Sometimes, owners may notice that their new puppy has just the one, or possibly no testicles at all in the scrotum. Each dog is different and the testicles of different dogs do descend at different rates although as a rule, both testicles are usually to be found within the scrotum by the time the animal is six weeks of age – and certainly we would be expecting them to be there by eight to ten weeks).If one or both testicles are not present in the scrotum by twelve weeks of age, the likelihood is that they probably never will be. This is what is referred to as cryptorchidism or ‘retained testicles.’ This disorder can be hereditary and may well be passed from generation to generation.
Unless you specifically go looking to see if both testicles have arrived, it is unlikely you would notice. The dog will show no signs or abnormalities because of his condition. Things like their energy levels, behaviour and growth pattern are unlikely to be affected and while it is possible that their fertility levels may be reduced, if the dog has one testicle in the scrotum it may still be possible for him to be a father. (Because this condition is often genetic, it is advisble that such dogs should not be bred from, especially as dogs with retained testicles may have a higher risk of testicular diseases such as cancer and torsion).
If your dog has undescended testicles, what should you do?
It is strongly recommended that you neuter your dog if one or both of his testicles have not come down into the scrotum. Neutering is not only to prevent passing on this genetic problem to future offspring, but also to protect the dog from possible testicular diseases in the future, as mentioned above.
While the dog is having his neuter operation, the vet will search within the abdomen for the retained testicle – which might be quite a tricky thing to find! The retained testicle could be hiding anywhere from the muscle area in the groin or elsewhere in the abdomen around the kidney.
I was always told by vets that if both testicles were not fully descended by 6 mths of age then they would not be able to descend because a ring closes (can’t remember the correct name for this) which prevents a testicle dropping into the scrotum after this age. I am positive that my boy Jali had two testicles as a young puppy but only one descended fully. As he aged I began to doubt whether or not he had the second one because there was no way at all that I could find it. He is a dog who likes lying flat on his back with his legs apart so it is pretty obvious to see what is going on in his nether regions. I am usually able to locate a second testicle having had a bit of practice over the years but as there was absolutely nothing in Jali’s abdomen I thought he must be monorchid and that I had been mistaken in thinking he had two. Being a large breed dog I thought my only course of action would be to wait until he had matured before having him neutered. However, at 13 mths of age he was lying feet up on the floor and I could see a small bulge beside his descended testicle. I dropped to the floor and had a prod around and, lo and behold, there was the second testicle. By 14 mths of age the second testicle was fully descended and has never disappeared since. He is now 3 and has a perfectly formed pair. My advice is to wait much longer than 6 mths before writing off the possibility of a second testicle descending.