Choosing a new best friend is not only exciting, but can be difficult because of all the wonderful pets available and factors to consider about each breed. You need to look at the many options when deciding on a new pet, including adoption, rescue, or purchase, plus each dog or cat has their own individual personality and appearance to consider. If you have decided you would prefer a purebred pup, follow these guidelines from your Liberty Veterinary Hospital team to ensure your search for a breeder and new furry pal is a seamless, pawsitive experience.
Ensure the dog breeder is responsible
Searching for a responsible, reputable, ethical breeder requires research and investigation. Once you have chosen the dog or cat breed, search for area breeders and people you need to contact. Resources such as your Liberty Veterinary Hospital veterinarian, local dog or cat societies, and friends with personal experience can be helpful. A good breeder will be open to answering all your questions and concerns and should possess the following qualities:
- Is knowledgeable about the breed they are raising
- Allows potential pet parents to tour their facilities
- Has a good working relationship with a veterinarian
- Informs you about the new pet’s diet and routine to help ensure an easy transition to a new home
- Provides socialization and toys for animals in their care
- Does not over-breed by providing rest time for their dams between litters
- Does not run a puppy mill, and has well socialized, clean, calm parents
- Provides documentation and registration papers in your name
- Questions potential pet parents on their ability and means to care for a new pet
- Screens for health issues, and has both parents tested
In addition to searching for specific breeder qualities, check for their registration. Registered breeders provide a guarantee against potential genetic issues, and will have practices in place to minimize these problems. Registered breeders are also more likely to have pets with pure bloodlines, but less likely to breed their dogs under inhumane conditions. The American Kennel Club (AKC) breeder referral program and the Cat Fanciers Association directory are helpful resources for finding responsible, registered breeders.
Health risks in common dog breeds
Before selecting a breed, you need to be aware of genetic diseases or health risks that may be associated with the breed. Not all purebred pets will develop genetic illness, but always ask your potential breeder about genetic testing on the dam and sire, and talk to your Liberty veterinarian, to determine your pet’s risk for inherited diseases or health problems, and whether any risks can be lowered.
The following popular dog breeds are predisposed to certain health risks:
- Brachycephalic breeds — All brachycephalic breeds (e.g., boxers, French bulldogs, pugs, Boston terriers) are at risk for breathing problems because of their small nostrils, elongated soft palates, and narrowed trachea.
- Small breeds — Small breeds (e.g., shih tzus, Chihuahuas, Yorkshire terriers) are at high risk of knee luxation, which can also cause arthritis, and collapsing tracheas because of weakened tracheal cartilage, which may cause honking sounds when they become excited, or snoring when they sleep.
- Specific breeds
- Retrievers — Labrador and golden retrievers are at increased risk for cancer, skin allergies, ear infections, obesity, and arthritis.
- Great Dane — These deep-chested dogs are at an increased risk for gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV), or bloat.
- Siberian husky — Huskies are prone to autoimmune disorders that can affect the skin and eyes, arthritis, and hip dysplasia.
- Doberman pinscher — Dobermans commonly suffer with dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a genetic heart condition, and your veterinarian may recommend annual or more frequent heart checks.
- Poodle — Poodles are genetically at risk for glaucoma, or increased eye pressure.
Purebred felines are also susceptible to genetic diseases and health issues, including:
- Persian — These cats are at increased risk for breathing problems because of their short face, kidney disease, and digestive issues.
- Maine Coon — These large cats are susceptible to cardiac disease, hip and elbow dysplasia, and muscle atrophy around the spine.
- Siamese — Siamese cats are prone to an eye condition known as progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), certain cancers, and neurologic disorders.
- Abyssian — In addition to luxating knees, Abyssinians are at risk for PRA, amyloidosis, a disease that causes protein deposits in organs, and pyruvate kinase enzyme deficiency.
Our Liberty Veterinary Hospital team is always available to help you find the right breed and a reputable breeder. If you still need guidance on choosing a breed, or have recently brought home a new purebred pet, contact our office to schedule a new puppy or kitten exam.