You want to buy a puppy but are not sure what breed or where to look?
Read about my puppy owning experiences over 25 years, the mistakes I would not do again, and answers to common questions and difficulties about choosing the right dog for your home. What to do before you go to see the puppy.
My first pup was a mixed breed from a rescue centre. My second was a 6 months old street rescue beardie collie. The next pup was meant to be a jack russell pup who came from a puppy farm. I then bought a pedigree kennel-reared failed gundog at about a year old. She looked healthy so I didn't health test, but she died suddenly in middle age and her pup is going blind. For the past 5 years I have owned health tested pedigree dogs. I loved them all but wouldn't make the same mistakes again.
That's my experience, and here are my thoughts on the subject of buying a puppy. In part two I will tell you what you need to do before you go to see the pup.
What is the benefit of buying a pup from health tested parents?
"Healthy dogs create healthy puppies - All pedigree and crossbred dogs can suffer from inherited diseases which are passed on from parent to puppy. Health testing and screening allows owners and breeders to screen for inherited diseases, the results can then be used to help make sure that only healthy dogs are bred from. Responsible breeders should always health test the dogs they plan to use for breeding. To make sure you are buying a happy and health puppy, always ask to see the relevant health test results for both parents."
Firstly, be aware that health tests don't just mean they tell you that they had the vet check the pups over and they were fine. It means the pups parents hips and elbows have been independently assessed and lodged with the Kennel Club for those with pedigrees, and it means that blood tests have been taken to check for a range of genetic diseases common to the breed, and that their eyes are tested annually. Read more.
If the mum has been vaccinated, new born puppies get some protection against diseases through their mother’s milk that can help keep them healthy before they are able to get vaccinated themselves. Unfortunately, puppies that have been illegally imported or that were bred on puppy farms could be much more likely to suffer serious illnesses like parvovirus as their mums won’t have been vaccinated so can’t pass on their immunity.
There are many pedigree dogs who have been bred responsibly but who may not have been health tested. The mother looks healthy but there is no guarantee against, or reduced risk of, hip or elbow dysplasia, or genetic diseases like PRA and blindness. Read more.
What is hip or elbow dysplasia?
Hip and elbow dysplasia are both complex inherited diseases that cause a dog’s joints to develop incorrectly, which can result in pain, arthritis and lameness as they get older. Read more
A pedigree dog's parents who are health tested gives you the best chance of proven robustness or confirmation, because of a written guarantee of being clear of prescribed genetic diseases, and a reduced likelihood of expensive vet bills/ or a shortened pet life/ or a life of pain and discomfort.
Why should I test my bitch if I do not intend to spay her?
Some dogs may be carriers of a genetic disease and you would still have a healthy pet, but if you breed it (accidently or on purpose) with another carrier then some of the pups will get that genetic disease. However, it's important to keep the gene pool as wide as possible, breeding a carrier to a non carrier means the pups will only be carriers. This is why health tests are important it allows you to make informed breeding choices. On the Kennel Club website you can enter the sire and dam's details and find out the likelihood of any issues or risks.
"The more informed you are does not remove a risk but it does reduce it." Read more on the breed health information for labrador retrievers.
Useful links; introducing dogs to children and babies, puppy socialisation.