This recent post at Doolittler is quite timely for me, as I'm trying to decide when to spay Pinky. Most vets and animal welfare folks will say sterilize at six months, no question, period. In fact, there are some who advocate sterilization at early as 6 to 7 weeks of age. When Lucy and Mr. Gomez were pups, I didn't question any of this and had them altered promptly. (Well, more or less. Literally the day after I made Lucy's appointment at 6 months, she went into heat and I had to postpone the spay. Then after she came out of heat, there was a horrible rat-poison-eating incident, and we had to delay her surgery again until her bloodwork came back normal, so she was almost a year old by the time she was spayed. Still, I had intended to do it at six months).
Over the past few years I've heard of increasing evidence challenging the accepted view that early sterilization confers only benefits and no drawbacks. Chris Zink, a well-known canine sports vet, questions the 6-month rule and advocates that canine athletes not be sterilized before 14 months of age. Also, a lit review cited by Doolittler indicates that sterilization health risks may outweigh benefits, particularly for females. It's enough to make me think ... unfortunately I need to do more than think, I need to decide something.
There's no question that I will spay Pinky at some point. But right now the only two reasons I can think of to do it now rather than waiting are 1) Young dogs generally recover more quickly from the surgery and anaesthesia; and 2) Dealing with a dog in heat is not really my idea of a good time, and I definitely don't want any "oops" litters. Right now it's looking like I may follow Chris Zink's advice and wait.