Spay-Neuter Timing Linked with Orthopedic Injuries in Golden Retrievers

The results of a recent study indicate that in Golden Retrievers the spay/neuter procedure is linked with an increased risk for obesity, and the timing of when the spay/neuter procedure is performed is linked with non-traumatic orthopedic injuries.

Study overview

Researchers analyzed health data on Golden Retrievers, collected over six years, from the Golden Retriever Lifetime Study* cohort of more than 3,000 golden retrievers. Approximately one-half had undergone spay or neuter surgery.

Study Findings

-Golden Retrievers spayed or neutered before 6 months of age were at a 300% greater risk of sustaining non-traumatic orthopedic injuries.

– Golden Retrievers that were spayed or neutered were 50% to 100% more likely to become overweight or obese; the risk did not appear to be affected by the dog’s age at the time of surgery.

The researchers say these results may apply to breeds other than Golden Retrievers, particularly other large- and giant-breed dogs.


If you have a Golden Retriever that has already had the spay/neuter procedure be sure s/he gets plenty of daily exercise and talk to your veterinarian about the best diet for preventing weight gain. And if your Golden Retriever is under 6 months of age, discuss these findings with your vet and the possibility of postponing the spay/neuter procedure until the dog is at least 6 months old.

* The Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is the most extensive, prospective study ever undertaken in veterinary medicine. Launched in 2012, and reaching full enrollment in 2015, it gathers information on more than 3,000 golden retrievers from around the United States, throughout their lives, to identify the nutritional, environmental, lifestyle and genetic risk factors for cancer and other diseases in dogs. Owners and veterinarians complete yearly online questionnaires about the health status and lifestyle of the dogs. Biological samples also are collected, and each dog has a physical study examination annually.

The Morris Animal Foundation Golden Retriever Lifetime Study is funded in part by the Mark and Bette Morris Family Foundation, Petco Foundation, Blue Buffalo Company, Mars Veterinary Inc., ANTECH Diagnostics and Imaging, VCA Inc., Zoetis, Golden Retriever Foundation, and the Hadley and Marion Stewart Foundation.


Journal Reference:  Simpson, M., et al. (2019). Age at gonadectomy and risk of overweight/obesity and orthopedic injury in a cohort of Golden Retrievers, PLOS|One. Study:


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