Ensure you buy a healthy, happy puppy
To ensure you buy the healthiest puppy possible, and to ensure you are not funding unscrupulous and uncaring breeders, please read this article.
A note on buying cross-breeds
Even when buying a cross-breed puppy, their parents should still have been health-checked and they should be on the Kennel Club health registration list. The cross-breed puppies themselves cannot be registered but any health tests done on the parents can be noted if they are a registered pedigree dog. Please, therefore, ask the breeder for the parents’ Registered Name or Registration/Studbook Number and check online at the Kennel Club. If they have not done this then you are buying a puppy with potential health problems.
Also see this link with information from the ‘Doodle Trust’
When buying a cross-breed, you should also research, as below, which health issues each of the parents’ breeds should be tested for.
A simple way to check health test requirements
There is a very easy way to check which health tests are recommended for your preferred breed of dog and that is via the Kennel Club’s ‘Health Information’ page which lists each breed’s recommended health tests on the parents of the puppy and, in some cases, on the puppies themselves, prior to leaving the breeder’s. You can check the health requirements of each breed at: https://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/breed/Default.aspx and then:
- Enter the name of your preferred breed
- On the right hand side of that breed’s page you will see another column – select ‘Health Information’
- You will then see a list of mandatory health
tests for Kennel Club Assured Breeders
(please note that many Kennel Club breeders are not Assured Breeders and therefore do not have to carry out such tests – they are only ‘strongly advised’ to use the schemes).
- You should also select on the right hand side
column ‘Breed Watch’ – this scheme is set up by the Kennel Club and its
objective is to serve as an ‘early warning system’ to identify points of
concern for individual breeds. Its main purpose is to enable anyone involved in
the world of dogs, but in particular dog show judges, to find out about any
breed specific conformational issues which may lead to health problems. For more information see:
For more about the Assured Breeder Scheme please see:
Checking your puppy’s sire and dam have been health checked
You will need to ask your breeder for the parents’ Registered Name or Registration/Studbook Number and you can then check on the Kennel Club’s website. Go to the link below and enter the details you have been given:
example of health test recommendations (for the Standard Poodle)
(Including X-ray, Eye Tests, DNA Screening)
BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia
scheme (British Veterinary Association/Kennel Club)
The hip score is the sum of the points awarded for each of nine aspects of the X-rays of both hip joints. The minimum hip score is 0 and the maximum is 106 (53 for each hip). The lower the score the less the degree of hip dysplasia present. An average (mean) score is calculated for all breeds scored under the scheme, as is the median (middle) score. Advice for breeders is to use only breeding stock with scores well below the breed mean score and ideally below the median. The minimum age for hip scoring is one year, and each dog is only ever scored once under the scheme.
At the centre of the eye health schemes are two schedules: Schedule A and Schedule B:
Eye testing should be done under the KC/BVA/ISDS Eye Scheme or the ECVO Scheme.
BVA/KC/ ISDS Eye Scheme
This offers breeders the possibility of eye testing to screen for inherited eye disease and to eliminate or reduce the frequency of eye disease being passed on to puppies.
Schedule A contains a list of breeds and eye conditions that are known to be inherited in those breeds, with results of these diseases being passed to the KC for inclusion in the tested dog’s registration database. List of breeds and conditions on Schedule A: www.bva.co.uk/uploadedFiles/Content/Canine_Health_Schemes/Schedule%20A%20-%20List%20of%20breeds%20and%20inherited%20conditions%20currently%20certified%20under%20the%20Eye%20Scheme.pdf
Schedule B is a list of breeds and conditions which are suspected of being inherited in those breeds. However, these tests are not found on the Health Test Finder results. www.bva.co.uk/uploadedFiles/Content/Canine_Health_Schemes/Schedule%20B%20-%20List%20of%20breeds%20and%20conditions%20that%20may%20be%20inherited.pdf
In general, it is recommended that eyes are examined annually (except for glaucoma predisposition which should be done every three years by a separate gonioscopy test).
The advice given to breeders is to only breed from dogs which are found to be unaffected (clear) of all known conditions in the breed. For more information about the gonioscopy test, please click here: http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/media/662726/gonioscopy_leaflet__july_2015.pdf
For more information about the scheme, please visit www.bva.co.uk.
ECVO Eye scheme
In addition to the BVA/KC/ISDS Eye Scheme the Kennel Club now also record the ECVO (European College of Veterinary Opthalmologists) Eye Scheme. This scheme covers 14 inherited eye conditions in dogs and they are classified as unaffected, affected or suspicious. However, it also includes a general examination of the eyes and surrounding tissues (adnexa), so may reveal other (not inherited) eye disease as well.
In some cases, puppies should be screened prior to leaving the breeder
For example, in the Miniature Schnauzer this is for Congenital Hereditary Cataracts (CHA).
Until DNA tests are available to help eradicate these conditions from the breed, caring breeders should:
- Eye-test for CHC any dog or bitch used in a breeding programme
- Screen for CHC every litter (between 5 – 8 weeks old)
When looking to buy a puppy, any caring and responsible breeder will be happy to show you Eye Test Certificates of the mother (dam) and the sire (father) confirming they are ‘clinically unaffected’ (and eye tested within the previous 12 months). You would also see the Litter Screening Form (LTS) proving that the litter is clear of CHC at the time you collect your puppy. Please see link to full article: http://www.theminiatureschnauzerclub.co.uk/health/hereditary-eye-problems
DNA Testing for Von Willebrand’s Disease
The condition is caused by a deficiency of von Willebrand Factor (vWF), a protein that plays a central role in blood clotting. Von Willebrand’s disease vWD usually comes in two major types: Type I and Type III. Type III is a severe bleeding disorder with a high risk of spontaneous bleeding as well as a risk of serious bleeding from trauma and surgery. Type 1 is a less severe form.
More information on DNA Testing
Contact your preferred breed’s Breed Council / Club
This should give more information on choosing and caring for the breed and also list any health concerns which are not noted elsewhere.
Talk to other Dog Owners
Talk to Kennel Club Assured Breeders (found via the Kennel Club’s Breed Information page) and other dog owners. Ask about their health and temperament to help you decide whether this is the right breed for you and to make you aware of the health issues. Ask the age of their dog and if any health issues with their dogs or any they are aware of in the breed which are not noted on the Kennel Club site. For example, toe cancer is known to be more prevalent in large black dogs and I personally know a Giant Schnauzer owner whose two dogs had several cases of this, resulting in toes being removed. See article:
also see my previous article on ‘Responsible Puppy Purchasing’
Please buy responsibly and help prevent further suffering – thank you.
© Sally Bartlett