Saturday, 19 February 2011

No such thing as a hypoallergenic dog

Cassandra Jardine and her goldenoodle pup, Raphael.      Photo: Clara Molden
'Somewhat unfestively, my dog dropped dead on Christmas Day. Molly, a mongrel from Battersea Dogs Home, was only nine years old and apparently fit. After an afternoon walk, she lay down by the sofa while I cooked; a few minutes later, when I dangled a piece of ham, she failed to respond.

'"Are you dead?' I called out rather callously. She was.'

So starts a well-written piece by journalist Cassandra Jardine in today's Daily Telegraph that goes on to document her hunt for a replacement dog. She writes about almost falling for an internet puppy-scam;  explains why she turned down a Bernese Mountain Dog and why she eventually chose a Goldenoodle - much to the chagrin of the Kennel Club's Bill Lambert:

"More than half of them do shed, unlike the 20 hyper-allergic breeds on our website," Lambert argues. "There's no guarantee that you will get the traits you want and they are often more expensive than pure breeds. I appreciate the urgency of your wish to replace Molly but 'Buy in haste, repent at leisure'."


The Kennel Club has 20 "hyper-allergic" breeds on their website? Goodness! Who'd want one of those?

But let's assume that Mr Lambert has been mis-quoted (he claims I do it to him all the time) and he really said "hypoallergenic"?

Naughty Mr Lambert. He must know that while some breeds shed less than others, there is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog.

“Unfortunately, there really is no such thing as a hypoallergenic dog,” says Dr. Jonathan Field, emeritus director of the pediatric allergy and asthma clinic at New York University/Bellevue Medical Center in New York City.

“The studies have not supported that there’s any type of hypoallergenic dog,” confirms Dr. Wanda Phipatanakul, chair of the Indoor Allergen Committee for the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma & Immunology.

So was Lambert so intent on putting Cassandra Jardine off buying a filthy crossbreed that he simply lied?

Didn't work anyway. Cassandra went for Goldenoodle pup Raphael, and I wish her all happiness. He looks a cute and cheeky chap.

Here's hoping his parents were health-tested. Many of the "oodle" parents aren't and there's no excuse just because the pups are a cross. True, Raphael should on paper benefit from some hybrid vigour, but given that both Golden Retrievers and some Poodles can suffer from hip dysplasia and the same type of progressive retinal atrophy (prcd-PRA), the parents should be tested for these conditions before being bred.

One of the most surprising statistics to come out of the recent release of the latest hip-scoring figures is that more Labradoodles than Miniature and Standard Poodles combined were screened for hip dysplasia in the UK in 2010 (195 compared to 103).

When I mentioned this recently on a purebred dog forum, they argued that the figure was meaningless because there were more Labradoodles than Poodles these days. This is almost certainly true - only 2000 Poodles (Standard and Miniature) were registered with the KC last year.  Nevertheless, it is encouraging that Labradoodles are being tested - and I don't think it is the case, as some claim, that the sole reason they are scored is because they are lame with suspected hip dysplasia.  If it was,  their mean hip score would be higher than it is.

The Labradoodle's mean hip score is 13 - the same as the Standard Poodle's and almost the same as the Labrador's (14). This is, of course, exactly as one might expect given that HD is a polygenetic trait evident in both parent breeds.

71 comments:

  1. I was gobsmacked that there are now more Lab x poodle crosses than poodles in Britain, not at all surprised that the hip scores were same, and somewhat surprised that more of the crossbreds are being hip scored.

    So I set out to compare to the US.

    Well, no one records the numbers of deliberate crossbred dogs, so that's a non-starter. And if anyone did, it wouldn't matter, since the AKC stopped publishing registration numbers a few years ago, as their business tailspin accelerated towards the mountainside.

    What interests me is that the OFA does not publish aggregate hip statistics for mixed-breed animals. (The other US scoring organization, PennHIP, publishes nothing in a manner that allows comparisons and no individual results. Because secret health information is the most useful!) This had somehow escaped my notice before now. Without the aggregate stats I can't know how many Lab x poodles were evaluated and failed, since OFA only publishes "passing" individual results unless the owner actively selects the open registry. (Because selective health information is also the most useful!)

    That said, in the past year, 44 "Labradoodles" got OFA numbers or were entered in the open registry for hip scores, compared to 783 poodles (all sizes; I doubt many toys are scored).

    It would seem likely, based on this discrepancy in proportions, that the "designer dog" producers in the US are different from those in Britain. It's possible that some of this specific cross are effectively hidden by being entered as Lab mix or poodle mix. No way to parse that.

    It's certainly true that it is much harder to find a thoughtfully, ethically, and skillfully-bred deliberate poodle cross than it is to find the same in a purebred poodle here. Which is not to say that it's easy to find for the poodle-seeker -- just that the good "oodle" breeder is the stuff of legends. I've never encountered one, and I have extensive acquaintance with the products of their puppymilling factories or pin-money cottage industries.

    Oh, Lambert is right about one thing. The golden x poodle crosses have the most godawful coats in dogdom. Grow continuously like a poodle's, shed continuously like a golden's -- but the shed fur gets caught in the nappy top hair and, in mere days, forms solid mats the that resemble, in texture and odor, a brillo pad that has been stuffed down the sink trap and left for a month.

    Someone has to pay the groomers' mortgage, I suppose.

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  2. Here's a link to a good "Oodle" breeder:

    http://www.family-pets.com/

    One of the prettiest dogs I have seen in a long time is the poodle/cocker cross belonging to the daughter of one of my NYC friends....excellent temperament as well.

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  3. Clearly a breeder doing a lot of good things. But, de-sexing at six weeks? And claiming that the science supports her? Hmmm.

    Jemima

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    1. Neutering at 6 weeks is not the action of a "good" breeder.

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  4. The KC figures for toy/miniature poodles seem to confirm my totally unscientific impression that they're being supplanted by Bichon Frise, which I suppose makes some kind of sense if a non-shedding coat is the primary thing some purchasers are after.

    I don't think standard poodles were ever very common in this country.

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  5. Just looked at the family pets .com website- they currently have 7 litters available in January alone , appear to do NO health testing whatsoever and pups can be ordered on line for delivery ( like Interflora ! ) - in my book this is nothing motre than a puppy farm - shame on you for recommending breeders such as this !

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  6. Yes, she is clearly a commercial breeder but I don't think she is a puppy farmer, Yvonne. She's vet and has a degree in genetics. She has done a follow-up health survey of her puppies - found a 1 per cent rate of hip dysplasia and has changed her breeding due to the high rate of allergies/atopy she found (30 per cent - good that she has been honest about this). She offers a refund up to the purchase price for problems in the first two years (and doesn't ask for the dog back). Would be good to see more health info on the parents, agreed, and I think she overstates the hybrid vigour claim a bit, but I really do think there are many good things about this breeder. Lots of good general advice there for puppy-buyers, too.

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  7. 7 litters in January alone? That's quite a lot of puppies! Also would query the claims re: percentages, etc....its easy to put things in writing and not have to back them up....but then, that's the name of the game on this blog sad :(

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  8. So because she's a vet and has a degree in genetics she can't be a puppy farmer???

    OK, the dogs may be reared in exemplary conditions from a hygiene point of view, but how can a breeder socialise the pups from seven litters adequately?

    It's the comment about raising these pups being a good way of putting her children through boarding school that was the giveaway for me :(

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  9. Well one would hope that a vet with a degree in genetics would be upholding high welfare standards. Is she, at the end of the day, a good breeder? Impossible to tell. Have done a bit of trawling - she is the President of the Australiaian Association of Pet Breeders; aims look good but there IS some vociferous opposition out there from people claiming the Assoc endorses puppy farms. That all said, I still think the website looks good. I think it's perfectly possible (if too rarely true in practice) to breed a lot of litters well (a claim that the KC itself would make, presumably, given that there are volume breeders on the ABS). But would I buy a pup from her? Not without asking lots more questions and being happy with the answers - but then that's true of every breeder.

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  10. Jemima, have you ever considered starting a breeding program of your own? I am sure that with your understanding of genetics and vet science, as well as your love for dogs, you could create your own brand of healthy puppies who could come with health guarantees, etc. I am sure that people would feel really confident buying a puppy from you, knowing that it comes free of all these terrible diseases.

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  11. I've thought about it - many times. And if I was younger and had more time to follow it through... But although I have a lot of general dog experience, I have never bred a litter myself and breeding dogs is a lot more than theory (as is often, not unreasonably, pointed out to me). Most of all, though, my passion is rescue (and I run a small one). I have rehomed 140 dogs in the past four years - dogs that may not have been given a chance if my energies were focused elsewhere.

    There are already breeders out there breeding moderate dogs with health, function and diversity paramount in their minds (and they existed long before PDE of course). Hopefully, more will be encouraged to follow.

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  12. "I still think the website looks good"

    Yes, well I couldpoint you to some rather impressive websites from 'breeders' in this country - doesn't mean to say that they are good breeders!

    "I have never bred a litter myself and breeding dogs is a lot more than theory"

    I'm so glad that you realise this.

    "There are already breeders out there breeding moderate dogs with health, function and diversity paramount in their minds (and they existed long before PDE of course)."

    Pity you didn't give them just a little bit of credit in PDE then

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    1. Good websites are easy to put up..I have witnessed many atrocious conditions, enough to report them and for the dogs to be taken away..but the breeders had fantastic websites.

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  13. There are many breeders who think they are breeding for health and function but, in reality, often are not. There are not many modern-day breeders (more now) that worry about genetic diversity - certainly not enough of them to make a big enough difference in most breeds. I've said before that we interviewed - and indeed filmed - with some breeders that we always intended to include as good examples. They were, as it happens, mostly breeders of moderate working dogs that were tackling genetic diversity - often outside of the Kennel Club system. Our "good breeders" then, would have been, for instance, Jim Seltzer (LUA Dals); Dr John Burchard (desert-bred salukis) and Jeffrey Bragg (Seppala Sled Dogs). I am not sure that the show breeders that feel so persecuted by PDE would have gained a great deal of comfort from them.

    They are, however, the ones I would feature in a follow-up of PDE as I believe that mainstream breeders have a very great deal to learn from them.

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  14. "I am not sure that the show breeders that feel so persecuted by PDE would have gained a great deal of comfort from them."

    That's a very sweeping statement - and one that I doubt is true. Most serious breeders are deeply interested in the origins of their breed and always searching for new bloodlines.

    You are always so ready to condemn the show breeders - but they AREN'T the ones who cause most damage to breeds.

    Take for example the CKCS. I believe that something like 70% of REGISTERED puppies are bred by people who aren't members of any breed club (Margaret Carter can almost cetainly give the exact figure) and in addition there are many thousands more unregistered pups bred each year. You may (rightly) criticise those club members who are not happy about MRI scan results being printed on KC registration documents - but at least people ARE scanning. I'm pretty sure that virtually all those who are not club members or who breed non-registered puppies don't scan at all.

    In fact, as we all know, these non-show lines are healthier - it must be true because it said so on the TV.

    Puppy buyers need to be EDUCATED. I know of two beautifully-reared KC-registered litters of Cavaliers (yes, from those dreadful show breeders)- both litters are around 8 weeks old and both breeders have only sold a couple of pups, simply because people are not prepared to pay a price commensurate with the fact that parents and grandparents are heart and eye tested and MRI scanned clear.

    Why should they, when they can get a pup for £300 or £400 that must be healthier because the parents aren't KC registered?

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    1. sorry but I have to disagree with you. I have found that show ppl and breeders collude to keep faults quiet. It is a corrupt business, you scratch my back...
      In one breed alone, it is the chairman of the breed council who has many champions in his kennels, who charges £2000+ for a pup who will most likely be bred and whose studs have all manners of genetic ailments. But he is making an huge amount of money from them..He wont stop unless he is made to.

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  15. "We do not believe that sleddogs can be produced by breeding for conformation, or healthy dogs by breeding for hip and eye scores."

    An interesting comment from Jeffrey Bragg!

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  16. Jeffrey is right.

    The two points he is making is that form follows function, not the other way round, and that what makes a healthy dog is very much more than a hip or eye score. Although they're often called "health tests", they're not - they're just tests for one or two horrible inherited diseases. The delusion among many breeders is that you can health-test your way out of trouble. It is - for the most part - not the case. Yes, a committed bunch of breeders can rid a breed of a particular horror (eg CLAD in setters/PA in boxers) but if you keep breeding the way you do, it is very hard to prevent another one appearing or (as am sure you're sick of hearing me say) top stop a more general genetic decline.

    Jeffrey has tried to do something very special with his Seppalas. It is worth having a read of his website, if you haven't already - and may be of particular interest to you because of the way he's managed a very inbred cohort of dogs.

    http://www.seppalakennels.com/

    He is one of the people in dogs I admire most. I have learned from him.

    Same goes for the two others I mentioned - John Burchard (sadly, not enough of John's wisdom on his own website, but he can be found on the Canine Genetics and Canine Genetics-L forums) and Jim Seltzer (Willowind Dalmatians).

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  17. Am I alone in finding the article on which this post is based deeply disturbing?
    The writer sets out after a 'brief' period of mourning following the unexpected demise of her dog to frantically 'replace' it.
    She is unable to wait until the apparent post Christmas flood of unwanted puppies arrives at Battersea. It would seem she left the 'research' into a suitable breed to a friend and 15 year old daughter and immediatly almost falls for a very common internet scam. No mention is made if she has herself looked into what breed(s) would suit her lifestyle. She briefly mentions the puppy farming concerns, although not in a way I've ever heard of.
    Finally it seems as if she's doing the right thing as apparently having decided on a purebred puppy she contacts the KC and is advised to go to an Accredited Breeder. The fact that several of these had concerns about her lack of knowledge of the breed added to the fact she wasn't prepared to go on a waiting list for a puppy is followed by the astonishing comment:
    "her protective passion for her puppies put me off." So it would seem the writer didn't want to buy from a breeder who was providing rearing advice and was genuinly concerned about her pups' future welfare. The breeder drew the same conclusions and pointed her in the direction of the free ads-and she finds goldendoodles which she describes as a perfect dog, intelligent and not prone to shedding hair and snaps one up for £450. Mr Lambert is quoted as pointing out that with these F1 crosses you are not guarenteed to get the traits you want but considering her original search was for a cheap, lazy and not too bright dog, she seems not to have much idea of what she acatually wants as the resulting purchase is none of these!!

    Internet puppy scams. People not doing sufficient research. Being in too much hurry to buy, not considering the negative aspects of a 'breed' (many goldendoodles don't moult but they end up with horrendously thick matted coats requiring shaving that are a real welfare issue) they are big, lively active dogs needing active owners who will not allow them to become bored. The fact that very many back yard breeders and puppy farmers use 'hypoallergenic' claims extensivly in their asvertising to justify excessivly high prices. Why not highlight this in the blog Jemima, rather than clutching onto one possible mistake by a KC representitive and appearing to promote labradoodles (the article didn't even mention them).
    So much good could have come out of highlighting all the serious issues in this article. What a waste.

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  18. "An interesting comment from Jeffrey Bragg!"

    The fact that you single out that statement shows that you miss the point entirely. Time spent on any general dog breeding mailing list will show you plenty of people who are breeding little Foo Foo because she's a champion and she's tested clear of this or that. Never mind that she's a poor doer and needs loads of food to stay in condition. Never mind that she needs a diet of expensive kibble with exotic meat rather than the more mundane chicken or beef because otherwise she has skin problem. Never mind that she has to take antihistamines every spring so she doesn't get itchy when certain plants bloom. Never mind that she needed to be put onto antibiotics to conceive, and supplemental progesterone to carry a litter to term. Never mind that her mother and her grandmother before her both ended up with pyometra at age four or five, and her breeder now puts her bitches on antibiotics during and after a heat to 'prevent' that. Never mind that litter size in her line has declined sharply, so she'll probably be bred two or three times in order for the breeder to have a decent number of puppies to choose the next generation from.

    Yes, I purposely made up an extreme example. But this kind of stuff happens on a regular basis, and more than regular in some breeds. That is what Jeffrey Bragg is talking about in regards to healthy dogs.

    Jeffrey Bragg was my introduction to thinking about 'purebred' dogs in a different way. His articles are indispensable because they are well-grounded in scientific study but easy enough for any layman to understand.

    http://dogdimension.org/dokuwiki/doku.php?id=shared:jjeffreybraggarticles

    "That's a very sweeping statement - and one that I doubt is true. Most serious breeders are deeply interested in the origins of their breed and always searching for new bloodlines."

    Interesting that you should think so. What I have found is that most serious breeders are deeply interested in the romanticized, mostly fictitious origins of their breeds, and will viciously attack anyone who challenges their notions.

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  19. Jemima, you are too ready to jump to conclusions.

    I didn't say Jeffrey Bragg was wrong - I said hs comment was interesting. As it happens, I agree with him - and yes, I do find many of his ideas both interesting and worth following.

    You didn't reply to my comments on the problems encountered by those CKCS breeders who ARE trying to improve their breed, but are being priced out of the market by BYBs and puppy farmers who couldn't care less about their pups or their bitches - but only about the money they can earn from this vile trade.

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  20. I have asked Margaret to answer this one, Sheila, as my impression was that cavalier breeders that can boast pups from fully-health-tested parents are still able to sell their pups, but I may be wrong. I have also heard of puppy farmers handing over their cavs to rescues, so I think there is a general dissilusion with this breed - for good reasons, of course. KC registrations are down from 11,000 to 8,000 since PDE. Yes, there are poorly-bred cavs out there being sold for less, but what's the alternative? For good breeders to NOT health-test/scan so they can sell them cheaper? It is, as you say, down to education - but that's a problem in cavs.The logical thing for any potential buyer to do is to not get a cavalier as, sadly, there's too much risk.

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  21. " it is , as you say, down to education " .......and that's what the original article highlights - if a presumably intelligent well educated person goes about getting a puppy in this way then what hope for the rest ? -sadly largely because of your programme the public is now 'educated' in the belief that all pedigree dogs are unhealthy cripples bred by unscrupulous breeders with Nazi tendencies - and so what happens ? they believe that breeders such as the familypets.com one are better than the Bernese breeder who showed "a protective passion for her pups" .....do YOU really believe this Jemima ? ...why did'nt you use this blog to highlight how this way of buying a pup was so very wrong instead of using it as another cheap shot at the Kennel Club.



    .....and we do have good breeders of moderate working dogs who are tackling genetic diversity WITHIN the Kennel club system - I breed BSD and with the support and help of Jeff Sampson and the KC we are using the intervariety proviso to increase our gene pools......

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  22. So... I should be educating the public, but it's all right for the KC's Health and Breeding Services Manager to give out blatant misinformation?

    If I wrote here that there were 20 hypoallergenic breeds of dog I'd be jumped on.

    The Telegraph piece does quite a good job of educating the public in how not to buy a puppy. Some of the ire here is undoubtedly because she plumped for a crossbreed.

    Hard to tell what happened with the BMD breeder without more info. Yes, could be that Cassandra Jardine was a poor prospect in the breeder's eyes. But I have been similarly put off this breed - too big and too much cancer.

    Genuinely pleased to hear that you (you personally?) are doing intervariety matings with your BSDs. It will be a big help if enough people do it - not just with diversity but hopefully with the high rate of epilepsy in the Tervurens particularly (variously reported as being between one in six and one in 10 dogs)

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  23. Yvonne, just checked on the BSDA website and it says only one inter-variety mating (a Lakenois/Malinois x) has been done. I also see that the progeny has to be back-bred to Lakenois for three generations - before, presumably, being recognised/registered as full Lakenois. How much appetite is there for doing this? Seems to me that things could be sped up by registering the backcrossed dogs sooner - subject to them passing an assessment? I am pretty sure you'd get some dogs that are near-indistinguishable from a Lakenois in the second or third generation given how closely related the two breeds are.

    I believe, post-war, that with matings between labs and flatcoats to boost flatcoat numbers that the long-haired pups were full-reg'd as flatties and the short-haired pups as labradors.

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  24. yep personally ...there have been several Groenendael X Tervueren matings within the last few months and I'm just waiting to hear back from Idexx ( progesterone testing ) that my Groenendael bitch is ready to go to the Tervueren dog I've chosen for her - the resulting pups will be registered IMMEDIATELY as either Groenendaels or Tervueren according to coat type as indeed the pups from the Laekenois/Malinois litter were - when the pups are bred back into their variety for three generations they then lose the stars and are deemed 'pure'

    ..yes we have Epilepsy in the breed - worse in American lines than in European ones (where most UK dogs come from) - sadly there is no test for this and it's often late onset - it's only by gathering information that we are able to breed away from the problem - here's our International database showing which dogs either carry Epilepsy or are Epileptic themselves http://www.belgian-epilepsy.dk/liste.htm

    this kind of information along with our other database helps to inform BSD breeders so that we can breed in unison to try and minimise the risk of passing on this horible condition - here's my bitch's page on the breed database http://baza.belgi.pl/modules/animal/dog.php?id=20436 -both these databases are Europe wide and you can see they give us lots of details including the COI of any proposed mating so that we can try and keep our gene pools as open as possible.

    ....believe me Jemima many many pedigree dog breeders are trying as hard as they can to breed well - and with the support and knowledge of folk such as Jeff Sampson and the co-operation of our KC .....would it hurt to acknowledge this just once in a while ?

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  25. Margaret Carter22 February 2011 13:14

    A lot of points to answer........

    The first thing I would like to say is how do you define a puppy farmer? The Bateson Report says a Dog Farm is one that produces more than four or more litters a year, but most people would define it not only by the number of dogs kept but also the care they are given?

    I believe that puppy farmers could be differentiated if the Kennel Club would only registered litters where the parents had undergone a basic health test before each mating. It is certainly be something Accredited Breeders should be required to do.

    It is a scandal that ABS breeders of pugs and similarly commercially popular breeds can churn out over a dozen litters in a year, no health tests required, and get free advertising at the top of the KC puppy list.

    I agree that puppy buyers need to be educated, and I wish the KC would spend some of their enormous reserves of money on a Nationwide campaign. Adverts on the sides of buses and in the tube stations is what is needed.

    The only other alternative is legislation, and as puppy farmers do not put their hands up to be counted, that will necessarily hit other breeders as well.

    To go on to Cavaliers.........

    The Secretary of the Southern Cavalier Club now maintains a database on Cavalier registrations and it does show that 79% of Cavalier puppies were registered by non-Cavalier Club members.

    Club members should be the 'Gold Standard' breeders that everyone could direct puppy buyers to, with confidence they have done everything recommended by their own Club Code of Best Practice. Unfortunately a look at the KC Breed Record Supplement shows that is not yet possible.

    I would be very surprised to find that a breeder cannot sell cavalier puppies, from parents that have been genuinely tested after the age of two and a half, through the Cavalier Club Puppy Register.

    I have certainly found there is a growing demand for fully health tested Cavaliers. I get so many prospective owners directed to me that I have set up my own website to give buyers the advice they need.

    It is www.cavalierpuppy.co.uk and I designed it in the hope of educating would-be-owners and putting pressure on non-testing breeders who will get asked for certificates that they cannot supply.

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  26. I don't think this piece from the Daily Telegraph does a good job on educating someone how 'not' to buy a puppy at all, apart from perhaps being wary of internet scams. It reads as if the writer wanted a dog quickly and ended up with a golden doodle because the ABS Bernese breeders were too protective of their puppies to let her have one and she wasn't prepared to wait in any case. The golden doodle simply appeared to be a readily available puppy. There was no mention at all that she decided the Bernese was unsuitable due to size, longevity, health etc or that a golden doodle would have fitted her circumstances any better.
    I think all the article does is say to people if you want a dog without going to too much trouble, just pick up your local paper. I sincerely hope the lady has done her research and does know what she is letting herself into by getting a golden doodle and this dog will not end up as another rescue statistic in a year because she cannot cope with it. My concern would be the same had she purchased a golden retriever or a poodle, nothing to do with the fact she has bought a crossbreed.

    As far as Mr Lambert's supposed comment is concerned, could it not simply be the writer's own interpretation? Even if he did make that rather dubious statement, at least with the purebred non moulting dogs, a buyer can be certain that is going to be the case, rather than the pot luck encountered with first generation crosses, so he was not telling a bald lie.
    I maintain you have missed a good opputunity here to point out this is NOT how to go about buying a puppy.

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  27. Thank you very much for the info on the inter-variety matings, Yvonne - I am genuinely delighted to hear that the idea is being embraced by yourself and other breeders. I think it's a great initiative and I am very happy to hat-tip the breeders, Jeff and the KC on this one. Very good news.

    I also hope that the project will help more generally in encouraging more breeds to consider outcrossing.

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  28. There's great advice on how to choose a puppy here...

    http://www.getpuppysmart.com/

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  29. When I first read the Telegraph piece I must say I wondered if she really intended to get a labradoodle all along, but the internet puppy scams & so on were just added to make a good story.

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  30. I would like to ask a rather heretical question.
    I know nothing about puppy farms. I am a breeder and I have have been as careful as I can be in my COIs, my choice of studs, used mainly working dogs, but, nonetheless, I have had a number of genetic diseases in my puppies. If the fault could be corrected by an operation or treatment, I paid for at least half of it.

    Matings which produced diseases were of course never repeated.

    Back to puppy farms. What, in point of fact, is a puppy farm? Why is a puppy farm different from a breeder who may breed 100 puppies a year? Some breeds throw large litters....that would not even be one litter per month in Labradors, for instance.

    My point is not to defend puppy farms....I really do not know what they are....but to ask a question. Do you not think that an organisation which wants to make a profit is obliged to consistently produce a good product?
    AFIK there are commercial kennels in the USA which produce very healthy, well-cared for puppies.

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  31. I have to say Julia, I totally agree with your comments regarding the apparent annoyance of the person who could not pick up a dog from the shelf of the breed she required, because the breeders were "too passionate about their puppies". I would say good for those breeders! We need more breeders like that out there. I am always very careful where my puppies go and will not sell to just anyone. People need to research into their chosen breed to make sure it's suitable for them and they can give that dog a good, happy life.

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  32. Regarding Dorothea's post on "what is a puppy farm", my own personal opinon of a puppy farm is someone who breeds dogs to make money (they may also show or work their dogs) and has no interest in the health/welfare of their chosen breed(s) i.e health testing (actually taking notice of the results and acting accordingly if they do bother to health test), breeding too closely (mother to son, father to daughter, brother to sister etc) and not giving their dogs adequate care, food or exercise. These puppy farmers do not have to be breeding on a farm, in kennels or in barns, they could be breeding from their own homes.

    I personally believe a bitch should not have more than 2 or 3 litters, what is the need for more other than to make money? A genuine breeder will keep a daughter to breed on from, therefore the mother should be retired from breeding and get to enjoy her life. I also am very against breeding bitches over the age of 7, unless in extreme circumstances (possibly the loss of a good line due to something beyond the breeders control), especially if they have had more than 3 litters. That to me is money making again.

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  33. one litter per MONTH - are you serious ?............... "Do you not think that an organisation which wants to make a profit is obliged to consistently produce a good product?"..................no all they have to do is cut corners and therefore 'production costs' - you know things like suitable housing and feeding, and enough staff to socialise, excercise and give individual attention to all those brood bitches and pups ...oh yes and not health testing will bring down costs as will always using your own stud dogs - no need to produce a 'good product' at all in order to make a profit - just breed in bulk with minimal overheads ...and in MY book that's puppy farming !

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  34. So, from reading this, I must deduce that a "responsible breeder" by definition is one that constantly loses money through her/his breeding.

    Anyone who comes out even or, even worse, manages to make a profit, is by definition a "puppy farm"?

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  35. To me a responsible breeder is one that breeds only from dogs that are healthy in mind and body; who has taken those dogs to breed experts - whether in conformation showing, field trials, agility or whatever appropriate field - for assessment as to their quality and suitability for breeding; who has researched bloodlines and genetic problems within that breed; who is prepared to travel as far as it takes to use the most suitable stud dog and who invests time and money in searching out new bloodlines and if necessary importing quality dogs from other countries; who gives their bitch and her puppies the very best of food and care; who spends time socialising the puppies properly and more time ensuring that prospective new homes are suitable for the breed. So no, I don't think that a responsible breeder makes much money from their litters.

    Of course it will always be swings and roundabouts - a good sized litter with many suitable homes waiting to have their new puppy at eight weeks probably means a profit - especially if you don't keep track of the real costs of rearing the litter in terms of wear and tear on your home and maybe loss of earnings, whilst a small litter could well see a loss.

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  36. "So, from reading this, I must deduce that a "responsible breeder" by definition is one that constantly loses money through her/his breeding"


    ..........no - a responsible breeder is someone who breeds for a reason OTHER than just making a profit ....think about it ...if your sole purpose for breeding is to make money you'll be very unlikely to do anything that will reduce your income ....however if your aim for breeding is to improve your chances of success in whatever dog activity you are involved in ( from working gundogs, sled dogs, police dogs and those taking part in hobbies such as showing, agility, Shutzhund, working trials etc etc ) then you are far more likely to health test -to place importance on temperament - to use outside studs - to import - to study pedigrees - to join bred or activity clubs - and to have the results of what you are breeding assessed by others - any profit you may make will be incidental.

    And don't forget that the second type of breeder is often breeding so that they can keep a new pups for themsleves - they live and work with the results of what they breed -and they ask others to judge what they are producing - a far cry from the typical puppy farmer !

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  37. if the Bateson report is correct your ex vet (regardless of what she says she has learned on genetics) is a puppy farmer, will she offer to take back all her production and thier offspring too, and will she fund the grooming of the dogs whos coats just matt all the time I doubt it.

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  38. That's a distortion of what Pat Bateson actually wrote. He defined, for the purpose of his report, a "dog farm" as an establishment that produced five or more litters a year. This is, I am sure, because it is the level at which local authorities deem a breeder to be acting commercially.

    But as this has come up several times, I thought I'd ask Professor Bateson to clarify. His reply: 'I certainly didn't mean to imply that anyone who bred more than 5 litters a year can have the derogatory term "puppy farm" applied to them.'

    I imagine that will please the many KC breeders who breed far more than that per year.

    Jemima

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  39. not to mention those that are not KC.. money.. the root of all evil when it comes to dogs.. but not so bad when you need to eat.. or your dog does..
    if the man didn't mean it.. why did he put it into print?

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  40. I agree it was open to misinterpretation. But I hadn't read it that way - hence why I asked him to clarify.

    I have no problem with people making money out of dogs as long as the highest welfare stndards are maintained.

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  41. "I have no problem with people making money out of dogs as long as the highest welfare stndards are maintained."

    So how do you define 'welfare standards'?

    Clean, comfy accommodation? Good food? Adequate exercise area? Good puppy socialisation?

    That would cover the majority of those who breed the occasional litter from their pet bitch. So presumably these people are acceptable? They will probably make money out of their litter.

    Knowledge of important health conditions within the breed? Comprehensive health testing? The pet owners who carry out health testing before breeding are so rare as to be virtually nonexistent. But presumably that doesn't matter? We can't class them with the puppy farmers because they have good, often exemplary welfare standards. And YOU never condemn them, because they aren't breeding with those unhealthy show dogs.

    Instead, you choose, time and again, to snipe at show breeders - the very ones who support the health testing schemes, who rarely make money out of breeding because they have already dug deep to pay for all that health testing and who stand by their puppies, having them back if the new home goes wrong for any reason (how many pet breeders take back pups they have bred?), and as Yvonne pointed out above, most show breeders have every intention of keeping at least one pup from their litter - so do their very best to ensure that their pups ARE as healthy as possible.

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  42. I have no problem with people making money out of dogs as long as the highest welfare stndards are maintained.

    The trouble is Jemima that if people are ROUTINELY breeding to make money, then they will have to cut corners somewhere to sell at similar or cheaper prices than those whose motivation lies elsewhere. As a breeder you may be lucky and make a small profit on a litter, but this is completely different to setting out with that objective. To sucessfully breed dogs as a commercial activity welfare standards can never be as high as those breeding purely as a hobby. It is an economic impossibility.

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  43. "I have no problem with people making money out of dogs as long as the highest welfare stndards are maintained."


    ...I too would be interested in what you would describe as 'the highest welfare standards'

    I'm assuming of course that those standards would be the same irrespective of who was doing the breeding (i.e if health testing is important then ALL breeders should health test ...not just show breeders but 'designer dog' breeders too !)

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  44. Hmm really? Does the company who makes a Rolls Royce not make a profit.. How about Bentleys..? The assertion that you Have to cut corners ( what ever that means) in order to make money and raise healthy dogs makes no sense..what is 'cutting corners' ?/ feeding Pedigree instead of Blue Buffalo?.. giving your own shots instead of the going to the vet.. 7 dollars a shot compared to 45 dollars at the vet..
    just what is cutting corners to you?
    Why is setting out to make a profit on a breeding wrong if all other things are in place.
    When did it become "wrong" to make money when you are doing something you love to do and are turning out healthy happy dogs.. of any breed or non breed?

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  45. "giving your own shots instead of the going to the vet.. 7 dollars a shot compared to 45 dollars at the vet..
    just what is cutting corners to you?"

    Yes, that is cutting corners. The 45 dollars you pay the vet includes not just the shot itself, but a check to ensure that the pup is fit and well and a certificate to prove that everything has been done properly.

    It gives both the breeder and the new owner the confidence that the pup is properly protected - that the vaccine used has been bought from a reputable source, is in date, has been properly stored and will be therefore be effective.

    I'm not saying that it is 'wrong' to make money out of a litter - merely that it is very difficult if you do it properly.

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  46. "Hmm really? Does the company who makes a Rolls Royce not make a profit.. How about Bentleys..? "



    ...yep the manufacturers of Rolls Royce or Bentley cars do most certainly make a profit ...AND they don't cut corners ....but then no one ecxpects them to produce a quality product at a discount price !- you simply cannot have the quality of a Bentley for the same price as a Skoda ! - breeding well costs more than breeding badly .

    Cutting cormers might mean just feeding a poorer quality food but it might also mean breeding from every season - having too many brood bitchs ..breeding too many litters so that it is impossible to socialise or interact with each pup sufficiently ...it might mean not health testing ...not using outside studs...not taking dogs back what you have bred.....it might mean not really caring who has your pups as long as they can pay ...


    Lets face it if you're aim for breeding is to help pay the mortgage then you'll do everything you can to minimise your out goings and maximise your prpofit ...if your aim however is to produce the best quality dogs you possibly can then you'll spend money in order to achieve this ( like Rolls do ! ) ..

    "Why is setting out to make a profit on a breeding wrong if all other things are in place."

    that's why I'm interested to know what those

    " all other things in place"

    what welfare standrards do you ( and Jemima ) deem acceptable ?

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  47. what is a "poorer quality food"? I feed Pedigree .. you feed Blue Buffalo.. are you 'doing it better" then me? what is "too many brood bitches"? I have six.. you have five.. am I wrong and you right? how many puppies do you need to have before it becomes"impossible to socialize or interact with each pup sufficiently".. what is sufficient . one hour for each pup.. two.. all day.. 15 minutes.. ?? I spend 25 minutes with each pup.. you spend 30..
    I breed my bitches back to back twice then spay them.. you skip a season or more and risk pyometra and possible death or emergency spay.. whose breeding program is less risky to the bitch.
    I use puppy sale money to help pay my mortgage.. you already own your home.. so you use the money to.. say.. go on vacation.. who is right.. who is wrong who is better.. who is cutting corners"// point is this argument is ongoing.. We call it MBBTYB.. or the My breeding is better than your breeding syndrome..
    cutting corners MIGHT be any of the things you mentioned.. or it could be none of them..

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  48. I have trouble getting my Doberman to eat and now he is losing weight. I even fast him one day a week to make him want to eat more. Any suggestions on what to feed him?

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  49. Please take your Dobe to your vet for a thorough check-up. It is not normal for a dog to refuse food to the point of losing weight.

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  50. "what is a "poorer quality food"? I feed Pedigree .. you feed Blue Buffalo.. are you 'doing it better" then me? what is "too many brood bitches"? I have six.. you have five.. am I wrong and you right? how many puppies do you need to have before it becomes"impossible to socialize or interact with each pup sufficiently".. what is sufficient . one hour for each pup.. two.. all day.. 15 minutes.. ?? I spend 25 minutes with each pup.. you spend 30..
    I breed my bitches back to back twice then spay them.. you skip a season or more and risk pyometra and possible death or emergency spay.. whose breeding program is less risky to the bitch.
    I use puppy sale money to help pay my mortgage.. you already own your home.. so you use the money to.. say.. go on vacation.. who is right.. who is wrong who is better.. who is cutting corners"// point is this argument is ongoing.. We call it MBBTYB.. or the My breeding is better than your breeding syndrome..
    cutting corners MIGHT be any of the things you mentioned.. or it could be none of them.."

    If hypotheically you are breeding puppies primarily to pay off your mortgage and I am breeding simply because I want to produce a quality dog to show/work myself, then it is likely you are going to want to maximise your income and will be tempted to cut corners on rearing where as I will spare no expense in raising the best dog I possibly can. That is the difference between a business/livelihood and a hobby. If your principal reason for breeding is to turn a profit, then inevitibly you are going to want to minimise costs - that means cutting corners. If we are both selling our hpothetical puppies for the same price but the cost of mine approximatly equals the cost of rearing them well, then for you to make some money to pay off your mortgage, you're going to have to minimise outgoings somehow.

    Feeding poorer quality food impacts on puppy growth and condition; having more bitches means less time to spend on each and possibly not spotting a symptom of ilness early enough; having fewer puppies means as much time as possible can be spent on socialising and early training of each; allowing bitches to 'rest' for a season between litters will give them a chance to regain any condition they have lost...cutting corners.

    It all boils down to priorities: profit or pleasure, income or the interests of the dog?

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  51. I have questions for Dorothea regarding family-pets.com:

    1) Who is socializing the seven litters of puppies per month?

    2) In what ways is this kennel not a puppymill? It bears all the field marks: sells via the Interwebz no questions asked, and churns out large numbers of dogs (much more than one person and their family could reasonably spend time with).

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  52. "giving your own shots instead of the going to the vet.. 7 dollars a shot compared to 45 dollars at the vet..
    just what is cutting corners to you?"

    Yes, that is cutting corners. The 45 dollars you pay the vet includes not just the shot itself, but a check to ensure that the pup is fit and well and a certificate to prove that everything has been done properly.

    It gives both the breeder and the new owner the confidence that the pup is properly protected - that the vaccine used has been bought from a reputable source, is in date, has been properly stored and will be therefore be effective.
    says Shelia

    LOL.. does your vet actually give the vaccines... at my vet .. shots are given by a tech. I give each owner a vet check certificate. (usually they come to my house) a BAER test.. and shots and worming information including the actual bottles and flyer included with each vaccines.. ( they get two shots before leaving)that I have administered myself. There is no need to have the vet check them twice.. nor to carry small puppies to an office where they are exposed to disease..
    You must work for a vet.. many of them are resisting the fact that much animal husbandry has been taken care of by people who actually know what they are doing.. the certificate is a proetection for the SELLER.. and I always have the vet check the pups.. I just do not let them give my dogs shots.. after all I have no way of knowing how they store their vaccines.. or if they are out of date..twice i had vets tell me both testicles are descended.. when I quietly corrected them.. they were amazed.. it is not rocket science to see that as pup is healthy..
    Rob..exactly how much time does a dog need to be socialized? is it a set number.. can people spend a hour with five pups.. or does it need to be two hours with each pup.. how about 10 minutes per pup.. how about 24 hours per pup.. dogs need to be "socialized' .. that means used to see people.. it does not mean they are fully trained or really for the obedience ring.. it means they have had some time each day with a human.. any human..who are you to say what is "reasonable"?

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    Replies
    1. Ive encountered vets who will administer a vaccine when the dog is clearly unwell..with disastrous results.

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  53. To Rob:
    I have no idea, as I have not seen the operation.

    Why not ask her yourself? there seem to be several vets there and there is a discussion forum:
    http://disc.yourwebapps.com/Indices/55899.html

    I have been told that commercial kennels can and do provide very good dogs. The next time I am in the USa I will visit one or more. We do not have them here in Austria....at least I do not know of any.

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  54. To Anonymous:
    Obviously standards in the US are different to those here in the UK.

    Whilst it is possible for breeders to get hold of vaccines through Ireland, they are not readily available to breeders through any legal/regular means. Therefore, yes, administering shots yourself is definitely cutting corners - although many large scale breeders still do it.

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  55. "I have been told that commercial kennels can and do provide very good dogs."

    Maybe it depends on your definition of 'good'?

    Well reared? If a well-run operation, almost certainly.

    Well socialised? If you are looking to buy a dog that will spend the rest of its life in a kennel or a crate, almost certainly.

    But if you are hoping for a family companion that has already been exposed, during those vital early weeks, to household sounds, a variety of people and many different experiences - the sort of socialisation that a conscientious breeder gives their puppies, then NO, a commercial kennel cannot do that, however immaculate its facilities and however comprehensive its website.

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  56. What was wrong with my post done on 4th March which I spent a long time writing? I tried to address what amounted to 'cutting corners' and why commercial breeders/puppy farmers could never produce as good a puppy as someone who was breeding for reasons other than profit.

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  57. Sorry Julia - missed it. It's been a very busy week. Now published above, along with a few others that had also slipped through the net.

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  58. And an excellent post it is too, Julia!

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  59. allowing bitches to "rest' (read keep producing progesterone even though they are not pregnant) .. means more bitches who are exposed to the deadly disease of pyometra.. if you are willing to risk death or an ER spay at great expense and at GREAT expense to the LIFE of the bitch.. then by all means skip a season or even two.. or three.. if you want to optimize the health of the brood bitch and the health of the puppies and not risk losing the bitch to "pyo".. then breed your young bitches for two or three cycles and then spay them.. keep them as pets or place them in loving homes. That is the kindest thing to do.. and the healthiest.. dogs are NOT humans.. in fact.. asking someone if they would have " a baby with their daughter" is some of what has gotten us here to this forum..sadly enough

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  60. what is "poorer quality food"? Should we make it illegal? How many bitches is "too many"? How about if I raise my "profit puppies" better than you raise your "non profit puppies"? How about if i make money by breeding dogs properly and you raise dogs merely as hobby?
    Profit and pleasure are not necessarily different.. both can be accomplished.. but when you speak to animal rights activists ( as many are on this list) then you will get.. the MBBTYB syndrome.. that is "my breeding is better than your breeding"along with the other "stuff" you see here.

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  61. "I have no problem with people making money out of dogs as long as the highest welfare stndards are maintained."

    Neither do I, as long as these welfare standards are as you say maintained. As sheila quite rights says, good food, clean and comfortable accomodation, plenty of exercise and good socialisation are all highly important welfare standards.

    I certainly don't know of any "puppy farmers" who do all of the above. That is the difference between a "puppy farmer" and a "genuine breeder". Some breeders probably do make money from their dogs, but they also give them what they need to have a happy, healthy, comfortable life.

    A genuine breeder will always take their puppies back at anytime during that dogs life, when it can no longer stay with the people who bought it. Those people are unlikely to be refunded, unless the puppy is still quite young, and the dog would be re-homed possibly via breed welfare, if the breeder could not keep it themselves. Can you see a puppy farmer doing this? I very much doubt it.

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  62. Dear bestuvall, please present some scientific proof to support your your advice:
    "...if you want to optimize the health of the brood bitch and the health of the puppies and not risk losing the bitch to "pyo".. then breed your young bitches for two or three cycles and then spay them.."

    -labpack-

    Can you honestly call it healthy - "optimize the health of the brood bitch and the health of the puppies" - to breed a bitch on three consecutive cycles & produce 20+ pups in say fifteen/eighteen months? :-o

    In my corner of the world that kind of practise is even against our KC's rules...

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  63. You need to ask YOUR vet this question.

    I personally would be more concerned that the pyometra did not clear up completely, and you are now dealing with a CLOSED pyo.

    My b*tch is currently being treated for pyo, and even though we caught it early and it was a farily mild case, it's still taking two weeks to clear up.

    Between the pyo and the antibiotics, it is unlikely that she would be pregnant, even if the breeding took.

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  64. anonymous,

    Here is a blog post discussing why it is better not to skip heats, but to finish breeding your female and get her spayed as quickly as possible:

    http://blacksheepcardigans.com/ruff/general/breeding-frequency-and-bitch-age/

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  65. Annie, thanks for the link. Sorry to say it was of no help as there was no link to any scientific evidence/studies on the subject.

    I've had intact bitches - also unbred ones -well over 20 years. So far have had not a single case of pyometra, or mammary tumours for that matter.
    All the departed ones lived longer than the breed average - and are running on greener pastures with their bits & pieces left . ;)

    I don't risk any of my dog's life in an unnecessary surgical op for a theoretical disease in the future.

    -labpack-

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  66. You say that the average hip of the labrador has gone down to 14 now. WOW when I started breeding only 5 years ago it was 16! down by 2. SOME of us must be doing something right then

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