Everyone wants the best chance of having a dog that lives a long time with few vet bills. Your dog’s genetics certainly contribute to their lifespan and overall health. However, whether crossbreed or pedigree dogs are healthier is truly a loaded question. Here’s what you need to know if you want to adopt a healthy puppy or dog:
Pedigree Dogs And Genetic Health Issues
Some people feel that pedigree dogs are less healthy because each breed tends to have prevalent health issues. It really depends on the breed. Some are healthier than others. A study that collected data on over 27,000 crossbreed and pedigree dogs showed that pedigree dogs are more likely to develop inherited diseases.
Labradors are prone to hip dysplasia, for example, but it is possible for breeders to screen for this condition and only breed dogs are unlikely to pass this condition to their puppies. Terriers such as the West Highland White are very prone to dermatitis, though this minor condition can typically be managed through diet and grooming.
A dog’s physical features can also make them more likely to suffer certain health problems. For example, the deep chest of giant breeds like Great Danes, Saint Bernards and Irish Wolfhounds make them more vulnerable to bloat. Brachycephalic, or, “flat faced” breeds like the Pug are prone to breathing issues due to their characteristically small windpipe, narrow nostrils and long soft palate.
Crossbreed dogs do not typically have the extreme physical features that lead to health problems, but they can carry genes for illnesses commonly seen in pedigree dogs. For example, a Labrador mix still may develop hip dysplasia, and their uncertain origin means it’s unlikely that their parents were ever screened for it. If you adopt a crossbreed puppy, you might not be able to predict what inherited illnesses they could get because you might not know anything about their breed contents.
Not All Breeders Are The Same
When searching for a breeder, always look for someone who loves the breed and wants to improve it by producing the healthiest puppies with the best temperaments. Some breeders are only out for profit. They may own puppy mills, breeding hundreds of dogs each year to sell to pet shops and online. Some have small breeding operations in their homes. The best breeders only breed adult dogs that are health and temperament tested. To find a reputable breeder, you can search for your preferred breed through the UK Kennel Club website.
The Search For The Healthiest Puppy
New laws are being put into place to make sure that only rescue centres and reputable, licensed breeders can sell pedigree puppies. Puppies should be at least eight weeks old before going to their new home so they will be fully weaned, have learned to play gently with their siblings, and will have already received their first round of core vaccinations. You should only buy a puppy if you can meet its parents, and ask the breeder plenty of questions. Most good breeders raise just a few litters per year, typically inside their own homes. Their puppies are handled and socialized daily and are not exposed to infections or parasites.
If you would not mind getting a crossbreed dog, you can adopt puppy or adult dog from a rescue centre. Your puppy will typically be vaccinated, dewormed and given a clean bill of health before going home with you. Puppies in rescue centres are sometimes exposed to contagious infections like kennel cough because of their close proximity with other dogs, though this is uncommon and rarely serious.
The Bottom Line
There’s no straight answer to this question. No matter where you get your dog, you should be prepared for the possibility of unexpected health issues and accidents. Put together a savings fund and/or get a pet insurance plan so no matter what happens to your dog, you’ll be able to afford the best treatment option. Feed your dog the best diet you can afford and make sure they get plenty of exercise. With that and a little luck, your dog can live beyond their breed’s average life expectancy.