No dog guardian wants his or her best canine friend to come down with a debilitating, terminal illness. But when they buy a purebred dog, that’s what many dog guardians can expect.
Researchers at the University of Georgia looked at the causes of death for tens of thousands of dogs over two decades and discovered that certain diseases are more likely to afflict certain breeds. For example, they found that Bernese mountain dogs, bouviers des Flandres, boxers, golden retrievers, and Scottish terriers have extremely high mortality rates caused by cancer, while Chihuahuas, Doberman pinschers, fox terriers, Maltese, and Newfoundlands are plagued with deadly cardiovascular disease. This is in addition to the defects that were already known to afflict specific breeds, such as hip dysplasia in German shepherds, spinal disc disease in dachshunds, and epilepsy in beagles.
So, when people pay breeders and pet stores to churn out purebred puppies, who are often the product of inbreeding, they could be sentencing additional dogs to a lifetime of chronic illness and an early death.
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That's not to say that mutts don't get sick, but their more diverse genetic makeup lowers the chances that they will suffer from the inherited ailments that often befall purebred dogs. When you adopt a homeless mutt, you not only save a life but also help lessen the demand for more purebred puppies, who may suffer from chronic, painful, and ultimately lethal illnesses.
Written by Michelle Sherrow