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How do I make sure I buy a healthy puppy

Let's take the best steps possible to ensure we get healthy puppies.

Think Breed! Think Deed!

Whilst there is alot in the press about Deed Not Breed, and there is alot of validity in that sentiment, there is also alot that we can do to help to ensure that we stop poor breeding.

Those facial operations that you needed for your Pug or eye operations for your Sharpie could have been prevented through better breeding. Did you know that your Bulldog puppy was highly like to have been born by caesarian?

In fact, it has been reported that over 2/3rds of vets indicated that they have had to perform conformation altering surgery and caesarean operations in the last year.

Nose problems – The little short nosed dogs that are so popular these days have been bred to have shorter and shorter noses, to the extent that they need to have surgery. These brachycephalic dogs have been selectively bred to have shorter and shorter noses. These dogs can’t breath properly: they have difficulty walking, playing, eating and they overheat. I’m really sorry if you have suffered expensive vet bills, but please believe the issues with your wee dog aren’t just a freak accident of nature. This is an extremely common problem with the breed. The number of pugs passed into the largest dog rescue centres has doubled in the last 5 years – because owners sadly couldn’t afford the vet bills.

We have done this.

Eye problems – Dogs that have multiple folds on their faces are also prone to requiring conformation altering surgery. For some, these facial folds are so extreme that operations are required to prevent ulcers, infections and potential blindness, and to fix problems with badly formed eyelids. Dogs such as Shar Peis, Bloodhounds, Clumber Spaniels and Mastiffs are all prone to this.

We have done this!

Birth problems - Also, according to the RSPCA, bulldog breeds have been bred to develop such large heads now that 86% of all British bulldog litters and 81% of French bulldog litters must now be born by caesarean. Over 80%! That really shocked me.

We have done this!!

I consider the above problems to be quite recent and perhaps not known about in the general pet loving population. However, we have been breeding dogs prone to skin, hip, elbow, eye and heart problems for years.

I beg all of you who are considering acquiring a dog or puppy to think hard about these bred-in health issues. Please pick a vet and speak with them about potential breed problems before actually choosing your dog type. There are also excellent resources including The Kennel Club Breed Watch Scheme, The RSPCA Puppy Contract, and there’s a catalogue list at the back of Dogs Today magazine.

But, hey! We're about behaviour here, are we not...

Well, all dogs are more prone to developing behaviour problems:
• Ill puppies miss out on the very important socialisation and training opportunities that help them to grow into happy adults.
• Sore hips, skin or digestive problems cause behaviour problems to develop due to the ongoing aggravation.

There are, of course, inherited behaviour traits that are equally troublesome: barking, fear, excitability etc. Perhaps we think, we will work hard on socialisation and training to avoid the potential problems coming to fruition?

But, do we really want a hard life? Taking on puppies with these known issues by buying from puppy farms or ill-informed breeders simply serves to perpetuate the problems with these breeds.

So, please take care and seek out sound, professional advice before selecting your new furry friend. And, please remember that the Internet and standardised breed web sites and breed books are not necessarily the best place to read about the truth.

(Thanks to the Veterinary Nursing Journal for providing the main information source for his article.)

For more information about breed health problems and sourcing a healthy puppy, please look here

The Kennel Club Breed Watch - which highlights breeds with differing levels of problems and allows you to select particular breeds for more information.

The RSPCA Puppy Contract - looking at searching questions and setting out agreements between breeders and puppy owners to assure puppy health and happiness.

Pug Health Scheme

Bull Dog Health Issues

Please note I'm not picking especially on these breeds - many have problems as can be seen on the Kennel Club Site. Please just google health issues for information.

If you would like to comment or share your experiences, good or bad, please do email me and I'll add that here.

Read more here on more help for before you get your puppy