puppy jpegThe Paterson household has become noticeably quieter in the last week.

Two months ago, we had 2 litters of puppies from the 2 youngest of our 3 Labradors. With Blossom, our Chocolate Labrador having 11 puppies in her final litter, and Fennel (Blossom’s puppy from 2 years ago) having 7 puppies in her first litter, you will understand that we have had our work cut out.

We found that the puppies were in high demand, with all of them reserved by 2 weeks of age. As Kennel Club Assured Breeders, it is encouraging to see how many new owners have thought carefully before committing to a new puppy. As a Breeder, I feel that it is very important to be confident that our puppies are going to live with families who are able to commit the time and energy required. Likewise, we find that prospective puppy owners are looking for reassurances that the necessary health tests have been performed and the Assured Breeder scheme is becoming more recognised as a mark of breeding quality.

Health testing designed to support responsible dog breeding by screening for hereditary conditions is helping to improve the health of breeds. Owners and breeders can use the results from the schemes to make informed breeding decisions to help produce healthier puppies and work towards eliminating debilitating inherited conditions. Recent reports from the Hip and Elbow Schemes show a clear and sustained reduction in the incidence and severity of these conditions clearly demonstrating that responsible breeding, supported by testing, can make a difference to the health and welfare of dogs.

I think it is vital that the risk of passing on inherited conditions is continually reduced. The hip and elbow dysplasia tests are extremely useful tools for breeders and vets, both of whom want to ensure the health and welfare of future generations of dogs.

Anyone thinking of breeding from their dog or considering buying a puppy should ask their vet about relevant health screening.

The Hip Dysplasia Scheme celebrates its 50th anniversary this month. There have been improvements in the average scores of 20 of the 21 most-scored breeds over the last 15 years, indicating a reduction in the incidence and severity of hip dysplasia.

This data goes to show just how much of a positive effect health testing is having on the health and welfare of dogs. Responsible breeding is going a long way in protecting the future health of the UK’s dogs.

The Canine Health Schemes cover hip and elbow dysplasia as well as hereditary eye disease and Chiari-malformation/Syringomyelia syndrome in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels. Breeders interested in using Canine Health Schemes testing should contact their vet for further information.