Canine Cryptochidism: Undescended Testicle in Dogs

Undescended testicle in dogs, or canine cryptorchidism, happens when a dog's testicles fail to descend as normal. Some vets believe that there may be a hereditary component to this disorder, but dogs of all breeds may develop undescended testicle. Here's what you should know about this condition.

Risks of Cryptorchidism in Dogs

One of the most common risks of undescended testicle in dogs is the increased risk of testicular cancer if the undescended testicle is not removed. Some vets and breeders feel that cryptorchidism may negatively affect a dog's personality. Some dogs may develop hormonal or endocrine problems due to undescended testicle, and may not grow or develop normally. Undescended testicles may not produce much sperm, and if cryptorchidism affects both of your dog's testicles, he may be entirely sterile.

Female dogs fathered by dogs with one or more undescended testicle often have reproductive problems as well, including stillbirth and spontaneous abortion or miscarriage.

Diagnosing Cryptorchidism in Dogs

Your vet should be able to make a diagnosis of undescended testicle during a routine physical exam. Normally, canine testicles descend into the scrotum at about eight to ten weeks of age. If your dog's testicles haven't both descended into the scrotum by the time he is twelve weeks of age, he can be said to be suffering from undescended testicle.

Treating Undescended Testicle in Dogs

Cryptorchidism is an hereditary disease, so dogs with one or more undescended testicles shouldn't be allowed to breed. They're also at higher risk of developing testicular cancer or other reproductive disorders. Most vets recommend removing both testicles to prevent cancer and stop your dog from spreading this hereditary disease to any potential puppies.

The surgery to remove an undescended testicle is far more delicate and invasive than the castration surgery used to remove normally descended testicles. Your dog's undescended testicle could be located almost anywhere in his abdomen, and your vet will most likely have to search for it in order to remove it. The surgery will be more invasive, depending on where your dog's undescended testicle is located. Your dog will require a much longer post operative recovery time than he would if he received a standard neutering operation, and you'll need to be more diligent in his care.

During your dog's recovery period, keep him in a warm, quiet place and keep his environment as stress free as possible. Keep your dog indoors to reduce the risk of infection and make sure he wears an Elizabethan collar to keep him from licking his wounds.

Keep your dog's bedding clean and examine his wound daily for signs of infection, including pain, inflammation and discharge. Keep the wound clean with warm water and gentle antibacterial soap. Make sure to dry the wound with an absorbent, clean cotton cloth after each washing; drying the wound reduces the chance of infection. Consult your vet right away if you notice signs of infection. If your dog's surgical wound becomes infected, he may need antibiotics.