I think that the thinking at this point is that as long as you can ensure that the girl will not get pregnant (I know you can) that it is best to wait until AT LEAST after the first heat and first birthday. Pixel didn't go into heat the first time until 14 months, so was spayed at about 18 months (after a false pregnancy that was TONS of fun! LOL!)
Panda has had two heats and is still not spayed. My vet feels that it is best to wait until after the second birthday with a performance dog anyway, and in Panda's case, I'm still not entirely sure I don't want to put her back in the conformation show ring. (and I want to leave other options one as well
Yes there is a SLIGHTLY higher risk of mammary cancers in females spayed later, but my vet feels that in the hands of conscientious dog owners, who will IMMEDIATELY report any lumps, that they can be caught early, when it is still possible to completely cure. There is definitely LESS chance of ACL/CCL tears in intact dogs, which is a big issue in performance dogs.
As far as the ovariectomy is concerned, that's what we did with Pixel (laparoscopically). However she had a LOT of pain, which I have since found is not uncommon in very small dogs, because of the size of the instruments and the amount of gas they need to use to blow the abdomen up enough to see in that tiny body. When I discussed the whole thing with my vet after the fact (she is not the one who did the ovariectomy) she said that she thought they did very good pain management with a traditional spay, and could visualize the reproductive organs more easily (thus creating less trauma to the tissues) in a tiny dog with an open spay. Of course, there is a bigger incision to heal, but the internal healing is a toss up with the little ones.
Also, you may not even find someone who would do a laparoscopic procedure on a less than 8 lb dog. Pixel is a (whopping
) almost 10 lbs and the vet said she was as small as she was willing to work on. She said that because a Havanese was a little longer bodies than, say, a 10 lb Pomeranian, it gave her more room to work.
After having done it once on a Havanese, I don't think I'd choose it again. Pixel had a miserable time, and while she IS a bit of a baby about things, I am not at all sure a traditional spay with a good surgeon would have been any worse... And my regular vet does traditional spays. I had to travel a long distance to have it done. This is not at all a financial decision, though. The laparoscopic procedure was only about $100 more than a traditional spay locally would have been. ($700 vs. about $600)