More than 250,000 dogs are in animal shelters across the nation and millions of families search for a new pet each year. Dogs from animal shelters represent an enormous pool of potential companions — and adopters have plenty of options when they visit their local shelter. Yet there is an increasing problem with backyard breeders who are breeding dogs in the UK and USA from their yard without putting the dogs welfare first.
The Problem with Backyard Breeders
In fact, according to the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), 20 percent of dogs in animal shelters are purebred — and many of those come from “backyard breeders” who sell puppies with false papers. Sadly, the American Kennel Club® (AKC®) estimates that only 3 to 5 percent of mixed-breed shelter dogs are identified as such on adoption surveys, which suggests that a great many dogs with unknown parentage are mislabeled.
This is unfortunate, since research shows that consumers who purchase purebreds from breeders have a higher rate of return and relinquishment — even after taking into account the age of the dog when adopted, the sex, size and breed. This may be because owners of purebreds often acquire the dog with the intent of showing or breeding it, and have unrealistic expectations about training or exercise demands. Others may be attracted to a particular “look” and not understand their dog’s genetics.
People who adopt mixed-breed dogs from shelters are more accurately informed regarding their pet’s needs and behavior, and tend to be more satisfied with their choice in the long run.
The other problem with Backyard breeders is that their main concern is making money and not the dogs welfare. Many of them skimp on flea treatments, training and veterinary care to increase their profit margins. So not only are many of these dogs purely bred, but they also come with a variety of health problems.
Why do People want Purebred Dogs anyway?
“Purebreds are popular because people want consistency,” says Dr. Bonnie Beaver, a professor emeritus atTexas A&M University’s College of Veterinary Medicine and executive director of theAmerican Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA) Charitable Trust. “There are many reasons to adopt from a shelter — not just because you love and support the no-kill movement. But if you go that route, make sure you’re prepared for some surprises.”
The more information we have about our pets’ genetic makeup, the better. That’s why it’s so important to use DNA technology to confirm parentage when purchasing a new puppy, and why the AKC Canine Health Foundation has teamed up with Vet-Stem to make that possible. Now you can use DNA technology to find your dog’s unique genetic story — and confirm its parentage.
With this in mind, we’ve gathered some information for anyone considering adopting a purebred or mixed-breed dog from a local shelter or rescue group. Here’s what you should know:
Health Proofing Your Puppy
Because some genetic health problems are breed specific, it’s important to verify that a puppy is actually the offspring of its registered parents before you buy. A reputable breeder will guarantee and provide written documentation of the puppy’s parentage at no charge.
The AKC Canine Health Foundation has partnered with Vet-Stem to offer DNA health testing for parents of puppies purchased through a breeder — and now anyone can take advantage of this valuable service, regardless of where their new dog comes from! Tests are $95 each, and available for the following genetic conditions:
• Collie Eye Anomaly (CEA) — a condition common to several herding breeds, including Border Collies and Australian Shepherds. Breeding dogs with CEA can cause congenital blindness in the offspring.
• Canine Multifocal Retinopathy (CMR1) and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) — retinal disorders that can lead to blindness. Dogs with the gene for PRA are at risk for both conditions; dogs with CMR1 are more likely to develop PRA.
• Deafness — a DNA test determines if a dog carries one of several recessive genes that may cause deafness in some breeds, including Australian Shepherds, Border Collies and Labrador Retrievers.
• Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration (prcd-PRA) — a form of retinal atrophy that results in blindness. This test also screens for CMR1/PRA gene mutations, as well as the prcd-PRA mutation.
• Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD) — a condition that leads to blindness.
The AKC Canine Health Foundation recommends health testing for all dogs, no matter where they come from, but acknowledges that it’s especially important for purebreds and mixed-breed puppies because of the possibility of inbreeding.
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