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These days, puppy buyers are more aware of potential health issues that are associated with their breed. This means that breeders of pedigree dogs are expected to test their stock for any genetic diseases. By doing so, they can inform their puppy buyers of any disease risk in their new four legged family member.
There are two good reasons for testing your sire and dam for such diseases before breeding them.
1. You reduce the risk of producing puppies with a potentially devastating but preventable medical condition. You can also protect your puppy’s new owners from the heartache and expense of such a condition.
2. You are benefiting the breed as a whole by learning which dogs are carrying the relevant gene, and avoiding using them in your breeding program. This can reduce the incidence of that gene in the dog population.
It sounds simple enough, but in fact it can be challenging to prevent genetic disease in puppies.
Some conditions have a very simple mode of inheritance. Either the dog has a specific genetic makeup and is affected by the disease, or it doesn’t. We then know what we should expect in their offspring.
Other conditions are influenced by many genes, which makes prevention difficult. Not only that, but sometimes environmental factors also have an effect on a genetic disease. Hip dysplasia is a good example of this – breeding stock are x-rayed to evaluate their hips, and only those animals with good hip scores are used for breeding. It is thought that several genes are involved in this disease, but factors such as nutrition, growth rate and exercise levels also play a role in whether a dog is affected. This can mean that it’s not possible to guarantee that a pup will be completely free of the disease.
In Summary – Genetic testing of breeding stock is certainly an added expense for dog breeders, however it is a vital part of breeding and raising a healthy litter. It’s important to put the best interests of the breed ahead of any monetary concerns, and do whatever it takes to reduce the incidence of these genetic conditions.
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