Liaison: Hazel Fitzgibbon
At birth, the testicles of a male puppy are still within its abdomen. As the animal develops, the testicles slowly “descend” into the scrotum. The scrotum provides a cooler environment for sperm development, which does not occur correctly at the higher temperatures found within the mammalian body.
In cryptorchidism, one or both testicles are “hidden.” A unilateral cryptorchid dog is a male with only one testicle descended into the scrotum; the other testicle is retained in the inguinal canal or abdominal region. A bilateral cryptorchid has no visible testicles; both are retained. Unilateral cryptorchids are often called monorchids, mistakenly. A monorchid literally has only one testicle.
Signs and Symptoms
The sign of cryptorchidism is a lack of visible/palpable testicles in the scrotum of an intact male dog.
This is generally considered to be a hereditary problem in dogs. In breeds that have been studied, it appears to be polygenetic (caused by more than one gene) and recessive (parents may not exhibit the problem, but can pass it on). The genetics have not been studied specifically in Samoyeds.
- Related dogs with cryptorchidism
- Sires and dams who have produced cryptorchids
- Dams from litters where a male sibling had cryptorchidism
Testicles are usually visible to the naked eye, but Samoyeds are often discreet, shielding them with vast amounts of hair.
Testicles can also be palpated (examined by touch).
In young puppies, the testicles are softer and may be difficult to palpate. However, they should be descended and palpable by ten weeks. I know of a puppy who was not entire until he was 5 months old, but this is an extreme. If the testicles have not descended by the age of 6 months, the path by which they descend is normally closed off.
Note: Treatment of animals should only be performed by a licensed veterinarian. Veterinarians should consult the current literature and current pharmacological formularies before initiating any treatment protocol.
Hormone injections have been reported to bring down a testicle, but this has not been proven in well-controlled research*. The general consensus is to neuter (castrate) the dog to prevent cancerous development of the retained testicle. The risk of testicular cancer has been found to be ten times higher in a retained testicle than in a descended testicle. When operating, the veterinarian must literally hunt for the testicle which may be located anywhere from the area around the kidney in the abdomen to the muscle near the groin.
* Note from the AKC secretary: “If it was found that a dog had a testicle lowered through a chemical treatment, the dog would be disqualified, with all awards received after the treatment rescinded,and the owner would be subject to disciplinary action.”
Be warned. Cryptorchid dogs have been known to sire puppies. Don’t think that because a dog has only one testicle, that it doesn’t function. There is much anecdotal evidence from breeders and pet owners alike that supports this!
Cryptorchids should not be bred, because the problem is believed to be hereditary. Careful consideration should also be given to continued breeding of parents of a cryptorchid, who do carry the defective gene(s), or breeding of siblings of a cryptorchid, who may carry the defective gene(s).
A cryptorchid will often have no problems initially with his situation, showing no indications of being in pain or discomfort. However, research has shown that retained testicles often become cancerous. Some also feel that there is an increased risk of testicular torsion, which is very painful. In some breeds dogs have lived very long lives without being castrated but these seem to be the exception rather than the rule.
Memon M and Tibary A. 2001. Canine and Feline Cryptorchidism. In Recent Advances in Small Animal Reproduction. International Veterinary Information Service. http://www.ivis.org/advances/Concannon/memon/ivis.pdf
I can find no support group. This problem has one basic solution which is a permanent ‘cure’. Neutered dogs have their own set of problems, e.g. obesity, and I can find no support group for Neuters either.
http://siriusdog.com/cyptorchidism-congenital-testicle-dog.htm (Wonderful description by Fred Lanting.)