Issue Description During development before birth, the testicles
migrate from the abdomen into the scrotum. Normally this is complete
by 10 days of age. Cryptorchidism means that one or both of a dog's
testicles have not descended into the scrotum. If this does not happen
by 8 weeks, the dog is generally diagnosed as cryptorchid, although
the testicles may still descend up to 4 months or so.
Causes Although the condition is of course seen only
in male dogs, both males and females can carry the gene for
cryptorchidism. Heterozygous males and females, and homozygous
females, will be physically normal, but can pass the gene on to their
offspring. Homozygous males are cryptorchid. Thus cryptorchidism is
thought to be a sex-limited autosomal recessive trait.
Most Affected Breeds This is a fairly common condition, which is
seen most often in the Toy and Miniature Poodle, Pomeranian, Yorkshire
and Cairn terrier, Dachshund, Chihuahua, Maltese, Boxer, Pekingese,
English Bulldog, Miniature Schnauzer, and Shetland Sheepdog.
Symptoms This condition is rarely associated with pain
or other clinical signs, unless a complication develops. In the event
of a complication, such as spermatic cord torsion (twisting onto
itself), there will signs consistent with sudden and severe abdominal
pain. Most often any clinical signs are associated with neoplasia or
Diagnosis Cryptorchidism is diagnosed by palpation of the
scrotum and finding the absence of one or both testicles. The
diagnosis is frequently made in the young healthy dog when he is
presented to the veterinarian for routine castration. Often the owner
is unaware that the problem exists.
Treatment Neutering and removal of the retained testicle
is recommended as soon as your veterinarian feels it is safe for the
dog to undergo surgery. The procedure normally involves making a
second surgical approach over or near the retained testicle. If the
retained testicle is intra-abdominal, the second incision will be
usually be made along the midline of the abdomen. In effect, your dog
will undergo two surgical procedures for neutering instead of one.
There are two good reasons for neutering a dog with cryptorchidism.
The first is to remove the genetic defect from the breed line. Since
cryptorchidism is an inherited defect, dogs with this condition should
not be bred. Second, if the retained testicle is left in the body, the
chances are increased that the dog will develop a testicular tumor
(cancer) in the retained testicle. The risk of developing testicular
neoplasia is estimated to be approximately ten times greater in dogs
with cryptorchidism than in normal dogs. In fact, 53% of all Sertoli
cell tumors and 36% of all seminomas occur in retained testicles.
Additionally, 36% of all spermatic cord torsions are found in dogs
Prognosis The prognosis is excellent for dogs that are
diagnosed and undergo surgery early. The surgery is relatively simple
and the outcomes are overwhelmingly positive. The prognosis for dogs
that develop testicular neoplasia is guarded to poor and depends on
the specific type of tumor and the dog's overall health at the time of