Tipsy was initially seen for his puppy vaccinations at Anexa Thames. All was well, and he was a healthy pup, minus two important parts – His testicles!!!
In male puppies, the testes are developed within the abdomen and generally descend through the inguinal canal to the scrotum by approximately two months of age. When the testicles don’t descend, we call them retained testicles or cryptorchids. It is more often unilateral with one non-descended testicle, but occasionally, it can be both.
This lack of descending is generally caused by improper development of the connective tissue between the scrotum and the testicle, and it can be a genetic condition, so it’s always good to check the puppy’s parents. These testicles don’t often produce sperm, so they are commonly infertile. However, they still produce the hormone testosterone, which is responsible for all of the ‘male’ behaviours we can see, such as urine marking, aggression, and sex drive, i.e. the sneaky wandering they can do. Testosterone is also a major risk factor for testicular cancers, so we still recommend getting these boys castrated.
At this point, we weren’t too concerned for Tipsy; sometimes, the testicles can take a bit longer than two months to descend. On his next visit at seven months of age, we were lucky enough to find both testicles, although not quite in their normal anatomical position. Tipsy’s testicles were through the inguinal canal but hadn’t fully descended into his scrotum. We gave him another two months, but they still weren’t moving down.
This wasn’t too much of an issue for us as both testicles were visible as small moveable lumps under the skin. In some cases, when the testicles don’t descend, we have to go searching for them within the abdomen or somewhere between there and the scrotum, and they’re not always visible externally. Non-descended testicles can also often be malformed or smaller than regular testicles, making them even harder to find!
We definitely still recommend castration of these guys as any testicles that haven’t descended properly are exposed to higher temperatures than usual (within the abdomen and inguinal canal compared to the scrotum) and are more prone to disease, testicular torsion and tumours.
Tipsy was castrated at approximately 9 months of age, despite him having retained testicles. His surgery went smoothly, and we were able to remove each testicle via two small skin incisions, rather than our regular method of removing testicles via the scrotum.
Tipsy is now bounding around like his usual self, free from the worry of any testicular cancers or otherwise. 🙂