A Healthy Dog
Healthy dog care is every owners responsiblity. Whether it is nutrition, vaccinations, regular grooming, exercise, training, or loving, your dog IT IS YOUR responsibility. Breeders can help steer you in the right direction, but they can't do it for you. This page gives some basics on what we consider healthy dog care. It is not intended to replace your veterinarian, but to give you a feeling on what we feel the minimum care to be.
Food and water are the two most elementary items in any living animal's life. Without both, it will die. From food, your dog will receive the necessary energy and nutrients to grow, maintain a healthy and active life and to fight infections. From water, your dog will get the molecule that allows the body to pass its wastes through the kidneys (besides being over 70% of the body's composition). It is very important to understand there is a fine balance in both the quantity and quality of the food and nutrients consumed. Both undernutrition and overnutrition can adversely effect your dogs growth and maintained life, and it will impact the adult dog's ultimate health and wellbeing.
Genetics and Heredity
Common advice is "go to a breeder with a proven record and good reputation. What is a "good reputation"??? Is it success in producing pretty dogs which win in the show ring? Is it mating "Dick" and "Jane" to produce family pets? Is it commercial success where you are the "main show in town"?
It is our opinion, a good reputation involves honesty and integrity, in health, body structure and temperament. These come from solid foundation in bloodlines, and the firm understanding of GENETICS.
There are many problems out there to which Breeders need to pay attention. Many inheritable diseases which can be minimized by planned breeding of animals which have been tested and evaluated for those known conditions. The underlying genetics needs to be understood and considered. As an owner, you must educate yourself on the various conditions which can effect your choice of breed. I believe that good dogs are not just luck, that they are a planned program of genetics, health, and environment.
We are lucky that we live in a generation where some devastating diseases can easily be prevented by proper vaccinations. Diseases such as Parvo, Distemper, Rabies, and Hepatitis - which have an extreme mortality rate (almost always fatal in the case of Rabies) - can be prevented by periodic vaccinations and boosters to your dog. Some of the diseases (specifically Rabies) can cross species, are dangerous and can infect humans.
As with all vaccinations, consult with your vet to determine what they feel is correct for your dog in your area. Recently, leading Veterinary Medicine Teaching Universities have come out with new and updated guidelines for vaccination schedules, intended to be a guideline between necessary immune protection and the potential for adverse affects from overvaccination.Colorado State University has put forth a very good effort at balancing this line and both you and your vet should take some time to inform yourselves on its content.
Vaccination Guidelines & New Vaccine Protocols!
Rabies vaccinations are required in all 50 States in the US. To move your animal from state to state, or across country borders requires a certificate which documents that your dog has been properly immunized. Many areas require rabies tags which confirm that a dog has been vaccinated and registered. Please confer with your vet on your State's requirements for rabies vaccinations, and at what ages to admister them. Some states have three year terms on revaccination of adults, some states have one year terms on revaccination of adults so please check with your vet to be sure.
Other commonly vaccinated diseases are Parvo virus, Distemper, Canine Hepatitis, Adenovirus, Corona, Lymes Disease and Kennel Cough. There currently is no vaccine for Canine Brucellosis or Canine Herpes. Vaccines are not effective or available for heartworms, or other intentinal parasites. These must be prevented and or treated by medications.
Registries are data information "banks", where results of health screenings are evaluated, rated, and certified. OFA , CERF, and PennHip
are the most recognizable in the U.S.A.
Registries were formed with the intent to give Breeders data on dogs which have been rated "acceptable" by the Registry's criteria. This data would then be used to make decisions on acceptable breeding stock, allowing breeders to better the health conditions within a breed by selective breeding practices. To a large extent, these registries have been successful in providing the data tools.
Unfortunately, this is not the whole story, as genetics (and modes of inheritance) is complex science. The information on dogs that pass is very, very useful. But so is the information on dogs that don't certify to be truly effective, one needs data on as large a group of animals as possible, both good and bad. In an optimal situation, a breeder would want to know both good and bad in the bloodlines they are considering breeding. In that way, one could balance the good against the bad, and assess any risks which might not be currently obvious, breed towards the good and away from the bad..
This leads to a discussion of open registries vs. "closed" registries. This would seem to be "no-brainer" idea, being able to use data on both good and bad. But some registries leave you the option of not registereing your "bad" results and some breed clubs do not participate becasue they seem to think "breeders won't participate with failing dogs", "what's our liability", "too much effort and too much cost" seems to fly in direct contradiction to the breed club's responsibility in making this a better breed.
The OFA has both types of registries. The OFA Hip and OFA Elbow Registries are "closed", in that only the dogs that pass certification have information published and available to the public. Strongly to thier credit, OFA recently has adopted a more progressive stance, and instituted the OFA Heart and OFA Thyroid Registries as "open" registries where all data (option checked by the owner) is availabe for use.
You can make a difference. Make your opinions known. Purchase from breeders who believe in health testing.
By now, if you have followed the page down, our beliefs are pretty obvious. If not let us repeat. We believe in healthy dogs, good nutrition, understanding genetics, proper vaccinations, health certification by OFA/CERF/VETGEN and Open Registries for sharing of genetic data. Only with these tools can we breed better dogs with improved health and temperament and with a much lower incidence of diseases.