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© By Martine Lavallée BAA, TSA

Have you ever heard someone say; “My dog has never seen a veterinarian in his life and lived to 15 years!” It is a common belief among dog enthusiasts that crossbred dogs are healthier. On the other hand, breeders boast that their dogs are healthier than crossbreeds because they come from a safe genetic lineage. But even if breeders do a lot of testing on their breeders, there is no guarantee that their offspring are free of genetic diseases. For dog lovers, it may be surprising to learn that our purebred or crossbred dog is developing a genetic disease.


Our dogs GMO (genetically modified organism)

For thousands of years man has been meeting Canis lupus familiaris (CLF) according to his needs and the aesthetic characteristics he wants to put forward. To do this, humans simply take the specimens that interest them and cross them together to ultimately create a living organism far removed from the original CLF. It can take many generations, but that's what I call the GM dog.

According to a group of researchers in Europe, there were in 2016 more than 500 hereditary diseases listed in our dogs. Initially, these diseases appeared spontaneously by genetic mutations over several generations of individuals. Also, the inbreeding during the first breed selections and still sometimes today (puppy mills), have only hurt. As a result, this modified and deficient genetic code is passed on to the offspring. Thus begins the cycle of transmission of genetic diseases.

Over time, these diseases have evolved, transforming both their genome (nucleotide sequence forming the deoxyribonucleic acid [DNA] of a species or an individual) and generating the polygenic diseases that are at the base of the disease. Most genetic diseases. A so-called polygenic disease, defined by the mutation of several genes in the same individual, making the genes of the disease more difficult to recognize. By reproducing the dog according to its aspirations, the human has reproduced and created genetic diseases and GMO dogs.


Is it true that purebred dogs are less sick than crossbred dogs?

Certified purebred dogs registered in an official canine club and recognized as the Canadian Kennel Club (CCC) are rarer than dogs of pure breeds non-certified or said racy. In general, it is difficult to find purebred spawners who are not related. Many lines have been created by crosses between dogs of the same family in order to maintain the physical characteristics of the breed or to try to obtain puppies with traits similar to those of the parents. Thus, its canids of identical or similar genotype carry in them the same genes. Then, those of the latter who have a genetic defect has thus transmitted this one to the other subsequent litters.

Note that the dog with a modified gene is not necessarily sick he can be a healthy carrier just like his puppies and puppies, and so on. Most of the time, broodstock are selected for their physical characteristics and not for their genetic characteristics. To achieve the desired conformation (physical appearance), the breeder will use similar or complementary spawners depending on whether he wants to reproduce the physical characteristics of the parents or not. Naturally, we must not forget kinship ties and avoid dogs from the same region because they are often closely related. Dedicated breeders who want a whole new genetics have to travel regularly and sometimes to another country.


Certified Breeders

PFor a breeder of purebred dogs, it is ethically advisable not to breed puppies that are born not conforming to the requirements of the breed, carrying a defective gene or suffering from a genetic disease. It is also strongly recommended that all breeders have tests done on a regular basis to detect health and hereditary problems as well as openly share their results. The conscientious breeders therefore do all the necessary tests in order to avoid as much as possible the production of sick dogs. The certificates issued demonstrating the strengths and weaknesses of the dogs tested, differ according to the breed, grouping the diseases or problems that are the most frequent among them. For example, The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) specializes in hips, elbows and heart assessment certificates. The hips are rated on the scale of good to fair (passing score). As for the elbows, they are dysplastic or not, without any nuance. If in a breeder's certificate the results of these tests do not appear, it is that the breeder has preferred not to disclose the result that could have been bad or not. Remember that the breeder is not obliged to enter test results, which, in my opinion, can make it look bad.


What happens to crossed dogs ?

As we have seen, the choice of breeders of purebred dogs is limited, but it is quite different for crossbred dogs. These are frequently found in occasional breeders, who have a few litters per year just for fun. Since mating is not intended to create standardized puppies, male selection is often random. So, the genetic code of these dogs remained diverse because there was no intensive breeding with the same line. However, not all crossbred dogs are without genetic defects. There are simply fewer sick individuals in this dog population. Of course, here we exclude puppy mills. They pay no attention to the health of their parents and they do not hesitate to reproduce sick individuals. Many casual breeders make efforts not to produce sick puppies.



Although purebred dog breeders are committed to taking the necessary precautions to breed healthy dogs, the situation does not always allow it. Since obtaining a purebred dog with both exemplary conformation and perfect health is very rare, some breeders take the chance to breed an animal that does not have the required certificates proving its fitness. These experiments are still risky since the result can be very disappointing in terms of the health of puppies.

That said, if you absolutely want to get a purebred dog, meticulously choose your breeder, talk with him for a long time and do not hesitate to visit his breeding several times. Genetic diseases are unpredictable and if by bad luck your dog is left with such a problem, there will be less disagreement with the breeder if you have bonded. Keep in mind that a certified dog free of genetic diseases does not indicate that it is free of abnormal genes. This dog can be a healthy carrier as well as a puppy that will develop the disease related to this gene and this could be yours.

Sources : Journal de l’ATSAQ automne-hiver 2016; article d’Annik Marchant TSA page 18.

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