This is a follow-up article to “Are Purebred Dogs More Likely to Have Allergies?“, an article we ran last week.
Purebred Dogs & Allergies, a Recap
In our last article on dogs and allergies, it was mentioned that the logistics of breeding sometimes cause unwanted traits to be passed down through the genetic pool, sometimes resulting in allergies in purebred dogs.
While that remains true, it’s also true that not all breeders are alike. Consequently, some purebred dogs are more likely to have allergies than others…and breeders have a lot to do with the matter.
A look at the current state of affairs in the world of dog breeding tells us that, as far as oversight and regulation go, things are all over the place. While the AKC and the ASPCA plus countless animal-rights groups do their best to keep dog breeders under their watchful eye, they have a long way to go.
Therefore, it’s important that the public is aware of how breeders work, how to spot a good one, and what can be done to ensure their new purebred dog is as healthy and allergy-free as possible.
Below you’ll find a handy guide to the world of dog breeding facilities in the US, and the answer to the question, “Are all purebred dogs prone to allergies?”
The Most Important Factor in Determining Whether Your Purebred Will Have Allergies…
We’ll just cut to the chase and tell you right off the bat: the single most important factor determining whether your purebred dog is going to have severe allergy problems is whether or not he came from a puppy mill.
There are responsible breeders, and then there are puppy mills. The difference is simple: responsible breeders act with the dogs’ interest in mind whereas puppy mills count the bottom line as top priority.
Specifically, what this means for you is that puppy mill breeders may
- continue to breed a dog even after the dog exhibits health problems (including allergies)
- fail to check genetic proximity of purebred parents, even breeding siblings in some cases
Of course these types of irresponsible breeders may violate all kinds of standards and laws regarding kennel conditions but we’re focusing here on factors that lead to allergy-prone dogs.
Responsible breeders will:
- run their breeding programs with the intent of improving the breed
- refrain from breeding dogs who exhibit physical problems like severe allergies
- examine the pedigrees of all dogs they breed to determine genetic makeup
- discontinue breeding a dog who produces affected puppies, even though that dog doesn’t who any defects her/himself
Through best practices like these, allergies in purebreds can be reduced dramatically. It simply doesn’t have to be the case that all purebreds are prone to allergies.
That’s why consumer education is so important. Organizations like the ASPCA and the AKC run programs but most people just aren’t aware of the vast difference between the various breeders out there.
What can be done?
National Laws & State Laws
There are national laws under the Animal Welfare Act regulating breeders, but they mainly cover care standards, not genetic standards and practices. They do require, however, that commercial breeders are licensed and inspected by the USDA. Beginning in November 2013, these laws also applied to kennels selling directly to the public. That means puppy mills are now inspected by the USDA, so a lot is changing.
Some of the worst offenders are internet sellers of “purebred” dogs, whose puppy mills located in other countries are not subject to our laws. However, in August 2014, the laws began applying to imported puppies, too. Foreign breeders must now provide certifications of good health for their puppies.
However, that may still not prevent allergy-prone purebred dogs from hitting the market. That’s why many states have even stricter breeder laws and standards…check here for a map of which states have the toughest standards.
Some states now even have “lemon laws” for pet purchases, protecting consumers from illness or defect in their puppies. Many of them cover “hereditary defects”, which is what an allergy can be considered.
What You Can Do
What can you do? For starters, don’t buy from puppy mills or pet stores. The ASPCA runs a campaign called No Pet Store Puppies, since most pet stores get their puppies from puppy mills.
Ask a breeder you’re considering buying from Can I tour your facility? A breeder who says “no” may have something to hide. If their kennel conditions are bad, then most likely they’re not putting much thought into the genetic component of breeding out defects such as allergies, either.
Most responsible breeders are happy to show you around.
Finally, here’s a checklist for responsible breeders, more likely to have puppies who are allergy-free and otherwise healthy:
- the breeder shows concern about who adopts his puppies, so he’ll have questions for you, too
- the breeder has a good relationship with a local vet
- the breeder will be up front about genetic predispositions of the breed you want to purchase
- the breeder will show you papers proving the puppy’s parents and grandparents have been professionally evaluated. The reason for that evaluation is to weed out genetic problems like severe allergies
If you’re interested in trying out some natural alternatives to help with your dog’s allergies. Give the three below a shot.