Retained Testicle or Cryptorchidism in Dogs

Cryptorchidism affects approximately 1.2% of all dogs. Find out more in this article.
Retained Testicle or Cryptorchidism in Dogs

Last update: 18 December, 2019

Just as with human babies, a case of retained testicles in dogs is basically the absence of one or both testicles in the scrotum. Naturally, it affects only the male individuals of the species. Similarly to the case of children, a retained testicle or cryptorchidism in dogs can negatively affect the animal’s reproductive or sexual activity.

The root or cause of this particular disease is not yet clear. Most specialists think that genetic predisposition is the most determining risk factor. However, dogs can inherit the disease from both the mother or the father.

Likewise, experts estimate that the chances for a newborn specimen to present this ailment is four times higher if its father or a sibling from a previous litter was affected by it.

On the other hand, still without determining the cause of the disease, there are breeds statistically more likely to develop this anomaly. In this sense, the Yorkshire, Teckel, Poodle, Boxer, Maltese Bichon, Miniature Schnauzer and Pekingese puppies stand out.

Environmental factors can also play against new male litters, such as obesity in the mother or exposure to some chemicals such as diethylstilbestrol, as well as other conditions.

Some prematurely-born dogs are much more likely to suffer from this disease. Only 6% of the cases of retained testicle or cryptorchidism in dogs belong to pregnancies that ended in full term.

Retained testicle diagnosis

The normal formation and placement process of the testicles in male puppies begins at gestation. At the first stage, they’re located in the lower abdominal region, where they remain until birth.

A panting dog in the woods.

Approximately ten days after birth, the testicles descend into the groin canal. By the first 15 days, it’s time for the testicles to reach their final destination: the scrotal sac.

However, this process isn’t standard at all. Some specimens may take up to 12 weeks before this happens, sometimes even longer. Therefore, veterinarians usually wait until the dog is 6 months old to make a definitive diagnosis.

When the presence of this anomaly is suspected, a veterinarian doctor will only need to examine the animal’s scrotum to make an evaluation. Some specimens need an ultrasound test to determine the exact region where the male gonads were trapped.

There are 4 kinds of retained testicles or cryptorchidism:

  • Unilateral: When only one testicle reached the scrotum sac
  • Bilateral: None of the testicles was able to reach the sac
  • Inguinal: when the testicles fail to pass through the inguinal canal, located on both sides of the penis
  • Abdominal: the organs weren’t released from the area in which they were formed

Symptoms and collateral danger

Initially, this pathology won’t show any evident symptoms in your pet’s behavior. However, if it isn’t detected or treated in a timely manner, it may cause major difficulties later. These difficulties, beyond conditioning the animal’s sexual and reproductive activity plus their behavior, will definitely put their lives at risk.

Male gonads outside the scrotum can become hot and reach high temperatures. Therefore, in addition to not fulfilling any useful function, they can end up completely atrophied. In some specimens, this results in the torsion of the testicles and in the most serious scenarios in testicular cancer.

When a lump appears in the area, the following changes are evident both physically and in the pet’s behavior:

  • A dramatic decrease in penis size
  • Development of mammary glands, similar to a female’s during the gestation period
  • Feminization syndrome, or in other words, dogs that adopt feminine positions when urinating


Unlike in the case of children, correcting a retained testicle case in dogs with surgical interventions is qualified as an unethical process. Above all, this is because the risks of spreading this disease increase too much.

A cut dog resting on the grass.

To avoid potentially dangerous malformations, the most common measure taken by specialists around the world is to remove the misplaced testicle.

How to prevent the development of cryptorchidism in dogs

It’s important to remember that genetic factors will increase the risk of puppies becoming victims of this ailment. Therefore, the only specific measure to stop it from spreading is sterilization. This applies to males with undescended or surgically-rearranged testicles. In addition, this should also be applied to females whose litters show more than one case of affected offspring. However, these actions don’t reduce the total risks either.

About 150 out of every 1000 male dog births end up affected by this disease. Did you find today’s article interesting? See you next time!

It might interest you...
Should I Spay or Neuter my Dog?
My AnimalsRead it in My Animals
Should I Spay or Neuter my Dog?

Some people continue to have doubts about the surgical sterilization of pets. The truth is that if you decide to have your dog fixed, you will not ...