ARIZONA BACKYARD DANGERS
Undescended Testicle (Cryptorchidism) in Dogs
The following article can be found in full with permission to print at: https://vcahospitals.com/know-your-pet/retained-testicle-cryptorchidism-in-dogs
What is it?
Cryptorchidism is the medical term that refers to the failure of one or both testicles (testes) to descend into the scrotum. The testes develop near the kidneys within the abdomen and normally descend into the scrotum by two months of age. In certain dogs, it may occur later, but rarely after six months of age. Cryptorchidism may be presumed to be present if the testicles cannot be felt in the scrotum after two to four months of age.
In most cases of cryptorchidism, the testicle is retained in the abdomen or in the inguinal canal (the passage through the abdominal wall into the genital region through which a testicle normally descends). Sometimes, the testicle will be located in the subcutaneous tissues (just under the skin) in the groin region, between the inguinal canal and the scrotum
What causes it and how common is it?
Cryptorchidism occurs in all breeds, but in toy breeds, the risk may be higher.
Approximately 75% of cases of cryptorchidism involve only one retained testicle while the remaining 25% involve failure of both testicles to descend into the scrotum. Cryptorchidism affects approximately 1-3% of all dogs. The condition may be inherited since it is commonly seen in families of dogs, but geneticists admit the exact cause is not fully understood.
What is the treatment?
Neutering and removal of the retained testicle(s) are recommended. If only one testicle is retained, the dog will have two incisions - one for extraction of each testicle. If both testicles are in the inguinal canal, there will also be two incisions. If both testicles are in the abdomen, a single abdominal incision will allow access to both.
What if I don't want to neuter my dog?
There are several good reasons for neutering a dog with cryptorchidism. First, it is in your pet contract. But for argument's sake (and from a breeding point of view) the reason would be to remove the genetic trait from the breed line. Cryptorchid dogs should never be bred. NOTE: THIS DOES NOT REFLECT BACKWARD THRU THE LINE, BUT RATHER FORWARD, FROM THE AFFECTED DOG. More importantly, dogs with a retained testicle are more likely to develop a testicular tumor (cancer) in the retained testicle. The risk of developing testicular cancer is estimated to be at least ten times greater in dogs with cryptorchidism than in normal dogs. Also, a testicle can twist, causing pain and requiring emergency surgery to correct.
What is the prognosis?
The prognosis is excellent for dogs that undergo surgery early before problems develop in the retained testicle. The surgery is relatively routine, and the outcomes are overwhelmingly positive, though owners can expect a higher procedure cost than that of a routine neuter.
Should I tell my breeder?
Yes. The relationship between owner and breeder should always include an open line of communication, and this includes regarding anything health related. But though your pet may have a health-related issue, it does not mean your breeder is to blame.
Disclaimer: As your breeder, I do everything I can to ensure I am breeding responsibly. If a testicle is not dropped by the time of the 8 week vet appointment, it will be noted in that pup's individual take-home health report, and it will be advised to "keep a watch" and to prepare for the fact that it may need to be addressed at neuter surgery. This is not a covered issue in a health agreement, because it does not compromise a pet's health, unless it is not taken care of, and in that case is a breach of your neuter contract.
EXTRA NOTE: In the case of an undescended testicle, it does not mean I shouldn't have bred that pup's parents nor does it mean I shouldn't breed them again. It is the affected dog that should not be bred or depended upon to continue the line. Every bit of collected information, in terms of health, is valuable, and can help determine best courses of where to take a breeding program in order to better the breed.
Authors: Krista Williams, BSc, DVM, CCRP; Ryan Llera, BSc, DVM; Robin Downing, DVM, CVPP, CCRP, DAAPM, Ernest Ward, DVM