It is important to get an understanding of the possible inherited dog health issues and problems that might confront you through the life of your dog and understand that it can be breed related. Nobody wants to put their pup or dog down. If you’re a dog lover, you know that dealing with animal illnesses and diseases can be just as sad (and expensive) as human health problems. The stress and worry of a sick pet and the expense of those vet bills can truly take a toll on a doggy family, and that’s before the emotions hit.
Although there are environmental factors that affect a dog’s health and life expectancy, there is information available that will help you to prepare for possible health concerns with your dog or assist you to make a choice on a breed of dog before you actually invest in the new member of your family.
To clarify, this is not about diseases such as rabies or other viral diseases. This is about the type of health problems that are related to the fact that animal husbandry is a bit like genetic plasticine. This is about inherited dog health issues. Breeders have mated individual dogs with similar characteristics they are attempting to replicate, mainly physical and functional but often purely cosmetic, and often behavioral as well. It has never been attempted to produce an indestructible pet dog for the average human family; it is mostly to introduce desirable characteristics into a breed, to further improve its function and purpose, or (often) to produce a “look” that the breeder thinks will be popular to the public and/or successful in the show ring, because many of these “look” breeds do not have any history of functionality.
Probably the most notable of this type of breeding that is not of particular benefit to the actual dog or of no particular functional use is seen in the “short faced” breeds. These breeds probably represent the worst case scenario for inherited dog health issues. Here breeders have gradually flattened the face to produce a look that appears to be very popular in the dog fraternity at the moment, particularly newer dog owners who view them as cute. In fact, I’ve heard them described as being “so ugly they are cute”. Without weighing into that argument, I should counteract that statement with another …. “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”.
As “cute” as they look, these physical characteristics, which in effect are deformities, can be the cause of a lot of inherited health problems. (Please go to my article “Dogs With Short Faces” to read more).
Having said that it doesn’t mean that deliberate genetic manipulations in general are negative and there are a huge variety of breeds of various degrees of attractiveness and cuteness (or hugeness) that appeal to all different tastes as a desirable family pet as well as having a deliberate function in mind as the breeders developed them to their present appearance.
Functionality is about breeding for certain physical traits that will help the dog do a better job of say, hunting, tracking, racing, guarding or retrieving, and these are most often combined with the behavioral characteristics that marry into the role of the animal. Due to the popularity of many extremely functional breeds it can be said that an attractive outline must have also been a consideration as they are also in high demand as pets.
It could also be added that some undesirable breeders look for the behavior of aggression and physical characteristics of bulk and strength to produce a fighting dog, a sport that is abhorrent to ALL dog lovers. But the dog fraternity have some truly amazing professional people involved in it that have a “dog 6th sense”. People who have absolute faith that any dog can be rehabilitated and there are many joyful stories of these poor animals being rescued and becoming trustworthy. There are also many more representatives of these fighting breeds that never see the fight ring and have been raised as pets from birth and show the same qualities of a trustworthy, loving family pet as any other breed. Proving that dogs really only ever want to be our companion and friend, whatever the breed.
In most instances, when it comes to the health of these functional breeds the health problems that many of them suffer are not deliberate results of a poor breed development process. Health problems such as hip dysplasia was thought of as a common form of arthritis in dogs before proper testing proved otherwise, and although it actually is a form of arthritis it was found to be hereditary several decades ago. Since then great advances have been made in breeding out this terrible hereditary disease. There are many conscientious breeders in many breeds that are part of huge movements to eradicate hereditary problems from dogs. There is an abundance of information about inherited dog health issues, (hereditary dog diseases), on the internet.
Dogs of all ages are subject to hip dysplasia and although it particularly affects some larger breeds it is generally seen through to mid-sized breeds and even smaller breeds as well. Some dog sites state that it doesn’t appear to affect cross-breeds but this is just one of the fallacies that circulate about the benefits of cross breeds versus pure breeds. Until your “cross breed” has fully developed (matured) you don’t know what it will inherit from its parents and it is quite possible it may have a worse array of ailments than a pure bred if the parents were breeds with quite different functions and physical features.
This reference to hip dysplasia on this dog website has been included as it is a real problem in many, if not most of the popular breeds that are synonymous with dogs and dog ownership through their high profiles in the media and as the flag bearers for dog ownership in general.
Hip Dysplasia is also a very high profile inherited dog health issue or problem and has been singled out purely as an “example” ailment that could afflict the breed you own or are interested in.
Where To Find Information About Inherited Dog Health Issues
This website does not claim to have all the information relevant to this disease or the incidence of it through the various dog breeds. If you want to know more it is best to go to this website: http://discoveryspace.upei.ca/cidd/disorder/hip-dysplasia or another like it to find out more about its incidence in your chosen breed.
Dog Training Rewards strongly recommends you visit this site because of the massive amount of misinformation there is on the web (on other websites) about the severity of this affliction. Many, many sites related to dogs as pets refer to hip dysplasia as a common disease but infer that it will have a moderate impact in most breeds. IT IS NOT SO. This is a very serious ailment that can drastically shorten your dog’s life and can often be very costly if treatment is recommended. (Often treatment is not an option).
Certainly, there is less incidence of it now because of the good work being done by conscientious breeders, but if you happen to have a dog that is afflicted it is far from being a moderate concern.
There is also a lot of misinformation about many other genetic / inherited dog health issues as well, for example, one of America’s favorite dog breeds (when it comes to the typical family dog) is prone to six major and four minor health concerns, including hip dysplasia, gastric torsion, muscular dystrophy, retinal dysplasia and cataracts. I am not writing this article to warn about or to target certain breeds as there are many others like this one; so you will just have to hunt down your own information to find what breed I refer to.
If you visit the home page of this website at: http://discoveryspace.upei.ca/cidd/ it has a comprehensive database of just about any breed you can think of and you can navigate directly to each breed and find out exactly what problems have been found to be inherited in that breed.
This will be a huge time saver and stress reliever in your search for your perfect companion.
Research dog hereditary disorders with an open mind though.
Remember not all individual dogs of any breed are a certainty to inherit all the possible ailments that afflicts its breed. I have already reminded you that the conscientious breeders who love their particular breeds are working diligently to make their breed less prone to inherited dog health issues and other problems, so when you consider a breed the most important thing to consider, (in my opinion), is to look at it’s breeders record and credentials.