Retained Testicles: Understanding Cryptorchidism in Dogs


Have you ever been told by your veterinarian that your puppy only has one testicle? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. This article will shed light on a condition called “cryptorchidism” and what it means for your furry friend.

Understanding Cryptorchidism

In normal circumstances, male dogs should have two testicles of equal size. These testes develop near the kidneys and are expected to descend into the scrotum by the age of two months. While descent may occur later in some breeds, it is rare after six months of age.

Cryptorchidism refers to the condition where one or both of the testicles fail to reach their proper position. Monorchidism signifies the absence of one testicle, indicating that it never grew at all, while anorchidism refers to the total absence of both testicles.

Studies have shown that the testicle should move away from its original position near the kidney through the inguinal ring in the groin and settle into the scrotum by the 40th day of the puppy’s life. If one or both testes cannot be felt in the scrotum after four months of age, the puppy is considered cryptorchid.

Where Are the Testicles?

In most cases of cryptorchidism, the undescended testicle remains in the abdomen and does not pass through the inguinal ring. However, if it manages to make its way through the inguinal ring, it may be located in the inguinal canal or just below the skin in the groin area.

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Palpating the testicles can be challenging if they are small or if the puppy is overweight. Testicles retained in the abdomen are generally not palpable unless they are enlarged. It’s essential to note that undescended testicles in the abdomen do not contain sperm but can still produce testosterone.

Diagnosing Cryptorchidism

Determining the location of a missing testicle can be done through various methods. Radiographs of the abdomen can reveal the presence of an enlarged testicle. Ultrasonic examination is another option, where the testicle appears as an oval structure between the kidney and the inguinal ring. Advanced imaging such as CT or MRI can be used for more detailed detection.

Testosterone measurement is also commonly used. However, since testosterone release happens sporadically, a low blood testosterone level doesn’t confirm the absence of testicles. On the other hand, high levels of testosterone suggest the presence of testicles somewhere. Hormone-stimulation tests, like GnRH or HCG stimulation tests, provide a more accurate diagnosis.

Treatment Options

Unfortunately, there is no proven therapy to encourage the descent of retained testicles. Due to the increased risk of testicular torsion or cancer, surgical removal of both descended and undescended testicles is the recommended treatment. Neutering is usually advised as soon as the dog reaches maturity, as the risk of cancer escalates after five years of age.

The surgical procedure may involve one or two incisions, depending on the location of the retained testicles. If only one testicle is retained, two incisions are made – one for each testicle, scrotal, and either abdominal or inguinal. When both testes are in their respective inguinal canals or abdomen, a single abdominal incision allows access to both.

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It’s important to note that the American Veterinary Medical Association considers the surgical repair or placement of prosthetic material unethical and not a recommended solution for concealing the genetic defect.


Cryptorchidism is a condition that affects many dogs, with approximately 5 percent of all dogs being impacted. While the exact mechanism of inheritance is not fully understood, it is believed to be a genetically passed on as a sex-limited chromosomal recessive trait.

If you suspect your dog may have retained testicles, consult with a veterinarian to discuss the best course of action. Remember, timely diagnosis and treatment can help ensure your furry friend leads a happy, healthy life.

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