Buying a puppy – busting some myths

How can I get the healthiest puppy?

Myth No 1: Crossbreeds are healthier

I was asked recently if I knew any ‘Maltipoo’ breeders.  No.  I don’t know any breeders of crossbreeds.  I suggested they bought a Maltese.  Why does it need to have a bit of ‘poo’ in it?  It seems that everyone is obsessed with having a poodle cross, so that there is no dog hair.  That is great, except that you are still going to have mud, wee, poo (actual poo!) and chewing.  You still need to be 100% committed to having a dog and taking care of a LIVING BEING.

I looked up Maltipoo and found the info page on Pets4homes/maltipoo which I thought was really informative.  It lists the health issues for the ‘breed’ along with whether or not these can be tested for.  Crucially, the site says “Today, there are first generation (f1) Maltipoos, second generation, third and fourth generation Maltipoos, but what are considered the healthiest are first generation dogs“.  How will you know which generation you are getting?  For pedigree dogs, the heritage is known, but crossbreed breeders rarely provide that level of information.

It was interesting to read about the health issues for Maltipoos.  The page lists 13 health issues for Maltese, of which only two can be tested to prevent.  Poodles (toy and miniature) have an additional 23 possible health issues, or which only 4 can be tested to prevent.  Wow, I’d be concerned about this, particularly as some of these issues have serious implications for the quality of life of the dog.

By contrast, the page for Pets4homes/Border Collie, lists 8 health issues, ALL of which have health tests available, other than for epilepsy. This means that you are far less likely to have health issues from a PEDIGREE Border Collie.

Myth No 2: I need to see both parents to know if I am getting a good dog

When you are buy from a responsible breeder, you are unlikely to see both parents.  Most pedigree breeders want to have parents that are unrelated, so they are usually owned by different people.  When you are buying a pedigree dog, you can check the health and parentage of the parents before you go and look at the puppies.  So you will know what they are like.  The Kennel club – mate select lists all the registered pedigree dogs with their health tests for you to check.  In addition, for Border Collies we have the Anadune database which gives us a great deal of information.

If an owner has both parents, they are usually a casual breeder who has just thought it would be ‘fun’ to have some puppies.  Often a crossbreed (see above) and often without bothering about available health tests.

Myth No 3: As long as I take it to the vet when I get it, that will be fine

Yes of course you should definitely get your puppy checked over by a vet when you get it.  But that won’t make it healthy!  The vet can tell you whether your puppy has been well raised and nurtured, from a health point of view.  They can give their expert opinion about whether or not it is from good stock.  It might be possible to identify serious health issues, such as a heart defect.  You might then decide to take the dog back to the breeder, who might then sell it on to some other poor sap.

However, it’s already too late for most health issues.  Again, it’s about having the dog bred from healthy parents – that is the crucial factor in determining long-term health.  Many of the issues that will end up costing you money in the long term cannot be identified by the vet at 8 weeks of age.

“We will still love it, even if it has health issues”

OK, that’s fair enough for you.  But what about the poor dog?  You are sentencing it to a life of pain and suffering, because you couldn’t be bothered to buy it from someone who tried to ensure that it would be as healthy as possible.  Not to mention the stress, anxiety and suffering that you will go through alongside your dog, every time it is ill.  Oh and don’t forget the thousands of pounds you could pay in vet’s bills, especially if the insurers can determine that it was a ‘pre-existing condition’.

Anyway, why would you do that?  Why would you choose to buy a dog, without being sure that it is as healthy as it can be?  After all, you wouldn’t buy a car without knowing it was safe to drive, would you?


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