Puppy Awareness Week
Why doing your research is so important
During Puppy Awareness Week (4 – 8 September) the Kennel Club has released worrying statistics that show people typically spend more time choosing a new pair of shoes or doing their supermarket shop than researching where to get a puppy.
One in five people questioned admitted they had spent no time researching where to get their puppy from at all, and thought they had inadvertently bought from a puppy farm. This could have devastating consequences as pups are more likely to get ill and their owners suffer financial and emotional hardship.
At the Animal Health Trust, our team of researchers works hard to investigate genetic health problems in dogs and create DNA tests to help limit the number of puppies born with a known inherited disease. To make sure your new puppy benefits from this expertise, you should do your research, too.
Health tests, including DNA tests, can also apply to crossbreeds as well as purebred dogs, especially if the parent breeds share any of the same diseases – so don’t be fooled into thinking crossbreeds don’t need health testing.
Doing your research could make a big difference to your dog’s health, and your experience as a dog owner. Good breeders will care about the health of the puppies they are breeding and will have engaged in all the health testing that is relevant to their breed(s).
Health tests include clinical tests which are performed by vets, such as eye examinations, X-rays of the joints and hearing tests, as well as genetic tests which require a sample of DNA to be tested in a laboratory. All of these tests will cost the breeder money and this will be reflected in the price of the puppy, but should be seen as an investment in your dog’s health and wellbeing.
Our researchers have discovered more than 20 disease-causing mutations in the dog and used this research to develop DNA tests for nearly 50 different breeds. These tests, most of which cost less than £50 per test, help breeders to reduce the number of dogs genetically affected by a wide range of inherited diseases, such as serious neurological or blinding conditions and therefore help prevent illness in countless dogs.
The most recent advances in our canine genetics research include new DNA tests for retinal degeneration in Swedish Vallhunds (launched in February), primary open angle glaucoma and primary lens luxation in Shar Peis (launched in March), progressive retinal atrophy in Lhasa Apsos (launched 4 September) and ocular skeletal dysplasia in Northern Innuits (launching 28 September). Through DNA health testing, we hope that over time the prevalence of genetic diseases will be greatly reduced, and even eradicated from a breed.
For more information about our research, go to:
Kennel Club Assured Breeders
If you don’t feel confident about the questions you should ask a dog breeder, you can look for a Kennel Club Assured Breeder who will have followed the correct protocols.