No decent dog owner would want his beloved pet to be sickly. But facts are always there to confront us when it comes to the realities of what disorders are going to be expected from the pure breed or mixed breed of our precious canines who have become honorary members of our household.
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MIXED BREED VS PURE BREED: THE ARGUMENTS
Pet owners who stand by the sturdiness of their mixed breed mutts would say their pets are in better health because inbreeding occurring for purebred dogs elevates their tendency towards genetic disorders. Purebred dog aficionados would say that their unmixed breeds are healthier because, from the time they were born, they were honed in professional and sanitary breeding facilities or well-meaning homes. And they are not exposed to various diseases that may infect other canines in animal shelters.
AILMENTS WHEREIN MIXED AND PUREBRED HAVE AN EVEN TALLY
Each pet owner has his own opinion and the dogs under their care are well-loved. And there are illnesses wherein no type of dog has an obvious advantage. These sicknesses include :
1) Heart Disorders – Ventricular septal defect, mitral valve dysplasia, patent ductus arteriosus, and hypertrophic cardiomyopathy;
2) Cancers – hemangiosarcoma, osteosarcoma, lymphoma, and mast cell tumor;
3) Orthopedic Ailments – Patellar luxation or dislocated kneecap;
4) Eye Sicknesses – Lens luxation wherein the clear lens behind the iris is dislocated;
5) Endocrine Disorders – Hyperadrenocorticism (Cushing’s Disease) and Hypoadrenocorticism (Addison’s Disease).
All the ailments above occur at about the same rate in both mixed breeds and pure breeds.
A MIXED BREED DISORDER
The only ailment that is most likely to occur in mutts is the Cranial Cruciate Ligament Rupture. The ligament is the part that helps the knee joints at the hind legs stable.
PURE BREED DISORDERS
Sad to say, there are more sicknesses wherein pure breeds are more susceptible to develop:
Cataracts, bloat, allergic dermatitis, elbow dysplasia, aortic stenosis, hypothyroidism, dilated cardiomyopathy, portosystemic shunt, epilepsy see epilepsy and intervertebral disc disease.
THE FACTS SHOW THE TRUTH
The mixed genes of mutts might have a lot to do with their lower tendency to have health problems. They don’t get a high dose of the weak genes of a particular breed within their system. (ex. Great Doodle)
As for pure breeds, there is a solution to diminish the prevalence of inherited disorders or weak genes from their ancestors. There are advanced genetic tools today which can predict and even avoid altogether expected weaknesses in a bloodline.
BRIGHT FUTURE FOR PURE BREEDS USING GENETIC TOOLS
There are new genome sequencing technologies and also new diagnostic DNA disease tests wherein the full range and prevalence of inherited disorders in pedigrees can be diminished or even avoided altogether.
Veterinary scientists are analyzing the common defects and setbacks associated with managing and improving genetic diversity.
One option they use is through breeding strategies that utilize a combination of screening schemes, DNA tests, genomic selection, and pedigree information. The inherited disorders are spotted immediately and measures are executed to improve the health of the pure breed puppies even before they are born.
Meaning, it is a no-go in creating a litter of puppies when the expected menace of inherited disorders is “too much to handle”.
WHY INBREEDING BECAME PREVALENT
For the past 200 years, dog shows have become popular and folks have turned to inbreed so that their dogs will retain some specific physical features.
Kennel clubs all over the world have defined standards as to what each purebred canine should look like. To attain these criteria, breeders executed line-breeding which is an inbreeding that mates direct relatives with each other – grandson and grandmother, father and niece, etc.
The line-breeding is even more intensified when a male dog of this breed wins several dog show championships. He is bred far and wide to propagate his strong and quality genes. This is a practice called Popular Sire Syndrome.
The result, ironically is, that there is an increased incidence of inherited ailments. Not only that, there are also alarming health issues like disorders to body frames and structures such as hip dysplasia and patellar luxation.
In the USA, due to this persistent inbreeding, the purebred dog count has been divided into 4 distinct main clusters: African and Asian ancestry dogs; Mastiff breeds; Herding dogs; and Hunting canines. Breeders do their best to propagate these breeds for their all-important dog shows and professional reputation in the dog breeding industry.
PURE BREED CASE HISTORIES
1) Cavalier King Charles Spaniel – It has a loving and sweet disposition and its appearance of nobility featuring drooping ears and silky fur have made dog lovers pay hundreds up to thousands of dollars to acquire a puppy.
Its pureness in lineage has rendered them prone to genetic disorders. By the age of 5, fifty percent of all Cavaliers will have mitral valve disease which is a serious heart ailment that can lead to premature death. At around this same age, 7 out of 10 Cavaliers will be developing canine syringomyelia, a crippling neurological disorder wherein the brain becomes too large for the skull to handle. This causes much pain to the Cavalier in its neck and shoulders and also severe damage to parts of the dog’s spinal cord.
2) Bulldog – In the middle part of the 19th century, bulldogs look sturdy, athletic, and energetic with an elongated muzzle. Dog shows became popular in the early 20th century and with this development, the bulldog (because of inbreeding) metamorphosed into having squat bandy legs and acquired a large head with a much-flattened muzzle.
The result is they cannot reproduce without assistance, resulting in artificial insemination. And the changes in their facial structure gave one-third of all bulldogs major breathing problems. Most females can’t give birth easily too, because the heads of the puppies are too large for her birth canal.
THE STATISTICS NOW
Cross-breed dogs at present have a relatively longer lifespan than pure breeds because of their genetic diversity. But the pure breeds have a bright future too with the advent of advanced genetic tools.
What should be pushed is that these genetic tools should be made more affordable and available to the general population rather than just to professional breeders. Each dog, whether pure or mixed, have the right to live long and satisfying lives in the loving protection of their owners. And these genetic tools might just improve the health conditions of pure breeds and elevate them up to par with that of mixed breeds.
If you want to know more about pure and mixed dog breeds, visit BarkFriend.com
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