In Australia today it is accepted that all companion dogs will be desexed prior to sexual maturity. This is the cornerstone of any control program of stray/unwanted dogs. When you take your pup to the vet for their last vaccination at about 12 -16 weeks, the vet will in all likelihood suggest that you make an appointment for a couple of months’ time to have them spayed/neutered. In a lot of local government areas it is compulsory for dogs that are not registered with ANKC state bodies to be desexed.
However recently the scientific basis of the health benefits of early desexing has been called into question by the findings of several scientific, peer reviewed studies. In fact, some of these studies indicate that desexing prior to sexual maturity may put the dog at higher risk of developing some problems than if they weren’t desexed. I have listed links to some of these papers below; the papers in turn quote other references which you may be interested in following up.
After reading widely I have formed the opinion that it is advisable to wait until the dog reaches the age of about 18 months before desexing. This holds for both males and females – in a female Labrador this age would probably be just after her second season. Depending on your domestic arrangements, caring for a bitch in season may pose difficulties for you; making suitable and safe arrangements for your girl is of the utmost importance.