Should My Cryptorchid Dog Be Neutered

When our canine friends have retained testicles, many wonder if this means they can avoid being sterilized.

Either one or both of the testicles have not descended into the scrotal sack when a dog has cryptorchidism, leading many to believe that the testicles do not need to be addressed.

Though we understand why some pet owners will come to this conclusion, it could not be further from the truth.

Dogs with cryptorchidism are at more risk of testicular complications than their other canine companions, proving just how important it is to neuter these pups as well.

In this article we will get into the details of retained testicles in our canine friends, and help you better understand how you should address this diagnosis in your dog going forward.

Should I Still Neuter My Crytorchid Dog

What Is Cryptorchidism In Dogs?

Cryptorchidism, or retained testicles, is a condition in dogs that refers to testicles that do not descend into the scrotal sack as they normally would.

In a dog free of cryptorchidism, most testicles will fall into the scrotal sack at around 2 months of age.

This process can occur as late as 4-5 months of age in some furry friends, but the testicles should be present by the time they reach 6 months.

When a dog’s testicles do not fall into the scrotal sac, this means they are often residing somewhere in the abdomen or in the inguinal canal.

Some testicles will be just under the skin, while others will be hidden within the abdominal tissues.

Some furry friends will experience bilateral cryptorchidism (both testicles are retained), and others will just experience unilateral cryptorchidism (one testicle is retained).

Though any form of cryptorchidism is possible, 75% of cases just involve one testicle.

Why Does My Dog Have Cryptorchid Testicles?

Though the exact cause of cryptorchidism is unknown, it is most commonly believed to be a genetic condition.

Many cases of retained testicles are seen in families, further pushing the likelihood of it being passed down from dog to dog.

Although there is still no concrete cause of the condition, it is highly discouraged to breed any cryptorchid dogs due to the risk of creating more cryptorchid pups.

Cryptorchidism is still considered somewhat rare, with 1-3% of dogs experiencing this strange reproductive defect.

Aside from certain dogs being predisposed by their genetic ties, toy breed dogs seem to be responsible for many cryptorchid cases.

How Are Cryptorchid Testicles Diagnosed?

Most cases of cryptorchidism in dogs are diagnosed with a simple physical exam.

Your veterinarian can simply palpate for the evidence of a missing testicle in the scrotal sac, pointing to the likely diagnosis if one or both testicles are missing.

Sometimes your vet can even feel the undescended testicles in the inguinal canal within the groin.

Though this is not needed to diagnose cryptorchidism in your dog, your vet can perform an abdominal ultrasound to identify the exact location of your dog’s retained testicle.

This can be helpful for your vet if they cannot feel the testicle on a physical exam, but it is not needed to proceed with surgery.

What Are The Signs Of Cryptorchidism In Dogs?

Many dogs with retained testicles will not experience a single sign of the condition outside of the empty scrotal sack.

The obvious sign of cryptorchidism is the missing testicle in one or both sides of the scrotal sack, but there are a few potential complications that can lead to concerning symptoms.

Some of the potential signs of cryptorchidism in dogs include:

  • Unilateral or bilateral missing testicles
  • Abdominal pain
  • Infertility 
  • Female characteristics or behavioral traits

Many of the potential signs listed above will develop as a result of complications from their retained testicles.

For example, a retained testicle should not lead to abdominal pain on its own, but will rather develop if the spermatic cord becomes twisted.

This condition is typically referred to as a spermatic torsion, and requires immediate medical attention when it occurs.

Infertility itself is not immediate in dogs with cryptorchidism, but rather develops over time as a result of the testicle being exposed to the warm body temperature for a prolonged period.

This is believed to affect the health of the sperm within the retained testicle, leading to potential infertility as a result.

Female characteristics and behavioral traits are not a given in dogs with retained testicles, but this can occur if dogs develop Sertoli cell tumors on their retained testicles.

This occurrence is typically referred to as feminizing syndrome, and it develops due to the estrogen secreted by these tumors.

The best way to know if your dog has cryptorchid testicles is by simply establishing a relationship with a vet.

A basic physical exam can diagnose this condition in your canine friend, and is much more reliable than observing your dog for any of the complications listed above.

Treating Cryptorchidism In Dogs

The best way to treat cryptorchidism in dogs is by removing the testicles through sterilization.

Dogs with retained testicles are at risk of developing more reproductive complications than the average pup, making it essential to remove their testicles as soon as possible.

Your veterinarian can schedule the procedure at the appropriate time based on their age and overall health status.

Is The Neuter Procedure The Same For Cryptorchid Dogs?

Neutering a cryptorchid dog is a bit more complicated, as this procedure will involve exploring the abdominal cavity or inguinal canal.

The standard neuter procedure involves making one small incision just above the scrotum, allowing both testicles to be easily pushed up through the incision and removed.

Because your veterinarian will need to explore the area further for the retained testicle, they will typically need to make two incisions.

In most cases, your vet will make one incision for each retained testicle.

These incisions will be made one at a time, allowing your vet to properly explore each region until the testicle is found.

This procedure can be a bit more invasive, as some testicles will be more challenging to find than others.

While some retained testicles will be just under the skin, others will be hidden within the lower abdomen.

Once each testicle is identified, they will be pulled through their individual incision and removed with the same surgical protocol.

Recovery is typically the same, but these dogs can be a bit more sore due to the additional incision and exploration of the region.

Your vet may prescribe a longer duration of antibiotic treatment if the abdomen was explored, as well as adequate pain and inflammatory control if needed.

Why You Should Neuter Your Cryptorchid Dog

Neutering a cryptorchid dog is essential in offering them a long and healthy life.

These pups are not only at risk of developing the typical complications that impact intact male dogs, but they have additional risks on top of these threats as well.

To help you better understand why you should always neuter your cryptorchid dog, let’s discuss a few of the most common health threats these furry friends face below.

Testicular Cancer

Cryptorchid dogs are more prone to developing testicular cancer as a result of their condition.

Experts believe that this occurs when the testicles are exposed to higher body temperatures within the abdomen, opposed to those that are present in the scrotal sac.

Testicular Torsion

The scrotal sac plays a major role in keeping the testicles safe.

A retained testicle can float freely in the abdominal region, increasing the likelihood of the spermatic cord twisting on itself.

Prostate Disease

Prostate disease is more common in intact male dogs due to the presence of reproductive hormones.

Intact male dogs can develop painful conditions such as prostatitis or prostate cancer, both of which can significantly impact their overall health.

Behavioral Struggles

A retained testicle will not stop producing male reproductive hormones just because it is not in the scrotal sac.

These dogs can display the same undesirable behaviors as other intact dogs, ranging from aggression to inappropriate marking around your home.

Will Dogs With Cryptorchidism Recover?

As long as your cryptorchid dog is neutered early in life, they should not experience any lasting complications.

These dogs should go on to experience the same benefits as other neutered dogs, and are no longer at risk of complications once the retained testicle is removed from the body.

From the moment both testicles are removed, the outcome is positive.

It is important to note that the prognosis can be guarded if your dog is neutered later in life, or if complications from their retained testicles are what leads to their neutering.

If there is already a presence of testicular complications at the time of your dog’s surgery, we always suggest asking your vet about their specific prognosis.

Final Thoughts

Cryptorchid dogs are more at risk of developing testicular complications than other furry friends.

We suggest speaking with your vet about the best time to neuter your cryptorchid dog, and they can point you in the best direction for proper treatment.

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