HOT TOPICS — By on February 2, 2012 18:10

Purebred Animals have been around for thousands of years. Over that time animals have been selectively bred to enhance specific traits. For example, some of the earliest purebreds were Saluki dogs (2130 BC), and Arabian horses (2500BC) – both bred for speed, while Clydesdales were bred for strength. When we look at dogs, we see an extreme diversity of dogs from the tiny Chihuahua to the giant Wolfhound. Yet all of these dogs are direct descendants of wolves with minimal differences in their genome. Some dogs are bred for retrieving, others for footwarmers (Lhasa Apso) and others for guard dogs (German Sheperds, Rottweilers) while others herd cattle and sheep (Border Collies, etc). Along with this functional separation of dogs came unique behavioral traits. Some dogs, such as the retrievers and herders are extremely tuned in to their owner’s desires as they need to work together while other such as Salukis, Greyhounds or Huskies just want to RUN! Some need a lot of intelligence such as retrievers or herders while others have less. As a result, some dogs have developed personality traits which make them excellent family dogs while in others, the traits of trying to please an owner are not nearly so strong. Selective breeding over the years has strengthened these traits to a great degree. It would be crazy to try to keep a greyhound happy in a small apartment if you are only home a few hours a day and can’t get your dog the exercise he needs or to own a chihuahua if you want to go hiking 5 miles every day. Therefore, selecting a pet that is compatible with your life style is essential for the happiness of the whole family. When selecting a purebred dog you have a very good idea of what you are going to get. The development of purebred dogs has created some wonderful and predictable traits in animals and we can use those traits to help pick the perfect pet.

Now many people will say “wait a minute, we should be adopting a homeless dog rather than buying a purebred dog. Although there are countless people who have adopted homeless dogs, and our strong admiration and support goes out to them, this is a far less predictable way to get the perfect pet. Most older dogs in adoption centers are there because they have failed at being good pets for one reason or another. Although there are many animals euthanized in shelters every year, the number of dogs which will make good pets is decreasing rapidly In a recent study Dr.s Edhlund performed at an Animal Control Facility in Southern California with noted behaviorist Dr. Rolan Tripp, we found less than 2% of dogs found in the shelter passed the Pet Aptitude Test with flying colors. With a lot of work, many of the other pets can and do make wonderful household pets – it just won’t be easy. There is a critical age when dogs have the ability to have their personalities molded to perfection. This age is less than 16 weeks. Basically any dog under 16 weeks can be molded to near perfection with the proper training. After that age, their personalities are pretty well set in stone.We can usually train a bad-natured older dog to behave civilly but this is icing on the cake. Under 16 weeks we can make a vanilla cake. If we have a chocolate cake at 16 weeks we can put vanilla frosting on the cake but it will still be chocolate underneath. This is not to dissuade those with the time and energy to devote to a potential pet that needs extra work but to make people aware of the true issues. We want everyone to really enjoy their pet. Not everyone has the emotional energy to work with problem children. If you want an easy puppy come to us to help fit you with the right pet for you. We will make recommendations based on your lifestyle and desires to get the perfect pet. There are many puppies available in shelters with certain breed tendencies and you can also look out for those. We can even do genetic testing to give a very strong idea what breed of dog you have.

Over recent years purebred pets have gained a bad name, in particular because puppy mills have ruthlessly bred puppies without tending to their social care or even their proper breeding, but also because of efforts of those working toward placing homeless dogs. Although the numbers are rapidly fading, there are still some purebred dogs around and the breeds should be strongly supported to maintain the effects of hundreds or thousands of years of selective breeding. It should absolutely not be considered to be socially irresponsible to own a purebred dog, in fact the opposite should be the case as you will be holding the key to maintaining some very special traits, much as our zoos now act as reservoirs of certain species. In Hawaii we have another issue which is a very limited gene pool in our purebred dogs and it is very difficult to increase the gene pool due to quarantine regulations. Although there are good medical reasons to spay your female dog, there are also good reasons to let her have puppies, especially if she is a good representative of certain traits. Of course that decision should be made in consideration of your family situation as all puppies should be raised with extensive human contact.

Pets are wonderful additions to our families. However, owning a pet is a large commitment, much as having a child. We at Gentle Vets will be happy to help you select the right pet for you and to make sure he gets on the right road to pyschological development right from the start. Give us a call if you are thinking about getting a pet, whether an adoption or a purebred or if you have recently obtained a pet. We will make sure he develops healthy both physically and mentally!

Now Purebred Dogs bring vision to the Blind! Genetic studies in Italy and Pennsylvania led to the break through allowing formerly blind people to gain vision. Comparing the genetic differences in purebred and crossbreeds of dogs, a genetic deficiency was identified in affected dogs.  The DNA to make the missing protein was inserted into the eyes of dogs which were blind due to Inherited Retinal Disease. These dogs gained vision. Then the same genetic deficit was identified in some people and the same therapy was used. People who had been blind their entire life are regaining vision thanks to this research. Without purebred dogs this breakthrough would never have occurred. Purebred dogs are wonderful!



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