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When Should I Spay or Neuter My Great Dane? How Will I Know the Time is Right?

Written by: Nicole Cosgrove

Last Updated on April 12, 2024 by Dogster Team

When Should I Spay or Neuter My Great Dane? How Will I Know the Time is Right?


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg  Photo


Dr. Maxbetter Vizelberg

DVM (Veterinarian)

The information is current and up-to-date in accordance with the latest veterinarian research.

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Neutering and spaying dogs have become more common among pet owners looking to prevent health conditions, behavioral issues, and pet overpopulation. The standard is to spay or neuter within the first year, but recent research suggests that castrating certain dogs can increase the risk of some cancers, joint disorders, and other health conditions—especially with larger breeds.

If you’re wondering when you should spay or neuter your Great Dane, here’s everything you need to know.


Should I Spay or Neuter My Great Dane?

Removing the reproductive organs of male and female dogs, otherwise known as spaying and neutering, reduces the breeding instinct and associated behaviors. Spaying and neutering dogs may also prevent serious health problems later in life, such as uterine infections mammary gland cancer in females testicular cancer, and an enlarged prostate in males. On the other hand, there is evidence that suggests dogs reproductively altered at a younger age may be at increased risk for various problems later in life such as various cancers and joint disease.

Spaying and neutering have no effect on the dog’s intelligence, ability to learn and play, or positive behaviors, and having these procedures done prevents unexpected litters and unwanted puppies. As more and more people realize the benefits of castration, it’s becoming a more common practice among pet owners.

Fawn Great Dane Dog Breed
Image Credit: Jesus Souto, Shutterstock

What the Research Says

Several studies have examined the effects of neutering (and spaying) at eight to 16 weeks versus six months of age, which is a common timeframe. Research reveals that early sterilization is not associated with an increased risk of mortality or serious health and behavioral problems when compared to neutering at six months.

There isn’t a lot of data pinpointing the ideal age to neuter or spay pets, but emerging research suggests that behavioral problems, endocrine disorders, orthopedic disease, certain cancers, obesity, and urinary incontinence may be linked to sterilization status and the dog’s age.

A 2013 study from the University of California-Davis conducted on Golden Retrievers showed a correlation between early sterilization and diseases like hemangiosarcoma, mast cell tumors, hip dysplasia, lymphosarcoma, and cranial cruciate ligament rupture.

Since then, UC Davis has conducted a larger 10-year study that examined 35 dog breeds and found that sterilization risks vary significantly based on the breed. It revealed that the risk of developing problems was not affected by the age of neutering but rather by body size.

Larger breeds had an increased vulnerability to joint disorders compared to smaller breeds, though there was one surprising exception. Great Danes and Irish Wolfhounds, two giant breeds, showed no increased risk of joint disorders, no matter the age at which they were neutered.

Another notable finding was that the sex of the dog had an impact on health risks. The female dogs in the study showed no increased risk of joint disorders or cancers compared to intact dogs, which wasn’t the case for male dogs. This is in contrast to the earlier study on Golden Retrievers, which revealed that neutering or spaying at any age significantly increases the risks of certain cancers.

Great Danes by the sea
Image Credit: Paul Brennan, Pixabay

When Is Spaying and Neutering Recommended for a Great Dane?

According to the AAHA Canine Life Stage Guidelines, small dogs should be neutered at six months or spayed prior to the first heat, which occurs between five and six months.

With larger breeds like Great Danes, some vets are suggesting later neutering, ideally when the dog is done growing, which is typically between nine and 15 months. For females, spaying should occur within a recommended window of five to 15 months, depending on the risks associated with the particular dog.

Based on the results of the UC Davis study showing demonstrable increase or decrease in risks associated with age of male and female Great Danes, the decision is ultimately up to the pet owner and their veterinarian.



Historically, spaying and neutering have been performed at the earliest age possible to avoid future health problems and minimize the risks of surgery. Now, the veterinary community is evaluating the ideal age to sterilize dogs to prevent some health problems without increasing the risks of others.

Fortunately, Great Danes are one of the few breeds that haven’t shown a significant difference in risks associated with age. As the dog’s owner, the choice is yours, with consultation from your veterinarian to evaluate the risks and benefits for your individual dog.

Featured Image Credit: anetapics, Shutterstock

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