Selective Breeding & The Resulting Health Problems – Part 2

Gemma | September 23rd, 2008
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Selective breeding and the unwanted disease and health problems are not just limited to a few breeds. Other congenital problems affect more than one breed.

Hip dysplasia, for instance, has been demonstrated in almost all large breeds and some small ones. This abnormality of the hip joint has been given so much publicity by dog raisers, as well as the veterinarian profession, that the public is generally aware of the condition – though often unaware that dysplasia is not usually evident in young puppies.

The standard guarantee that a puppy comes from X-rayed stock is only fair insurance that dysplasia will not develop during the rapid growth phase or even later in the dog’s life.

Recent studies report that in some cases, dysplasia causes no apparent discomfort or crippling and is not progressive. In others, pain and inability to walk may become so severe that they necessitate euthanasia for the dog.

Other mutations which occur too frequently in more than one breed include brachycephaly (round head), achondroplasia (short limbs), floating kneecaps, and dwarfism. The frequency of all these conditions can be traced directly or indirectly to constant inbreeding to achieve certain qualities in the various breeds.

Can The Problem Be Stopped?

These genetic flaws could be controlled, even eliminated in some cases, by selective breeding programs, however, it would require years of cooperation among dog breeders, the veterinary profession, and the general public.

Some blame for the spread of genetic mutations must undoubtedly lie with a few commercial breeders. Those, for whom money-making is paramount, unfortunately counter-balance every effort toward breeding programs aimed at improvement of dog lines.

Little, of course, can be done by individuals to harness the damage done by these puppy mills, beyond not giving them your business when it comes time to purchasing a puppy. The American Kennel Club, local kennel clubs, humane societies, and other agencies are constantly striving to tighten licensing laws and take other measures against the worst of these businesses.

Even while professional organizations are striving for long-range alleviation of genetic problems in dogs, there are things that can and should be done by the individual dog owner and buyer.

Much of the problem may be traced to a lack of knowledge on the part of the general public and a blind assumption that any purebred dog registered by the American Kennel Club is eligible and recommended for breeding. This is simply not the case.

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