1 User Review
Because of my recent loss of my German Shepherd dog to Degenerative Myleopathy, I was wondering what breed seems to be the healthiest of dogs. Has anyone had some major issues with any specific breed. I know about German Shepherds and Golden Retrievers.
I have been involved in raising and showing purebred dogs for over 20 years. Like you, I wanted a healthy dog so sought to find a healthy breed. I looked at registries such as AKC and UKC and studied the breeders. Bottom line: there is no one overall healthiest breed of dog. Like humans, all dogs are individuals. What matters most in obtaining a healthy dog is the breeder. In this day and age we have technology to help breeders make the best pairings they can so as to stack the deck for a healthy litter. And since there is no perfect dog, breeders must make mating decisions based on test results that are less than stellar. In some cases test results will indicate that based on the disease conditions found, a particular animal should never be bred from, should never be mated to make puppies as those puppies will have serious health defects. In most cases the test results that are less than stellar indicate the best path forward in mating that animal so as to avoid reproducing those less than stellar results. So its not a matter of issue that a breeder tests and finds out they have less than perfects animals - rather, its what the breeder chooses to do with that knowledge they gain from the test results that is most important.
To stack the deck for a healthy animal, first find out what the common diseases are for that particular breed. Then armed with that knowledge, begin interviewing breeders of that breed to find out what they are doing to avoid producing those disease traits in their puppies.
So for instance your last GSD had DM; other common disorders in GSD's are Exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, Hemophilia, Hip dysplasia, Renal cystadenocarcinoma and nodular dermatofibrosis, Pannus - chronic superficial keratitis, Panosteitis and Perianal fistula - this just to name the most common - there is a whole list of secondary disorders that do appear in the breed but less commonly than the list above. Check it out here: http://ic.upei.ca/cidd/
So you arm yourself with knowledge of the common disease disorders in whichever breed you are interested in and then ask questions of your potential breeder. Since you are in the USA you can further check out the level of integrity of the testing your prospective breeder does by searching the Canine Health Information Center which lists the critical disorders the breed club for each breed deems most important or most commonly seen in their breed: http://www.caninehealthinfo.org/
You can search within the CHIC site to see which breeders take health testing seriously in their breeding programs. Additionally you can search by breed and locate breeders by searching the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals website : http://www.offa.org/
These search tools allow you to research specific dogs for the specific health testing they have had. So if your perspective breeder says the health test for the good of the breed, you should be able to find the parents of your prospective puppy on the CHIC or OFA website and see the exact tests that were done on the parents of your potential puppy to see that - as best they could - your breeder stacked the deck for the health of the litter.
Some of the tests are expensive and some are very cheap; it costs a breeder maybe $30.00 to have a dog's knees or heart certified as normal and healthy, and the same for the eyes. Hip, elbow, spine or tracheal xrays run $150.00 and up. For some breeds certain tests are more important than others, so a breeder with a Chihuahua may not do the testing you would see for a GSD, but the end result is the same: if your breeder wants to charge you 1K or more for a healthy and well bred puppy, they should have the bare bones minimal investment in testing done [$500.00] to ensure they are indeed making healthy puppies. If the breeder you are looking at is too cheap to invest in certifying the health of their breeding stock, then that breeder is looking at $$ as their bottom line and NOT looking at your feelings as an owner of the puppy they made for the next 15 years: look elsewhere as that is not the breeder for you.
There is a lot of talk and interest nowadays in F1 crossbreds - golden-doodles and other such sporting dog x poodle crosses. I've met a few doodles - sweet dogs! And breeders of these crosses [they are not a 'breed' as they do not breed true] tout they are healthy due to 'hybrid vigor' - a phenomenon that occurs when two totally unrelated bloodlines are bred together, ie Schnauzer and Poodle = schnoodle. While hybrid vigor may occur in nature, in dealing with the carefully controlled bloodlines of dogs the health of the dog or its bloodline is only as strong as the integrity of the breeder behind that bloodline. This is to say that your cross bred golden doodle is only as healthy as the purebred golden retriever and purebred standard poodle used to make the litter, and if you start with a poor quality golden and dysplastic standard poodle, you cannot help but get poor quality and lame cross bred puppies from such a pairing. So don't believe the excuse of 'hybrid vigor' as a reason to not certify the health of the parents of a litter. A breeder must look for problems to rout them out of their bloodlines and fix them, and breeders who never look, who keep their heads' in the sand, will always have 'healthy' animals - so be aware of the hybrid vigor façade.
Lastly, after over 20 years of being a dog mom, I will say that you find your dog where you *do*; I have bred my own dogs, have bought my own dogs reputable breeders, rescued my own dogs and got my last big pet dog off Craig's List despite my insisting I wasn't going to get a puppy from a back yard bred litter. Big dog probably has hip dysplasia - I'll cross that expensive bridge in time. But despite bad hips I would not trade my girl for the world. Sometimes you find your dog where you do - and sometimes your dog finds you.
Sorry about your GSD, and good luck in your puppy quest!
(Jax, Fl, Usa)
WOW thank you so much for your response and the website information. My last GSD, I purchased from a "back yard breeder" she was a Belgium Shepherd. She also was my 4th GSD. I had never heard of DM before her. She also had other things wrong with her. I have since her death(7 weeks today) I have been on the AKC websites and researched several breeds. I have also been to several Rescue Shelters and spoke with Foster Parents of different dogs. I would be happy with a young adult. I have researched the following breeds, Border Collie, Aussie, Golden Doodle, and a couple of others. My vet mentioned that Golden Doodles were a pretty good dog to have. I know that as you say it is expensive for a breeder to give DNA test, etc for specific issues with a breed. I know that the Border Collies have eye issues, thyroid, hip and can be allergic to certain heart worm meds. I also know there are tests for these which can be given to the litter. I worry about getting a dog from a breeder which may have a bad reputation and I wondered how I would find one reputable. All the websites look great but one never knows. I did check the State Licensing and found one breeder who license was revoked. Not a good sign.
What type of dogs to you breed? In the meanwhile thank you so much for responding to me you have been a big help.
I have raised American Pit Bull Terriers, American Rat Terriers and French Bulldogs; I love breeds both made in America and all bulldog!
I hear you about finding a good breeder - a reputable breeder. I can tell you that while reputable breeders may have online websites, you will never find their puppies on puppyfind.com or other online puppy sale warehouses or brokerages. The place to start is to find a local kennel club for your area -google "dog shows Jacksonville fl" and then explore the hits. You should find several kennel clubs and these clubs will host dog shows. Find out the dog show schedule - there are many in Florida -and then plan to attend a show. Go check out the breeds you are interested in, and see what dogs you like, and even the variations within a breed. For example, in GSD's they winning type or style of dog is with a very slanted back; this is not a style I favor. Yet you will see more than one style in a breed, so check out the arm band number of the dogs whose looks you like and then check out the dog show catalog - it will tell you the breeder of the dog and the owner and will usually have an address you can write to contact them.
I must add to not be fooled by fancy websites; the puppy mills, the 'volume' breeders all know that showing your dogs and testing your dogs is what puppy seekers want to find in a breeder, so they will say that on the website - what you want to hear. Yet I have researched public information to see that one website that showed their dog winning a fancy blue first place ribbon was actually the only dog in its class - it could not help but win first place, and that when judged with competition it lost. All this is public info. Again, the OFA site is a valuable tool to see WHO is out there testing their dogs. If nothing else you can do a wide search to collect names of breeders who test in a certain breed and then move forward by googling the kennel names. Most breeders have no problem referring folks to a breeder they respect if they do not have any puppies to sell you.
Other red flags - for me anyway - are breeders with multiple litters for sale, and more on the way; I have enough on my hands doing justice to one litter and could not imagine properly socializing or keeping properly clean several litters at a go. I also wave a red flag at deposits - particularly in popular breeds. A deposit is essentially a guaranteed sale for the breeder that fails to take chemistry and the right fit for a particular family and puppy into consideration. Most breeders I know do not accept deposits or if they do its very minimal.
Do some more research and then stop back! I am happy to help you find your next fur kid in any way I can.
I love your latest reply. Here's what I have done. I went to all the websites you mentioned. I also went to the AKC.org and the specific breed I was looking at organization.(Not GSD) I found lists of approved breeders and I found one which recently had a litter. They only do two litters a year by different females. Here's where I decided not to go forward.
They wanted a 50% deposit to reserve the dog with the deposit being refundable at the sellers discretion. If the dog should develop a hereditary defect before the dog turns 1 year a replacement dog will be given.
Since this breeder is out of state, I can not give a deposit without feeling the chemistry of the dog. In the past, I have always physically seen a litter and basically the pup chose us. To send money and not getting the pups for several weeks, is a little risky to me.
So, I think I will follow your advise and try to go locally to shows and such. I am in no hurry. The other thing which bothered me is the father of the litter was a carrier for a genetic disease. Not the mother. I have no intention on breeding the dog, but I would prefer both parents not be carriers of any disease.
Thanks again for your help.
I personally would not have a problem having a carrier puppy; again, if you threw all the bad eggs out there would be no eggs left in the basket. Carriers can reproduce a disease when crossed with another carrier; when crossed with a dog free or clear of the disease you end up with clears and carriers - but no affected puppies. Its a reasonable way for a breeder to move a breeding program forward with an otherwise excellent individual. The key here is that they are aware of carrier/affected/clear status of their sire and dam, so a GOOD thing.
And, you are smart to stay the heck away from a deal that smells so rotten to you; stinks to me too! While there is testing you can do early for hip dysplasia [PennHIP method can be done under 1 year with very accurate results], unless you have a really severely affected animal that is crippled or sick by 12 months of age, *most* diseases do not present until after 2 years/24 months - so the guarantees that have real teeth to them will cover a puppy until 3 years of age or 5 even.
Check out this site to help educate yourself about what a reasonable puppy contract should contain and other red flags to look out for:
Good luck on your puppy quest!
You have been so helpful with all your tips. Because of you, I did not send any deposits and will not. I emailed this out of state person and told her I could not send a deposit, etc. I didn't hear back, that should tell you! I took your advice researched all the websites and I have located what appears to be a legitimate source and am very comfortable. I have made an apt to visit the facilities sometime in the near future.
Because of you and of course, this earth clinic website, I believe I have saved myself a lot of grief and perhaps making a big mistake.
Thank you Theresa and of course Earthclinic. This site has helped so much!
So glad that Earth Clinic has been a valuable resource for you!
One last bit of advice; don't be put off by a breeder if they do not allow you to pick out the puppy *you* want. The reason being, most reputable breeders create litters for themselves - they bred the litter not to create puppies for the sale market, but rather to obtain the next generation for their breeding program. Those in it for the money will allow you the 'pick of the litter', while those in it for the long term health of their breed keep those 'picks' for themselves as they are priceless. Now, 'pick of the litter' is very subjective; the pick for *me* very well may the last puppy *you* would pick from the litter -but you get the idea. And, many breeders know their puppies so well - be it from observation or via puppy aptitude tests - that they know the puppy that runs up to you and jumps on you begging for you to take him home generally has the pushiest temperament and thus will require a strong willed owner to help shape that puppy into a good canine citizen - and that very same puppy when raised by a soft tempered person who is lax in their training could very well grow up to be a bite statistic. So if after all your research and screening you trust the breeder enough to give them your hard earned cash, trust them enough to know or have a good idea of what particular puppy in their litter is best suited for you. Most breeders will have a couple of pups to suit in any case, so you still will have some control in choosing the pup that calls to you.
Fingers crossed for the right puppy for you!
(Jax, Fl, Usa)
Theresa, yes, I understand how the breeder would like the pick of the litter. This breeder who I spoke with actually questioned me oh how active to I want the pup. Real active, slower or very slow. I told her mid range would work! She is watching them progress and is taking photos weekly and emailing them to me. She did ask me wouldn't I rather have a male than a female. She said they are easier to handle. Maybe because of the heat the females go through, etc. I have always had female dogs, with the exception of one male years ago.
My friends and family are trying to talk me into getting a rescue dog who really needs a home. So, I have been to three shelters and actually, you really don't know what you are getting both physically and mentally. Some of these dogs have been very abused others have been shifted around to different foster homes. I looked at and petted two dogs which just had that sadness in their eyes. Actually they almost looked sickly. As much as I would like to take a rescue as there are so many homeless dogs, I am concerned about the mental and physical health. Raising a puppy at my age(60's) may be pretty challenging! We shall see, the puppies can not go until they are 8 weeks which is sometime yet.
Thanks again for your help.
I sympathize with you re: friends pushing for you to rescue. As a breeder I get so much flak from those who feel that my deliberately creating more puppies causes shelter dogs to die. While I appreciate the sentiment, the thinking is flawed: irresponsible breeders/backyard breeders/ignorant pet owners [etc.] are responsible for pets that wound up in the wrong home [and thus the shelter] - not the reputable breeders. As you know from working with your breeder, there is a contract you must sign that stipulates should anything not work out, that puppy of yours is to go right back from whence he came - his responsible breeder. I have rescued entire litters of puppies and have worked with them to overcome their emotional baggage from not having the right start in life; not everyone is qualified to deal with straightening out these types of puppies and adults - in fact IMHO it takes a very skilled person to take on a rescue - something that is often overlooked when sad eyes tug at your heart. Again, you find your dog where you *do* - and I find that when the stars all line up, the process is seamless, much as your process has been in locating your current prospective pup!
I agree with your breeder on the males; a neutered male is one of the *best kept* secrets in the dog world! And for breeders, the quality females tend to be placed with other breeders so females may be a bit harder to obtain, depending on the breed.
One of the things you can do right now as you eagerly await the next set of photos ;-) is to read up! My all time favorite book that I provide to my own 'puppy people' is How to raise a puppy you can live with by Rutherford and Neal. It covers the stages of behavioral development week by week, month by month and explains well why it is so critical to shape the maleable puppy's mind at each stage. Another good read is Good owners, Great dogs by Brian Kilcommons and Sara Wilson. Also Before you get your puppy by Ian Dunbar is another treat to read during this countdown to your new puppy.
Good luck with your coming pup!
(St Joseph, Mi)
For what it's worth, we have had dogs with papers and a lot of drop offs (we live out in the country) and even a shelter dog. Our last dog was from the shelter and she's the best dog we have ever had. She is almost eleven years old and her age is beginning to show. When I lose her, I will be so sad. She's a great friend. I believe if you raise them well and take good care of them, they will be kind and loving. I've never had a problem at all with a drop off or shelter.
(Jax, FL, Usa)
I visited two more rescue facilities today and although I felt so sorry for these dogs looking for a "forever home" I could allow pity to be the reason I adopt one. I have heard from several people that their shelter dogs or rescue dogs have been the best dogs they have had. There was one dog who I was interested in but she was heart worm positive which does scare me a little. So, at this point I am still leaning towards a pup from a breeder. Unless another dog finds me first.
All dogs, rescued or from breeders deserve loving guardians like you guys! I agree with the principal that the right dog will come to you. Of the 5 rescue dogs I have had in my adult life, 3 of them had been dumped near my house. In one case, I had passed a dog on the other side of a busy street and had to drive around the block to pick him up because of the line of cars behind me. The whole process took a few minutes. But he was waiting for me in a "sit" position when I finally made it around the block and jumped in the car as though he had known me for years!! Talk about kizmet! My rescues have all been incredible, loving dogs who lived to a very old age with few health issues. However, they have also been mixed breeds, so no doubt that factors in.
Kudos for looking at the shelter dogs! Maybe one is in your future- and maybe not.
I know for *me*, when I am on a puppy or kitten quest that I am so restless and antsy - I just cannot be still; I think, dream and see the pet constantly in my mind's eye. I might search petfinder and see picture after picture of what ever pet it is I think is supposed to come to me. Sometimes I find the pet is one that I am to serve as a temporary host for - a stop along that pet's path to its forever home; 'foster' doesn't quite explain it. It can be disappointing to find out an animal I thought was for me is meant for another - but I have learned to appreciate the difference I can make in another's life by being this vehicle for which the pet find's its person.
I hope you are filled with restless energy - energy that shines so bright that the puppy or dog meant for you can see your beacon and hone in like a moth to the lamp light, and sound the mental fog horn in the right direction to lead you to him or her!
Once again, good luck on your puppy quest! :)