What Is Cryptorchidism and How Is It Treated?

Samoyeds can develop cryptorchidism as puppies

You bring your Samoyed puppy to the vet for his regular exam. Your vet tells you that your puppy’s testicles haven’t dropped, and the puppy is labeled a cryptorchid. As a new owner, anything out of the ordinary can cause alarm, so you likely start looking for more information. 

But what is cryptorchidism, and how commonly does it occur? Below, learn about this condition and how it affects dog health. 

What is cryptorchidism? 

When a male puppy is born, his testicles are within his abdomen. As he gets older, the testicles “drop” into the scrotum. For dogs used for breeding, there should be two normal testes in the scrotum. 

Cryptorchidism is a condition where one or both of the testicles doesn’t drop; the testicles stay retained. 

A male dog with just one testis in the scrotum is called a unilateral cryptorchid. A dog with no testes present in the scrotum is known as a bilateral cryptorchid. Unilateral cryptorchidism is more common than bilateral cryptorchidism.1

How common is cryptorchidism? 

Cryptorchidism is one of the most common congenital developmental defects in purebred dogs.  It occurs in 1.2% to 10% of dogs, but in some breeds, the incidence rate can be as high as 15%.

Experts are split on whether cryptorchidism is a hereditary health issue or not. According to the Samoyed Health Foundation, cryptorchidism has only been studied in some breeds. In the breeds that researchers have looked at, the condition appears to be polygenetic, meaning it’s caused by more than one gene. It also is recessive, so it can not be evident in the parents but appear in the puppies.3

While it can occur in any breed, it’s especially prevalent in Cocker Spaniels, Miniature Schnauzers. It’s also been studied in German Shepherds and Siberian Huskies, but is more common in smaller breeds like Pomeranians, Chihuahuas, and Dachshunds. Cryptorchidism incidences in Samoyeds have not yet been studied. 

When is cryptorchidism diagnosed? 

According to Dr. Sara Ochoa, a practicing veterinarian and veterinary consultant for DogLab.com, cryptorchidism can be identified while the dog is quite young. 

“This [cryptorchidism] can be diagnosed at six weeks of age,” she said. “Most puppy’s testicles have fully descended by then.  Some will be a little later in life.”

Some dogs are late to mature. Experts recommend waiting until the dog reaches six months of age before labeling a dog as a cryptorchid or seeking medical intervention.4

“If their testicles have not descended by six months of age, they most likely will not descend,” Dr. Ochoa said.

Cryptorchidism is diagnosed by a vet after a visual and physical examination. 

Related: What to look for when shopping for a puppy

How does cryptorchidism affect dogs? 

Cryptorchidism can affect dogs in a few different ways: 

1. Health

Dogs with cryptorchidism have much higher rates of developing testicular cancer. In fact, the risk of testicular cancer is 10 times higher in dogs with cryptorchidism than in dogs with fully descended testicles.5

“Cryptorchidism can affect a dog’s life expectancy,” said Dr. Ochoa. “The testicle that is left inside usually becomes cancerous and can cause a decreased length of life.”

2. Sterility

Many, but not all, cryptorchid dogs are sterile, meaning they are unable to breed and produce puppies. 

Unilateral cryptorchid dogs can still produce sperm and breed, so you should keep your dog away from any females in heat.

Bilateral cryptorchid dogs are sterile.6

3. Show Disqualification

According to AKC standards, cryptorchidism is a disqualifying factor in dog shows.7

Related: Learn about Samoyed breed standards and temperament

My Samoyed has cryptorchidism; what do I do? 

If your dog was diagnosed with cryptorchidism by a veterinarian, your vet would likely recommend neutering your dog as soon as possible. 

“If a dog has testicles that are not descended, I always recommend having them neutered,” Dr. Ochoa said. “We will go into their abdomen and remove the testicle that did not descend as well as any testicle that has descended. An owner should not just leave the one testicle inside.”

Removing both testes will reduce the chances of developing cancer.8

After the dog recovers from surgery, they can live healthy, happy lives. 

“These dogs will act just the same as any other intact male dog,” Dr. Ochoa said. 

Finding out that your Samoyed has any medical issue is scary. But by getting expert help, your dog can live a wonderful life. If you’re worried about your dog’s development, contact a veterinarian and schedule a physical exam. 

Related: Are Samoyeds hypoallergenic? 


  1. Recent Advances in Small Animal Reproduction. “Canine and Feline Cryptorchidism.” Accessed Feb. 27, 2021. 
  2. Animal Industry Report. “Candidate Gene Discovery for Retained Testicles in Dogs.” Accessed Feb. 27, 2021.
  3. Samoyed Health Foundation. “Cryptorchidism.” Accessed Feb. 27, 2021.
  4.  Recent Advances in Small Animal Reproduction.
  5.  Samoyed Health Foundation.
  6.  Recent Advances in Small Animal Reproduction. 
  7. American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation. “Genetics of Cryptorchidism in Dogs.” Accessed Feb. 27, 2021.
  8. Recent Advances in Small Animal Reproduction.