We want to make people aware that show breeders routinely use breeding practices that have, over time, increased the prevalence of a number of genetically inherited diseases in popular breeds of dogs.
To try to put people’s minds at greater ease over these problems, (many of which they themselves have exacerbated), show breeders have devised a highly organized system of health testing ‘requirements’ that they promote as ‘necessary’ and ‘essential’ to ensure that a puppy buyer will acquire a healthy puppy, with less chance of having a genetically inherited disease.
Show breeders insist that all dogs being bred should have an entire battery of health tests, which result in the dog being registered with a ‘CHIC’ number, (Canine Health Information Center). They advertise their dogs as “CHIC certified”, as if this represents some assurance that the dog is free from genetic disease. The prospective buyer can even look up a dog’s CHIC number in an online database.
This battery of health tests is relatively expensive, and that expense is, of course, passed on to the puppy buyer as a higher price paid for puppies.
As one might easily guess, the people who administer these expensive tests, and get paid for doing them, think it is a great idea that all dogs should have them.
What people who are shopping for a healthy puppy need to know is that there are currently NO tests that are able to detect genetic markers for any of the most common genetic diseases. There are only a small handful of genetic tests that can test for rarer genetic diseases in a very limited handful of breeds, but the tests that make up the battery of CHIC tests simply determine whether or not a given dog has the diseases tested for at the time the dog is tested.
These expensive tests simply give no assurance whatsoever that a given dog does not carry the genes that lead to genetic diseases.
One of the most common, and most heart breaking, genetically inherited diseases that plague many breeds of purebred dogs is hip dysplasia, (which thankfully is relatively rare in Havanese). The gene pool in many of the most popular breeds has been so limited by restrictive show breeding practices that the disease in some breeds affects a large percentage of individual puppies. In Pugs for example, fully 51% of puppies have inherited the gene(s) that will cause crippling hip dysplasia.
The test that dogs undergo for hip dysplasia is simply an x-ray. The x-ray can determine whether that dog is exhibiting the disease at the time the x-ray is taken. The x-ray cannot determine whether the dog carries the gene(s) for hip dysplasia, and will develop the disease in the future.
Thus a dog can be ‘CHIC certified’, and that dog may be the sire or dam or your puppy, but that dog may carry the gene for hip dysplasia, (or other genetic diseases), and may simply have not yet developed the disease, or may carry a recessive gene for a disease, and may never develop that disease, but may have passed it on to the puppies it sired, or whelped. If those puppies inherit a matching recessive gene from its other parent, who also may not exhibit the disease, and may be CHIC certified, that puppy will develop the disease.
Is CHIC testing a ‘rip off’ then? No…We wouldn’t say that.
For breeders who use breeding practices that restrict the gene pool among breeding stock, CHIC testing may reveal diseases in some dogs before a dam or sire can produce more puppies. That dam or sire may already have produced many puppies, but it is always good to find out as soon as possible that this dam or sire, however beautiful it may be, and/or however many championships its may have won, carries a genetic disease that is common among dogs that are bred from a restrictive gene pool.
The most beautiful dogs do not carry the “best” genes:
If we want to understand the problem of genetic diseases in purebred dogs, we have to take a sober look at the breeding practices of show breeders, (who like to call themselves “reputable breeders”, let’s not forget).
Show breeders breed for beauty. That’s it. Their highest priority is to breed the most beautiful dogs that can win the most dog beauty contests. THAT is what show breeders do. Period.
The breeding practices that are routinely accepted among show breeders allow a distressing degree of inbreeding among their dogs. It is a well known fact that excessive use of inbreeding and line breeding of top/winner show dogs will further reduce genetic diversity which creates problem diseases in purebred dogs. Popular sire syndrome is a result of a practice common among show breeders that, over time, engenders breeding between dogs that share a restricted gene pool.
The routine practices of show breeders are ‘worse’ than that, however. Breeding a sire to that sire’s own daughter for example, (or a son to a dam), is not uncommon, nor is breeding closely related siblings to each other.
Show breeders have, in fact, devised a formal ‘point system’ to try to manage these inbreeding practices. Breeding a sire to his own daughter, for example, ‘earns’ a certain number of points to the puppies of that union. Breeding a sire to a granddaughter, ‘earns’ the puppies a smaller number of points. Breeding between cousins, or between sires and dams to their own aunts and uncles, earn even fewer points for the puppies. And so on….
When any individual dog’s pedigree is examined, a certain number of inbreeding points are allowed, and the dog can continue to be bred. If a dog exceeds that number of inbreeding points, it will no longer be bred.
Thus, inbreeding is a routine and accepted practice that has actually been formally institutionalized among show breeders. If breeding a sire to his own daughter produces a champion, a show breeder thinks that is GREAT!
Show breeders have developed, and constantly promote, the CHIC health testing system to compensate for the long-term results of their own breeding practices.
CHIC (CHIC stands for Canine Health Information Center) (Basically a data collection service)
Since CHIC testing cannot detect, and therefore does not actually offer any protection against, genetically inherited diseases, we do not have our dogs tested.
When we see how our dogs love to run at breakneck speed, and then roll and tumble, and then take off again at full speed, we just don’t need an expensive x-ray, costing several hundred dollars, to tell us that our dogs do not have hip disease.
When they listen to us and obey our routine commands, we don’t need to get their hearing tested to know that they don’t have genetic deafness.
When they run at top speed for miles, and back again, and are eager and ready to run some more, we just don’t need an expensive test to tell us that their hearts are in good condition.
And so on…..
Our sire does not share ANY relatives, for as far back as their pedigrees record, with our dams.
A diverse gene pool, and a breeder who is careful to AVOID the inbreeding that is common among many show breeders, is your best bet for avoiding inherited diseases.
Healthy Puppy Guarantee
Dog health guarantees are intended to take some of the anxiety out of buying a ‘product’ that is a living, breathing creature that is subject to the infirmities of disease. The buyer clearly wants the assurance that the puppy she or he selects is healthy when they take it home. The breeder, on the other hand, as careful as she or he may be in evaluating buyers, has no control over how a puppy may be treated or cared for once a buyer takes that puppy home.
Just about every breeder on the planet will give a buyer a healthy puppy guarantee. We, of course, do as well. We ask that the buyer should have the puppy examined by their own veterinarian within three business days of taking their puppy home. If the buyer’s vet should find a problem, we will ask that vet to please talk to our vet to describe the problem in detail.
If a genuine life-threatening health problem exists, and if we are notified within that three-day period, the buyer can elect to return the puppy immediately, and we will provide them with a different puppy. If a different puppy is not available immediately, we will provide one as soon as one becomes available. If we do not expect to have another puppy available within a reasonable time, we will take the puppy back and return the buyer’s purchase money, provided that our vet and the buyer’s vet agree that a genuine health problem existed at the time we delivered the puppy to the buyer.
Longer term genetic guarantee
We will guarantee that any puppy we sell will not exhibit any life-threatening genetic defect for a period of one year from the purchase date. If such a defect should appear, and if verified by both our Vet and the buyer's Vet, the buyer may return the dog to us, and we will replace the dog with a healthy puppy as soon as we have one available.
If a buyer is not happy with her or his puppy for any reason at all, within their first few months together, we will work closely with the buyer to find a resolution of whatever problem exists. A buyer may, as a last resort, return a dog to us, for any reason, and we will try to find that dog a new home.
Understanding the Terminology
Let’s examine some of the terminology that you are likely to encounter during your research:
Anyone who knows anything about ‘puppy mills’ knows that they are very bad news. No one wants to buy a dog that has been bred by a puppy mill.
People who run puppy mills are people who treat dogs not as pets, but rather as livestock. Their breeding standards and practices are all geared not to the health of either the breed or the individual dogs, but rather exclusively toward maximizing their own profits.
Their dogs are often restricted to living their lives in filthy cages. Females are bred to exhaustion, having one litter after another with no opportunity to rest and/or recover. Genetically dangerous inbreeding is very often a common and unrestrained practice.
No one in their right mind would ever knowingly buy a dog from a puppy mill. Unfortunately, puppies in pet stores often come from puppy mills, and on the Internet, some puppy mills can be remarkably skilled at hiding their true nature. Puppy mills now often run their own ‘pet store fronts’ to eliminate the middle man and make it easier to conceal their breeding business.
Beware of buying from breeders who offer many different breeds of dogs for sale. Much more often than not, a breeder that raises more than a single breed is running a puppy mill. Don’t get me wrong….There are responsible breeders who do raise more than one breed, but if you come across a breeder or kennel online that offers multiple breeds, it would be wise to exercise extra caution.
The term “reputable breeder” sounds good, but this is actually a troubling term to many responsible dog breeders who breed purebred dogs for family pets, but have no interest in participating in the competitive world of dog shows.
The world of purebred dog breeding has come to be rather ‘lorded over’ by people whose entire lives have become involved in the intensive breeding of dogs with certain very specific physical characteristics, which are considered desirable by them, and with showing those dogs in dog shows where they are judged according to these specifically established standards of beauty.
These people have come to commonly refer to themselves as “reputable breeders”, a term which they use to separate themselves from other breeders. Their common use of this term clearly gives the impression that other breeders, since they are not included under this purloined term “reputable breeder”, must therefore be somehow ‘disreputable’.
In these breeders’ opinion, dogs that do not meet their arbitrary standards of beauty should not be bred at all. Only dog show champions should be bred with other dog show champions. Only those puppies that inherit the correct physical standards of beauty should then be raised, and shown, to win dog show championships, and then be bred themselves.
It can be humorous to think that if people were ‘bred’ the same way that these people breed dogs, only the most beautiful female runway fashion models would be bred with the strongest and most handsome athletes. All others would be prevented from ‘breeding’. Do we think that this would ‘improve’ the human race?
These people who call themselves “reputable breeders”, who follow these practices religiously, think that it ‘improves’ dog breeds.
There are many conscientious and responsible dog breeders who have no interest in breeding dogs for show competition, but rather want to breed dogs for advantageous personality characteristics that make for excellent family pets. These highly dedicated and responsible breeders are excluded, by definition, from the ranks of “reputable breeders”, by the breeders who refer to themselves with that term. These ‘show breeders’ have commandeered this term, “reputable breeder” to refer exclusively to themselves, to people who breed dogs for show competition, implying that dedicated, conscientious, and responsible breeders who breed excellent and healthy purebred dogs for characteristics that make them excellent pets are somehow “disreputable”.
Over-restricted gene pool in dog breeding:
There are many facts about the breeding practices of these self-styled “reputable breeders” that these ‘show breeders’ do not want the general public to be aware of.
Many of their breeding practices have led directly to the prevalence of severe genetic health problems among many breeds of dogs. These breeding practices restrict the gene pool of the various breeds to an unhealthy degree, primarily through the practice of inbreeding, including what is well known in dog breeding circles as the “popular sire syndrome”.
The “popular sire syndrome”, which is prevalent among the self-styled “reputable breeders”, among ‘show breeders’, dangerously restricts the gene pool of the various breeds because among show breeders a relatively small percentage of ‘championship’ males sire a dangerously large percentage of ALL puppies that are produced. As this practice continues from one generation to the next, (and a generation for a breeding sire is some 7-9 years), the gene pool grows ever more restricted.
Championship females have a much smaller effect on the overall gene pool, because each female only has at most one litter of 4-6 puppies each year, while a “popular sire” often sires hundreds, or in some cases even thousands, of puppies each year.
This severe restriction of the gene pool, with an ever greater percentage of puppies inheriting their genes from a continually shrinking gene pool, passed down generation to generation from an elite group of each generations “popular sires”, leads directly to the heartbreaking incidence of the genetic diseases that have come to be so prevalent in some breeds.
Over half of all Pugs, for example, (51%), are now born with the gene that leads to hip dysplasia, a crippling genetic disease that afflicts dogs in the prime of life. Over the years, breed after breed have become very popular, only to soon be ‘ruined’ by the inbreeding practices of show breeders, (the self-proclaimed “reputable breeders”), including the popular sire syndrome.
Popular breeds like Cocker Spaniels, Beagles, and German Shepherds have fallen in popularity as show breeding practices have introduced the prevalence of genetic diseases into these breeds. (The prevalence of genetic diseases among the current most popular breed, Labradors, is said to be steadily increasing).
Back yard breeder:
This is a term used primarily by show breeders to refer to breeders who breed dogs for any other reason other than to breed champions that win dog shows. The accusation is made that “back yard breeders” are irresponsible people who have no business breeding dogs at all.
Show breeders, who want to have exclusive control over dog breeding, want the public to believe that “back yard breeders” are just one small step removed from puppy mills. Show breeders claim that “back yard breeders” fail to maintain the standards of the breeds, because they breed dogs that are not ‘show quality’ dogs.
Certainly there are some breeders who might properly earn this distinction through their careless and/or casual breeding practices. They may not properly care for their dogs, or make sure that their dogs are healthy before breeding them. Irresponsibly casual breeding is not good for dog breeds, or for individual dogs.
Responsible pet breeder:
There are many dog breeders who love dogs, take excellent care of their dogs, and make sure that they breed pedigreed purebred dogs that are healthy and happy, and exhibit characteristics that make them excellent family pets.
A responsible pet breeder’s breeding stock will almost surely have championship bloodlines in their pedigrees, but these breeders are more concerned with maintaining a diverse gene pool by making sure that there is no genetic relation among their dogs for as many generations back as they can trace.
Responsible pet breeders certainly enjoy it when one of their puppies show exceptional physical beauty, but they know that physical beauty is NOT the primary characteristic that makes a good family pet.
Responsible pet breeders want to breed healthy and happy purebred dogs. They breed for characteristics of personality and behavior that make dogs beloved family pets.
We are “responsible pet breeders”. Our breeding stock are our own beloved family pets. They are healthy and happy dogs with highly sociable and loving personalities. Our goal is to breed purebred dogs that will make excellent family pets.