You can influence the health of your puppy in two important ways. Both before and after you bring him home
Obviously, once you have collected your puppy, it’s important to provide him with the very best care, the very best environment in which to grow up.
Including a great diet, the right exercise, and medical attention when he needs it. And we’ll be looking at these aspects of puppy care in the weeks to come.
But you can also influence your puppy’s health before you even meet him.
This is a crucial aim of our Puppy Search programme. Finding you a puppy with the very best chance of a long and healthy life.
In this article we’re going to talk about what you can do right now to give your future puppy the best chance of good health. And at the bottom of the page, you’ll find links to lots more articles on important puppy health issues that puppy buyers need to be aware of.
Before you buy
Before you buy your puppy, before you even meet him, you can make decisions which will help to ensure you bring home a healthy pup with the best chance of happiness.
Yours as well as his. Because caring for a sick puppy is distressing and often expensive
You can avoid bringing home an unhealthy puppy in two important ways. You can choose a puppy with healthy genes, and you can choose a puppy with a healthy conformation.
Choosing wisely 1 – body shape
The conformation or body shape, of your puppy is crucial to his happiness. The healthiest shape for a dog to be is ‘wolf shaped’. There are lots of reasons for this, and you read all about them in this article: Puppy Health – problems associated with conformation
But of course, it might be rather boring if all dogs we the same shape. And we humans love to experiment. So we have bred dogs in all kinds of shapes and sizes.
In some cases, it could be argued that this has not done much harm. In others, it is clear that we have caused our dogs some very serious problems.
So before you choose your puppy, if you want him to be healthy, you need to think about how his body shape will affect him.
Try to avoid extremes. Extremely flat faces for example, extremely short legs, extremely wrinkled skin. These may be cute and appealing, but they come at a high price to the dog in terms of health.
Check out your breed and do your research. It can save a lot of heartache in the future.
Choosing wisely 2 – genetic diseases
Our power to remove dogs from the forces of natural selection, and our decision to ‘break up’ the dog population into multiple groups of dogs that are isolated from one another (pedigree breeds) has had a far greater impact on the health of those dogs than we originally anticipated.
The loss of genetic material in our pedigree breeds began when the pedigree registers were closed and that loss continues relentlessly today. And it has caused serious health issues in a number of different breeds.
To find out how that may affect you, and your choice of puppy, check out this article: Pedigree Dog Health: How the loss of genetic material can affect our puppies
Even in breeds that are basically in good health, a number of genetic diseases are becoming more common, and before you buy a puppy, you need to check that the parents of your puppy have been tested for certain known conditions that exist within the breed.
We’ll be looking at health testing more closely in the weeks to come, but you can find out about inherited diseases specific to your breed on the Kennel Club website. Unfortunately health conditions caused by conformation are not listed on the individual breed information pages.
Cross breeds and mongrels
Pedigree puppies are not the only puppies out there. There are many different cross-breeds and mongrels to choose from.
Some are designer dogs that fetch high prices. Others are mixed breeds or puppies of unknown ancestry that may even be free to a good home.
There are pros and cons to buying a mixed breed dog, and we’ll be looking in our puppy search series, at the right (and wrong) ways to bring a puppy into your life, no matter what his parentage may be.
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It pays to plan
As you can see, planning ahead, and thinking through your choice of breed carefully can pay great dividends for your family in the future.
Whilst you cannot ever guarantee the future health of any dog, there is a great deal you can do, before your puppy is even born, to make sure that your dog does not suffer from some common and avoidable health issues.
If you are thinking of buying a puppy, check out our Puppy Search guide. We are gathering together all the information you need to give yourself the best chance of bringing home a happy and healthy dog.
More health information
You’ll find links to some more useful health related articles below.
- Brachycephalic (flat faced) puppies and their health problems
- PRA blindness and how to make sure your puppy doesn’t get it
- Puppy health: elbow dysplasia
- Screw tailed puppies
- Puppy health: haemophilia
- The Breedwatch scheme and Your Puppy
- Puppy health: hip dysplasia