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Hi everyone. Our standard puppy, ZuZu, is almost five months old. Our vet says to spay by six months. Others say wait until she turns one. We’re confused and hoping for some expert advice. Zuzu is our first poodle and we are totally taken by the breed. We really appreciate the closeness and caring of this community and thank you in advance for your help.
 

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I love the name ZuZu :) There have been a few posts recently on the topic. Here's some recent research and discussion. With a standard, the consensus among those of us who are inordinately keen on our dogs' health has been to wait until 24 months. Not everyone can make it that long, as it does mean the dog will likely have two heats, but waiting longer is better. If your only options are 6 months or 12 months, I'd go for 12 months. If you can make it to 18 months, when the growth plates have likely closed and after the first heat cycle, even better. And of course, until better research is available, 24 months remains the gold standard.
 

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I love the name ZuZu :) There have been a few posts recently on the topic. Here's some recent research and discussion. With a standard, the consensus among those of us who are inordinately keen on our dogs' health has been to wait until 24 months. Not everyone can make it that long, as it does mean the dog will likely have two heats, but waiting longer is better. If your only options are 6 months or 12 months, I'd go for 12 months. If you can make it to 18 months, when the growth plates have likely closed and after the first heat cycle, even better. And of course, until better research is available, 24 months remains the gold standard.
Thank you so much for your thoughtful note. Why do owners believe that 24 months is the gold standard. And how difficult is it to handle these dogs when they are in heat? Thanks again, Liz.
 

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Thank you so much for your thoughtful note. Why do owners believe that 24 months is the gold standard. And how difficult is it to handle these dogs when they are in heat? Thanks again, Liz.
By 24 months you can be sure that growth is complete and dogs have generally reached mental maturity with the benefit of their hormones. Difficulty of dealing with heats is highly dependent on where you live. Generally it just means the dog wears panties inside and is leash walked and never outside unsupervised. If there are lots of free roaming intact male dogs in your neighborhood you may have to be more vigilant about dogs approaching on walks. But I never had an issue when I had a dog in heat. The heat typically lasts 21 days.

Personally I am not comfortable with vets that push early desexing. I look for more open minded vets that treat every dog's case individually to make the best decision for health and owner's situation.
 

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^^^ That covers it. You want to ensure proper physical and hormonal development, which affect musculoskeletal health, disease risk, and behavior. For larger dogs, 24 months is a good benchmark. That said, many (most?) standard poodles finish growing around 18 months. I had Mia spayed at 22.5 months because her growth had topped out and it was exactly half way through her cycle, which was a very proper 183 days long, ensuring the ovaries were small, compact and easily removed. However, she put on a few pounds after the surgery, which may have been more growth or may have been a result of the hormonal changes 🤷‍♀️

You may also want to look into different types of spay procedures: OVH vs OVE. OVH removes the uterus and the ovaries, OVE removes the ovaries only. OVE has become more common and is generally recommended because it's less invasive (smaller incision, less internal disruption). That said, I don't recall seeing a report of surgical outcomes and whether they're significantly different between the two procedures. Some vets may only offer OVH.

Like Rain, I prefer vets who stay current and would seek out a vet who offers OVE and is comfortable (even encouraging of) waiting until physical maturity. But I wholly empathize with where they're coming from - they're on the front lines of animal welfare, and the volumes of neglected and uncared for animals is staggering 😢
 

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We've had to push back against our vet's pressure to early spay. In fact, conversations have occasionally gotten a little tense.

We were originally planning to wait for her to complete just one heat cycle, but now we don't plan to spay Peggy for at least another 6 months.

She's almost 14 months now, and had her first heat at 8 months. Once we got into the diaper groove, it was no problem. I did miss being able to take her to classes, but our trainer set up a socialization play group for us with other young females and one fully mature neutered male.
 

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Wow PTP she went into heat early! Mia was 13.5 months old and had her second heat 183 days later. If Peggy is nearing 14 months, then she's about due, yes?
 

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I spayed my standard at 18 months, Annie had still not had her first heat. Seeing how much growing and filling out she did between 6 and 18 months, mentally and physically, I had no regrets waiting. The guidelines seem to be after 1 for females, after 2 for males.

I have started to notice as I look at other dogs (and as I have moved to a community with more intact dogs) that I can often tell which were spayed /neutered at 6 months and which are intact or altered later. The intact/later altered dogs often have a nicer gait, they usually dont seem to be as stiff in the back end, and especially in males, the face shape and body structure is different/more powerful.
 

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I spayed my standard at 18 months, Annie had still not had her first heat. Seeing how much growing and filling out she did between 6 and 18 months, mentally and physically, I had no regrets waiting. The guidelines seem to be after 1 for females, after 2 for males.

I have started to notice as I look at other dogs (and as I have moved to a community with more intact dogs) that I can often tell which were spayed /neutered at 6 months and which are intact or altered later. The intact/later altered dogs often have a nicer gait, they usually dont seem to be as stiff in the back end, and especially in males, the face shape and body structure is different/more powerful.
Yes I can always tell as well. If you ever see a dog neutered at 8 weeks it is also painfully obvious. They often have a bizarre gait and odd structure. If it's a larger dog. Intact males always have more powerful gaits and good rear drive. Intact females I can also spot but they are trickier. The gait is more graceful and fluid. Lovely to watch. I can't help but analyze gait now.
 

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Wow PTP she went into heat early! Mia was 13.5 months old and had her second heat 183 days later. If Peggy is nearing 14 months, then she's about due, yes?
Yep! Here we go again! Lol.

Her first heat really caught us off guard, but it was textbook, which was nice. No surprises at all, except for how she suddenly turned into a very cuddly poodle. Hoping round two goes as smoothly.
 

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By 24 months you can be sure that growth is complete and dogs have generally reached mental maturity with the benefit of their hormones. Difficulty of dealing with heats is highly dependent on where you live. Generally it just means the dog wears panties inside and is leash walked and never outside unsupervised. If there are lots of free roaming intact male dogs in your neighborhood you may have to be more vigilant about dogs approaching on walks. But I never had an issue when I had a dog in heat. The heat typically lasts 21 days.

Personally I am not comfortable with vets that push early desexing. I look for more open minded vets that treat every dog's case individually to make the best decision for health and owner's situation.
Thanks so much, Liz. This is super helpful!
 

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Best wishes to you and ZuZu. (And as an aside, the section you quoted was from Raindrops - all due credit etc.)
 
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