Are Purebred Dogs More Prone to Disease?

Lulu, our shelter-adopted lemon beagle (cover photo) has a string of papers.

Unfortunately, the fact the she is a purebred is also a great cause of concern, since she was rescued from an unscrupulous breeder.

It is quite possible that Lulu is, not unlike the Targaryens, the result of a lot of uncles, aunts, mother, fathers and siblings bred together.

This, in later years, could cause her to develop diseases related to the weak genes she might have inherited from her parentage.

What is a Purebred Dog?

Before debating whether or not purebred dogs are more apt to be riddled with diseases, we must look at the core definition. The Animal League of America describes these dogs as having ancestors of the same breed, usually determined by a previously determined standard.

Why Do Owners Want Purebred Dogs?

It is well known that plenty of dogs wind up in animal shelters, many of which never get to experience a loving family of their own. In fact, the ASPCA stated that an alarming 3.3 million dogs enter United States run shelters every year. With heartbreaking statistics such as these, why are there individuals who still go to a breeder rather than visiting their local shelter or humane society?

One of the reasons why a percentage of owners prefer purebred dogs is due to the level of predictability. The American Kennel Club has defended nationwide breeders, claiming that there is less guesswork involved with purchasing from a breeder. Being able to meet the parents as well as knowing what the breed was originally tended to do makes for a clearer picture. This system has seemingly been perfected, but surely there are flaws or loopholes.


What Can Go Wrong with Breeding Dogs?

Just as with any model, there are always possible risks involved. When it comes to breeding dogs, corners can be cut. This results in a problematic future for future generations. The Happy Puppy Site has pinpointed one of these issues. Oftentimes, desired lineages will be inbred. This can be explained through a COI, or coefficient of inbreeding. A higher COI reveals the breeding of two closely related individuals.

Are Purebred Dogs More Prone to Disease - Genes

The Flaws of Inbreeding

It makes sense that dogs with better temperaments and physical prowess would be bred to continue the lineage. When two closely related dogs are bred, the puppies are at risk to experiencing negative consequences.

Looking at the biological level, genes control the different aspects of a dog. It’s normal for genes to become broken. A dog with a broken gene that is bred to an unrelated mate would have that coding overwritten. With two inbred dogs, the puppies get the faulty copies since there is nothing to turn it around.

Which Diseases Are Due to Inbreeding?

There are a number of breeds who have developed their own particular health issues. Some of the better-known diseases involve the shortening of the nose in toy breeds such as French Bulldogs and Pugs. These dogs are actually intentionally bred to have narrow tracheas, which then can result in a dog who has trouble breathing.

Other common problems present themselves in problems in joints, hips, eyes, heart and back. Certain breeds, such as the Boxer, are even more susceptible to cancer.

Are Purebred dogs more prone to disease?

Considering the potential for inbreeding, it is quite clear to determine that purebred dogs can have a higher chance of developing problems or diseases. In fact, the Institute of Canine Biology tried their best to find out the truth. What they noticed is that two closely related individuals being bred together resulted in mutations and inherited mishaps or disorders. Although this is not always the case as some mixed breeds also share such health problems. The findings only determined that, overall, purebred dogs seemed to have more health risks.

What Can Be Done About Breeding?

Are Purebred Dogs More Prone to Disease - Pug
Image by Free-Photos from Pixabay

The hard part about stopping, or even limiting, the damage caused by breeders is that there are a lot of people who just don’t care about the dogs themselves. Backyard breeders are a prime example of this. They participate in what’s called “torture breeding” where they intentionally breed dogs that can pass on hereditary diseases. According to Carte Blanche, the UK’s Animal Welfare Legislation made this act a prosecutable crime in 2017. Similarly, the Animal Legal Defense Fund revealed that the United States passed a law that prohibits unjust breeders from selling dogs without the proper papers. This also includes pet stores.

As for breeders who are under an organization, there are some checks and balances that require them to genetically test their dogs. Unfortunately, more work needs to be done to ensure that inbreeding does not take place. There should be more laws concerning unethical breeding. Many areas, such as South Africa, do not have these to date.

What Can You Do If You like Purebred Dogs?

With so many mixed breed dogs needing good homes, the public has seemed to demoralize anyone who likes purebred individuals. If you find yourself in this boat, there are ways to ensure that you aren’t supporting cruel breeders. The first would be to thoroughly check each and every breeder that you potentially want to buy from.

Educating yourself is another solution. Pets WebMD lists the 25 most common dog breeds and what diseases or problems they are prone to. Before purchasing a puppy with pure lineage, it is best to know the potential risks involved and ask the breeder about these concerns.

A third alternative is to consider adopting a purebred dog. And sure, there is some uncertainty, but it ultimately provides a dog with a loving home. Certain breed-specific groups are devoted to adopting out dogs that are supposedly pure bred. These canines still possess many of the traits that you love about your desired type of dog.

The act of breeding dogs to meet a certain function or desired look is both amazing and wrongfully used. Not every dog breeder has the best of intentions, subjecting their dogs to inbreeding. By knowing what diseases are possible in a purebred dog, you can avoid potential vet bills later down the road.

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