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Dog Breed Predisposition to Diseases

Updated on June 12, 2009

With the great variety of different dog breeds present today, it is quite expected to see some forms of breed predispositions to congenital disorders. Perhaps, among all the animal species in this world the family of canines exhibits the largest variety of dog breeds. From the tall and majestic Great Danes to the minuscule Chihuahuas, it comes as no surprise that each dog breed has their own set of health conditions they are prone to develop.

In nature, genetic diseases were quite unlikely to happen. Wild canines would breed and only the strongest specimens would survive. On the contrary to this natural selection, domestication has caused humans to work hard for years in developing specific traits in their canine friends. These traits would have never allowed dogs to survive in the wild but only in a human environment. Of course, this non natural selection for the purpose of developing canines with an aesthetic appeal all came with a price. We see this nowadays among the many genetic diseases our canine friends develop.

Luckily, responsible dog breeders may resort to various genetic tests before selecting their breeding specimens. DNA testing is a valuable tool in detecting the potential for genetic diseases and their effectiveness allows breeders to immediately remove dog specimens that test positive from their breeding pool. 

Among some of the most important tests that responsible breeders allow their breeding specimens to undergo, are x-rays of the hips and careful eye examinations. Dogs that pass their hip tests in  good and flying colors are OFA certified and those that are free of genetic eye disorders are CERF certified.

A major issue in the prevention of genetic predispositions in dog breeding is the increase in number of what are known as ''back yard breeders''. These breeders breed for a hobby or mainly for quick profits. They often show up in newspaper ads on Sundays and can be heavily present around Christmas time when parents shop for puppies as gifts for their children.

These breeders do not look in to the prevention of genetic disorders and often contribute to the problem. They do not plan their breeding based on temperaments or health. Rather, they simply select two dogs of opposite sex and allow them to breed. Then, 63 days later a litter of puppies is born, many potentially carrying genetic defects that may show up striaght from birth or only later in life. Purchasing from such breeders is a main risk and can turn into a costly issue especially since most of these breeders do not offer any health warranties and will not take the puppy back once it is sold.

Ultimately, dog breeding should be left to the pros, those that do their homework well and test their breeding specimens before allowing them to mate. While not all DNA testing can be 100 % accurate, these breeders at least have put a lot of effort into producing healthy, stable, and well tempered puppies. 

Rottweilers should be OFA certifed before being allowed to Breed

Resources for Prevention of Genetically Inherited Diseases

Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF)

Hereditary eye diseases


Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)

 Hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation and more


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