Neuter status as a risk factor for canine intervertebral disc herniation (IVDH) in dachshunds: a retrospective cohort study

Canine Genet Epidemiol. 2018 Nov 15:5:11. doi: 10.1186/s40575-018-0067-7. eCollection 2018.


Background: Intervertebral disc herniation (IVDH) involves displacement of the intervertebral disc secondary to disc degeneration and is extremely common in dachshunds. Clinical signs include pain with or without paresis or paralysis. Mortality rate is high and some cases are left with permanent disability even after treatment. Aims of this study were twofold: Firstly, to investigate whether neutering, i.e. gonadectomy, is associated with increased risk of IVDH in dachshunds, and secondly to investigate whether age of neutering alters risk of IVDH in this breed.Information was obtained for 1964 dachshunds from the owner survey, "Dachslife 2015". For dachshunds that were ≥ 3 years and < 10 years old at the time of the survey (1073 individuals) incidence of IVDH was compared between early-neutered (< 12 months), late-neutered (> 12 months) and entire animals of each gender.

Results: Neutered females were at significantly higher risk of IVDH than entire females (risk ratio 1.81, 95% CI 1.28-2.54). For males, incidence of IVDH in neutered as compared with entire dachshunds was increased but this difference was not quite statistically significant (risk ratio 1.38, 95% CI 0.96-1.99).For both genders, this study demonstrated significantly increased risk of IVDH in early-neutered dachshunds (before 12 months old) as compared with those neutered late (after 12 months old). For early neutered males, risk ratio was 1.54 (95% CI 1.07-2.22). For early-neutered females, risk ratio was 2.12 (95% CI 1.44-3.11).

Conclusion: Results from this retrospective study suggest that gonadectomy, especially if performed before 12 months old, increases risk of IVDH in this breed. Decisions regarding neutering should be made on an individual basis, taking a range of pros and cons into account. Considering the high prevalence, morbidity and mortality of IVDH in dachshunds, increased IVDH risk associated with neutering is a key factor to consider in deciding whether and when to neuter.

Keywords: Canine; Dachshund; IVDD; IVDH; Neutering; Spine.