When is the Best Time to Spay or Neuter My German Shepherd?……
As a Veterinarian and as a Breeder…….
I generally make it a rule to tell everyone NOT to spay or neuter their German Shepherd until they reach at least a year of age. We know that the hormones that regulate sexual activity (such as testosterone and estrogen) also interact with the growth hormones and promote the closure of the growth plates ON TIME. We know that males or females that are spayed or neutered at an early age will grow SIGNIFICANTLY taller than those that are spayed later in life. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered early are typically longer limbed, lighter boned, have narrower chests and smaller skulls.
Most veterinarians are in a habit of recommending you get your dog spayed or neutered at 6 months. Though this is a standard protocol, it is not one that I recommend for your rapidly growing, large breed, sporting dogs. Abnormal growth that results from having some growth plates close on time (due to the presence of sex hormones) and having some growth plate closures delayed (due to the removal of the testicules or ovaries) can in turn, dramatically increase your risk of orthopedic issues. The growth plates of the long bones will close generally between the ages of 5 and 14 months. If you have your dog neutered at 6 or 7 months, some of the growth plates will close on time while others that close later will be delayed. This can result in an increase level of stress on not only the joints (resulting in arthritis) but can also affect the tendons and ligaments. In turn, you may increase your risked of damage to the knees and elbows, predisposing your dog to torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligaments) and the like.
The arguments that you will hear in favor of early spay or neuter include:
- Decrease risk of prostate problems and testicular tumors
- Decrease risk of mammary tumors
- Decrease risk of pregnancy
- Decrease risk of pyometra
I do believe all of these things are true but I feel that you still get these same benefits even if you hold off on your spay or neuter until 1 year of age. I will address each of these arguments briefly here:
Prostate –– Prostate problems are generally not much of an issue until your dog gets to be a little older. This is also true of testicular tumors
Pyometras (infection of the uterus that can result in death) — Though you can see metritis in a younger dog, true pyometras generally don’t occur until the dog reaches 5 years of age or older. Spaying before 5 years of age will eliminate that concern.
Pregnancy –– Most German Shepherds will not go through a heat cycle until they reach AT LEAST 8 months of age. Many of my shepherds don’t come into heat until after 1 year of age. It is very important that you don’t let your shepherd get fat. The earlier maturing, more rapidly growing shepherds are more likely to cycle earlier. By ensuring that your dog does not get overweight, you will also ensure that they will come into their first heat cycle later in life instead of earlier. If you are planning on spaying and your dog starts to come in heat at 10 or 11 months, I feel that it is less critical if you decide to spay at this age. Most all of the major growing as already been done at this point.
Mammary tumors — This is where I think the most valid argument can be found. It is definitely true that if you spay your female before she has a chance to go through her first heat cycle, you reduce your risk of mammary tumors by 90 something percent. Of this fact, I have no doubt. There is also an increased risk of mammary cancer after every ensuing heat cycle. However, though the tumor risk is present, I feel that it is much less than the risk of orthopedic issues. So, between the two, I would rather risk mammary tumors (which is approximately 1 in 10 dogs and can be removed fairly successfully if caught soon enough) than risk hip dysplasia (which occurs in 80 percent of all German Shepherds).
So, in summary, I strongly recommend that you wait until your dog is approaching 1 year of age before considering either spaying or neutering. If you have a female though and do not want to deal with a heat cycle, keep your dog lean (not necessarily skinny), and wait as long as possible before spaying. If you can tell that she is coming into heat, you can schedule a spay at that time in order to prevent her from bleeding in your house and attracting all of the neighborhood Romeos. As a warning though, some veterinarians do not like to spay a dog that is in heat due to an increase risk of bleeding. Check with your local veterinarian to see what their policies are.
Posted July 13, 2016
A new study finds that neutering German Shepherd Dogs before 1 year of age triples the risk of the dogs developing one or more joint disorders.
Lead investigator Dr. Benjamin Hart and other researchers from the University of California-Davis published “Neutering of German Shepherd Dogs: associated joint disorders, cancers and urinary incontinence” online May 16 ahead of print in Veterinary Medicine and Science.
The researchers examined records over a 14 1/2-year period on 1,170 sexually intact or neutered German Shepherd Dogs for joint disorders and cancers that have been associated with neutering. The dogs were followed for diseases through 8 years of age, with the exception that female dogs were followed for mammary cancer through 11 years of age.
One or more joint disorders were diagnosed in 7 percent of sexually intact males, compared with 21 percent of males that had been neutered prior to 1 year of age. In sexually intact females, 5 percent had one or more joint disorders; whereas in females that were neutered prior to 1 year of age, this measure was significantly increased to 16 percent.
Mammary cancer was diagnosed in 4 percent of sexually intact females, compared with less than 1 percent of females neutered before 1 year of age. Urinary incontinence, not diagnosed in sexually intact females, was diagnosed in 7 percent of females neutered before 1 year of age.
The study is available here.
Related JAVMA content:
Study shines spotlight on neutering (Nov. 1, 2013)
Study finds neutering-disease link in Golden Retrievers (April 1, 2013)
Early Spay-Neuter Considerations
for the Canine Athlete
One Veterinarian’s Opinion
© 2005 Chris Zink DVM, PhD, DACVP
Neuter or not?
Those of us with responsibility for the health of canine athletes need to continually read and evaluate new scientific studies to ensure that we are taking the most appropriate care of our performance dogs. This article provides evidence through a number of recent studies to suggest that veterinarians and owners working with canine athletes should revisit the standard protocol in which all dogs that are not intended for breeding are spayed and neutered at or before 6 months of age.
A study by Salmeri et al in 1991 found that bitches spayed at 7 weeks grew significantly taller than those spayed at 7 months, who were taller than those not spayed (or presumably spayed after the growth plates had closed).(1) A study of 1444 Golden Retrievers performed in 1998 and 1999 also found bitches and dogs spayed and neutered at less than a year of age were significantly taller than those spayed or neutered at more than a year of age.(2) The sex hormones, by communicating with a number of other growth-related hormones, promote the closure of the growth plates at puberty (3), so the bones of dogs or bitches neutered or spayed before puberty continue to grow. Dogs that have been spayed or neutered well before puberty can frequently be identified by their longer limbs, lighter bone structure, narrow chests and narrow skulls. This abnormal growth frequently results in significant alterations in body proportions and particularly the lengths (and therefore weights) of certain bones relative to others. For example, if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at 8 months when a dog gets spayed or neutered, but the tibia, which normally stops growing at 12 to 14 months of age continues to grow, then an abnormal angle may develop at the stifle. In addition, with the extra growth, the lower leg below the stifle likely becomes heavier (because it is longer), and may cause increased stresses on the cranial cruciate ligament. In addition, sex hormones are critical for achieving peak bone density.(4) These structural and physiological alterations may be the reason why at least one recent study showed that spayed and neutered dogs had a higher incidence of CCL rupture.(5) Another recent study showed that dogs spayed or neutered before 5 1/2 months had a significantly higher incidence of hip dysplasia than those spayed or neutered after 5 1/2 months of age, although it should be noted that in this study there were no standard criteria for the diagnosis of hip dysplasia.(6) Nonetheless, breeders of purebred dogs should be cognizant of these studies and should consider whether or not pups they bred were spayed or neutered when considering breeding decisions.
A retrospective study of cardiac tumors in dogs showed that there was a 5 times greater risk of hemangiosarcoma, one of the three most common cancers in dogs, in spayed bitches than intact bitches and a 2.4 times greater risk of hemangiosarcoma in neutered dogs as compared to intact males.(7) A study of 3218 dogs demonstrated that dogs that were neutered before a year of age had a significantly increased chance of developing bone cancer.(8) A separate study showed that neutered dogs had a two-fold higher risk of developing bone cancer.(9) Despite the common belief that neutering dogs helps prevent prostate cancer, at least one study suggests that neutering provides no benefit.(10) There certainly is evidence of a slightly increased risk of mammary cancer in female dogs after one heat cycle, and for increased risk with each subsequent heat. While about 30 % of mammary cancers are malignant, as in humans, when caught and surgically removed early the prognosis is very good.(12) Luckily, canine athletes are handled frequently and generally receive prompt veterinary care.
The study that identified a higher incidence of cranial cruciate ligament rupture in spayed or neutered dogs also identified an increased incidence of sexual behaviors in males and females that were neutered early.(5) Further, the study that identified a higher incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs neutered or spayed before 5 1/2 months also showed that early age gonadectomy was associated with an increased incidence of noise phobias and undesirable sexual behaviors.(6) A recent report of the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation reported significantly more behavioral problems in spayed and neutered bitches and dogs. The most commonly observed behavioral problem in spayed females was fearful behavior and the most common problem in males was aggression.(12)
Other Health Considerations
A number of studies have shown that there is an increase in the incidence of female urinary incontinence in dogs spayed early (13), although this finding has not been universal. Certainly there is evidence that ovarian hormones are critical for maintenance of genital tissue structure and contractility.(14, 15) Neutering also has been associated with an increased likelihood of urethral sphincter incontinence in males.(16) This problem is an inconvenience, and not usually life-threatening, but nonetheless one that requires the dog to be medicated for life. A health survey of several thousand Golden Retrievers showed that spayed or neutered dogs were more likely to develop hypothyroidism.(2) This study is consistent with the results of another study in which neutering and spaying was determined to be the most significant gender-associated risk factor for development of hypothyroidism.(17) Infectious diseases were more common in dogs that were spayed or neutered at 24 weeks or less as opposed to those undergoing gonadectomy at more than 24 weeks.(18) Finally, the AKC-CHF report demonstrated a higher incidence of adverse reactions to vaccines in neutered dogs as compared to intact.(12)
To spay or not to spay
I have gathered these studies to show that our practice of routinely spaying or neutering every dog at or before the age of 6 months is not a black-and-white issue. Clearly more studies need to be done to evaluate the effects of prepubertal spaying and neutering, particularly in canine athletes.
Currently, I have significant concerns with spaying or neutering canine athletes before puberty. But of course, there is the pet overpopulation problem. How can we prevent the production of unwanted dogs while still leaving the gonads to produce the hormones that are so important to canine growth and development? One answer would be to perform vasectomies in males and tubal ligation in females, to be followed after maturity by ovariohysterectomy in females to prevent mammary cancer and pyometra. One possible disadvantage is that vasectomy does not prevent some unwanted behaviors associated with males such as marking and humping. On the other hand, females and neutered males frequently participate in these behaviors too. Really, training is the best solution for these issues. Another possible disadvantage is finding a veterinarian who is experienced in performing these procedures. Nonetheless, some do, and if the procedures were in greater demand, more veterinarians would learn them.
I believe it is important that we assess each situation individually. For canine athletes, I currently recommend that dogs and bitches be spayed or neutered after 14 months of age.
Salmeri KR, Bloomberg MS, Scruggs SL, Shille V.. Gonadectomy in immature dogs: effects on skeletal, physical, and behavioral development. JAVMA 1991;198:1193-1203
Grumbach MM. Estrogen, bone, growth and sex: a sea change in conventional wisdom. J Pediatr Endocrinol Metab. 2000;13 Suppl 6:1439-55.
Gilsanz V, Roe TF, Gibbens DT, Schulz EE, Carlson ME, Gonzalez O, Boechat MI. Effect of sex steroids on peak bone density of growing rabbits. Am J Physiol. 1988 Oct;255(4 Pt 1):E416-21.
Slauterbeck JR, Pankratz K, Xu KT, Bozeman SC, Hardy DM. Canine ovariohysterectomy and orchiectomy increases the prevalence of ACL injury. Clin Orthop Relat Res. 2004 Dec;(429):301-5.
Spain CV, Scarlett JM, Houpt KA. Long-term risks and benefits of early-age gonadectomy in dogs. JAVMA 2004;224:380-387.
Ware WA, Hopper DL. Cardiac tumors in dogs: 1982-1995. J Vet Intern Med 1999 Mar-Apr;13(2):95-103
Cooley DM, Beranek BC, Schlittler DL, Glickman NW, Glickman LT, Waters D, Cancer Epidemiol Biomarkers Prev. 2002 Nov;11(11):1434-40
Ru G, Terracini B, Glickman LT. Host related risk factors for canine osteosarcoma. Vet J. 1998 Jul;156(1):31-9.
Obradovich J, Walshaw R, Goullaud E. The influence of castration on the development of prostatic carcinoma in the dog. 43 cases (1978-1985). J Vet Intern Med 1987 Oct-Dec;1(4):183-7
Meuten DJ. Tumors in Domestic Animals. 4th Edn. Iowa State Press, Blackwell Publishing Company, Ames, Iowa, p. 575
Stocklin-Gautschi NM, Hassig M, Reichler IM, Hubler M, Arnold S. The relationship of urinary incontinence to early spaying in bitches. J. Reprod. Fertil. Suppl. 57:233-6, 2001
Pessina MA, Hoyt RF Jr, Goldstein I, Traish AM. Differential effects of estradiol, progesterone, and testosterone on vaginal structural integrity. Endocrinology. 2006 Jan;147(1):61-9.
Kim NN, Min K, Pessina MA, Munarriz R, Goldstein I, Traish AM. Effects of ovariectomy and steroid hormones on vaginal smooth muscle contractility. Int J Impot Res. 2004 Feb;16(1):43-50.
Aaron A, Eggleton K, Power C, Holt PE. Urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence in male dogs: a retrospective analysis of 54 cases. Vet Rec. 139:542-6, 1996
Panciera DL. Hypothyroidism in dogs: 66 cases (1987-1992). J. Am. Vet. Med. Assoc., 204:761-7 1994
Howe LM, Slater MR, Boothe HW, Hobson HP, Holcom JL, Spann AC. Long-term outcome of gonadectomy performed at an early age or traditional age in dogs. J Am Vet Med Assoc. 2001 Jan 15;218(2):217-21.
This article is available for download in Adobe Acrobat PDF format Early Spay Considerations (pdf).
Study Finds Early Spay-Neuter Surgeries in German Shepherd Dogs Increase Risk of Joint Problems
Published June 2017
For the past three decades, there has been a trend toward early spaying and neutering of dogs for reasons such as avoiding unwanted breeding and reducing some diseases such as mammary and prostate cancers. Some people believe that spaying and neutering helps to avoid behavioral problems. The impact has been dramatic, with an estimated 85 percent of dogs in the U.S.1 currently being spayed or neutered.
Breeders have an important role in helping puppy buyers determine at what age to neuter or spay their dog. They may require puppy buyers to neuter or spay their dog to avoid indiscriminate breeding, thus their recommendation is key in helping owners decide when to spay or neuter their German Shepherd Dog.
A retrospective study evaluating the long-term effects of spay-neuter surgeries in German Shepherd Dogs, published in 2016 in the journal Veterinary Medicine and Science, may change breeders’ views about the safest age to recommend the procedure. The study reported a significant increase in cranial cruciate ligament (CCL) tears, or ruptures, in male and female German Shepherd Dogs neutered before 1 year of age, and it also noted a significantly higher incidence of urinary incontinence in female German Shepherd Dogs spayed before 1 year of age.
“I used to recommend neutering my puppies before they reached sexual maturity or at least spaying females before their first estrous season,” says Ginny Altman, of St. Paul, Minnesota, breeder of Rivaden German Shepherd Dogs since 1981. “Now, if the owner wants to neuter, I recommend waiting until the dog has matured and certainly waiting until they have quit growing, which is usually between 18 and 24 months of age.”
Altman attributes her change in perspective to the recent study in German Shepherd Dogs. The American German Shepherd Dog Charitable Foundation helped to sponsor the research, which was funded by the AKC (American Kennel Club) Canine Health Foundation.
The research was based on the veterinary records of 1,170 intact and neutered German Shepherd Dogs in the medical database at the University of California-Davis Veterinary Medical Teaching Hospital. The report examined joint disorders and cancers previously associated with neutering that occurred in dogs from Jan. 1, 2000, to June 30, 2014.
The analysis involved a comparison of disease incidence in intact dogs with those neutered before 6 months of age, between 6 and 11 months of age, between 12 and 23 months of age, and from 24 months through 8 years of age. Three joint disorders, CCL, hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia, and four cancers, osteosarcoma, lymphoma, hemangiosarcoma, and mast cell tumor, were followed through 8 years of age. Mammary cancer in females was followed through 11 years of age.
Lead investigator Benjamin L. Hart, DVM, PhD, DACVB, distinguished professor emeritus at the University of California-Davis School of Veterinary Medicine, says, “In general, larger dogs seem much more adversely affected with regard to joint disorders by spaying or neutering, but there also is breed and gender specificity. Thus, the risk-benefit ratio depends on the severity of the conditions affected by neutering, the conditions’ overall prevalence in that breed, and the degree to which neutering affects the risk of those conditions. One size does not fit all when it comes to deciding whether to neuter.”
Dr. Hart, a clinical animal behaviorist, researches the behavioral effects of neutering or spaying in animals. An ongoing study of the health effects associated with spay and neuter surgery will provide analyses of a total of 31 breeds for which data has been compiled. When the work is completed later this year, the information will be available on an open-access website as a resource for breeders, owners, veterinarians, and researchers.
“Thus far, our findings have not associated an increase in diseases due to spaying or neutering in small breeds, and in the other breeds, disease risk was dependent on gender and whether spay or neuter surgery was performed before or after
1 year of age,” says Dr. Hart. “There is much misconception related to the impact neutering has on an animal and whether the age of neutering makes a difference. We knew we needed the research to be breed-specific rather than generalizing across breeds.”
In one of their publications, Dr. Hart’s team compared the long-term health effects of neutering in Labrador Retrievers and Golden Retrievers and found that neutering before 6 months of age doubled the incidence of one or more joint disorders in Labradors, and increased the risk in Goldens by four to five times. Spaying female Goldens through 8 years of age increased the rate of at least one cancer by three to four times that of intact females.
Increased Incidence of CCL Rupture
The decision whether to neuter or spay a dog often relates to the dog’s purpose. A German Shepherd Dog being campaigned at dog shows is not eligible for neutering or spaying because conformation involves judging dogs for their breeding potential. Dogs that compete in herding trials, obedience or rally, agility, tracking, and Schutzhund may be neutered or spayed, as these performance events are exempt from the breeding purpose that governs dog shows. However, owners may wish to avoid increasing the risk of a joint disorder such as hip dysplasia or CCL, as this could interfere with performance.
People who buy German Shepherd Dogs for companions may want to neuter or spay their dog to help prevent unwanted litters, to avoid bitches coming into season, and to lessen aggression and roaming tendencies in males, though Dr. Hart says evidence shows that neutering males after 1 year is as effective in controlling aggression as neutering before 6 months of age.
Neutering or spaying German Shepherd Dogs training for police or military work is optional. However, it is important that these dogs be healthy and fit to do their jobs, and neutering or spaying before 6 months of age could increase the risk of a debilitating joint disorder such as hip dysplasia or CCL.
Among all German Shepherd Dogs studied, hip dysplasia, a frequent disease in the breed, is doubled in risk to 7 to 8 percent by early spaying or neutering. However, CCL occurs in less than 1 percent of intact dogs but is increased in risk to 8 to 12 percent with early spay-neuter surgeries, resulting in this disease being the main joint disorder impacted by early neutering in German Shepherd Dogs.
As the most common joint disorder in spayed or neutered dogs, CCL rupture also can shorten a dog’s working career, is expensive to treat and requires weeks of rehabilitation. A critical stabilizer of the stifle (knee) joint, the CCL functions as a rope as it stabilizes the femur (thighbone) to the tibia (shinbone), preventing the stifle bone from shifting during activity. Without the normal CCL stabilization, a dog’s movement is compromised and painful osteoarthritis develops.
In intact male German Shepherd Dogs, 6.6 percent were diagnosed with at least one joint disorder. The main joint disorder reported was hip dysplasia, which results from a loose connection between the pelvis socket, or acetabulum, and the thighbone ball, or femur head, which creates laxity in the hip joint. Degenerative joint disease, or osteoarthritis, commonly accompany this disease, causing pain and disability.
Male German Shepherd Dogs neutered before 6 months of age had an incidence rate of 20.8 percent of developing one joint disorder — three times greater than in intact males. In dogs neutered from 6 to 11 months of age, the incidence was 16.4 percent — two times greater than in intact males. Although CCL rupture occurred in less than 1 percent of intact males, in dogs neutered before 6 months of age and from 6 to 11 months of age, the rate increased significantly to 12.5 percent and 8.3 percent, respectively.
Similarly, intact female German Shepherd Dogs showed an incidence rate of 5.1 percent of having at least one joint disorder. In contrast, those spayed before 6 months of age had an incidence rate of 12.5 percent — more than double that of intact females. In those spayed between 6 to 11 months of age, the rate was almost 17 percent — three times higher than in intact females. CCL, which was diagnosed in less than 1 percent of intact females, occurred in 4.6 percent of females spayed before 6 months of age and in 8.3 percent spayed between 6 and 11 months of age.
Because joint disorders can be related to body weight, the researchers also looked at whether the increased weight of neutered dogs could be responsible for CCL rupture, but they did not find a connection. Using a body condition score (BCS) based on a scale of 1 to 9, with 5 being ideal, they compared the body condition of neutered males with CCL ruptures to neutered males without CCL ruptures and found that the median BCS for both was 5. The median BCS for spayed females with CCL ruptures was 5.75 compared to spayed females without CCL ruptures having a BCS of 5.
“We think that early neutering prevents the gonadal hormone secretion that normally stimulates closure of long-bone growth plates as a dog approaches maturity,” Dr. Hart explains. “The bones grow slightly longer than normal, which, in turn, disrupts joint alignment enough to lead to clinically apparent joint problems in some dogs.”
Elbow dysplasia was virtually nonexistent in intact and neutered German Shepherd Dogs. This condition is caused by growth disturbances in the elbow joint due to a misalignment of growth between the two bones in the foreleg between the radius (elbow) and ulna (wrist).
A noteworthy finding was that “dogs of either sex neutered after 1 year of age did not have significantly more joint disorders compared to intact dogs,” Dr. Hart says.
Risks Related to Urinary Incontinence & Cancer
Urinary incontinence is a disorder mainly affecting elderly female dogs in which they involuntarily pass urine. It is mostly diagnosed in neutered large-breed dogs. As expected, the condition was not reported in intact female German Shepherd Dogs, yet 7 percent of females spayed before 1 year of age were incontinent in their elderly years.
Fortunately, of the cancers followed in German Shepherd Dogs through age 8, there were few reports regardless whether a dog was intact or neutered. The research team cautioned that cancer rates could increase at later ages, though they did not study this.
Mammary cancer was tracked through 11 years of age because this type of cancer characteristically occurs later in life. About 4 to 5 percent of intact females and those spayed from 2 through 8 years were diagnosed with mammary cancer in contrast to no cases diagnosed in females spayed before 6 months of age.
Spaying has been attributed to helping to reduce the risk of mammary cancer, though a 2012published study found neutering provided no apparent protection against mammary cancer. Dr. Hart notes that the protective factor could be breed specific. Regardless, in German Shepherd Dogs, the incidence of mammary cancer is fairly low.
A Proactive Preventive Approach
Given the results of this study showing the increased incidence of CCL rupture and urinary incontinence in German Shepherd Dogs that had early spay-neuter surgeries, breeders should consider the pros and cons before deciding the best age to recommend that puppy buyers spay or neuter their dogs. The purpose of a dog also should be considered in determining what is best for a companion dog, a working police dog, or a show or sporting competitor could be different.
A German Shepherd Dog that is neutered or spayed before 1 year of age and has a CCL rupture could be out of commission for months for surgery and rehabilitation. Urinary incontinence is an inconvenient disorder for owners to deal with because it requires frequent cleaning of urine from floors and bedding. It also is attributed to dogs being relinquished to shelters.
The most important finding in German Shepherd Dogs is that there is no advantage of neutering or spaying before 12 months of age. “I advise owners of German Shepherd Dog puppies to be in no hurry to neuter a male or spay a female,” Dr. Hart says. “I always tell them to wait until their dog is at least a year old before neutering.”
Altman believes that Dr. Hart’s research will help make it easier to convince breeders and owners that early neutering is not the healthy choice for German Shepherd Dogs it was once thought to be. “This study has been eye-opening for our breed,” she says. “Waiting until a dog is 1-year-old to be neutered or spayed is a simple way to help prevent the risk of these disorders.”
1 Percentage of Dogs That Are Spayed or Neutered. APPA National Pet Owners Survey. American Pet Products Association: Greenwich, CT. 2017-2018:78.
Purina appreciates the support of the American German Shepherd Dog Charitable Foundation (AGSDCF), particularly Ginny Altman, current vice president and health liaison of the Foundation, and a past president and former chair of the Health and Genetics Committee of the German Shepherd Dog Club of America, in helping to identify topics for the Purina Pro Plan German Shepherd Dog Update newsletter. The AGSDCF board of directors also contributes to helping to identify topics.