Irresponsible Breeding

Today’s Fact of the Day – Irresponsible or over breeding of an animal almost always leaves new litters with health defects.

Breeding is a touchy subject. There are many arguments on what are legitimate reasons to breed an animal. At this point in history, there are so many homeless animals waiting for homes that it almost seems like there is no reason at all to breed any pet.

As a Town Shelter, we get tons of dogs and cats in either pregnant or after they have just had a litter. We get dogs in who have clearly had MANY litters. And that makes us sad to think that these animals were used simply to reproduce and then thrown away.

Here is a little info on irresponsible breeding:

Back Yard Breeder –  Any person perpetuating the poor quality pure bred “pet” producing puppies that are not of a higher quality than the breeding pair. They don’t test for genetic disease or disorder. They breed for the purpose of fun or profit. Most do not understand the process involved in choosing a mating pair.

Puppy Mill –  A person or organization that produces more than the standard number of litters per year with more than two breeds of dogs. They don’t test for any diseases or disorders or attempt to produce puppies of a higher quality than the breeding animals. They’re entire purpose is for profit.

We have all heard these terms and yet these breeders are enabled by irresponsible buyers. Every day people make the irresponsible decision to buy a puppy from these people or organizations. Not only does this decision leave millions of animals left in shelters, or worse, but it also leaves them with a pet that will mostly have either behavioral or healthy issues.

Irresponsible breeders usually practice the much-used breeding method of line breeding, which is a form of inbreeding. This method makes animals vulnerable to genetic defects and diseases. These defects are the direct consequence of inbreeding, which is the mating between relatives. This is done to keep and intensify certain breed characteristics.

Over breeding can also have the same risks of inbreeding. Over breeding is using the same animal for multiple litters. The healthy amount of litters an animal can have can vary depending on species and breed. For most dogs, they can have one litter a year until they reach age 6. Dogs should not be bred after 6 years old. Having more than one litter a year is extremely draining and exhausting for the animal. Not only does this have a significant effect on the animal used, but it will affect her litter as well.

Here is some information on health defects due to over breeding pets or inbreeding pets:

  • Careless breeding can encourage the proliferation of major health problems.
  • Today’s purebred dogs have over 500 different health defects, including heart problems, disorders of the blood, respiratory problems and skeletal system defects.
  • These health defects can reduce the lifespan and quality of life for dogs and cats.
  • Defects are usually breed specific. For instance, a number of dog breeds, like cocker spaniels and Labrador retrievers, are subject to hip dysplasia, a malformation of the hip joint.
  • Merle collies, dappled dachshunds, piebald greyhounds, and many other dappled or spotted animals are subject to genetic deafness.
  • Some breeds are also subject to heart conditions, digestive problems, and respiratory issues.
  • Flat-faced cat and dog breeds, such as Persians and bulldogs, may have sinus and eye problems.
  • Young animals may not show any defects immediately, but can develop them later in life.
  • Conditions like progressive retinal atrophy and retinal dysplasia may lead to total blindness as the animal ages.
  • Hip and elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation (sliding kneecaps) and elbow joint deterioration may cause arthritis and lameness in the long term.

Here is a list of the top ten dogs inbred and over-bred:

1. Labrador Retriever

  • Hip dysplasia—a hip disease that can lead to crippling, lameness, or painful arthritis
  • Progressive retinal atrophy—degeneration of the retina, which can lead to blindness
  • Cataracts
  • Eye abnormalities
  • Bloat—a life-threatening condition in which the stomach becomes overly filled with food, water, and air and may twist, cutting off access to the esophagus and small intestines; can lead to circulatory failure and death within hours
  • Elbow dysplasia—a degenerative elbow disease which can lead to lameness or crippling

2. Yorkshire Terrier

  • Bronchitis
  • Early tooth decay
  • Poor digestion
  • Paralysis in the hindquarters caused by herniated disks and other spine problems
  • Fragile bones can easily be fractured
  • Poor tolerance of anesthetics
  • Abnormal skull formations in Yorkshire terriers measuring less than 8 inches (20cm)
  • Birthing complications
  • “Teacup” Yorkshire terriers often have serious health and behavioral problems
  • Slipped stifle—a condition in which the knee-like joint above the hock in a dog’s hind leg slips; may require surgery
  • Eye infections
  • Gum weaknesses

3. German Shepherd

  •  Hip dysplasia
  • Elbow dysplasia
  • Blood disorders
  • Digestive problems
  • Epilepsy
  • Chronic eczema
  • Keratitis—an inflammation of the cornea
  • Dwarfism
  • Flea allergies
  • Bloat
  • Gastric disorders
  • Panosteitis—a painful bone disease that causes periods of sudden pain and lameness
  • Spinal paralysis
  • Eye disease
  • Skin conditions

4. Golden Retriever

  •  Heart problems
  • Epilepsy
  • Von Willebrand disease—a blood disorder that can cause prolonged bleeding from simple injuries
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Cataracts
  • Congenital eye defects
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Skin allergies

5. Beagle

  •  Hypothyroidism
  • Demodectic mange—a skin condition that occurs when a dog’s immune system can’t regulate the number of mites living in the skin and mites proliferate, causing hair loss and open, crusty sores
  • Umbilical hernia
  • Epilepsy
  • Eye and eyelid problems
  • Cryptorchidism—absent or undescended testicles, which increases the risk of testicular cancer
  • Dwarfism
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Intervertebral disk disease—slipped or ruptured spinal disks, which can cause pain and paralysis
  • Luxating patella—a condition in which the kneecap moves out of place, can cause limping, difficulty walking and osteoarthritis, and may require surgery to correct

6. Boxer

  •  Cardiomyopathy—a heart disease that causes abnormal heat beat, which reduces blood flow to the body and can lead to unconsciousness, collapse, and death
  • Heart problems
  • Subaortic stenosis—a narrowing of the outflow valve beneath the heart’s aortic valve, can lead to heart failure
  • Epilepsy
  • Tumors
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Allergies
  • Deafness (in white boxers)

7. Dachshund

  • Heart disease
  • Diabetes
  • Urinary stones
  • Spinal disc problems
  • Eye disorders
  • Skin conditions

8. Poodle 

  • Cataracts
  • Progressive retinal atrophy
  • Allergies
  • Severe skin disease
  • Hip dysplasia
  • Eye problems, especially runny eyes
  • Ear infections
  • Von Willebrand disease
  • Bloat
  • Addison’s disease—an adrenal gland deficiency which requires lifelong medication and monitoring

9. Shih Tzu 

  • Spinal disc disease
  • Respiratory problems
  • Obesity
  • Early tooth loss
  • Eye problems
  • Ear problems

10. Bulldog

  •  Cherry Eye
  • Conjunctivitis
  • Entropia
  • Dermatitis
  • Heart Problems
  • Demodectic Mange
  • Gastric Torsion and/or bloat
  • Hip Dysplasia

 

The number one dog over-bred and inbred for fighting, as well as the number one dog to end up in a shelter – The Pit Bull.

While Pit Bulls were once considered especially non-aggressive to people, their reputation has changed, thanks to unscrupulous breeders and irresponsible owners. And because the Pit Bull population has increased so rapidly, shelters now struggle to deal with an overflow of image-plagued, hard-to-place dogs.

On a normal day, out of 100 of our dogs, 80-90 of those dogs are Pits or Pit mixes. Out of those 80-90, at least 75 are picked up unaltered (not spayed or neutered), and out of the 75, I would say at least half were previously used for breeding. (Check back tomorrow to meet two of our girls who were victims of over breeding!)

Of course we encourage everyone NOT to breed their pets, as there are already so many animals who need homes. But, if you are considering breeding your pets, please ensure you are fully educated on all factors.

For those considering buying an animal – We can’t stress enough how important it is to adopt instead of buy! There are millions of great pets waiting in shelters. By buying from a breeder or puppy store, you’re supporting irresponsible breeders who treat animals like reproductive machines, often to be tossed to the street, neglected, and ignored.

Spay and neuter your current pets and come on down to the shelter when you’re ready for your next pet! We have plenty of amazing animals who have been waiting for you to come meet them!

 

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