Genetic disorders in purebred dogs

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A column written by Dr. Patty Khuly was published June 20 on the Huffington Post website. In her editorial piece, Khuly explains how people frequently bring purebred dogs to her veterinary office with medical problems.

She says – “I’m willing to go on record and say that I generally observe at least one genetic disease in nine out of 10 purebred patients during their first examination with me.” She goes on to note that the mixed-breed dogs she sees frequently have problems as well, but these conditions are typically a “result of their discernible purebred parentage.”

The culprits are “line breeding, the failure to adequately test parents for genetic diseases and the trend among show breeders toward increasingly exaggerated features.”

From what I’ve been told, greyhound racing engages in line breeding. We see what happens with greyhounds, who, for example, have the highest incidence of osteosarcoma of ANY breed of dog.

All of these statements are important enough to highlight from the editorial here as direct quotes. Dr. Khuly is stepping to the forefront to shine a light on a problem that too often goes unreported. I can’t count how many people I’ve seen in veterinary offices talking about the knee surgeries their purebred dogs have undergone.

It isn’t being put together and reported for what it is. It’s a real problem, from cancers to physical abnormalities such a deformed hips and ligament problems in knees to more. There are good, quality breeders in this country, who track this sort of thing and adjust their practices accordingly. But too many are sending out puppies like so many microwave ovens off an assembly line, with too little concern for health.

More people in the medical profession and breeding profession need to step forward to bring this issue to the forefront. I applaud Dr. Khuly. She calls it “morally correct” to adopt homeless pets and urges her clients to adopt mixed-breed dogs.