by now (I am assuming he is 23 weeks?) they will not appear. The inguinal rings close at 6 months (~24 weeks) and thus is it impossible for those little guys to even get into the scrotum. It is not reported in any scientific document to occur past 6 months. Don't worry - he's sterile so he doesn't have the chance to breed anyone in the interim (too hot for the sperm in the abdomen). However, everyone else is correct and his cancer chances have skyrocketed - but he's going to get neutered anyway, so no big deal.

    Hope that helps,

    Future Texas Vet

  11. Until 7 was four months he had no balls to speak of. Then, he had a singleton until five months when number two finally decided to show itself. Until he was about six months they both would sometimes get shy and dissapear but with some prodding you could still find them. We're going to wait to neuter as well until 7's probably between two and three and finished growing.

  12. I had a rescue bc, Jake, with single descended testicle at 9 months when I had him neutered and the vet could not find the second until he opened him up all the way to his diaphragm. It was a long slow recovery, too.

    I am voting for ears up and the neuter.

  13. I had a sheltie with one down and the other found all the way under his diaphragm as well. the incision was huge and the recovery long. If they don't descend, they don't necessarily stay "in the general area" either. I had him neutered at about 8 months and he wound up with prostate and bladder cancers anyway at age 11. He was a very good boy and we still miss him 8 years later.

  14. Could he potentially be crypt orchid? One (or both) of his testicles could be in his abdomen. I am a vet. assistant for a vet who does strictly (low cost) spay + neuter procedures. Every so often we get crypt orchids. I've only ever seen it with one testicle, not both. Hm.

  15. I know the dangers of generalizing across species, but do want to caution you against waiting too long if Dexter is cryptochid. In one of the potbelllied pigs I fostered, one of his undescended testes had adhered to his bladder, and it was not possible to remove it.
    As for cryptochids being 100% sterile, I wouldn't count on it. Scotch and Soda (the potbellied pigs) were found confined in a cage together, and Soda gave birth to 10 piggies a month after the SPCA seized them. And seven of the nine male piglets were also cryptochid.
    Oh...and Scotch still produces lots of tesosterone courtesy of his unremovable testes - you should see him in action when there is a female piggy in heat anywhere nearby!!! (We have been assured, however, that he cannot produce sperm from his shriveled, bladder-stuck testes).

  16. more and more common for bc's to be monorchid ( one dropped testicle) or cryptorchid- two retained testicles. It's likely that he may remain cryptorchid, certainly by one year at the latest if they have not dropped, you'll need to have them removed like a spay. If left in, it increases his chances for testicular cancer- so please keep an eye on this and when the time comes, have a vet that has done many crypt orchid surgeries neuter him. I've had one monorchid bc and one cryptorhid. I've known of one dog that it took 9 months to fully drop but this is a growing problem in the border collie breed.

  17. Since you're going to do agility with Dexter, IMO it IS better to wait on neutering until he'd a bit older, so I support your decision. Testosterone does affect growth plates and it can affect bone density, whether the bones grow lankier or not. I do feel that it can somewhat prevent injuries/fractures.

    And if they didn't come down by now I woudn't expect them. Tissues in that area groin tighten with age and I believe the ability to form the scrotum, the actual skin pouch for the nads, diminishes. So the balls probably couldn't drop even if they wanted to.

    I'm a groomer so i shave all sorts of dog privates at work, lol. And I met a cryptorchid dog whose nards were in his thighs right by the groin. It was the weirdest thing, they were clearly *there* but not where they were supposed to be. Alas his owner refused to have him neutered, no matter how much she was urged to.

  18. just another ps here- a vet. surgeon I know advises that waiting any longer than a year would be ill advised regarding cancer risk so please keep that in mind as you weigh your decisions. By the way... I love your blog.

  19. lol!!! (catching up) see, what would we do without tmi posts like this. i KNOW our pets are glad they can't read all the embarrassing things we write about them in public.

    one of my sister's chihuahua's testicles never descended, so then he went in for the chop, they had to do surgery to dig it out.

  20. Also a third year vet student--sorry I'm late to this discussion, but the increase in chances of testicular neoplasia are quite small. If 100 cryptorchid dogs live to 10 years old, 12 of them will develop testicular neoplasia (aka 12 of 1000 dog-years-at-risk). In the study I'm citing, intact dogs with descended testicles did not exhibit testicular neoplasia.

    I agree with the other vet student regarding growth plate closure.