There are many things to think about when bringing home a new puppy. At the top of that long list is health.We all want to have healthy pets. And while that may not always be possible—sometimes they just get sick—starting out with a healthy puppy can go a long way. To that end, American Kennel Club’s Chief Veterinary Officer Dr. Jerry Klein, DVM, offers some advice for puppies purchased through breeders:
The Honest Kitchen: What are some differences between a good breeder and a bad one?Jerry Klein: A good, responsible breeder is dedicated to the betterment of their breed. They are knowledgeable about the breed and work to advance its well-being and good health. Often, this is done through participation in American Kennel Club confirmation events (dog shows) where their animals are judged against the standard set for the breed. For breeds where specific health testing is appropriate, responsible breeders will perform health screenings on their breeding dogs to guide them in their decisions about which dogs to breed. Just as people acquiring a dog should do their homework, a responsible breeder will also do their homework. They may ask questions about your family, lifestyle, and other pets in the house to make certain that their breed and dogs are a good match for you. They should also be there for you as a resource for the life of the dog.
THK: What are some things that can go wrong in terms of puppy health if a breeder is not qualified?Jerry Klein: First, it’s important to know that just like with people, any dog can get sick. Responsible breeders use the knowledge and tools available to us to minimize the risk of serious health issues for pets. They breed healthy dogs that meet the standards set for the breed. They use testing to guide their decisions. Overall, their breeding practices should be geared to maintaining and improving the breed. Purebred dogs provide a consistency of size, physical characteristics, and demeanor. Responsible breeders help maintain that consistency.
THK: What kinds of health tests/documents are available that certify healthy puppy lines?Jerry Klein: Both OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) and CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) provide screening tests that help identify dogs with increased risk for hip and eye problems. A responsible breeder will have their dogs screened for any hip and/or eye issues before breeding them. They will use the results of the test to help guide them about which dogs are appropriate for breeding. The breeder should show potential buyers the results of these screenings and explain their meaning.
Photo courtesy Xalion Malik on flickr