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Violet, a mini, is now 11 months old and has not had a heat cycle. The breeder would like her spayed after her first heat. Apparently age of first heat is anywhere from 6 months to 24 months, with larger dogs taking longer and smaller dogs more likely to be earlier. I've also read somewhere that black minis have a tendency to be later, like 15 to 18 months (true? not true?). Anyway, I am anxiously awaiting it more so than a human child. I think it is because it will be a first for me. I have never experienced a dog in season and the unknown is a bit scary.

I have recently been considering an ovary-sparing spay (uterus and one ovary removed) so that Violet can have the benefit of her hormones for her health. This is a hard decision to make since I have no prior experience with heat cycles, and an ovary left in place will cause her to act/smell-to-dogs like a regular heat cycle. There is usually no bleeding/discharge, but in some cases there may be a small amount.

If I wasn't under a spay contract with the breeder, I would take my time to figure this out (2 to 3 years as needed). My question is simply can I live with and manage appropriately a dog who is hormonally intact? I feel like experience will be the best teacher. My current plan is to do the OSS (ovary-sparing spay) and then if it seems impossible to live with to have the other ovary removed during a future dental cleaning to avoid an extra anesthesia event. I change my mind about this frequently!

In Europe I hear they do very few routine spay/neuter surgeries. In the U.S. it is becoming more common to at least wait until one heat cycle so that the bitch can more fully mature, helping to prevent spay incontinence and bone growth differences among other things. Some cancer and all pregnancy is prevented by spaying, other cancer is prevented by not spaying/being hormonally intact.

OSS is not very common, and usually done for larger breeds who tend towards orthopedic issues- or at least this is what I was told at a recent vet visit. Has anyone on PF done an OSS? Care to tell me about it? Even if you don't have direct experience with this, I'd love to hear some opinions. What do you think about our U.S. standard practice of pediatric spays and/or spay after first heat?

I am a member of the OSS Facebook group, which is very informative but not poodle centric.
 

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It's something I would consider if I had a female, but I think I would probably only go with it if I had only the one dog or only females. Even neutered males can go nuts around a female in heat and it can make life tricky. It could be worked around during heat cycles, but would require some planning. I do think it is the healthiest option if it is possible.
 

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Peggy's had two heats so far—the first was a breeze and the second was not.

Now my only lingering spay fear is the chance of permanent behavioural changes. And that's a very real fear. With these two heat cycles, I'm seeing vividly the power of hormones on temperament.

Would your breeder be open to allowing two heats to help better inform your decision for Violet?
 

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I would have gone with OSS if it was an option at the time. As it was, my options were between OVH and OVE, so I went with the more conservative OVE, which removes the ovaries but leaves the uterus.

I don't know anyone in my area who performs OSS so I can't speak knowledgeably about the after effects, but it would seem to be the most conservative of the three options, and therefore my preference.
 

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I wouldn’t want to go through Beckie’s raging hormones every six months. She was depressed and moping for most part of her heat, and then many weeks after. Totally different dog. I felt sorry for her.
 

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Thank you all for your feedback. It seems that what is most healthy for her may not be the easiest to live with, in a your-mileage-may-vary sort of way.
Peggy, I like the idea for two heats before deciding. It doesn’t quite meet the specifics of the breeder contract, though it meets the spirit of it (no breeding, no puppies). I may time that phone call until after heat #1.
Raindrops, I have two elderly neutered males as well. It sounds like I can expect them to be highly energized by Violet’s heat? It’s hard to imagine! But I’ll be prepared and separate.
Liz, that’s interesting that you were able to find reproductive health options, but not OSS options. I think this is an area of rapid change. In my area it is available but generally used by large dogs at risk of orthopedic problems. There is a dog with OSS at a dog daycare facility I’m looking into, and they told me she is ignored by the neutered males except for one who is very interested. The OSS dog is not allowed there when in season.
Dechi, challenging behavior seems to be dog specific. This is the reason I wish I could take a full two years unspayed to make my decision. I feel like time would reveal all nuances and show me the right path for Violet and her humans.
I hope some breeders or others with unspayed adult bitches will chime in. Breeders live with these issues of lifestyle and management and behavior all the time. They must not find it onerous or why would they do it? The adult dogs at my breeders home were all lovely to interact with.
Would still love to hear all opinions whether or not you have intact dogs.
 

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Thank you all for your feedback. It seems that what is most healthy for her may not be the easiest to live with, in a your-mileage-may-vary sort of way.
Peggy, I like the idea for two heats before deciding. It doesn’t quite meet the specifics of the breeder contract, though it meets the spirit of it (no breeding, no puppies). I may time that phone call until after heat #1.
Raindrops, I have two elderly neutered males as well. It sounds like I can expect them to be highly energized by Violet’s heat? It’s hard to imagine! But I’ll be prepared and separate.
Liz, that’s interesting that you were able to find reproductive health options, but not OSS options. I think this is an area of rapid change. In my area it is available but generally used by large dogs at risk of orthopedic problems. There is a dog with OSS at a dog daycare facility I’m looking into, and they told me she is ignored by the neutered males except for one who is very interested. The OSS dog is not allowed there when in season.
Dechi, challenging behavior seems to be dog specific. This is the reason I wish I could take a full two years unspayed to make my decision. I feel like time would reveal all nuances and show me the right path for Violet and her humans.
I hope some breeders or others with unspayed adult bitches will chime in. Breeders live with these issues of lifestyle and management and behavior all the time. They must not find it onerous or why would they do it? The adult dogs at my breeders home were all lovely to interact with.
Would still love to hear all opinions whether or not you have intact dogs.
With neutered dogs they can be highly variable. Some act just like an intact dog and will even tie with a female in heat. Others completely ignore them. I think with two elderly males you are likely to not have a big problem. It probably depends somewhat on age of neuter and the dog's own tendencies. It even varies with intact males. Some are much more likely to bother a female in heat than others. Thankfully Misha has not managed to figure it all out and isn't a nuisance around newly post-heat females the way some his peers are.

I commend you on doing the research and trying to make the best choice. It is very difficult.
 
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