The Pros and Cons of Ovary Sparing Spay (OSS) for Your Dachshund

Are trying to decide whether to spay your dog or not? Did you know there is a middle ground called an Ovary Sparing Spay (OSS)?

UPDATED: May 10, 2022

I didn’t until 2019 when, for the first time, I brought home a dog that wasn’t already desexed.

I knew that getting her “fixed” was the right thing to do for our situation but, now that I was bestowed the responsibility myself, I wanted to do some research first.

During that research, I learned that new science indicates spaying a dog at a young age wasn’t as beneficial as once thought and that there are a lot of pros and cons to an ovary sparing spay.

It seemed that waiting until a dog was older to spay, or opting for an Ovary Sparing Spay (OSS), which removes a female dog’s ability to get pregnant while allowing them to retain their growth hormones, might be a better way to go.

So, like I do, I went into research mode and spent months learning about the benefits of an ovary sparing spay, potential negative consequences and the details of what it is (and is not).

So that you don’t have to dig through all of the same information, I compiled the common, and what I think are the important, things to know into this article.

Two months of research about Ovary Sparing Spay (OSS) condensed into one article.

WARNING: This article is LONG. I put the most stand-out points toward the beginning of the article but included all of the important details. 

What is an Ovary Sparing Spay?

A traditional spay (the term used for neutering a female dog) surgery can be done two ways – by removing a dog’s ovaries (ovariectomy) or removing the ovaries and uterus (ovariohysterectomy).

Due to veterinary medicine advances, a traditional spay is not the only choice you have any more when it comes to making sure your dog can’t get pregnant.

Another option is what is called an Ovary Sparing Spay (OSS), which involves removal of the uterus and cervix while leaving one or both ovaries.

All three of these procedures will make sure your dog cannot reproduce, resulting in an unplanned litter.

The first two – ovariohysterectomy and ovariectomy – remove the female dog’s reproductive, and some growth, hormones.

The third – OSS – leaves the dog’s hormones in their “natural” state.

Why Do an Ovary Sparing Spay Instead of a Traditional Spay?

A female dog’s ovaries are the primary way the body produces the hormones estrogen and progesterone.

When the primary way for a dog to produce estrogen is stopped, a dog essentially goes into menopause.

There can be several negative consequences to a dog growing up from an early age without these hormones.

Below are all of the pros and cons of an ovary sparing spay, which removes a female dog’s reproductive hormones, that I considered.

First, a couple caveats.

It’s important to note that most studies on ovary sparing spay pros and cons involve larger dogs.

However, that doesn’t mean that the findings don’t apply to smaller dogs too. It just means that there has been less research.

I did find some studies that cited that the differences – with or without reproductive hormones – were less pronounced in smaller breeds (which may have to do with them maturing sooner).

Also, most of the studies measured the negative effects if a traditional spay was performed “too early”, which was defined as anything done before 12-18 months (the lower range applies to smaller dogs since they develop faster than larger dogs) and especially before 6 months.

While I didn’t read any evidence that the issues below are not factors if a dog’s ovaries are removed after the 18 month mark, it was definitely my impression that the extremes of the pros and cons are diminished (ie. not as big of a difference) if a dog is spayed after 18 months.

Still, I personally believe it’s possible the benefits and negative factors could be at play even if a dog’s ovaries are removed later in life.

Summary of the Pros and Cons of OSS vs Traditional Spay for Dachshunds

For those that don’t want to read my ginormous article – I condensed probably 100 articles and social media conversation threads below – here are the cliff notes.

But seriously, you should read the whole thing (especially the part where I say what I decided to do and why) because there is so much important info to consider in your decision.

Here is what stood out to me and what I think the pros and cons of OSS vs traditional spay are:

Pros of Ovary Sparing Spay for Dogs:

  • A dog can’t get pregnant
  • A dog gets to keep their natural hormones
  • It may help prevent injuries to ligaments and joint structures such as CCL tears and disk herniations due to IVDD/IVDH
  • There is little or no behavior change (besides normal hormonal changes during heat cycles – see cons below)
  • None of the behavior changes associated with traditional spay: potentially becoming more aggressive, fearful, anxious, and more difficult to train (see the behavioral changes section below)
  • There is a significantly reduced risk of incontinence (spay incontinence)
  • There is potentially less risks for bone cancer (I didn’t discuss this below because it primarily affects larger, male dogs but you can read about it HERE)
  • Effectively reduces the nuisance of bleeding during heats (although a small amount of discharge may still occur)
  • Removes the risk of infection of the uterus (pyometra), as long as ALL of the uterus and cervix are removed. (see cons below)
  • An owner has the option to have a traditional spay performed later
  • There is a significantly decreased chance of becoming overweight (Up to 50% of spayed/neutered dogs are obese)

Cons of an Ovary Sparing Spay for Dogs:

  • A female still has heat cycle so experiences hormonal changes that affect behavior and attractiveness to males (ie. can still cause fighting among males and male dogs will still try to mount)
  • Many dog daycares and sitters don’t accept female dogs while they are in heat
  • Some businesses and organizations don’t recognize OSS so it may not meet the requirements of a rescue or dog daycare
  • There may still be some discharge associated with heat cycles
  • There is an increased risk of mammary tumors
  • There is a risk of stump pyometra if the cervix isn’t completely removed
  • There is potential for a longer recovery time because of the longer incision typically required (may be negligible)
  • There is potential of a higher cost because of longer time in surgery (may be negligible)
  • A dog will need to be monitored/screened for mammary tumors (manually at home and/or ultrasounds) for the rest of their life and they may require treatment.
  • It may be difficult to find a vet in your area that is knowledgeable about the ovary sparing spay procedure and who will be sure to do it properly

The only way to make sure a dog never gets pregnant is by removing their ability to do so and I fully believe in doing that if there aren’t specific reasons for not doing it (breeding, sports competitions, etc.).

However, the traditional spay that removes all of a dog’s reproductive organs is not the only option anymore.

To me, ovary-sparing spay is a good option for helping to control pet overpopulation, and unplanned litters, while avoiding the negative effects associated with removing a dog’s ovaries and hormones.

Continue reading below for more details about the benefits and drawbacks of an ovary sparing spay.

The Link Between Neutering/Spaying a Dachshund and Intervertebral Disk Herniation (IVDH)

Dachshunds are prone to back problems, primarily caused by a genetic disease called Intervertebral Disk Disease (IVDD).

IVDD can cause the spine to prematurely degenerate and become brittle.

Compromised disks are susceptible to Intervertebral Disk Herniation (IVDH) and can result in back injuries or paralysis.

Among the many of the articles I reviewed, these terms were sometimes used interchangeably to reference back injuries in Dachshunds.

To get right to my point, I found this article that stated, the frequency of “Intervertebral Disc Disease increased in gonadectomized (spayed/neutered) dogs.”

A 2015 UK study (Packer, et al.) also revealed increased incidence of IVDD in neutered [and spayed] Dachshunds.

The study authors did point out that there are many factors at play besides just reproductive hormones.

For example, they found that dogs that were highly or moderately active for more than 1 hour per day showed a decrease incidence of IVDD-related injuries (dogs that exercised for less than 30 minutes per day were found to be more at risk).

A study in 2018 reexamined the data from the surveys collected during the previous 2015 study.

This examination was more specifically aimed at making a connection between the removal of hormones, and at what age the hormones were removed, and the incidence of IVDH in Dachshunds.

The new study (Canine Genet Epidemiol) confirmed that “neutered females were at significantly higher risk of IVDH than entire females.”

In regard to age, they found if a female Dachshund was neutered before 12 months old, they were around twice as likely to develop IVDH as unneutered females.

In the study conclusion, although they said that the decision to spay or not to spay is personal and should consider many different factors, “the… increased IVDH risk associated with neutering is a key factor to consider in deciding whether and when to neuter.”

The bottom line regarding back injury and traditional spay in Dachshunds:

There is a clear link between hormones – specifically, the lack of hormones in a female dog that has had their ovaries removed – and back issues in Dachshunds.

Preliminary studies found that the risk of a Dachshund developing IVDH is doubled in females neutered/spayed before 12 months of age.

While there are certainly other factors involved, the effect of removing a female dog’s ovaries is very likely to have a negative impact on spinal health.

The Link Between Neuter/Spay and Cranial Cruciate Ligament (CCL) Injuries in Small Dogs

One of the biggest cases for OSS is the decreased incidence of Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture (or CCL – the human equivalent of an ACL injury) in active dogs.

In short, the Cranial Cruciate Ligament stabilizes the knee joint. When a dog experiences a CCL injury, they may become lame or not be able to walk using that leg.

The CCL injury can be acute – occurring from a forceful, sudden trauma – or occur as a result of weakening of the ligament over time.

A ruptured CCL is the most common orthopedic injury in dog, especially in large breed dogs. (source)

Some studies have shown that 8% of females neutered before 12 months of age developed CCL injuries later in life. (source)

But how common are these types of injuries in small dogs and Dachshunds in particular?

According to the American College of Veterinary Surgeons, “Certain dog breeds are known to have a higher incidence of CrCLD (cranial cruciate ligament disease)… while others are less often affected (Greyhound, Dachshund, Basset Hound, and Old English Sheepdog)”

However, it was found that obese pets may be more likely to develop CCL injuries (source) and, in my experience, it’s more common for a Dachshund to weigh more than they should than not.

Other contributing factors to CCL injuries include inactivity with occasional strenuous activity (weekend warrior syndrome), straight conformation in the hind limbs (source), and nutrition.

According to Dr. Karen Shaw Becker, a lack of dietary manganese can significantly affect the frequency of CCL injuries.

She also said that, “While nutrition plays a big role in protecting ligaments, desexed animals have more CCL damage than intact animals. Sex hormones appear to have a protective effect on the musculoskeletal system.”

The bottom line in regard to CCL injury and traditional spay:

My research shows that it is certainly possible for a Dachshund to experience a CCL rupture, although it’s less common in this particular breed and small dogs in general.

My takeaway is, yes, spaying a female Dachshund can have an effect on the incidence of CCL injuries but it’s probably not the biggest factor.

Factors that likely have a larger influence are being inactive most of the time, being overweight, and nutrition.

The Link Between a Traditional Spay and Incontinence

Urinary incontinence tends to be more common in female dogs who have had a traditional spay (specifically, had their ovaries removed).

One common cause of this “spay incontinence” is the weakening of the urinary tract muscles due to the lack of estrogen.

Lack of estrogen may cause the muscle used to control the exit of urine to become weak and release urine involuntarily.

Incontinence is most common during rest as these muscles are further relaxed.

Note: Gretel is 12 years old and spayed. This has actually happened to her a few times.

One study found that the average rate of incontinence in female dogs with their ovaries removed was 20.1%.

The onset of incontinence varied between immediately after a traditional spay to 12 years with an average period of 2.9 years after surgery.

The study found that dogs with a smaller body weight (under 44 lbs) developed spay incontinence less frequently (only 9.3% on average).

Dachshunds, specifically, were found to have a spay incontinence rate of 11.1%.

This type of incontinence is typically and successfully treated with drugs.

However, it is possible that a dog can experience negative side effects from these hormones and medications.

A female dog’s risk of incontinence later in life is significantly reduced if she retains her hormones, but it can still happen.

The bottom line between incontinence and the removal of reproductive hormones:

Incontinence in middle aged dogs who have had their ovaries removed is common.

However, it appears to occur at a lower than average rate in Dachshunds who have had their ovaries removed.

One study found that Dachshunds eperienced a rate of spay incontinence half that of other dog breeds (11% vs 20%).

Spay incontinence is relatively treatable and incontinence can be managed with environmental (home) and lifestyle modifications.

Behavioral Changes in Spayed/Neutered Dogs

Years ago, and still somewhat today, spaying or neutering a dog was recommended to curb “undesirable behavioral issues”.

The unwanted behaviors that may be diminished weren’t always discussed with dog owners.

However, it’s assumed that the behaviors that would be eliminated were directly related to a dog no longer having reproductive hormones.

For example, spayed female dogs are less likely to roam when in heat, urinate frequently or “mark”, and be less irritable and aggressive (because a female experiencing heat cycles can be).

Unfortunately, scientists are finding that removing a female dog’s hormones may create as many, or more, behavioral problems as it was supposed to help.

As Dr. Deborah Duffy puts it, in her presentation Non-reproductive Effects of Spaying and Neutering on Behavior in Dogs, “For most behaviors, spaying/neutering was associated with worse behavior, contrary to conventional wisdom”

Dr. Stanley Coren, in a Psychology Today article, discussed two valuable and reliable studies that show removing a female dogs reproductive hormones can actually increases aggression, fearfulness, and anxiety in the dog, as well as make them more difficult to train.

Dr. Stanley Coren found:

  • Spayed and neutered dogs show considerably more aggression, varying from a 20% increase to more than double depending on the type of aggression measured (toward people, toward other dogs, etc.)
  • For females, early spaying (before the dog is one year of age) causes a considerably larger increase in aggression relative to later spaying [relative to male dogs]
  • There was a roughly 31% increase in fearfulness for both sexes.
  • There was a roughly 33% increase in touch sensitivity for both sexes
  • There was a roughly 8% increase in excitability (assumed that was excitability in the negative sense) for both sexes

These results have been confirmed in another, more recent, large scale study.

That study says, “Neutered dogs… showed many more fear-related behaviors.

These included:

  • Responses to loud noises
  • When first exposed to unfamiliar situations
  • When approached directly by an unfamiliar child
  • When barked at, or growled at, by an unfamiliar dog
  • When approached by another dog of similar or larger size
  • When encountering strange or unfamiliar objects on or near the sidewalk
  • When encountering windblown objects
  • When examined by a veterinarian; or when having their nails clipped.”

Once again, the younger the dog was when neutered, the greater these fear-related effects appear to be.

Behaviors Lost: Ending the Heat Cycle

All of those potential “gained” behaviors due to the removal of ovaries and hormones sound pretty undesirable to me.

However, there are definitely behaviors associated with the female dog heat cycle that may also be undesirable (ie. These go away if you go with a traditional spay).

Dealing with a dog that goes into a month-long heat cycle twice a year isn’t for everyone.

Especially in a culture, unlike Europe, where the majority of dog owners aren’t used of managing unaltered dogs.

A female dog in heat will likely display all or many of these behaviors:

  • She may be jumpy or on edge
  • She may become more clingy during the heat cycle
  • Male dogs may become obsessively interested in her, and potentially fight over her, and she will sometimes solicit the behavior because she is “feeling frisky”
  • Other female dogs may be aggressive toward her and she may be aggressive back
  • She may exhibit mounting behavior (yes, females)
  • Excessive licking may occur (primarily the vulva)
  • She may exhibit increased urination or “marking”
  • About a month or two after her heat cycle is over, and lasting approximately a month, she may have a “false pregnancy” and exhibit undesirable behavior like restlessness, depression, mammary gland secretions, etc.

The Bottom Line in regard to behavior change and the removal of reproductive hormones in a female dog:

There is no doubt that traditional spay, where the ovaries and hormones are removed, results in behavior changes.

It turns out, especially in female dogs, the negative behavior changes may likely outweigh any positive behavior changes.

What stands out to me here – almost shockingly so – is that a lot of “negative traits” of Dachshunds, and small dogs in general, are the same behaviors Dr. Stanley Coren attributed to a female dog having their reproductive hormones removed.

It makes me question how much of these behaviors (separation anxiety, reactivity/defensiveness toward other dogs, fear of children, etc.) are just natural Dachshund traits and how many we THINK are just because most of us in the US only meet Dachshunds who have had their ovaries removed.

However, some of the behaviors associated with the heat cycle can be annoying or troublesome and a dog who had OSS done still experiences those cycles.

I absolutely believe it’s important to carefully weigh the pros and cons and know the choice one is making between traditional spay and OSS when it comes to a dog’s potential behavior.

One must be prepared to deal with the potential consequences whether a full spay or and ovary sparing spay is chosen.

Note: As stated above, you can perform a traditional spay after OSS (at an additional cost of course) if your dog does display more undesired behaviors associated with heat cycles than you would like.

Ovary Sparing Spay and Pyometra

This discussion is pretty quick.

Pyometra is a sometimes deadly infection of the uterus.

Any dog who still has a uterus and ovaries (the estrogen influences it) is at risk of developing it.

A dog with no ovaries can’t get pyometra.

A dog with no uterus and cervix can’t get pyometra since that is where the infection occurs.

The catch with OSS comes when every bit of the cervix is not removed during the procedure.

To remove the risk of a dog developing pyometra, the cervix and uterus must be removed carefully and completely.

The bottom line:

As long as I can be confident that the veterinarian performing the OSS procedure will completely remove the uterus and cervix, the risk of a dog developing pyometra is very little to none.

The Risk of Mammary Tumors With Ovary Sparing Spay

Mammary tumors are just what they sound like – tumors that develop in the breasts of female dogs.

The development of these tumors is hormone-induced – affected by estrogen and progesterone.

Mammary tumors are more common in female dogs that are either not spayed or were spayed after 2 years of age.

Adult [intact] female dogs (9 to 12 years old) were most likely to get mammary tumors, followed by 5- to 8-year-old females. (source)

The risk of a dog developing a mammary tumor is 0.5% if spayed before their first heat (approximately 6 months of age), 8% after their first heat, and 26% after their second heat. (also source above).

The (same) study found that there are other significant factors at play though.

These factors include environmental pollution, chemical exposure, and being overweight (having a lot of fat on the body).

Only about half of mammary tumors are cancerous and surgery, potentially followed by chemotherapy, is effective in many of the cases (but can be costly, especially if one doesn’t have pet insurance).

I did find a couple of articles that said the Dachshund is a breed more prone to mammary tumors. (source1 and source2)

While all of my research to this point suggested an INCREASED risk of negative “effects” if a dog was traditionally spayed too early, in the case of mammary tumors, removal of the ovaries before 6 months of age significantly decreases the risk for tumor development.

In a previous study at the Veterinary Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, it was shown that dogs spayed, either at the same time of their tumor removal or within two years prior to the tumor surgery, lived significantly longer than dogs that remained unspayed after their tumors were removed.

The bottom line:

The risk of mammary tumors in female dogs that still have their ovaries – either intact or due to electing for an ovary-sparing spay – is higher.

However, there are other significant factors that contribute to the occurrence of mammary tumors.

Mammary tumors may be more common in Dachshunds than in other breeds.

Around half of mammary tumors are not cancerous. However, they still need to be medically addressed and cancerous tumors are commonly fatal. 

How Much Does an Ovary Sparing Spay Cost?

The ovary sparing spay procedure is a bit more time consuming to perform than a traditional spay and may require a longer incision. Both of these things can increase the cost.

My research has revealed that OSS can cost anywhere from $250-$1,000, with the most common figures I’ve seen being in the $500-$800 range.

The cost of having a female dog spayed using the traditional procedure can be significantly less.

I’ve heard of some shelters, or low-cost spay/neuter clinics, charging well under $100 for the procedure.

According to PetCareRx, “[Traditional] spaying services can cost anywhere from $35 to $300 dollars. Certain factors, including the health or age of your pet, the region of the country you live in, the breed of dog, and where the procedure happens, can all influence the cost.”

Obesity or diabetes in a pet can add $25 to $50 to the cost, for example, as can bringing in an animal in heat (many veterinarians won’t even do it during a dog’s heat).

Blood work prior to the procedure, to check kidney and liver function, can add about $40. Pain medications might cost an additional $15.”

The bottom line:

While an ovary sparing spay is likely more costly than a traditional spay, that is not always the case and the difference may be negligible.

During my research (on 2019), I found that an ovary sparing spay can cost the same as a traditional spay but most commonly costs two or three times as much.

It’s worth calling around to local veterinarians and getting price quotes.

Long-Term Cost Considerations of an Ovary Sparing Spay

While there may be many benefits of OSS, there are extra long-term care and costs that should be taken into consideration.

A dog with their ovaries, whether intact or one who had OSS performed, is susceptible to mammary tumors later in life.

If one opts for OSS, they must be prepared to regularly monitor their dog (ideally, through ultrasound), have any suspicious lumps biopsied, and to have surgery performed if their dog gets mammary tumors.

At the very least, if the tumors are not cancerous, this surgery involves removing part or all of the breast tissue and the ovaries (to reduce the risk of re-occurrence).

Under a worst-case-scenario, a dog may need expensive cancer treatment to save their life or the owner may need to opt for euthanasia.

One also needs to consider, especially if they are used to owning dogs that have been spayed or neutered, that an OSS dog may exhibit undesirable behaviors that make the owner want to go ahead and do a traditional spay later.

That means that an owner will have incurred costs from the initial OSS procedure and of a traditional spay, effectively doubling the cost or more.

The bottom line:

It’s important to know what choice one is making and be sure you can fully commit, lifestyle-wise and financially, to having a dog with ovaries monitored for mammary tumors throughout their life.

It would also be highly advised to have pet health insurance if opting for OSS.

While pet health insurance won’t cover a traditional spay down the road if that is desired, it can definitely help offset the bulk of costs associated with mammary-tumor surgery and treating cancers.

My Discussion with a Veterinarian About Ovary Sparing Spay

At a certain point, I felt like I had researched the benefits, and negatives, of ovary sparing spay to exhaustion. I felt like I was going in circles.

However, it still wasn’t enough for me to make a decision. I decided to talk directly with a veterinarian that regularly performs this procedure.

Going into the appointment, my main concerns were the mammary tumor potential, negative behavioral changes, and the possibility of injury from being really active (hiking) and/or IVDD.

The veterinarian generously sat down with me for an hour to discuss every little question on my mind.

In regard to mammary tumors, she said that the study that cites a 26% chance of mammary tumors after the second heat is from the 70’s.

No more recent, and relevant, studies have been done so that information is likely outdated.

She said in countries where it’s common to leave a dog intact, there is definitely a higher incidence of mammary tumors though.

Her point being that, yes, there is an elevated chance of mammary tumors with OSS but we can’t be sure it’s 26%. So many lifestyle factors can affect the chance of getting cancer.

What rose to the top of “pros” of OSS for me, was the orthopedic benefits.

She 100% believes, based on research and personal experience, that leaving the hormones allows a dog to maintain muscle/ligament tone and reduce injury later in life.

Leaving the hormones also means that a dog’s metabolism is faster, making it easier for Dachshunds to not become overweight, which is a huge factor in the severity and occurrence of IVDD back injuries, cancers, etc.

What became the biggest “con” to OSS for me was the lifestyle modifications I need to consider. A female dog that still has at least one ovary needs to be treated like she is still in-tact.

That means always being vigilant when she is in heat and the restriction of some options always available to traditionally spayed dogs.

For example, if we have a trip planned, and there is a rare instance when we want to put the dogs in a local daycare so we can do something dog-free that day, we will have to cancel those plans if she goes into heat (I’m not aware of any dog daycare (and a lot of sitters) that allow you to bring a dog if she is in heat).

Also, we have to watch for Summit’s heat causing aggression or dog fights.

Where we live, it’s very common to have dogs spayed and neutered. Because those other dogs don’t have their hormones, they probably won’t react to Summit when she is in heat. At least not nearly as much.

We travel a lot too though.

It’s mostly in the US where spaying and neutering are more common but I would like to travel to a European country with Summit someday where it’s not.

Also, we often travel to rural US areas where it may be less common to neuter a dog.

The vet also wanted to make sure that I fully understood the choice I was making when it comes to any change in behavior.

Regardless of reproductive status, a dog’s personality can change significantly when they are 2-3 years old due to maturity (other hormones).

I was more concerned with not removing Summit’s hormones and “forcing” a personality change. If she changed on her own, that was ok.

One final, and probably one of the most important, points she made was to wait at least one heat cycle (Summit has already had one) before deciding on OSS.

Since a dog with ovaries still experiences a heat, and displays associated behavior, and the potential for false pregnancy that can stress a dog out and cause concerning behaviors, it’s important to know what kind of cycle-related personality changes you will be living with.

What Did I Decide to Do?

Before I even talked with the vet, my gut said to go with an ovary sparing spay.

Although I knew only I could make the right decision for my Dachshund, I gave the veterinarian the chance to pitch me either way why OSS is best for us or might not be.

She didn’t try to advise me against it. She was 100% clear there would be an orthopedic, and weight-management, benefits and I was 100% on board with those benefits.

Her biggest advice against OSS was the warning that a dog with hormones does mean some lifestyle changes that could potentially impact our adventures. I was ok with that.

I keep going back to the analogy of cutting hair. Once you chop it all off, you can’t add any back. But it’s totally possible to take one step at a time until you’re satisfied with the results.

Although I don’t prefer to put Summit through a second surgery later, doing OSS now would leave me the option of a full spay later if we found her having her hormones to be problematic for any reason (although the vet said no one had ever come back and asked that the last ovary be removed).

UPDATE – How Am I Feeling About My Decision Three Years Later?

Summit got an ovary-sparing spay in June of 2019. We’ve been through several heat cycles since then.

I couldn’t be happier with my choice. There are very few negatives for me.

But I’ve never lived with a dog that has their hormones before so this is all new to me.

It’s definitely a different experience, mostly in regard to her energy and personality, but I’m not sure how much of that comes down to her natural tendencies vs being intact (for all intents and purposes).

Recovery time

My other two dogs were spayed/neutered before they came to live with me so I didn’t experience the recovery period.

However, my first Dachshund Chester did undergo several surgeries.

In my experience, the ovary sparing spay was the easiest and fastest surgical recovery I’ve ever experienced.

Summit acted like her normal self within 24 hours (after the anesthesia wore off).

Personality

Summit is still young, and has mellowed with age, but she is moodier than Gretel.

Gretel, who received an traditional spay, is pretty predictable – I know what to expect from her every day.

On the other hand, Summit is a new dog every day. Sometimes, and especially near and during her head cycle, she can be downright hard to deal with.

Her sleep pattern changes and she has a tendency to wake me up in the middle of the night.

Her energy level is off the charts. No matter how much exercise she gets, she is still a little terror who zooms around, chews up beds and blankets, and barks more often.

I know it’s a choice I made though and part of me loves that she keeps me on my toes.

One of the studies above found that a dog’s body sensitivity, or sensitivity to being touch, could increase significantly after a dog is spayed.

In Summit’s case, she has always been way more body sensitive than my other two Dachshunds. There was no change in this behavior after the ovary sparing spay.

Muscle tone

I can see the physical differences in her vs Gretel and it’s not just because Gretel is 8 years older.

My other Dachshund, Gretel, was spayed before we adopted her and she never achieved the muscle tone Summit has. Summit just looks leaner and stronger.

Discharge during heat cycles

Summit has very minimal to zero discharge during her heats. However, although it was more than it is now, she never had a lot before the OSS.

One of the “cons” of an unaltered female dog is increased licking of the vulva.

Summit does still clean herself during her heats but since the discharge is minimal, so is the licking. And I appreciate her keeping herself clean.

Behavior around in-tact dogs around my OSS female

Although I’m cautious about where I take Summit during her head cycle, I don’t notice much difference between how interested other dogs are in her, whether she is in heat or not.

Unneutered male dogs tend to not care about sniffing her any more than another female dog.

However, intact male dogs do show an increased interest in sniffing her, whether she is in a heat cycle or not.

If an intact male dog sniffs Summit too long (and I mean more than a second or two) she often snaps at them. It’s clear she doesn’t like this increased interest.

I know this so I just watch her interactions, request that the other dog owner doesn’t let their dog intensely pursue her, and remove her from the situation if needed.

Resources for Further Information on OSS

In addition to reading all of the articles I linked to above, check out these resources if you want to learn more about ovary sparing spay.

The Parsemus Foundation (all information) or their specific page on Hormone-Sparing Sterilization.

The Ovary Sparing Spay and Vasectomy Info Group on Facebook

Speak with a local veterinarian knowledgeable about the procedure in your area (you can find them HERE).

A traditional spay might not be right for your dog. Learn about the pros and cons of a second option - an ovary sparing spay (OSS).

About the Author

Hi, I’m Jessica. I’m a Dachshund sitter, President of the largest social Dachshund club in Washington State, a dog trainer in training, and I’ve been a Dachshund owner for 20 years. I have over 150,000 hours of experience with the breed. When I’m not working, you can find me hiking, camping, and traveling with my adventurous wiener dogs.

69 Comments

  1. This article is amazing; very well researched and informative! Thank you for doing all the research and sharing it with the world. While I hope that I won’t be getting another dachshund puppy for many years, I have archived this post and will look back on it when the time comes.

    1. Thank you. It was a lot of work and there is so much info. I almost started to confuse myself when drafting this article 🙂

  2. Ditto – thank you for pulling all this information together. Much of it was new to me, and I appreciated your listing the sources. You did a great job laying out the pros and cons. It’s not an easy decision, is it? Keep us posted on how it goes with Summit (which is a grand name for your pup!).

    1. I will keep everyone posted for sure. It definitely was not an easy decision. I imagine it’s similar to making decision for your kid – you do the research, weight the pros and cons, but a decision has to be made now so you go with whichever you think it best. Sometimes it works out and sometimes not. At least dogs can’t hate you for the choice you made later. Ha, ha.

    2. Thank you so much by sharing your experience. As a human’s MD, i also will spay my one year old Beagle next week with OSS procedure (we already made the schedule with the Vet who knows the procedure so well). Just the same with you, i already read many studies and watched Vet’s youtubers since months ago. Considering Beagle is not a breed that prone developing any tumours (except maybe lipomas), ovarian carcinoma is so rare and 90% mamilary tumours are benign – i will keep her hormones intact while she will never got pyometra. Like you’ve said OH on dogs increased risk of spaying incontinence, hip dysplasia, osteosarcoma, obesity, diabetic, hypothyroid, and many other carcinomas and already proven by many studies. My Beagle girl is a very active girl, she has so many friends and always running at the park with them everyday. I don’t want any changes happened on her behaviour, because he’s so docile and loving. She’s the star on my neighborhood when all kids love her and all dogs could play with her. She already had her first heat, her temperament only changed to be more clingy, lazier and has lesser appetite – and i obviously could handle it.

  3. We went the OSS route for our tiny Chihuahua and are SO SO SO glad we did. Our vet strongly recommends them for under 5-pound dogs – and before the first heat. Because the hormones remain the procedure can be done earlier in life when the pup is at it’s most resilient. The organs aren’t fully developed and he told me that the bleeding is reduced very significantly. It reduces surgery risk and shortens the procedure time significantly. I have had small female pups with traditional spay and I found this SO much better. Earlier in life meant a MUCH faster healing process (there is literally zero signs of a scar) and she’s had none of that “roundness” that comes from menopausing a pup.

    1. Good point about the healing quicker. I may have dome Summit’s earlier since, like you said, it doesn’t mess with their hormones, but it took me this long to do all of the research and make a decision. Plus, when she had that “mystery illness”, getting her spayed kind of took a backseat”. I’m glad to hear you’re happy with the decision. I think I will be too. Although Gretel wasn’t spayed until about 8 months (not late but not super early either), it will be interesting to see if I find any differences between Summit and Gretel as she grows.

  4. WOW!! THANK YOU!! I wish I would of known about OSS when it came time for my Girls to be spayed. I WOULD OF GONE with OSS! One out of our Three has issues with her bladder letting go when She sleeps 🙁 . We did wait until they had had two heat cycles to allow them to finish growing into an adult. AND now we struggle with the weight issue.

    1. Thank you for sharing your experience. Personally, I don’t find I have trouble keeping weight off of Gretel (who is traditionally spayed) but we are pretty active and I watch her food intake like a hawk. I do often see overweight dogs and now I wonder how much of the challenge is related to them being spayed/neutered.

    2. Holly,
      Since one of our girls has issues with Urinary Incontinence, maybe you could ask a vet about checking her hormones (since you had a traditional spay). Sometimes getting hormone therapy will fix the issue. Basically a daily pill of estrogen or whichever hormone may be off. I thought I’d mention it, since not every vet knows what to check for. Good luck!

  5. I have an intact male and female. Since you only have females I would leave Summit intact for now. I don’t see what you are gaining. We’ve been through four heats now and simply go on vacation with one of them for a week. I’ve traveled out of state with my girl during her pheromone period with no problem. You can prevent unplanned pregnancies by being vigilant. It’s not that hard after all I do it with an intact male in the house! One vet tech told me it was impossible. Scare tactics! One other point, the first week to ten days of the heat are a nonevent other than the discharge. This gives you time to go home.

    1. I don’t totally disagree with you. One question I had to ask myself was, if I wasn’t going with the traditional spay, why do it at all? I’m pretty confident I could be careful enough with her that she wouldn’t end up pregnant. However, I’m not sure I would 100% trust a dog sitter (while dog daycares and commercial kennels don’t usually allow females in heat, private sitters/friends/family often do). A dog with both ovaries and uterus are at high risk for pyometra (higher than mammary tumors is my impression), which is more deadly (than mammary tumors) and scares me. and it’s more deadly. Also, the regular bleeding is not something I want to deal with. We tried diapers for her but they didn’t work. Other than those two things, yeah, there isn’t a big difference between OSS and leaving a dog intact. I just feel better about getting the OSS done vs. nothing.

      1. I’m not convinced. Since she will still have the hormones of heat she will still attract males. I would never trust a dog sitter to protect my girl. A dachshund can have a serious back injury from being humped.

        1. Again, you’re not wrong. But I’m not trying to convince you – just stating I had questions too but why I decided to go with OSS in the end. You bring up a good point about a potential back injury. However, a back injury from that is more rare than getting pregnant if humped with a uterus. If shes intact, she could still get humped and hurt her back too.

    2. Scare tactics are indeed a problem, especially with ignorant (yes, ignorant) vets. I actually had to explain the OSS procedure to my vet (shocking enough by itself), who then went on to say “I would rather deal with joint and arthritis issues than with cancer.”

      Needless to say, she’s not my dog’s vet anymore.

      1. I come from Holland and it was very hard to find a vet who agreed to perform this surgery on my female dog. It is pretty much unknown here and all vets i talked to warned me I am playing with the dog’s life. This surgery is of course not included in the insurance either. While traditional methods are.

        I have an intact male in house (the reason I want to spay, as I don’t want to spay the male). After spaying we will of course try to avoid any mating between the 2. But nobody could tell me if there are any risks related to potential mating between an intact male and an OSS female. Could she get injured in any way when there is no cervix anymore?

        1. Hi Veronica. It’s definitely not a good thing if they try to mate. As you assumed, without a cervix (which will be removed in OSS) insertion of the boy parts will hurt her. If it happens though, she won’t be able to get pregnant.

  6. So thorough! Thank you for all the details. Robin was neutered too young IMO (about 7-8mo) by the shelter and he has a lot of anxieties and lower abdominal discomfort. Could be related, might not be but either way I wish I had been able to handle it and wait til he was older.

  7. Excellent article. I have 2 bitches spayed the conventional way who became old ladies overnight. My 3rd girl had OSS in July and is perfect. The vets really ought to get on board with this although it will reduce their business due to less illness and injuries. Both spayed girls have ligament problems and I cannot get their weight down. It’s a terrible thing to put your girl into menopause when there are alternatives.

    1. I’m sorry to hear that your two traditionally-spayed girls have issues. It’s been about 3 months since Summit had her OSS and I couldn’t be happier. I think I will do this with any of my female dogs in the future (and probably a Vasectomy for males).

  8. This article is awesome Jessica! You basically summarized the exact same research and thought process I went through on my own two years ago when he got our Rat-Chi OSS spayed. For me, when I looked at all the facts, and even the theoretical situations, the benefits far outweighed the risk involved with the OSS procedure.

    Two years on, our dog is still lean, mild tempered and exhibits the normal traits that one would expect from both rat terrier and chihuahua breeds (for better or worse LOL).

    But even then, I still managed to learn three invaluable pieces of advice beyond what I thought I already knew. 1) Monitoring the OSS dog with ultrasounds as the dog reaches its median years. 2) Securing pet insurance to cover costs that may be associated with unexpected negative outcomes from OSS (it is, after all, a relatively new procedure), and 3) Consider having a traditional spay done in the event mammary cancer occurs and at the same time when any glands may need to be removed.

    I wish your article had been around 2 years ago, but now having done the research on my own (mainly with the help of the Parsemus Foundation’s resources) I can provide an objective and honest “peer review” on it (as they call it in the medical professional) based on my own research and now personal experience.

    Unfortunately, there is still a great deal of misunderstanding and ignorance about OSS, even among veterinarians themselves! Today, I try to educate as many people about the procedure as I can (dog trainers especially). It seems to fall on many deaf ears (especially the shelter where we got our Rat-Chi from). Too many people – people who surround themselves with dogs daily – still have no idea about the procedure.

    Why did I stumble upon this article today you may ask? Well, because we’re considering adopting yet another little rescue bundle tomorrow, and I wanted to make sure nothing has changed my mindset about getting an OSS for her when the time is right.

    And nothing has.

    Thank you!

    1. Thanks so much for chiming in. I 100% aggree with you and those are things I did consider/accept when making my choice. I do have pet insurance already and knew doing OSS would mean ultrasounds, and potentially surgery and a full spay, later in Summit’s life. I think I didn’t include those thoughts in this article because it was already so, so long. Good luck with your new rescue!

  9. Oh my goodness this article is wonderful! And as I read it I realized I follow both your accounts on IG and love your pups!! After loosing our loved dachshund Daisy from IVDD, I began researching the rabbit hole of pet health, of which I found I was severely lacking in knowledge. Now Maylee, our new dachshund, is just 2 and has been through 3 heat cycles and I have cancelled one appt for a traditional spay and am about to cancel another. I cannot decide what to do!! Her heat cycles are mild, and we would probably be ok leaving her intact, but we do travel quite a bit, both taking the dogs and leaving them with a pet sitter. The tumor aspect of your article scares me…as well as the idea of traveling to a vet I don’t know to perform the surgery, the closest being about 2 hours away. I don’t know what to do. Thank you for your article tho – it was wonderful! If I may ask…has Summitt had a cycle since her surgery? How was it??

    1. It’s a tough decision all of the way around. The mammary tumors are an issue whether you leave your dog intact or go for OSS. They grow because of estrogen and, in either case, your dog will retain their natural hormones. To me, they key is being aware of the choice you are making (there are just as many risks of going with traditional spay in my opinion, just different) and being prepared for the necessary measures to manage those. I’ve committed to regular “breast exams” for Summit and annual ultrasounds when she gets older (I think the primary risk is after they are 6 years old – I’m planning to confirm with my vet). I get the traveling to the vet one. That’s hard. There was one about 30 minutes from me so it was easy to drive there and meet with her in person. She was not a vet we had seen before but I started to trust her because she talked with me for about an hour about all of my concerns and really seemed to know what she was doing. Perhaps that veterinarian will consult with you over the phone about it? In the end, you just have to pick one method and go with it. If you don’t spay her now, you can always do OSS or a traditional spay later. If you do OSS now, you can always do a traditional spay later. If you do a traditional spay now, there is no going back. Plenty of dogs of all breeds have had full spays and lived healthy, happy lives. One important thing to note is a lot of the orthopedic and behavioral risks occur when a dog is spayed before they are fully matured. That’s about 1 year for small dogs and Daisy is past that stage. Good luck whatever you choose.

  10. Hi Jessica
    Just stumbled across your article whilst trying to work out what to do with my 7 month old rescue: I am meant to have had her done last month (as per the agreement when I rescued her) I’ve not done it and won’t until she had had one heat at least. I have been thinking about OSS for a while and your article was so so so helpful. Thanks for your effort and collating all this info ?

    1. Hi Tracy. Thanks for reading it. I know it was very long to get through but it’s such a complicated issue. My Summit has had two heats after OSS and I’m glad I made the choice I did. Although my other girl is 10 years old now, Summit has remained stronger and more muscular than she ever was (I adopted her at 1).

  11. Thank you for sharing your information! Although I have a standard poodle who is my SDiT, so much of your information is relevant for any female dog. I was absolutely against having her spayed before 5 years old (some research reading I have done); then came across OSS and decided to go that route for my girl. Unfortunately, my local traveling vet is not experienced with this surgery and the closest vet who has substantial background at performing OSS surgeries is nearly 6 hours away. We have been in contact via email and I feel confident in her abilities and have scheduled my Piper for OSS surgery for January 31. We will stay in the city where her surgery is being performed the night before and the night after her surgery to make sure she’s OK before traveling back home, and my vet will be the one that I will follow up with. I am hopeful that her heat’s are light after her surgery because I will not be able to use her as my service dog if she has a full-blown heat for three weeks. She is 16 months old now and has only had one heat and that was at nearly 13 months old. But I believe I am making the right decision for her, trying to do everything thing I can to give her a long and healthy life. I am definitely going to keep up on the mammary checks. She has one that never went back down after her heat cycle and it will be check during her OSS surgery. Thank you again!

    1. It indeed sounds like you are trying to do the best by her. I am sure each dog is different when it comes to heats after OSS. Summit only kept one ovary. I would have assumed that meant her heats would be lighter (behavior) but we’ve been through two post OSS and she is still wild and crazy. It’s manageable for us though and I assume it will go smoother as she gets older and I get more used to it.

      1. Thanks! My Piper is pretty hyper and I don’t expect that energy to change after her OSS. I have been able to find a vet within an hour of my home and cancelled the one six hours away. We have a consult on January 31 for the OSS.
        If not for this website and the one linked to it, I would not of found her! Thanks so much!

  12. Thanks for this informative article. I’ve done a lot of research on this subject. The highest quote I have received on the OSS has been $1450 and I have two female Westies, so I just can’t afford that. But I am continuing to look for other vets who would be willing to perform the OSS. I’m wondering if your girl had only one ovary removed or none? I don’t seem to be able to find much information online whether there is much difference in having one ovary removed vs none. One of the vets locally removes one ovary and the other one, does not remove any, so I’m not sure which route to go.
    How have the heats been for your pup since the OSS? Are you seeing any bleeding or none?
    Thanks!

    1. She did have one ovary removed. The reason the veterinarian gave me was that fully removing the Fallopian tube is a very delicate process (and time consuming, which equals a higher cost). By removing only one, she was lessening the risk that an ovary got damaged accidentally. She told me there is no measurable difference between leaving one ovary or two. Summit has only had one heat since surgery that I was able to tell. There must have been a very slight discharge because she had a different odor during that time but I didn’t visibly notice any discharge.

  13. Thank you so much for your research. I spent the morning bemoaning the lack of helpful information available until I found your comprehensive article. My 22 lb mini golden retriever, almost 9 months old, recently finished her first heat a few weeks ago. My 7 year old 50 lb golden had a laparoscopic ovarioectomy when she was 8 months old in 2014 which we were told was the alternative to a full spay at that time. Until this morning, I was not even aware of OSS. I cannot seem to find any information on the pros and cons of the procedure my older Golden had or is it because it’s not done anymore. If you have any knowledge of the differences between these procedures, I would so appreciate it.

    1. Ovarioectomys are still done. When I mentioned OSS to our regular vet, that is what she thought I was talking about and she said she could do it. The thing is though, with that you might as well do a traditional spay in my opinion. While removing the ovaries (estrogen) can eliminate the chance of pyometra, it also removes the benefits associated with OSS (which leaves the ovaries in and removes the uterus and cervix). To me, there is no benefit to removing the ovaries and leaving the uterus. In other words, my article weights the pros and cons of OSS, with the cons being the same as they would be with an ovarioectomy. I’m not a veterinarian though so maybe there is some medical nuance around leaving the uterus and removing ovaries that I am not aware of.

  14. Very well written article. Just wondering how Summit made out after her OSS surgery?
    I was unable to find your update.

    Thank you for sharing your findings.

    1. I haven’t written an update yet so you haven’t missed it. I wanted to wait until she had gone through a couple of post OSS heats before I gave my final “verdict”. I’m very happy with my choice. Her personality didn’t change and she is still strong and fit (some of that is age related I’m sure though). I will say that, since I’ve never dealt with a dog in heat, it’s taking some adjustment on my part during her cycles. I’m still in the state of observing her behavior during the heats and figuring out how to mitigate. For example, she seems more energetic/agitated during her heat so I’ve figured out that I need to take her on more walks to manage that.

  15. I love this article! I just heard about OSS this morning and I’ve been trying to decide if I should spay (or neuter if I end up with a male, but I’m hoping for a female as of now) my next dog or not. I knew the benefits of the hormones that are no longer present after spaying but I didn’t like the idea of having an intact dog in case she were to get out since all my neighbors’ dogs are intact and completely untrained. I do have a few more things I’m curious about if you have some answers for me. First off, I know you said daycare providers still may not accept dogs that are in heat even after OSS, but do you know about competing in sports? Missing competitions is one of my concerns to leaving a female intact, although I know it wouldn’t be a huge problem since they only cycle twice a year. Second, an OSS can be done earlier than a traditional spay since they still have all of their growth hormones correct? Whereas I would wait until around 2 years of age to do a traditional spay, OSS sounds like it could be done earlier. Thank you!

    1. Hi Megan. I’m not totally sure about participating in dog sports because I don’t have a lot of personal experience with that. I do know that some dog competitions are only for dogs that are not spayed or neutered. I would imagine that a female dog can’t participate while they are in heat because it would upset the un-neutered males. I know there are other dog sports where it doesn’t matter whether your dog is “fixed” or not. If you have a specific sport or organization in mind, I would email or call and ask them.

      Yes, and OSS can be done earlier. The reason they say to wait for 1 year (for small dogs; 2 years for larger breeds) is so they can keep their grown hormones until they are done growing. Since a dog with OSS (or vasectomy for males) keeps their hormones, it can be done any time.

  16. Thank you for your extensive analysis. I’m in a complete conundrum myself as I have a fear reactive staffy cross who has had her first heat about 1,5 months ago. I have been using Bach rescue remedy and Complete Calm vitamins and have seen major improvement but still reactive if approached directly especially on leash, she barks to scare.

    I’m scared of mammary tumors as she has her two that are closest to her uterus still swollen after the heat and I have an online appointment with a vet that does OSS who is 10 hrs away (closest to where we’re from) tomorrow to check what’s best for my baby but I have seen some great reviews of this vet as well as some really horrid ones, so I’m actually not even sure if I’d be able to follow their advice if it is to go ahead with OSS and take her there for this major operation. Also, as this potentially could be traumatic for her, this could also affect a lot of her behavior I feel.

    The only other one that offers this in Australia is even more hours away and it is impossible for us to go to South Australia with her driving so many hours after a surgery.

    I am considering waiting for another heat to see her fully grown to avoid behaviour issues.

    Her vet here told us about the ovariectomy with a keyhole method which she said is more appropriate for anxious dogs like her due to smaller incision, same day discharge and it being less invasive and I agree with that but when I asked about OSS she simply didn’t know about it.

    Seems as if my choices are made for me due to lack of vets doing it around here. We were ok to drive there but as said some reviews I’ve seen make me fear that. Also the still swollen nipples that could indicate she might be more prone?

    1. Hi Maggie. I am sure you will make the best decision for your pup. If you are doing OSS, her behavior shouldn’t change at all. At least not in relation to her hormones and underlying personality. If it’s the act of riding in the car, and surgery itself, that you think will traumatize her, only you will know best.

  17. Thank you so much for such an amazing write up and insightful information.
    I also read that more recent research suggests that spaying/neutering a pet may cause certain other cancers like lymphoma, bone cancer and some others. What do you think about this or what have you heard about this?
    Of course I am worried about mammary cancer if I keep my female dog intact or get OSS done but I am also worried a lot about the other cancers potentially caused by getting a traditional spay. Now, I’m not sure if this research only points to early spaying/neutering or spaying in general….
    I am also not sure if this was a breed specific finding or not either. I know that they looked at labs and retrievers.
    What do you know about this?
    First of all my dog is a mixed breed 13 lbs dog – a Yorkie/Maltese/Shi Tzu/Poodle mix.
    She has had one heat cycle already and I guess will be having her second one in late Fall. I’m lost and don’t know what to do. I also know if I wait through a second cycle and do after that then her chances of mammary cancer is higher….

    1. I have heard that bone cancer can increase with spay/neutering. However, I kind of feel like it’s a net balance – decrease the risk of some, increase the risk of some others. All of the research done on early spay/neutering defines early as before 6 months of age. After that, you kind of have to make your own judgement. Personally, I have seen the muscle and tendon strength benefit well after that age in intact dogs but haven’t actually seen any that were spayed/neutered later (like at 2 or something) to compare to those. You are correct that the studies have pretty much only been done on Labs and Retrievers. The one exception is the survey review of IVDD in Dachshunds vs spay/neuter. For the rest, I took the data that existed and reasoned that it could apply to Dachshunds. However. I did see some mentions that the positive/negative effects MAY apply less frequently to small dogs. In other words, all of this could apply to your breed and dog size but there have been no exact studies on small dogs nor the breeds you mention. In my mind though, lack of data is not proof that this information doesn’t apply.

    2. It’s alteration BEFORE MATURITY that these studies are looking at, not alteration in general. They’re looking at raising the recommended spay/neuter age from 6 months to after the dog is physically mature, not recommending against spaying/neutering altogether.

  18. Hi Jessica,

    I have a red female border collie in Shanghai. She is turning 6 years old this Nov. I have made a decision to spay her next year before she turns 7 (which is equivalent to a human female menapause age). I have experienced no issues at all. I checked her breasts and the entire reproductive system twice a year (using ultrasound).

    She has been perfectly healty, sporty, and very well-tempered. I have been researching about whether to cut all of her reproductive system or leave one of her ovary in its place for a few years now.

    Your article is substantially informative. I have also visited many vets in Shanghai and all of them suggest I do the traditional spaying procedure. I will try my best to find a one who at least knows about the OSS, which is hard because this medical knowledge is new and many vets (who have been trained traditionally) do not believe the benefits it will provide. It is hard to find a vet surgeon in Shanghai compared to the situation in the United States.

    But I still want to thank you for your comprehensive analysis of the pros and cons of doing an OSS procedure. If I am unable to find a vet who is clinically familar with the OSS procudure, I will be forced to remove her entire reproductive system once and for all in 2021. Border Collies require substantial daily exercise, and I will try to decrease her daily meals and walk her more often in an attempt to avoid the overweight issue.

    Thank you again for your infornation.

  19. Our, almost 3 year old English Pointer, who we adopted a year ago March, had been spayed when we got her. She is now experiencing symptoms of ovarian remnant syndrome. I can’t imagine leaving a dog to experience estrus if she doesn’t have to. This poor dog is suffering trying to relieve the symptoms herself…licking to the point of creating a sore, dragging on the floor, mounting her playmate and humping, being on high alert all the time, confusion, being unable to relax. It seems like it’s been going on forever! We’re waiting for her bloodwork to come back. Poor girl seems miserable. It’s either ORS or she has a tumor, I suppose. How is it ok to let your dog and the other much smaller dog, go through this every time she has a cycle? Thanks. Kate

    1. How do you know their dogs experience the same thing your dog is experiencing? Your dog is ill, hers are healthy. She’s described her dog’s heats as very manageable for her, and hasn’t mentioned her dog appearing in distress. Heats are supposed to end. If your dog’s issue is constant, there is certainly something that needs veterinary attention, not estrus, a natural process most human women also experience, as well as most female animals… like all over the world.

  20. There actually have been studies on the orthopedic aspect of an early spay/neuter on small breeds, albeit with a very small sample size. The large breed studies also had small sample sizes. According to the small dog study, small dogs generally do not experience the same benefits of being left intact until maturity that large dogs enjoy such as significantly reduced bone cancers and joint issues, but those hormones are likely still valuable to small dogs.

    Waiting until maturity to spay, sparing the ovaries, and leaving intact all have about the same risk of mammary cancer. The only thing that significantly reduces mammary cancer is a spay either before the first heat, or (higher risk but still much lower than leaving intact) between the first and second heats. In large or giant breed dogs, spaying young is not widely recommended anymore. More appropriate options are OSS, spay at maturity (18-24 months), or leave intact. All 3 carry about the same risk of mammary tumors, due to the prolonged exposure to sex hormones all 3 options require.

    I’ve heard that if you’re going with an OSS, it’s safer to do it at 3 months or younger because there’s less fat around the reproductive organs at that age, making the procedure easier for the vet, raising the success (survival) rate. I would consider that more important than my feelings about a natural system that isn’t even in my body. Removing the uterus at such a young age doesn’t carry the same risks that removing the ovaries would, they develop normally without a uterus.

    Animals are unpredictable, no matter where you get them, how old, or whether their hormones are natural or artificially altered. If you’re serious about caring for your dog, have 2 or 3 backup plans for everything. Some dogs have heart conditions or an anesthesia allergy and can’t be altered at all. Don’t let hormones be a reason to give up a dog you love. Invest in fencing, training, and be attentive, for all dogs.

    1. Hi Deborah. Yes, I am aware that most of the studies out there are for larger dogs and the same findings can’t be extrapolated to small dogs with any certainty. However, I don’t believe they can’t at all so that’s why I gave people information and said they need to make their own decisions. Anecdotally, I’ve been around many intact dogs, including Dachshunds, and have observed their strong musculature even at an old age. I wanted that for my girl and, two years later, I can attest what I was seeing has been true for her. You make a lot of good points for people to also consider so thanks. In regard to the age for OSS, that is new to me. I spend months researching OSS before I did it, and spoke extensively to the vet that did ours about her experience, and not once was age brought up in regard to timing. I’m not saying your information is not correct- it’s just new to me.

  21. Hi, thank your for sharing your research. I adopted a female 12 lb. puppy from a local shelter this week. They think she’s about 4 months old, based on her teeth I think. I think she’s a mixture of Italian greyhound, rat terrier and who knows what else. But she’s lovely, and I’m loving her. They almost wouldn’t let me adopt her, because I said I wanted to do a partial spay, I think that’s where they remove one ovary and the uterus. But the shelter said that if she has an ovary or both ovaries, that even though she couldn’t get pregnant, she could still be in danger from the males. But after calling my vet while at the shelter, the vet said they could remove the ovaries but leave the uterus intact. The vet said there’s maybe a 1% chance of developing pyometra, so the shelter finally agreed to that. Now after reading part of your article, I see how important the ovaries are, and also it might be important to wait until she’s a year old. But the shelter required me to schedule the surgery to remove the ovaries, and I had to schedule it for two months from now, when the dog is approximately 6 months old. The shelter will call the vet to verify that the surgery was done, and says they will take her from me if it is not done in two months. I really would prefer to leave her intact, because I’m with them almost all the time when they’re outside, and when I’m not, they’re inside. I still will discuss things with the vet this coming week, but I am concerned about what to do, since I don’t want to go against the shelter rules, but I do think it’s healthier for her to leave the ovaries, or at least wait another 6 months to do the lap surgery where they do remove the ovaries.

    1. Hi Diane. You are correct that there is no benefit to removing both ovaries and leaving the uterus. You might as well do a full spay then. I totally understand having to deal with the shelter restrictions. Shelter’s have one mission and that is to reduce the unwanted pet population so that is why they require a dog be fixed. Quite frankly, I am a tad surprised that they let you take her without spaying her already. I understand 4 months is very young to do it but a lot of shelters will do it anyway so they can guarantee it’s been done. With shelter animals, you often don’t get to make your own decisions about spay/neuter. I do want to reiterate that most of the information I found compared “early spay/neuter” to doing it later in life. In the case of all studies I found defined “early” as under 6 months. Since small dogs mature faster, doing the surgery closer to 10-12 months if you have to do it is more ideal. Maybe you can continue to push them and they will at least let you wait until then. Good luck.

    2. Hi, Thank you for your post. I would prefer a partial spay, but I have a highly active dog who loves the dog park. It makes most sense for her to be spayed. She is in excellent health and never over eats and is very active. I think its wonderful that you found a dog that you love and are rescuing her. I think sometimes you just have to work within the parameters of our society and do what is needed for the whole. You are giving her so much by adopting her and giving her a great home.

  22. Thanks so much for your response. There might not be a problem with the shelter, i haven’t heard anything from them. I had to reschedule the puppy’s spay surgery about a month, since she came into heat about a week ago. I still am leaning toward the OSS procedure, but have only been able to find one person who has had her females spayed using OSS, but having one ovary removed instead of leaving both. She raises Papillons, and says that removing one ovary is good, because the dog has about one heat per year, instead of two or more. I wonder if having one ovary would reduce mammary cancer chances. I have spoken with several vets who perform OSS, and one of them says having one ovary will not reduce their number of heat cycles. One of them says having two ovaries is better. None have done this procedure for more than a few years. I have a four year old miniature poodle who has been driving me crazy with his “amourousness” over the last 3 days of her cycle, even though he has been neutered. Can you let me know if you think that having just one ovary would reduce the number of heat cycles per year, and also if OSS surgery leaving one or both ovaries would reduce the mounting behavior of my male dog? Thanks so much!

  23. I have found your article very interesting. Thanks for your research. I have just got a female miniature Dashound, Blossom she is currently 12 weeks. I had a English staffy for 10 years oh how things seemed to have changed since my last puppy experience 12 years past.
    Is there a time of the year that she will come onto heat or is it just a matter of time? 4-6 months?

    1. My understanding is that it varies (I have only had one female that was not spayed when I got her). I think 6-7 months is more typical for the first one but my friend’s dog didn’t experience her first heat until 9 months.

  24. I made a choice to do OSS for my girl after her first cycle. The best decision ever. I can say it’s a little hard to watch how when she is in heat that she can’t really get what she wants but I don’t think she really knows because she was never in relationship:) . She is happy, playful and full of life. I made this decision because I spayed my older dog and I feel like his personality was taken away from him . I didn’t know better than. I only wish I no estes more time in the research. Just thinking like ok who are we to take their nature away from them …. One thing is to give them surgery another thing is to take away their sexual homo de that I am sure have some functions that doesn’t only deal with reproductive systems . Just like in humans. I am so happy I didn’t put her in menopause at age 1. Love my dogs and only want best for them . Thank you for the post and for sharing your knowledge!!

  25. This makes a very informed read, something for which I am very grateful. My last dachshund was spayed at six months on the advice of the vet. Sadly my little dog’s life was blighted by IVDD at five and she enjoyed ill health until both cruciate ligaments left her unable to stand at nearly thirteen. I now have two dogs, another dachshund aged five, and a German Shepherd/Collie cross Romanian rescue, also aged five. I am definitely investigating the Ovary Sparing Spay but, being in the UK, it is not performed by more than a handful of vets.

    1. Hi Jane. Ovary sparying spay is not performed regularly by vets in the US either. Even in a big city like Seattle, there are only a few. Good luck on your search.

  26. Am in SW Washington & looking for a vet that is highly experienced & excellent in the OSS. Please give me some suggestions. The Parsemus Foundation list isn’t up to date. Thank you!

  27. Thank you for all the information and research you share. It is very evident your love of your dog and your passion to keep her healthy is your main concern. Bottom line is, it is a decision that is a personal one, and I thank you so very much for providing information that will help make that decision an informed and easier one. I am at the stage in my puppy’s life where I have to make that hard decision on this topic. Thank your for making it a bit easier for me.

    1. Glad you found my article helpful Janette. Indeed it was my intention to provide information to help others make the correct decision for themselves and their dog.

  28. My vet does OSS surgery but leaves a stump. Is this advisable? This is the email from her…

    Yes, we try to take the entirety of the uterus and cut at the level of the cervix to prevent stump pyometra. You don’t want to take the whole cervix because then you run the risk of entrapping the ureters with your sutures.

    1. Hi Dawn. This statement is confusing to me because it’s my understanding that leaving any cervix tissue can result in stump pyometra. The term “stump pyometra” is used when a cervix “stump” (part) is left. In her comment, it sounds like she removes the uterus and leaves the full cervix, thus it wouldn’t be a “stump”. Does that make sense? Anyway, I am not a veterinarian but, from my understanding, removing only the uterus does not protect against pyometra. This is also what the vet who performed my girl’s OSS told me. Hope that helps.

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