The health of any given dog is in many ways a type of lottery, and there are no firm guarantees that any healthy puppy that you buy now will remain in good health for the duration of their life. However, the common and testable hereditary conditions that may present within each pedigree breed are more of a known factor, and The Kennel Club and the British Veterinary Association collate figures on the health and health conditions of pedigree dogs, and make breed-specific recommendations on health testing prior to breeding.
This goes some way towards allowing breeders to remove potentially unhealthy dogs from their breeding pool, and improves the health of their litters, and that of the breed as a whole. Reputable breeders who are registered with The Kennel Club, breed clubs and the Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme are breeders who are proactively taking steps to improve the health of their breed lines, and as such, buying from this type of breeder can help to give you some guarantees on the hereditary health of your puppy.
If you have bought a dog in this way and later find that they are suffering from a hereditary health condition that is recognised as prevalent within the breed, there are a range of steps that you should take to advise the breeder of this, and potentially to gain some restitution.
In this article, we will look at how you should proceed if your dog is diagnosed with a hereditary health condition.
First of all, you should get your veterinary surgeon to provide you with a formal written diagnosis of your dog’s condition, prognosis and development, and get their permission to share this with the breeder and other necessary parties. You will also need to check at this point if the condition that your dog is diagnosed with is one for which pre-breeding health screening is offered, and whether or not your breeder had their dogs tested prior to breeding.
When you have this information, send a letter (by registered post) to the breeder, letting them know what has happened so far, and containing a copy of your vet’s diagnosis. Include your dog’s full pedigree name, date of birth, age, and when you first became aware that something was amiss.
Request that the breeder immediately suspends any breeding programme that the parent dogs of your own dog are a part of, pending final resolution of the issue. This may mean that the breeder will also need to contact the owner of the sire, if they were not the owner of the sire, and inform them of the same.
You should also copy The Kennel Club and the health coordinator for the breed in on your initial letter, along with a copy of the veterinary report.
If your dog is still young, your purchase may be covered under a guarantee from the breeder, in which case you may wish to ask for a refund of the purchase price of your dog, or help with vet’s fees to manage the condition. Whether or not you keep the dog or return it to the breeder is up to you and the breeder to decide between you.
If the breeder does not respond, or does not respond satisfactorily, you can ask The Kennel Club to intervene on your behalf. If your breeder is a member of The Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder Scheme, you will have a greater form of recourse for hereditary health conditions, particularly if pre-breeding testing was offered but not taken up prior to breeding.
If you still cannot reach a satisfactory resolution with the breeder, you may need to consider taking things further. As a first action, write to the secretary of the Advisory Council on the Welfare Issues of Dog Breeding at the Dog Advisory Council, copying them in on what has occurred so far.
You may also wish to contact the Trading Standards department of your local council, if you feel that the breeder did not do everything that they should have done to prevent your pup being born with a health condition in the first place.
If neither of these organisations can help, or your dog was not bought from an approved breeder, your final course of action may be to contact trading standards again, but this time under the normal range of consumer protection rules.
Your dog is classed as a possession, or product, and ultimately their hereditary health issue constitutes a fault or flaw in the “product,” and so this means that you may be eligible for a refund of the purchase price of the dog. This may necessitate you instigating a legal claim via the small claims courts, and this should be seen as a final course of action if your other attempts to resolve things with the breeder directly fail.