Many times when we want a new dog, we will be led by our eyes, to breeds we like the look of and know a little bit about but not much.
Following on from my previous blogs, there are things we need to look into healthwise before deciding which breed of dog we want.
Before even thinking about looking at puppies or rescues, it is essential to find out as much as possible about the breed, things like:
* what they were originally bred for
* genetic health issues
* how much exercise they typically need
* how demanding a breed they are
* how big they usually get
* ease of training
* how much care they require i.e. coat care
* meet a few people who own one and maybe even speak with a dog trainer or visit a dog training club to find someone who has experience with that breed who can give you good information to help you decide whether that breed is going to be able to suit your lifestyle and family circumstances
It can be quite an eye-opener when you first look deeper into the breed of your choice to find out the basic health issues you need to be finding out about and aware of.
It also opens your eyes to the fact that the old saying of 'you get what you pay for' quality-wise is also true with dogs.
I have bought dogs advertised in newspapers before I am ashamed to say, I have also bought dogs without seeing sire or dam, and have lived to regret it because I have found that these dogs donot have a sound genetic background healthwise which becomes evident as they go through life and can show in the form of health problems or behavioural problems, adding pain, misery, stress and suffering to what should be a wonderful, fulfilling and enjoyable partnership.
Breeders who I class as 'Good Breeders' are very knowledgeable and carefully choose their matings with good reasons behind their choices. These people rarely live in mansions or drive expensive cars, and their dogs are not the most expensive but are a good price.
These people work very hard to breed out health issues within their dogs and work towards bettering the breed through their breeding lines and they will also have paid out to have their dogs health checks done for the health issues relating to their breed - this costs a lot but they know to breed from a dog with health problems passes that on to the pups and prospective owners.
Because these people care so much about their dogs, it is often harder to get on the list to have one of their dogs - not surprising really, as they care as much for their dogs as you do for your children - would you give them to just 'anybody' ?
This, in my eyes, although it can be a minor annoyance, tells me volumes about a breeder and is actually a great plus in favour of them and their dogs.
Apart from the overpopulation problem, the biggest thing which makes me angry about people breeding their own pets just because they want their dog to 'be a mummy or daddy' or their children to experience puppies - the fact that they often donot know their own dogs health background or the health weakness's that run through their lines, and they know even less about the dog they are planning to partner their dog with - so the chance of the puppies, and new owners having a life filled with health problems, heartache and high vets bills are pretty good - nobody deserves that.
They also don't realise the chances of losing their own bitch in the process...
I have 4 dogs living with me at present, the latter 2 being rescues, but my breed is the German Shepherd [GSD], and I count myself extremely lucky to have found a wonderful breeder in this country for these dogs - she is not cheap, and it is a day-trip for us to visit her, but she breeds for the betterment of her breeding line and because of this her dogs have wonderful temperaments and enjoy all-round excellent health and have good solid basic genetic health. They are also proven by being used in various service roles by various organisations and authorities.
Of course, they can be made ill by owners making poor choices for them, but they have a good strong healthy foundation.
To give you an idea of just how much there can be to find out about a breed, here is a list specific for the GSD breed that should be considered when choosing your next dog - even this list though does not cover everything:
*Haemophilia and Von Willebrands are both blood clotting disorders which will greatly affect the lifespan and overall health of a bounding dog. A cure is possible for animals already with this disease, where a gene is introduced into the animals’ cells, which makes clotting factor VIII; but if at the time of looking, there is still no screening process available, it should, again be clear from previous genealogy in the lines whether this is an issue or not.
* There is now screening available for Cancer using a simple blood test, which is then sent to Pet-Screen who are pioneering the way forward in this important area, and developing screens for more types all the time.
*Bloat is an area which is tricky, as none can say definitely how it is caused. Many believe it is due to diet, with there being a belief that the cause could lie in a potassium deficiency, large single meals, drinking large amounts after a large meal, vigorous exercise after a large meal.
Because so little is known about this, I am not surprised to find very little about any screening available - but I still want to know how high the occurances of it are in my future pup’s lines, as there could be a genetic predisposition passed down.
*Heart and Digestive issues are something which should be known about from the parents being heart screened, and looking back through lines to show whether any of them suffer with issues like Pancreatitus or Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency.
* It is possible to know from screening whether elbow and hip issues run through breed lines, and feeding a natural diet also helps minimise risks here as the essential nutrients are in a more bioavailable form for my dogs.
Unfortunately the breed I have is very health compromised, [however, there are plenty other breeds which are worse] and so there are actually many other areas I will be enquiring into also, but these are probably the most important, but many GSD owners have no idea many of these health issues even exist until they are affected by them, so it really is essential to keep your head in control and find out as much as you can to have as good a chance as possible of a dog who has a good healthy background, and then with natural diet and natural healthcare choices you can enjoy many years together of good health and minimal health issues.