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Genetic Disorders

When looking for a new dog, it is wise to research the different breeds you are interested in to determine the best dog for your family. Not only are you looking for a dog that fits your family?s lifestyle ? be it active or more sedentary, whether you have a large or small living space, or if you have young kids or teenagers ? but you also need to worry whether the dog is genetically sound. Genetic problems can exist in all dogs. Some people are of the mistaken assumption that genetic diseases occur only in purebred dogs, but mixed breeds are at risk as well. Some problems are more of a cosmetic condition such as over- or under-bites. Others can be severe enough that the life of your dog is at risk. Different breeds have different genetic flaws. A good breeder ensures that his or her dogs are of optimal genetic quality and have the necessary tests performed to prevent their pets from passing on undesirable genes. It is up to you to find a breeder who is determined to produce and sell only those dogs that have passed their screening test. There is no guarantee that every dog will be free of genetic problems, but the more diligent you are in your search for the best breeder the better your chance of buying a healthy dog. The following is a short sampling of the hundreds of genetic problems dogs can present. Hip Dysplasia: A structural disease of the hips, Dysplasia is a malformation of the hip joint which, if left untreated, can lead to arthritis, decreased mobility and severe pain. The disease can be diagnosed only through X-rays of the hip joints. Mild cases of Hip Dysplasia can be treated with aspirin for the pain, but more severe cases will require surgery to reshape the socket and ball of the hip joint. Breeds that are more prone to Hip Dysplasia include: Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers and German Shepherds. Von Willbrand?s Disease: This is the most common bleeding disorder in dogs. A dog afflicted with this disease must be kept safe from injuries. Even a seemingly small injury can become a serious bleeding problem. Special precautions must be taken when cutting its toenails, for example, to avoid cutting the nail bed or ?quick? too short. The breeds most commonly afflicted with von Willbrand?s Disease are: Doberman pinschers, Welsh corgis, German shepherds, and Scottish terriers. Deafness: Congenital deafness occurs most often in Dalmatians, but also is found in dogs that have white coat pigmentation, such as Samoyeds and Great Pyrenees. In addition, dogs with blue eyes are statistically more likely to be deaf. Cataracts: Several breeds of dogs are prone to developing congenital cataracts. They include the Afghan hound, the American Cocker Spaniel, and the Beagle, among others. Complete cataracts will cause blindness and can occur as early as eight weeks of age. Many dogs adjust well to a loss of vision. However, cataracts can be successfully treated surgically. Although the number of genetic defects can be discouraging, you are more likely to find a puppy that is free of genetic problems if you thoroughly research the breeds in which you are interested. Discuss with your veterinarian the most common genetic disorders of your favorite breeds. Find a breeder who is devoted to ensuring that his or her pups are genetically sound.

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