Breeding Dogs for Health, Not Looks


To anyone who has been involved in shelter or rescue work, the idea of intentionally breeding mixed-breed dogs, or even unregistered purebred dogs, seems a bit bananas. There are too many homeless dogs! What the heck?

But there is a group of well-respected people with a variety of dog-related professions who are promoting just that: the purposeful breeding of dogs without breed registration, and with a purpose that is not producing dogs with a specified morphology, that is, dogs who look a certain way or meet all the physical characteristics of a breed standard.

Why, you might ask?

The Functional Dog Collaborative

The group’s name, the Functional Dog Collaborative, offers the first clue. This group is trying to promote the breeding of dogs who are, above all, functional in terms of health, both physically and behaviorally. The group states on its website that when those health goals are in conflict with a breed standard or closed studbooks, the functional goals are considered more important. That puts the group at cross purposes with those who maintain that breed “purity” is paramount, as well as those who are breeding animals with an appearance that is fashionable, but unhealthy (think flat-faced dogs who can’t breathe, droopy-skinned dogs whose eyes require surgery to avoid painful interference with their lashes, breeds with long backs who often develop painful spinal conditions, etc., etc.).

The group is in the process of developing information resources that will help interested breeders, including breeders of both purebred and crossbred dogs, learn how to produce dogs who are physically healthier (more able to breathe freely, move without pain, reproduce and give birth without veterinary interventions, and with less inherited disease and longer lifespans), as well as behaviorally healthier (dogs with minimal fear of novel humans and other dogs and animals, maximal ability to cope with change of environment and conditions, minimal behavioral pathologies such as separation anxiety or compulsive disorders, and minimal unchanneled aggression).

Ultimately, the group hopes to provide a place to deposit and search health records, so that breeders can access them for help with making wise breeding decisions. In addition to providing a podcast with interviews with experts on canine breeding and genetics (the Functional Breeding Podcast), the group is working to build educational resources that will help breeders produce dogs meeting the descriptions of health above. They hope soon to provide a curriculum for breeder education. Finally, it’s their hope to provide a “supportive and open community” for breeders with these shared goals, “through both social media and face to face opportunities, for mentorship, friendship, and social support.” (The project has an active Facebook group, “Functional Breeding,” that currently does just that.)

We can do better…

The project was originally the brainchild of Jessica Hekman, DVM, PhD, who is a researcher at the Karlsson Lab at the Eli and Edythe L. Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, studying the genetics of canine behavior. Dr. Hekman also teaches online webinars and courses about canine genetics. (She has also written articles for WDJ, most recently, Behavioral Probiotics” in the August issue.) I asked Dr. Hekman about her original impetus for starting the organization. She responded,I think a lot of us have known for a while that we could do a better job of breeding dogs to be healthy pets and working partners. The reasons we don’t aren’t scientific, they’re social. Why do we maintain breeds with a heavy burden of genetically mediated disease? Why do we insist that people get pets from breeders who are breeding for the conformation ring, and the pets are the second best dogs? Why do we castigate pet owners who want doodles? Because that is part of the traditional way of looking at breeding dogs. But it doesn’t have to be that way. If it were a different way, what would it look like? Can we just do it? I think we can just do it.”

I think the group is onto something. I’d only add that when we urge people to buy puppies or dogs only from a “responsible breeder,” that these goals of health are the most important part of how “responsible” is defined.

Every registry for purebred dogs maintains a description of the ideal representative of that breed, a “breed standard.” In many of these standards, only the dog’s physical conformation (how it’s built) and its movement is described. In some others, the dog’s demeanor or personality traits are also described, to some extent. Breeds whose origins are performance-based (hunting dogs, herding dogs, etc.) rarely mention the ability to do that work in their breed standards. And if health is mentioned in ANY breed standard, I’d like to know about it!

When looks come first, health starts to suffer

One thing is for certain: When dogs are bred to look a specific way – to be a predictable size or color, or with a certain kind of coat – often, traits that are more important (to me and many other dog lovers) fall by the wayside. The lovely, friendly Golden Retriever starts to become dog-aggressive and tends to die young of cancer. The brave, biddable Doberman becomes neurotic and dies of dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) at 5 to 7 years of age. The amiable Bulldog can’t be taken for walks, lest he keel over from heatstroke on an 80-degree day. In my view, I don’t care how many Championships a puppy’s parents and previous ancestors earned, I’d look for breeders who select their breeding stock for health and longevity, perhaps bucking the breed standards or current trends that are awarded ribbons in the show ring.

Many of us have owned a unique dog we wish we could clone: Sound of mind and body, friendly to all, easy to communicate with, a terrific learning partner, confident and game. Some of these dogs may have been purebred; some may have been the result of a purposeful mix; some may have been a shelter mutt or a roadside dog that found its way into our families and hearts. Often, these dogs resulted by chance – they were happy accidents resulting from an intentional breeding focused on their morphology, or from a strictly profit-oriented breeder, or a chance breeding far from human supervision. What if dogs with these traits were intentionally produced? I don’t care what the results looked like; I just know there would be far fewer dogs in shelters as a result.

The group is built on volunteer effort and is very much community-driven. Want to help? There are lots of ways to get involved. Check out the group’s website for more information:


  1. I ‘m glad to know about this group promoting health over looks. It is sad to see dogs such as pugs get bred with such flat snouts that it must compromise their health. I sometimes cringe when watching the Westminster show at the extreme characteristics of the breeds shown there. Thank you for brining it to our attention

  2. I cringe thinking of “Specialty” German Shepherds whose angulation is so extreme that they are almost crippled. People wanting real working German Shepherds often go to Europe where ability to perform tasks is part of the breeding. Some years ago I was told that to be registered in Germany a dog had to be able to perform at least three tasks such as obedience, herding, tracking, or Shutzhund. All they have to be here is the progeny of two AKC-registered parents.

    If you want to another example see what we do to dogs, look at the original English Bulldog who was more squarely built, without such a pushed-in nose. Now they have such big heads, and the pelvis is so narrow that puppies have to be delivered by C-section. Judges have to quit awarding ribbons to the extreme dogs and working their way back to something more normal and healthy. They are ultimately the ones who decide what a dog should look like.

  3. Love my Cockapoo! Lovely hybrid, bred for disposition, size, coat, and intelligence. Living an average of 15 years is one sign of good health. Yes, she snores occasionally but what a dedicated companion she is. She’s sleeping with her head on my foot as I write this. Of course, where else! She’s an excellent watchdog but super tender hearted to those she knows. Full house security 24/7. When she barks at someone approaching our yard, I get a notice And video on my phone from my nest cam, a comfort when I’m away on an errand. Since she’s been sleeping by my bed, I haven’t had a single break-in nightscare. 23 pounds of love and security. ‘Rescued’ her as a puppy from a breeder who let her go cheap because she was sick with parasites. It was after my hurricane Katrina rescue Golden died a few years back. I had a close relative who had a Cockapoo and I was very impressed after day sitting him for several months. After a life of shelter dogs and rescues I gave myself permission to adopt the dog companion of my choice. See how that works, it’s not a black and white issue. She’s the best dog in the world and perfect for us. So for those of you who want to adopt a specific breed from a breeder, choose a good one, you have my permission. Those of you who want rescue, God Bless You!

    • Cockapoo and Goldendoodle aren’t breeds. They are intentional mutts. To call them a “designer breed” and then charge for them like an AKC pure bred is criminal. However I do approve of cross breeding for health as is the intent of this article. I’ve never had a pure bred but always had healthy dogs. My last one lived to almost 15 years old. My parents had a “mostly” labrador (we did DNA and she had both a German Shepherd and Golden Retriever grandparent.) She had hip dysplasia and was pidgon-toed. But she had a lovely temperament and lived to almost 14 years old, despite being obese. (My Dad’s fault.) They now have a total mutt who is just as loved and just as loving. So far a very healthy girl.

      Glad you got the dog of your dreams but it was still a “rescue.”

  4. I love the concept but I fear this will give too many people an excuse to breed “Rover” because he is such a perfect pet for them without considering what has shaped his behavior to make him that dog. I work in a veterinarian’s office, so I often hear people wish they could clone their dog because he is so wonderful – but, “Oh, by the way, you will need to muzzle him before we take him out of the car because he is apt to bite when he gets excited!” The dog may be healthy and wonderful in their home, but do we want his progeny in the local farm store with children?

  5. Love my South Asian Village Dog. No humans were involved in breeding his ancestry, all natural selection. He is smarter, more handsome, athletic and neater than any other dog I have met.

  6. I primarily agree with the goal, indicated in this article. You have breed standards listed on AKC, and then each National Parent Breed Club go further. Most have requirements for genetic testing, specific to each breed based on the presence of genetic markers for various disorders. There are additional requirements for hip x-rays, patellas, thyroid, etc. Usually, these are requirements in order to be members of the club. There are strong requirements for such breeds as the Bernese Mt Dog, Bearded Collies, Golden Retrievers, etc. Most of the National Parent Dog Clubs, with their basic dues, include donations to the Canine Health Foundation for research into “everything health”. As an example, the Golden Retriever Club as donated BIG monies towards health research, genetics, cancer etc. as they have a big problem with Hemangiosarcoma and Lymphoma in their, most of which is heritable in their breed. I attended a 4 day Canine Health Symposium at CSU in 2008, put on and in big part, paid for by the Golden Retriever Club. Top research vets attended from all over the country, mainly focusing on Cancer, but also had seminars on reproduction and vaccines, presented by Dr Ron Schultz. Truly responsible breeders value the genetic health and structural health of their dogs and good temperament, equally to the breed standard in terms of appearance. These two should not be mutually exclusive. Temperament and health must be there as a baseline prior to moving forward with breeding. I own, breed, show and work with Norwegian Elkhounds. ALL of my dogs have been genetically tested through, what used to be “MyDogDna/Genoscoper” where the primary research is done in Finland. Wisdom Panel bought them out, so breeders must use Optimal Selection/Genoscoper (still using the tests based on wonderful research done through Genoscoper) as well as research in the U.S. I’ve been to Norway and have been to dog shows. Yes, the hunters have dog shows that confirm the very specific standard created hundreds of years ago to make sure that the dogs meet this standard. They must have a certain amount of hunting to attend the shows. As my father and family came to this country from Norway, I have a huge appreciation for this very natural dog. I do all of the genetic testing which can be found on the Genoscoper website. In otherwords they have a registry. I also do OFA hip x-rays, patellas, eyes, etc., have very good temperments typical for the breed and stick to the standard. All “responsible” breeders do this, but, I agree, there are many who ONLY care about show wins. I have no respect for these people. My point to all of this is that there are breeders out there doing the right things already when it comes producing healthy puppies, INSIDE AND OUT!

    • Yes, thanks.
      My dogs also were tested by MDD. Diversity is important in breeding purebreds. I’ve tested my dogs through UC Davis. Poodles were the 1st to include this in their breeding programs. They now include many breeds and Better Bred is the companion site to translate the results. The Finnish Kennel Club is progressive. For some breeds, they encourage crossing to better the health of a small gene pool. Science is becoming a valuable tool for breeding. My Shiba has 4 positive health tests and a CHIC number, a great temperament and has much to offer the breed. If I don’t find the Shiba that would compliment him, I won’t breed him. I contribute to Shiba rescue and I’m thinking of fostering. I find in Europe there isn’t such a rhetorical stigma about breeding. It’s sad to hear platitudes when some who breed are actually helping the diversity and health.

  7. I find it difficult to believe that this functional dog group believes that any of the purebred dogs are bred simply for their “looks”. All breeders of purebred dogs will belong to their particular dog’s breed club either locally or nationally. They are well aware of the health concerns in their breed and will do health testing prior to breeding. The dogs seen in the American Kennel Club show rings are judged not on “looks” but on which dog will be able to do the task it was bred for. Many of the dogs compete not only in conformation but in obedience, agility, nose work. Go to the local shelter and you will see many mixed breed dogs who live their lives in kennels waiting for adoption. Others are not so lucky-they are not in a “no kill” shelter and will be put to death. We do not need a group promoting breeding of mixed breeds because they think they will be healthier. This group needs to rethink its purpose and start promoting spay and neuter and adoption of the dogs in their local shelter. I am not a purebred snob, as I have owned mixed breeds as well as purebreds.

    • lol nope. ‘Show’ Irish setters are called ‘irish airheads’ and are notorious hyperactive scatterbrains, almost utterly useless in the field. There are, in fact, seperate ‘hunting’ lines with irish setters that look very different from the ‘show’ dogs- that is, containing traits ACTUALLY desired by hunters. Throwing a show line irish setter into the field is a waste of time. Working Irish setters are smart, steady dogs with coats lightly feathered enough to work well in the field and MUCH shorter, non-pendulous ‘cocker spaniel’ type ears which are frankly a danger to the dog in stiff brush. In my opinion they ought to just split the breed into ‘useless pretty massively over-feathered show dogs’ and ‘fine hunting dogs’. Dalmations have it even worse- It took the AKC 30 years to recognize the Dalmation/Pointer backcross project descendants as official dalmations that could be shown, partially due to pressure from the breed club- it was a project specifically designed to weed out the genetic bladder defect that is rampant in the breed, and produced radically healthier dogs- and continued to produce them for the 30 years it took for the akc to start caring that their ‘official’ dalmations were being deliberately kept unhealthy. 8 percent of Dalmations today are completely deaf and TWENTY-TWO percent of them are deaf in one ear. That is 30 percent of an entire breed that is acceptably bred to produce disabled dogs. That’s not even TOUCHING the ‘breed standards’ that specifically call for cropped ears and docked tails- it’s a bold statement to insist the akc and breed clubs have the breeds health at heart when they require procedures that are outlawed in other countries- not just discouraged, regarded as criminal cruelty to animals.

    • I rescued a dog that was seen dumped in the country. He lived with us for 16 years and passed away at 18 1/2 years old. My current puppy is the result of an accidental mating of 2 designer dogs. He is beautiful and one of a kind. He was free!

  8. Growing up a zillion years ago, I had a chihuahua- Manchester terrier mix who thought he was a German Shepard. He was healthy and friendly to my friends, but could be aggressive. Fast forward to now and we wanted a retirement companion. Due to family experience we decided to look for a Shih Tzu. In doing research about the breed and looking for a breeder, we happened upon a “sub breed” called Imperial Shih Tzu, which is basically the result of breeding runts with runts to create the smallest possible dog and charging a premium dollar. I assume that other breeds undergo similar breeding to enhances more “marketable puppy”. We did find a reputable breeder and our soon to be 8 year old boy is healthy, happy , friendly to everyone, 16 pound (top end of breed standard), wavy haired Shih Tzu. He was bred to be a companion not a show dog.

  9. As long as dogs are being killed for space in “shelters” and pounds, it is immoral to breed more dogs . Period. Please consider adopting a dog in need rather than buying one from a breed.

  10. I believe it is almost impossible to find a genetically healthy dog today. There are two responsible groups, united in greed. That is to say, breeders of purebred dogs who, for centuries, destroyed dogs health and functionality in favour of looks. The other is puppy mills who breed what male and female dogs they have to hand. Anyone who breeds dogs to make money and or without regard to health is a mill. I speak from 40 years of rescue experience in Toronto. What began as a nuisance is now a nightmare. The suffering of these animals is beyond measure.

    • I would include “rescues” in this. What a scam. They go to shelters and “rescue” any dog that looks like their focus. Pitbulls that are “labs”. Chihuahuas that are “Min-Pins”. Any fluffy thing that might be able to pass off as a poodle. Then they turn around and charge people $500 to adopt them. Leaving the shelters with about four choices: German Shepherds, Pit Bulls (basically any mixture of the bully breeds plus anything else mixed in), Chihuahuas and the occasionally “Poodle.” Many are either very senior or “teens” that were surrendered for behavior problems. Plus the medically sensitive ones. You still have to pay unless you are a senior but it isn’t as much as a “rescue.” But these rescue groups basically clean out the shelters. It’s getting so dog ownership is becoming elitist. And the dog you end up with could be just as unhealthy as a puppy mill dog since these dogs likely originated that way. While the successful spay/neuter programs have dramatically reduced the problems of overbreeding they have created a new problem. Rescues and Puppy Mills for profit. They starting booming as spay/neuter programs became more widespread and successful.

      I’m beginning to think there is no “winning” in this.

  11. I’m glad to see some voices of reason share their comments rather than simply allowing the purebred bashing to continue. Responsible breeders DO breed to the standard, health test and socialize their puppies and are VERY, VERY particular when placing them in homes. A responsible breeder will ALWAYS take his/her puppies back, no matter the issue, so those are not the dogs you’re seeing in shelters. You’re seeing the Amish puppy farm dogs, the puppies produced when neighbors Bob and Sam decided to make a few bucks breeding ‘doodles’ or even quote/unquote ‘purebreds’, the petshop fodder coming from commercial puppy mills simply because some family needed a toy for their kids to keep them occupied – THOSE are your shelter dogs. Responsible breeders keep in touch with their puppy families for the lifetime of the puppy. Responsible breeders are members of their respective breed’s parent club. Responsible breeders also participate in performance events that demonstrate their dogs’ soundness and fitness for purpose. Sadly JQP is easily duped by heavy color advertising, flashy websites with endearing pictures of puppies in homes with kids (when in reality they live in chicken crates in a back barn and have never seen kids) and cute stories of their puppies who are ‘registered’ (with fake registries they made up themselves!). I have even had reasonably intelligent friends fall for such advertising!
    We surely don’t need a group advocating creation of mixed breeds! I have owned mixed breeds as well and they were no genetically healthier than many purebreds with issues. Science will bear this out. More important to health-test and performance test purebreds who are relatively predictable as to temperament, size, coat type, need for care, etc.
    If only we could get folks to understand that heavily advertised and responsible are not at all the same thing. To understand that getting puppies in Lancaster from ‘the nice Amish’ is a sure recipe for disaster as those puppies were produced with NO health testing, NO handling, and no consideration for anything other than the cash they’ll bring. Wonder why you can’t housebreak them? When they’ve lived in filth since they were born they simply don’t know any different. Wonder why they bite? They’ve never seen the light of day let alone humans who didn’t torture them.
    No, a different ‘registry’ is not needed at all. What’s needed if these folks want to get on a soapbox is to put efforts into spay/neuter of backyard pets and closing down puppy mills.

    • Let’s say that happens. Spay/neuter, no more back yard breeding, no stray dogs doing the nasty, only responsible breeding of dogs. Which means only “pure bred” dogs. Not even those “designer dogs” that are really mutts. No rescues or shelters because no more dogs. Just for arguments sake.

      The only people that will be able to afford a dog will have to shell out $2,000-$5,000. Or maybe more since supply and demand will basically give those legitimate responsible breeders carte blanche in the “cornering the market” department. Owning a dog will then become elitist with only the upper classes being able to afford to buy a dog in the first place.

      I see a big market in dog-napping opening up.

      Gangs will start smuggling black market dogs because of the money to be made.


      Now I’m not condoning, excusing or in any way defending puppy mills. They should all be shut down. But I also don’t think breeding dogs should be restricted only to the “responsible pure-breed breeders.” There needs to be a way for people to get a “mutt” and still have a healthy puppy that was responsibly bred from healthy parents. And it shouldn’t cost more than their mortgage payments.

  12. There are so many poor dogs sitting in rescue centres ~ I feel it is highly irresponsible for anyone to be breeding any kind of dog when their are so many unfortunate dogs waiting for a loving home 😭😓😥😢😫😩😢😭😭

  13. Well said Norma
    How do we know if cross breeds are healthier do they have a registry to follow the problems ? if you mix breeds you are mixing brains …a soft mouth crossed with a hard mouth for a simple instance. TROUBLE
    Better these folk spend their time wisely shutting down puppy mills and stopping the importation of dogs from dubious sources.
    Disappointing to think that anyone would think this article was worth publishing .

  14. Are you familiar with work already being done along these lines? Health testing with published results for breeding and non-breeding animals can be verified using Many pure bred breeders are now working to improve genetic diversity based on genetic information from testing done at UC Davis in California. Possibly this group can work with what is already in place and enhance that as opposed to yet another system/source.

    • Maybe clean up the AKC standards so that extremes in “looks” don’t perpetuate health issues.

      I think the example of the German Shepherds is spot on. I think those grouching rear dogs look unnatural and all I can think of is they’ll have medical problems as they get older. i’ve seen the European working shepherds and they are healthy looking dogs that stand straight and tall. Some of these breeds don’t look like the historic painting of the breed of a few centuries ago or even the photos of the last century. They have become caricatures of what they originally were. If they’re going to breed them, let them breed them back to what they originally were before AKC and other dog organizations got ahold of them. Otherwise in another century German Shepherds will be sliding their hind ends across the carpet as they walk around the ring.

  15. Horse people are looking at this too. Those Thoroughbred racehorses that are light and fast and break their legs at 3 years old and have to be put down. They’re looking at breeding for strength, stronger legs, better health, even if they’re not as fast or pretty.

    Form and function. Health before beauty. Very few humans want to die young and leave a pretty corpse. I doubt many animals would choose to either.

    I’ve always owned mutts. Every one has been a champion in my eyes.

  16. Breed for health, temperament, structural and mental soundness, breed type and breed standard

    No reason you can’t do all those things

    In fact if you’re not, then you have no business breeding

    This functional dog collaborative is honestly anti breed anti stud book integrity pro mixing breeds at its heart from the articles I’ve read written by the founder

  17. Would someone please explain to me the difference between, what you call a “Mutt” & “Purebred” ? I own a Goldendoodle in case you want to rant.
    ALL dogs from the beginning of time have been mix-bred for a specific purpose. Whether to hunt, to tunnel, to chase rats, to guard sheep, to pull wagons, to set on the Queens lap, etc. Why not have a breed that is bred for it’s temperament, health, and looks? That’s why I have my Goldendoodle, she fits our lifestyle and is a wonderful companion. She’s healthy, active, loves all people, and beautiful. So, to me a “Mutt” is a negative title she was “designed” to be what I wanted her to be.

    • My favorite breed is a mutt! 2 or more breeds in one. Be proud to be the owner of a spectacular dog. That’s the most important thing to remember. Purebreds can be very fussy. Prestige is the reason some people want purebreds. I, like you just want a great companion and the love they provide their owner! Lucky You!

  18. I disagree about taking on rescue dogs. I have several times taken on a secondhand dog (that would otherwise have gone to the pound) BUT they come with problems. This is why the original owner wanted to surrender it,
    It can be a long uphill battle to solve some of those problems 🙁

  19. I must say that I am more than a bit upset that a publication I have held in such high regard published this article. First , I want to examine the credentials of the author. She has credentials in behavior , nutrition, shelter work and has mixed breed dogs in her home. I applaud all of that. We need people to do what she is doing because we will always have mixed-bred dogs. But, in regard to her knowledge of purpose bred dogs (usually known as pure-bred), she has missed the Breeding 101 class. I was also at that point about 9 years ago. My point of view was based on the little I knew about purpose bred dogs from televised dog shows and the belief {false} that breeders made big money on sales of their puppies. So let me share what I learned and how it changed my beliefs, We had lost a wonderful Rottweiler/German Shepherd dog which resulted in a period of morning. Then my husband and I decided we wanted another dog . After a several month process we settled on a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. After several more months we took our puppy home from the breeder. I remember discussing how lucrative breeding could be since my pup came from a litter of 11 puppies. He and his wife would be classified as hobby breeders. They share their home with their dogs. There was no kennel building, no runs, just a large fenced in lot and their home. I believe many , if not most breeders operate in a similar manner. He said it is not as simple as it appears and there are a lot of costs I could not see. It happened that he wanted us to show the dog and perhaps use him for stud down the line. Without any experience, we began showing the dog at 9 months of age. At first, I thought it was a foolish venture. Toby began winning and I gained understanding that this was the way we demonstrated how this dog met the breed standard [which is written and approved by the national breed club and submitted to AKC-AKC does not write breed standards]. Dog showing (conformation) is a process in which dogs and bitches are verified to have the qualities to be good breed stock. There are words in standards which speak to the coat and color when it is important to retain the breed’s recognition. Beauty has no place in breeding purpose bred dogs. Most breeds are then requited to have a battery of tests which may include but are not limited to sight, hearing, x-rays of hips, shoulders, elbows, heart issues and specific breed health issues. This is all done to insure that the dogs being bred do not pass on known health problems. If you have ever been to a vet, you can imagine the investment in this testing. Now, you have two healthy dogs who have a title of champion [or better]. You can just put them in a yard to breed but that does not always work so you may take them to the reproduction vet. After both dogs get a physical and brucellosis test ( if positive-its game over) , the male is collected and his sperm examined for quantity and quality and if viable, the female is inseminated. The female also undergoes hormone testing to schedule the right date. Now you wait one month. It is common to verify the pregnancy after one month by ultrasound. Now after all this, she may not be pregnant. Costly and heartbreaking. If she is pregnant, hopefully all is well and in another month she will have puppies. About one week before delivery, an x-ray is used to get a number of puppies (approximate). Then the breeder may whelp the litter. If there is a problem during the whelping process (pup get stuck or stalled labor) the breeder may have to take the dog in for a C-section. It always seems to happen at 2 am so you end up at an emergency vet [unless Dr. Pol is your vet]. Some breeders just schedule a C-section. It is not uncommon to have puppies die in the birth process or be delivered dead. Also heartbreaking. There are variations on the process I described and there are people who ignore conformation and health testing ( puppy mills) So now, we have costs in showing the dogs, health testing before the breeding, cost of the breeding and costs of whelping. I did not go into the costs of caring for, feeding, worming and medicating these delicate precious puppies for their first 8-10 weeks of life. So how much profit do you think there is to be realized? Seriously? Let’s not even talk about the stress. Why do breeders even do it? Some of them ask that question too. For money? For “good looking puppies”? No-any dedicated quality breeder will tell you…to breed the nest generation of healthy puppies of their breed. They spend years learning what that means and give years of their lives toward that goal. Each breed has a disease or a temperment or structural issue which breeders work to eliminate. We have seen a lot of breedings between two different pure breed dogs and all I can think is that whatever issues each of these breeds have in their genes are now mixed together so you now have a dog that has many more possible health issues. When breeds cross by accident, that is one thing but to do that on purpose I believe is irresponsible. Or maybe it is being done for beauty?

    • Not trying to be rude but the author is a DVM (veterinarian), PhD, and MS. If you listen to her podcast it seems pretty clear that she understands how purebred dog breeding works. You can google “hybrid vigor” to understand why people are breeding cross on purpose. It’s supported by science.

  20. There is no way you will ever find a dog no matter what breed even mix breeds that are free of heritable or predisposition diseases because dogs are the only animal that gets the same diseases as humans and that is why they are the most studied animal more than any other species and heritable diseases can’t be bred out, you can’t breed genetics out but you can breed to were genetic problems don’t show up that often and autoimmune diseases can go 6 to 7 generations before they show up again, most diseases don’t show up till with age, bloat in large breeds of dogs which is deadly and it’s not inherited but if sire or dam or sibling bloat then you can count on the canine to bloat also HD has been blown out of perportion by breeder because most dogs that have it which 75% of all large dogs have it but don’t show signs or symptoms of it, the OFA says it’s more of a environmental disease than inherited but they will tell you it’s very important to continue x ray’s because you don’t want it to be inherited and environmental and breeds that are predisposed for it will get it sometime in there old age. Scientists are discovering Wild Canids in the wild like wolves have HD

  21. I don’t like puppy mills that breeds dogs just for profit I think they shouldn’t carry on operating by breeding these dogs , I agree dogs should be bred for their health and longevity with a good background for their temperment and behaver in any kind of breed Thanks for your article.


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