More and more our pets are reflecting our personalities and our taste. Even our style!
Dogs have almost moved into ‘accessory’ status with celebrities taking their pretty pups everywhere with them, even to award ceremonies, carried in designer handbags; the pups being as much a statement of prestige as the enviable emblems on those handbags themselves.
But this comes at a price.
Pedigree dogs, as beautiful as they are, are often overbred due to high demand and inbred due to limited or bottlenecked bloodlines, resulting in diseases specific to each breed.
How to Pick a Healthy Purebred Dog
We often believe that price means best quality, but when it comes to puppies, this is often not the case.
Pedigreed dogs are bred for their appearance, not for their good health. These purebred dogs often have a long list of associated illnesses, causing pain and discomfort for the dogs and considerable worry and medical expenses for the owner.
Before Buying, Do Your Research:
- Find a reputable breeder – ask friends or rescue groups about breeders they trust.
- Find out about the health of the parents of the puppy.
- Find out about diseases inherently specific to that breed.
The ABC’s of Breed Specific Ailments in Purebred Dogs:
This is by no means definitive, but it will give you a good idea of what to look out for when purchasing your purebred best friend.
Alsatian (German Shepherd): Hip Dysplasia
Most large breeds suffer from hip dysplasia – where the hip ball doesn’t fit properly into the hip socket.
Remember to check with the breeder about the parent dogs to find out if they suffer from hip dysplasia. If they don’t there’s a strong likelihood that the puppies will be free of it too.
This friendly breed is more prone to epilepsy (seizures) than any other breed and will usually have their first seizure between six months and three years of age.
With no cure available this can usually be managed through medication.
Boston Terrier: Cherry Eye
With their large protruding eyes, this purebred is susceptible to a number of eye problems, such as dry eye, cataracts, and entropion (turned-in eyelids)and cherry eye, which is when a tear-producing gland, which is bright red and round, “pops out” from behind the dog’s third eyelid. Cherry eye can be repaired with surgery.
Boxers are at higher risk for certain types of cancer, including lymphoma and mast cell tumours. In both cases, the cancer will present itself as an unusual lump or bump on your dog’s body.
Both of these cancers, if caught early, might be treatable, so be sure to check your boxer regularly for lumps.
Bulldog: Respiratory Problems
That ‘smashed in’ face you fell in love with is the reason why your bulldog has breathing problems, snores, and tires easily. Small nostrils, an elongated soft palate, and narrow trachea can lead to a life-threatening emergency if he gets overheated or overtired. So do keep your bulldog cool in the summer and be moderate with the amount of exercise he gets.
Chihuahua: Collapsing Trachea
If you dog sounds like a toy car honking when she gets excited, she might suffer from collapsed trachea, a common problem in toy breeds. The trachea flattens from weak cartilage that normally holds the trachea open. Some dogs go their whole lives with this and have no problems from it; others require medication, and in severe cases, surgery may be needed.
Cocker Spaniel: Ear Infections
Your cocker spaniel’s adorable floppy, furry ears make him prone to ear infections.
Prevention is better than cure, so clean your dog’s ears every couple of weeks and flip her ears back to let them “breathe” every now and then.
Dachshund: Back Problems
We all know that Daschie’s long backs make them partial to spinal strain. The best way to keep your dachshund feeling her best is to keep her at a healthy weight and try limiting stair-climbing and jumping down from furniture, as it can also put stress on the back.
Doberman Pinscher: Heart Condition
With no cure, Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is something that owners of Dobermans will have to monitor and mediate regularly.
DCM is when the heart’s chambers are stretched out and don’t pump blood effectively often giving no symptom until their dog collapses, so make sure you do your annual check-up at your vet.
Golden Retriever: Skin Allergies
Is your dog always licking, scratching, and chewing, with hot spots (red, oozing sores)? It’s a sign of skin allergies.
To soothe itchy skin, give your dog baths with oatmeal shampoo, add an omega-3 supplement to his diet, and make sure he has regular flea treatment.
Great Dane: Bloat
Giant breeds like Great Danes are at higher risk for gastric dilation or bloat. This is life-threatening. It develops when the stomach fills up with gas and then twists, trapping food and gas in the stomach. If you notice your dog pacing, panting, and drooling excessively right after eating, call the vet immediately. It can be corrected with surgery, but it can be fatal if not treated quickly.
Maltese: Little White Shaker Syndrome
This funny-named condition is just what it sounds like: shaking in small dogs that are white (although dogs with other coat colours can get it, too), caused by inflammation in the cerebellum, which causes shaking that can be so bad the dog can barely walk. The good news is that it’s treatable with corticosteroids, it’s not painful for the dog, and it usually subsides after a few weeks.
Pug: Eye Problems
Their bulgy eyes puts pugs at risk for eye problems, the most serious of which is an eye popping out of its socket. This can happen if a pug gets into an accident or a fight with another dog. If this happens, cover the eye with a damp cloth and rush your dog to the vet.
Rottweiler: Joint Problems
Large breeds often have a list of joint problems, such as hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, arthritis, and osteochondrosis dissecans (OCD). Feeding the right amount of a balanced diet may help keep your Rottweiler’s joints healthy. However, abnormal cartilage many have to be surgically removed.
Shetland Sheepdog: Collie Eye
Collie eye, a widespread occurrence in collie breeds, affects the retina and the optic nerve and can lead to blindness. There is no treatment for collie eye be sure to check if your puppy has been tested before you bring a Sheltie puppy home.
Siberian Husky: Autoimmune Disorders
Siberian Huskies are predisposed to a list of autoimmune disorders, some affecting the skin with sores and hair loss, often on the face, or affecting both the skin and the eyes and can lead to eye problems like glaucoma and cataracts. Treatment for these disorders is corticosteroids to inhibit the immune system.
Yorkshire Terrier: Portosystemic Shunt
Portosystemic shunt (PSS) is a blood vessel birth defect that’s common in small breeds like the Yorkie. With PSS, the vein bypasses the liver (which cleans out toxins), and so toxins aren’t removed which sometimes causes poor growth, vomiting, confusion, and seizures. Most of the time, PSS can be corrected with surgery, and the dog will go on to live a normal, healthy life.