With this week’s focus on becoming a new pet parent I thought it would be a good idea to start off with what to be aware of when looking for a puppy. This entry is inspired out of my own inexperience when selecting my first German Shepherd. I was so caught up in the excitement of getting my new puppy that I never thought about the implications from poor quality breeding. I would come to realize that health clearances and purchasing a dog from a reputable breeder greatly reduces the risk that your puppy will deal with major health problems.
I was unaware at the time all of the health consequences that my beloved puppy would pay as the result of unprofessional breeding. My German Shepherd, Quincy, turned out to be the most wonderful companion and absolute love of my life! She brought so much to my life. Unfortunately, I had to witness first hand how she suffered needlessly from inherited genetic health problems and the great pain she endured starting at puppyhood.
I first noticed a problem when she was the only student in Puppy Kindergarten class that experienced great difficulty in sitting. Her inability to sit was caused by advanced osteoarthritis, spondylosis, and severe hip dysplasia. At the time, her vet had never seen a more advanced case of hip dysplasia. Quincy required major orthopedic surgery at the age of two and extensive rehabilitation.
Later in life she developed degenerative myelopathy and megaesophagus. These health conditions are often attributed to the quality of breeding and genetics in the line. Quincy loved life and fought a valiant battle against all of her ailments. She lived to the age of 14 when she finally succumbed to aspiration pneumonia – a direct result of her megaesphogus.
Shelters and rescue groups are now overrun with supposed “purebreds” displaying emotional problems and health issues as an undesired outcome from poor breeding practices and puppy mills. There are now many hyperactive, aggressive, and timid puppies when by nature their breed should be calm, friendly, and outgoing.
Wonderful dogs should be spared the unnecessary pain, the inability to easily run and jump, and avoid severe inherited health problems. As potential pet parents become more educated, bad breeders are still often ahead of the game of outwitting the unsuspecting pet parent.
It is important to do due diligence in researching a breeder when purchasing a puppy. According to reputable breeders, there is no excuse to not have all four health clearances on both parents. The four health clearances consist of OFA Hip Clearance, OFA Elbow clearance, OFA Cardiac Clearance, and CERF Clearance. It is advised to stay away from any breeder that doesn’t have all of the appropriate information listed on the OFA site. We will give more details on each of these OFA categories in a follow-up blog. Dogs must be 24 months of age before receiving hip and elbow clearances.Dogs should never be bred under 24 months of age because they are still developing and should not have puppies at that early of an age. In addition, there will also be no health clearances available.