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Signs of Cryptorchidism in Dogs

Updated on August 27, 2009

Cryptorchidism in dogs may present as unilateral or bilateral. Bilateral cryptorchidism is the medical term depicting  testicles that have not descended. Unilateral cryptorchidism, instead is the medical term that depicts when only one  testicle has descended. The latter is generally, the most common form seen  in dogs. Often  the diagnosis of bilateral or unilateralchyptorchidism comes from a veterinarian upon examining a dog during a physical examination, in particular during the pre-surgical examination that takes place prior to scheduling a pet to be neutered. 

In dogs, cryptorchisidism is often seen in pure bred dogs with a particular predilection for Miniature Schnauzers and Cocker Spaniels. Small breed dogs generally seem to be more affected than larger breed dogs. In cats, it is often seen in the Persian breed.

Normally, when a dog is born, its testicles are still up in the abdomen. Then gradually as the animal matures, the testicles descend into the scrotum and start being visible. Generally, in a dog, both testicles descend at 10 days of age and by when the puppy is ten-twelve weeks old. In the case they have not dropped down by then, the dog is diagnosed as to being cryptorchid. However, often veterinarians recommend to wait until the dog is six months old when its inguinal rings close, before declaring it a cryptorchid.

If both testicles are retained in the abdomen the dog may still display breeding behaviors upon reaching sexual maturity, however, the animal may be infertil. The reason behind this is that sperm cannot be produced in the abdomen because it is a too warm environment, however, if one of the testicles has descended, the dog may still be able to impregnate a breeding partner. Cyptorchid animals however, should not be allowed to breed because cryptorchidism is a genetic trait that can be passed on to the offspring.

Dogs with retained testicles as well may have higher chances of  testicular cancer  (Sertoli  cell tumors) and complications such as testicular torsion.In some cases, dogs with retained testicles may also undergo behavior changes. For these reasons, it is highly recommended to get cryptorchid dogs neutered.

The surgery for neutering a cryptorchid  dog is a bit  more invasive, more costly and more complicated than neutering an animal with normal testicles. The reason behind this is the fact that the cryptorchid animal's abdomen will need to opened up in order to succesfully remove the retained testicles. Sometimes finding the testicles in the abdomen may be challenging, turning a surgery almost into an exploratory surgery.

Currently the AKC accepts only intact males in theri dog shows. Bilateral and unilateral dogs are not allowed to become champions because the focus of the AKC is to show breeding stock.


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