Recently, on a day that I was bogged down with appointments, a client came in and asked the receptionist how much it would cost to pregnancy check her one year old American Bull Dog. As the receptionist was giving her the price for a pregnancy ultrasound, I was coming up to reception to get a file and over heard her say, “We really want to know because her daddy done got to her.” despite my time constraints with rooms full of clients and pets, I paused immediately and told her that the preg check needs to be performed ASAP since, if the dog was indeed pregnant, the pregnancy would need to be terminated, a process that is performed by hormonal injection, and most effective and safe for the female the earlier it is done.
The woman proceeded to give me a bewildered look, and then it hit me quickly that she had PLANNED THE BREEDING AND ACTUALLY WANTED THE PUPPIES! I then asked her, “Mam, did you actually want for this to happen?” “Yes,” she answered. I replied,”Mam, are you not aware of the dangers of inbreeding related dogs? Even cousins have a high potential to have genetic diseases. With father and daughter, the likelihood is exceptionally high that the puppies will be not be health overall, have behvarioravl problems, and not live healthy lives. “
She answered, “well, I was told that it was okay in dogs.” I replied, “you need to be careful who you take your advice from, because whoever told you this either has a complete lack of ethics, is grossly misinformed, or both. It is no more safe for dogs to inbreed like this than it is for people. In addition, your dog is way too young to have been bred. Many genetically inherited diseases do not appear until 2 years of age, so breeding a dog before this age even to a dog that is of no familial relation, means that you could be unknowingly be passing these diseases to future generations.” I then recommended she visit the Breeder Page of WebDVM so she can get an idea of what responsible and ethical breeding entails. I also told her that she needs to make an appointment for a preg check and pregnancy termination in the event that the dog is pregnant, ASAP. She said would do both, walked out the door, and we never heard from her again.
By now those puppies likely have been born, and many poor unsuspecting people just wanting to adopt a pure bred American Bull dog, have likely paid a lot of money for dogs that have a high likelihood of having many different possible genetic diseases, aggressive temperaments, and have a low likelihood of living long, healthy lives. The people that buy these puppies think that they must be getting good quality puppies because they are not from a pet store, and they are AKC registered. They have no idea that ignorant and/or unscrupulous breeders can be every bit as bad as pet stores. They also do not realize that AKC registration is meaningless. All one has to do to get puppies registered with the AKC is to simply state that the puppies are a certain breed and send their check, period.
Now, this is an extreme case of breeder ignorance for certain. However, while many breeders are not this misinformed or unscrupulous, the vast majority of breeders are not doing what is necessary to give the highest probability that puppies will be free of genetic disease and strengthen, rather than weaken, a given breed as a whole. Later in life, when dogs are afflicted with genetic diseases such as skin allergies, skeletal disorders, cardiac disorders, and cancer, among many more, they often aim their blame at the vets who charge for their services to manage these problems, rather than the breeders that created them. Always remember that a large percentage of sickness that is seen in veterinary practice is the result of genetic aberrations created by bad breeding.
To be fair, it is usually not the fault of the pet owners whose only mistake was trusting that these breeders were breeding ethically and responsibly. Therefore, until there is government implemented regulation of animal breeding, be certain to educate yourselves and others in the market for a new puppy. Never forget that it requires no degree, training, or licensing whatsoever to call oneself a breeder. As such, never assume that a breeder has even a remote clue of what they are talking about, and use the WebDVM Breeder Page as a guide to help you weed out backyard breeders from good, ethically based, responsible breeders.
Roger L. Welton, DVM