Topics to discuss with a breeder before buying a puppy
Tracking and Research are Key to Avoiding Problems
One of the most significant factors that separates responsible breeders from all of the others is they track the health of their dogs and their ancestors and research blood lines for hereditary problems so they can avoid them. All breeds have hereditary problems. Some problems, like uneven teeth, are important only if you plan to show the dog. Others are more serious and can affect the quality of life of the dog.
The American Spaniel Club has a Health Registry for breeders to register the results of health screening tests performed on their dogs. This helps breeders do their research before breeding to dogs with which they might not be familiar. The following screening test results are tracked in the Health Registry: - Early onset cataracts and Fundus (PRA) - Hip dysplasia and PennHipp - Thyroid
Another organization that provides a searchable database for orthopedic and hereditary diseases is the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). They also help fund genetic research.
Purina is sponsoring research into IMHA. This is a very aggressive disease. There is a genetic component that makes a dog susceptible to the disease. The research is trying to identify the genetic sequence associated with the disease so dogs can be tested for it in the future. It requires a "trigger" to bring on the disease. It is important to talk with your breeder to see if any of the ancestors of your dog or their offspring came down with this disease. It is extremely important to contact your veterinarian if your dog shows symptoms like a sudden loss of energy and pale or yellow gums. Time is of the essence.
We highly recommend you have a frank conversation with the breeder about these hereditary health issues before buying a puppy from them. You should find a different breeder if: - They seem reluctant to discuss hereditary health problems - They are reluctant to show you the most recent test results for the parents of the puppy they are offering to you - They are unfamiliar with such problems - The ancestors of their puppies have had these problems
Thanks go to Jackie Cavallin, Susan Roman, Jan Epting, Scott Sikes, Marsie Ziesmer, Frank Martinez, Ann Smith-Martin and Sue Kelly for their help with the content on this page!
The Cocker Spaniel Specialty Club of Georgia and its members are dedicated to the betterment of the American Cocker Spaniel breed