If you are a dog breeder or are considering breeding from your own pedigree pet dog, you should spend plenty of time deciding if this is the right decision, and learning all of the different things you should plan and do first.
This involves assessing demand for your future puppies, choosing the right stud dog or sire, and making an informed decision as to whether or not breeding from your dog is in the best interests of the dog herself, the future litter, and the breed as a whole.
Breeding for good health and improvement is one of the cornerstones of this – and responsible breeders work to continually improve the health and quality of their breed lines with each mating. This means that sometimes, making a decision not to breed from a certain dog is necessary – and is something that all responsible breeders have to accept.
Virtually every recognised pedigree dog breed has a breed-specific predisposition to one or more hereditary health issues that can impact upon both the wellness of the individual dogs, and the breed as a whole. For many such conditions, pre-breeding health screening and DNA testing can be carried out before making a decision on a mating match, to determine the status and risk factors for any given dog.
Whilst some dog breeds have mandatory health testing protocols in place for specific conditions that mean that they can only be registered with The Kennel Club and/or their respective breed club if the parent stock were tested, most health tests are recommended, but optional.
Not all breeders have all of the recommended health tests carried out on their parent stock, for a variety of reasons. Some hold the mistaken belief that because their dog appears healthy now, they don’t have any health conditions – or won’t pass them on to a litter. Others just want to save money, and some are afraid that they might find out something that they’d rather not know – and which might mean that they shouldn’t breed from their dog.
However, pre-breeding health tests aren’t generally prohibitively expensive, and they will usually pay for themselves in the long-term – even if the results aren’t what you were hoping for. In this article, we will explain why performing all of the advised and recommended pre-breeding health tests for any individual breed is a sound investment for dog breeders. Read on to learn more.
The price commanded for a pedigree puppy of any given breed can be very variable, but many puppy buyers will pay more for a pup whose higher purchase price is merited. The factors that contribute to higher-priced puppies include their bloodline, quality, and health. Being able to demonstrate that the pup’s parents are healthy by means of test results can mean that the price you can command for each puppy in the litter rises accordingly.
Many well-informed and responsible puppy buyers will only consider purchasing from breeders who have carried out all of the recommended health tests – which means you can reach a new audience of potential buyers that some other breeders cannot, and also, helps to ensure that your new pup’s future homes will be with well informed and responsible owners.
Even among prospective puppy buyers who are willing to consider buying from other breeders, having the added reassurance that health tests provides can give you a competitive edge. If a prospective buyer is trying to choose between two or more breeders, offering access to health test results for the litter in question can help to make your litter a more desirable choice.
Even though many health tests are advisory rather than mandatory, for members of The Kennel Club’s Assured Breeder scheme and for entry in many breed club’s breeder directories, certain otherwise optional health tests are required.
If you have your parent stock tested for all of the conditions for which testing is advised, you may be eligible to join such schemes – and gain access to more responsible, well informed puppy buyers.
If you breed from an untested dog and their pups inherit a hereditary health problem, this can be expensive. Some health conditions are evident from birth or soon after, which means that you won’t be able to sell the pups and will also have to provide for their care for the duration of their lives – which often means spending lots of money on vet’s fees too.
Additionally, if you sell puppies that are later diagnosed with a health condition that could have been identified with pre-breeding health screening, your reputation as a breeder will suffer. You might also be liable for compensating the person who bought the puppy, or accepting the puppy back, even if this occurs much further down the line.
All told, it is much more cost-effective – not to mention responsible, and kinder – to avoid breeding from a dog with a hereditary health issue, even if they seem fine at the time.
It is always very upsetting to learn that your dog has a health problem, particularly if it is likely to have a significant impact on their quality of life, shorten their lifespan, or cost a lot to take care of. However, even if your dog appears healthy now, pre-breeding health screening can help to identify their risk factors for certain conditions and warn you in advance of a developing issue, which gives you a head start on controlling and managing it, and keeping your dog fit and well for as long as possible.
This can make all of the difference between allowing your dog to have a normal or almost normal life and lifespan, or being faced with a health issue that has progressed too far to be manageable by the time it is diagnosed.
For many hereditary health conditions that can be identified by DNA testing, the results will be returned as clear, carrier, or affected respectively.
Carriers are dogs that carry a gene fault that can be passed on to their own offspring, but that are unaffected by the condition themselves. However, in the case of autosomal recessive hereditary health conditions, the subsequent litter bred from a carrier dog will themselves be healthy, as long as the carrier is bred to a clear dog.
Whilst some of those pups may inherit carrier status themselves, they will still be healthy – and can be sold as pets, or even as potential breeding stock providing that they in their turn are only bred to clear dogs in the future.