health

What you need to know before buying an AKC registered puppy.

I used to think that merely having an AKC registered dog meant something.  It was only recently when I met my mentor that I realized that I was oh so wrong.  Basically, an AKC registered dog means nothing more than the puppy’s dam and sire are also AKC registered.  That is it, nothing more.  And, since I can sometimes be a cynic, I will also throw out there that it means nothing more than someone with an AKC registered dam and sire SAY that the puppy is a result of the AKC registered parents.  Don’t be shocked, but sometimes people aren’t honest.

Aoibheal (Ahvie)

These are 2 puppies from my Yorkshire Terriers’ one and only litter.  I own both parents, and they are AKC certified.  I bred them together after assessing that they were both small (4 pounds, I have seen some HUGE Yorkies,) and the male’s coat has remained black (most Yorkies turn gold/silver before they turn one year old.)  I also had a dog breeding expert assess my male and confirm that he had good proportions and gait.  He actually wanted a puppy from the litter, but his wife said no.

So, I know what you are thinking….  so what?  What is the big deal?  Well, it IS a big deal, and I will tell you why.  Every breed of dog has it’s “issues.”  I have a Rhodesian Ridgeback, and they have potential issues that COULD occur as a result of breeding.  For example, one of the potential issues is a thyroid problem or dermoid sinus.  According to vetstreet.com, under the health tab of Rhodesian Ridgebacks, they state:

Ridgies can develop hypothyroidism, a condition in which the thyroid gland doesn’t produce enough thyroid hormone. Periodic testing is recommended, and affected dogs should not be bred.

Rhodesian Ridgebacks are prone to dermoid sinus, a tunnel-like opening between the skin and spinal column. This congenital defect causes neurologic signs, which can occur at any age. Surgery is the recommended treatment, and affected dogs should not be bred.

As you can see, there are potential problems.  However, there is genetic testing available to all breeders, and all breeds of dogs, in order to alleviate these problems.  Responsible breeders screen their breeding dogs for genetic disease and breed only the healthiest and best-looking specimens.  They also sign contracts with the puppy buyers that state that they are willing to take back the puppy if the buyers no longer want the dog.  This prevents dogs ending up in animal shelters or homes not suited to the breed.
Note that vetstreet advises that there are conditions that could occur in a dog that SHOULD prevent the dog from being bred.  A sinus dermoid in a Rhodesian Ridgeback is a very expensive thing to fix.  And you can only imagine dealing with a dog that has a thyroid problem and the problems associated with it, such as being overweight.  However, the parents of these affected offspring are surely AKC certified.  So, you can see the problem of looking no further for a potential new pet in your home if you have found an AKC certified puppy?  The AKC has a new program called “Bred with HEART” and has breeders go through more extensive means to assure healthy puppies, such as genetic testing, registering all puppies, having a 5 year track record, etc.

The BEST resource for finding a specific breed of puppy is to go to the parent club of the breed (for example:  for a Rhodesian Ridgeback, you can find the parent club Rhodesian Ridgeback Club of the United States, also called RRCUS.)  They have a list of breeders who have demonstrated diligent efforts to improve or maintain high breed standards and who complete genetic testing, x rays evaluated by a veterinarian, etc.  This will save you much heartache in the long run, as nobody wants to see their “fur babies” suffering…. and certainly nobody wants to spend their time and money going to the vet, repeatedly.

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