A question of breeding

A question of breeding

We like to think of ourselves as a nation of animal lovers in the UK, and many of us treat our pets – especially our dogs and cats – as one of the family.

However, pedigree pooches and pusses can be expensive to buy in the first instance, and can also cost more to insure than crossbreeds. So, for anyone who has set their heart on a particular breed, it makes sense to prepare for these costs – and beyond this, to choose wisely.

The horrors of puppy farms have been well documented – but not only are they cruel places where the breeders often care more for the cash they can make than for animal welfare, you may also end up with an animal with genetic faults and other health problems. It may be tempting to buy a puppy or kitten from an advertisement, but no one should ever buy without finding out about the breeder. You should be able to see the puppies with their mother and know that appropriate health checks have been carried out prior to breeding.

For example, German Shepherds can be prone to hip dysplasia – which can lead to severe lameness. Because of this, breeders may have dogs’ hips x-rayed to see if they are in good shape, with the aim of reducing future risk. Great Danes are also among the large breeds which tend to need more veterinary treatment and so can be more expensive to insure.

It’s been widely reported that some breeders who participate in dog shows have also created serious hereditary problems through exaggerating characteristics in certain breeds, such as short legs, wrinkled skin or flat faces – the English bulldog is a case in point – and breathing, walking difficulties and other health problems are not uncommon. Research has shown that more than 350 inherited diseases have been identified in pedigree dogs alone.

Likewise, Persian cats once had more pronounced noses but demand for flat muzzles has also led to cases of watery eyes and breathing problems. Other breeds of cats such as Siamese may also be more delicate and prone to illness than a moggy. On the other hand, there are sensible breeders out there and there are still plenty of pedigree pets who do live to a good age without problems.

Reading up on potential health issues specific to your preferred breed is a good idea and charities such as the RSPCA have highlighted these problems and warned against such breeders – doing your research before buying really could save a lot of heartache.

However, if you have decided that pedigree is the way you want to go, then The Kennel Club has an accredited breeder scheme, which aims to guarantee the health and welfare of puppies.

When it comes to pet insurance, premiums are higher for dogs than cats, while for pedigree animals they are higher still – perhaps up to a third more – because they tend to have more claims. There is also the value of the pet to consider – a pedigree puppy can cost around £600 (or indeed far more), and a pedigree kitten around £350 or more, with unusual breeds or animals from top breeders sometimes costing far more.

So, it makes sense to see which policy is most suitable, and to consider having your pedigree puppy or kitten insured as soon as possible. The cheapest may not be the best deal – if your pet develops a serious illness, you want to make sure as much of the vet’s bill is covered as possible, and so you need an adequate limit on what will be paid out.

Checking out the right dog insurance or cat insurance for a new puppy or kitten is important – as is making sure the one you buy has been bred responsibly with long-term health viewed above profit.

 Article issued by Sainsbury’s Finance