Chapter 5
How To Know The Best Source For Your Dog
Beware of Excuses for Not Conducting Health Testing. Some breeders provide excuses for why they don't health test their dogs. If you're looking for a healthy puppy, no breeder excuse is good enough for not conducting health testing. Here are some common excuses you may encounter: "Our dogs have no problems with these issues." Just because a dog doesn't display signs of a specific health problem doesn't mean the health problem isn't there. Many genetic diseases can take years to develop and are best detected in a puppy's parents. To reduce your risk of getting a puppy with an inheritable disease to the lowest level, all breeding stock and every litter of puppies should be tested, even if the parents do not show symptoms of any health problems. A responsible breeder knows that inbreeding is a problem inherent to purebred dogs and that the capacity for health problems exists in all purebred gene pools. "We don't do health tests, but we offer a health guarantee." Health guarantees carry very little value. With a health guarantee, the best you can hope for is to return your puppy to the breeder for another puppy. Practically speaking, this can be emotionally difficult after weeks or months of living with a puppy. You're likely to become attached to the puppy and decide to keep it in spite of its health problems. Some breeders count on this. Sometimes it can also be difficult to prove the terms of the health guarantee were met so that you are entitled to another dog. Most health guarantees are written in such a way that it appears to provide you with options, but in reality, provides you with very little protection. Finally, if you do meet the terms of the health guarantee and trade the puppy for another, you may experience similar health problems with the new puppy. These health problems may have resulted from inbreeding, and its effects can affect an entire litter. If the health problems are caused by excessive inbreeding, another puppy may be as unhealthy as the one you return. "Our puppies have health certificates from our vet." General veterinary testing frequently does not detect an unhealthy dog. What this means is the vet hasn't detected any problems during a routine exam. Many genetic problems cannot be diagnosed in a routine exam; they are only detected in specific tests designed to measure these specific health problems. A general exam is not designed to reveal many of the genetic health issues that affect so many purebred dogs. Finally, you may encounter breeders who say that they don't conduct testing because testing doesn't reveal whether the puppies will be healthy, testing doesn't show whether underlying health problems exist, or that testing can be interpreted in different ways. These excuses are all true, to some degree. However, conducting testing can reveal abnormal dogs before they're bred. Breeders who don't do testing have no way of determining whether their breeding stock is unhealthy and whether they should stop breeding those dogs because they might pass on defective genes to their offspring. Testing is always better than not testing, even in cases when testing isn't 100% conclusive. Beware of breeders who say that they don't perform health tests because their dogs are companion animals; not show or working dogs. Just because a dog is destined to be a pet doesn't mean he doesn't need to be healthy. Unhealthy companion pets still require treatment for their health problems. Breeders who don't perform testing because their dogs are 'just pets' cannot eliminate unhealthy pets from their breeding program. As a result, these breeders may be producing unhealthy pets. Do you want to buy an unhealthy pet and have to pay for its expensive medical care?