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Cryptorchidism in Dogs

What is Cryptorchidism in Dogs?

Cryptorchidism is a condition observed in male dogs where one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum. Typically, testicles descend between 6 to 16 weeks after birth. At birth, testicles are usually located near the inguinal ring, which is situated around the groin, and they are guided into the scrotum by the gubernaculum, a connecting structure. During development, this structure is positioned near the kidney. Cryptorchidism arises when the gubernaculum fails to develop properly, causing one or both testicles to remain undescended. In cases where only one testicle descends, it’s usually the left one, while the right one fails to do so. If neither testicle descends, the dog is typically sterile due to the body temperature preventing sperm production.


Cryptorchidism in dogs is primarily genetic and has a connection with the X chromosome. If the parental lineage of a dog is traceable and if the father had cryptorchidism, there exists a heightened likelihood that the offspring might inherit it. Breeds with a propensity for the cryptorchidism gene include:

  • Yorkshire Terriers
  • Pomeranians
  • French Poodles
  • Siberian Huskies
  • Miniature Schnauzers
  • Shetland Sheepdogs
  • Chihuahuas
  • German Shepherds
  • Dachshunds
  • Brachycephalic breeds (smoosh-faced breeds)


To diagnose cryptorchidism in dogs, vets employ several methods. When there’s a known family history, it aids in diagnosis. In cases where the lineage is unknown, veterinarians conduct the following steps during a physical examination:

  • Examination of the scrotal sac and its contents to ensure there are no abnormalities and both testicles are within the sac.
  • If the testicles aren’t palpable in the sac, the vet explores the rest of the abdomen and the groin area to detect any structures resembling testicles.
  • Inspection of the penis to identify penile spines, which typically vanish after neutering within approximately six weeks.

Further diagnostic measures might be suggested, such as an hCG (human chorionic gonadotrophin) or GnRH (gonadotrophin-releasing hormone) response tests, to assess the castration status. Usually, a GnRH test is preferred due to a lower risk of allergic reactions when possible.


The sole treatment for cryptorchidism in dogs involves surgery. Neutering the dog is necessary to prevent breeding, as well as to mitigate risks associated with the undescended testicle, such as testicular torsion and cancer.

Surgical intervention can be intricate due to the need to locate the undescended testicle first. The following methods are utilized for this purpose:

  • Palpation: This technique involves applying pressure with fingers to identify specific areas, aiding in determining if the testicle is situated near the groin.
  • Ultrasound: Employing medical imaging devices helps ascertain the testicle’s location if it cannot be found through palpation.
  • Exploratory surgery: During this procedure, the surgeon opens the abdominal cavity to inspect various areas for the retained testicle. Typically conducted after palpation and ultrasound, exploratory surgery assists in pinpointing the testicle’s location to minimize surgical complications and time.

Undescended testicles can be located anywhere between the scrotum and the kidney. They may also be smaller than usual, which increases the challenge of locating them. Additionally, the testicles may be concealed within other tissues. Dogs with cryptorchidism often require multiple surgical sites to remove and locate both testicles.

Cost of Surgery for Cryptorchidism in Dogs

Anticipate a higher overall expense for addressing cryptorchidism in dogs due to the potential need for extra testing to locate and confirm the presence of the testicles. Various factors contribute to the cost, including, but not restricted to:

  • Extended surgical duration due to efforts in locating the undescended testicle
  • Utilization of additional surgical sites and materials during the procedure
  • Possible requirement for supplementary surgeries to rectify the condition
  • Potential referral to a specialist

It’s crucial to discuss the surgical treatment plan with the veterinarian to obtain an accurate estimation of the costs involved.

Living and Management

For puppies diagnosed with cryptorchidism, it’s generally advised to postpone neutering until they reach one year of age, allowing sufficient time for the testicle(s) to descend into the scrotum.

Even if both testicles descend eventually, it’s still recommended to neuter dogs with cryptorchidism due to it being a hereditary defect of the gubernaculum. Following the neutering procedure, the recovery period typically spans two weeks.

It’s beneficial to restrict activity to minimize swelling as much as possible post-surgery. Dogs may be fitted with an Elizabethan collar or a similar cone to prevent licking and irritation of the surgical site. Daily monitoring of the site for swelling and redness is advisable.

Prior to surgery, it’s important to discuss surgical aftercare with your vet and establish a follow-up timeline for your dog’s recovery upon picking them up post-surgery. This ensures that the surgical recovery process is well-understood and adequately managed.

Cryptorchidism in Dogs FAQs

What are the surgical risks associated with cryptorchidism in dogs?

The primary surgical risks include hemorrhage, pain, swelling, surgical site splitting, discharge of fluid, hypoglycemia, and hypothermia.

Is cryptorchidism in dogs a fatal condition?

No, cryptorchidism itself is not fatal. However, it can predispose dogs to testicular cancer, which can be fatal.

Is cryptorchidism in dogs hereditary?

Yes, cryptorchidism is a hereditary condition linked to the X chromosome.

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