Hey guys, today let’s discuss hips and joints, and why it is so important to do your research if adopting a dog from a “breeder”. Unfortunately, just because a puppy has a hefty price tag, does not mean they have had proper health screening. Today we will explain why this simple step can save you literally thousands of dollars, and a lot of heartbreak. So, you see an add for a cute little fluffy golden retriever puppy (maybe a doodle mix), not papered, and for a great price. Good deal, right? You aren’t planning to breed, so in your mind it is meant to be, and the price is half what you have seen other goldens/doodles go for.
Wrong! Backyard breeders, those who are breeding just for the profit, do not do any health screening. Unfortunately, they get away with this quite frequently. These poor puppies end up with so many health related issues. Did you know that golden’s are the poster child for bad hips and joints, due to people not doing proper health checks and background checks, and overbreeding them? Yes, the parents may seem healthy and well taken care of, vet records look good, vaccinated, but how about their joints and eyes?
I can’t tell you how many broken hearts I have seen, because someone brings in a 9 month old puppy that has bilateral hip dysplasia, so bad that there is barely a socket. In these cases, each hip can cost up and above $10,000 each, not to mention the elbows and the knees will most likely be terrible. Now, this adorable 9 month old otherwise healthy puppy is looking at a lifetime of extreme pain, and being completely crippled by age 2 without extreme surgeries.
This is not that uncommon; I just had a case last week. This scenario is completely preventable as well if the breeders had just done their part. Even if you have dog insurance, 20% of $20,000+ in surgeries is still a good chunk of change. Goldens are not the only breeds affected, many large breeds suffer from hip and joint arthritis. Small breeds tend to get luxating patellas and eye issues, which can also be genetic. If the parents have a major joint issue, you can bet the pups may as well.
What can you do as a potential adopter? Ask to see the hip and elbow certifications, prior to visiting a puppy. Do not visit the puppy before asking, you will fall in love with the pup and take him/her home, trust me😊 Make sure that the owners have done either OFA certification of both hips and elbows, or at the very least Pennhip certification. If either of the parents is under 2 years of age, you can bet they did not do the certifications, as they pup needs to be at least 2 years of age to OFA certify the hips, and at least 6-9 months for pennhips.
These are not perfect, however, they are a good indicator of future health concerns. Do not adopt a pup from any breeder with hips that are less than “good”. They go “excellent”, then “good”, “fair”, and of course “poor”. Fair and poor are obviously bad, and should not be ever bred. A first puppy wellness exam is not good enough. They are just checking teeth, weight, and for hernias (also genetic). This will absolutely not tell you if this pup will be healthy still in 9 months.
Now, if you find yourself adopting a puppy or adult dog from a shelter, make sure they have a proper vet examination prior to taking them home. You usually have 3 days to do so. I have had many people take home a dog to find out that the knees both have CCL tears or severe dysplasia. Unfortunately, you can’t insure this with any pet insurance, as it was a previous condition. Make sure that you are in a financial spot to take care of this sweet dog, so he/she is not carted back to the shelter and stressed even more.
We can definitely help you with bracing the CCL tears if needed, however, make sure you know exactly what health issues there are prior to adopting. If you adopt a puppy, I certainly would get insurance right away. Also, there are many good breeders, who have generations upon generations of certified dogs, all health screened and with sound hips. Just make sure you find the right one.
The takeaway here is that it is always a good idea to health screen and find out the history of your potential new family member, prior to adopting. Even if the breeder has a health guarantee, could you honestly take back a 9 month old puppy that your family has bonded with, knowing they will be most likely put down? It breaks my heart to talk to someone that has a very young dog with preventable diseases.
Unfortunately, by purchasing these dogs to ‘save’ them from the breeder is just encouraging that breeder to keep going. The only way to stop the cycle is to stop purchasing puppies from breeders who do not do the proper health screens. If purchasing a small breed, such as a breed that is brachycephalic or a “squished” cute nose, make sure the eyes have been certified. These breeds are very prone to cataract issues, and can go blind at a young age without surgery.
Perhaps instead of going to a breeder, it is better to adopt from the shelter, as most shelter dogs come with a full vet exam, and at least you will know what they have prior to adopting and can prepare. Most shelters have certified technicians and vets on staff, that would be more than happy to explain any health issues, and what you are looking at. If you have any questions, or need advice, always feel free to contact us or visit our Facebook Page for more tips!