Only 974 Staffordshire Bull Terriers are listed in the OFA health database. That may sound like a lot of dogs until you start thinking about how long the database has been around, how many Staffords are born each year (according to AKC they average just below 900 puppies registered annually) and how many people show and breed them. The OFA database includes all registries.
Don’t believe me? Check for yourself – then check how many are CHIC numbered as well – only 82 of those 974 if you want to know:
I absolutely think we can do better. It’s not terribly expensive to do this testing, especially in light of how much some people charge for those untested puppies. I know of several breeders asking $3500 for puppies coming from un-health tested parents. Additionally their puppies aren’t even eye checked. Even if a breeder charges $1800 for a puppy and you factor in the cost of CHIC eligible testing the parents and the puppy eye checks we are only talking maybe $800 for each parent. Thats for the basics…..L2-HGA, HC, eyes, cardiac, hips, patella and hearts. We also check all of that plus thyroid, DM and Penn-hip most of ours that will be bred from and the performance dogs get at least L2-HGA, HC, puppy eyes, hips and hearts.
Why are Stafford breeders not testing? I can speculate either the money would take away from the income of breeding (a totally foreign concept to us since we tend to lose money on each litter) or they are hiding something, ignorant or don’t care. None of this is acceptable. Had every breeder tested for all DNA hereditary conditions and only bred non-carriers beginning back in 2005 when the DNA testing began we could have completely eliminated L2-HGA and HC from the breed in 2-3 generations. Read this again.
Now I am not saying to eliminate all carriers from breeding – our gene pool is too small for this . . . but had we tried it 14-15 years ago even for a couple generations there would be NO L-2- hydroxyglutaric aciduria or inheritable hereditary cataracts (also know as juvenile cataracts) in this breed.
For over ten years The Stafford Knot has been preaching to test all Staffords and also educating buyers about asking for proof of testing. This is STILL not happening today! What are we doing wrong? How are we not being effective? What sort of marketing is required to get the word out?
Some very well known breeders do not test their dogs. It’s true. Go to that link above and see for yourself. Health testing is only one component in breeding dogs. But it’s a great start. Temperament testing is another but this is subjective and has many influencing factors at play. Health testing, especially those which have DNA testing availability is black and white. Do not rely upon ‘clear by parentage’ for your answers either. LOOK IT UP! ASK FOR PROOF! These are members of your family which you are buying and taking home.
If you could guarantee a family member wouldn’t get a disease wouldn’t you do that?! Be smart. Do your homework. Educate yourself.
I spent the weekend with my “peeps” – the veterinarians who practice Theriogenology – yup that is really a word. These are the veterinarians who bring your frozen semen back to life, who create the litter of your dreams, who safely and competently bring new life into the world. That is what we do, what we live to do professionally. Oh and most of us do this for fun, as our hobby, our passion as well. As if there are enough hours in the day.
So what is the madness? The spaying and neutering of all of our beloved pet dogs BEFORE they are sexually mature.
One of our presenters today was the famous Emeritus Professor Dr. Benjamin Hart and his wife and fellow researcher and author, Dr. Lynn Hart. The Drs. Hart have been retrospectively collecting and analyzing data on the incidence of diseases in the dog and how they correlate with the dog’s reproductive status – in other words, is there a link between being spayed or neutered and their orthopedic and behavioral health as well as their incidence of cancer. They, along with our friend Dr. David Waters are showing the evidence that spaying or neutering particularly at an age before puberty, is an unhealthy life choice for our dogs. The same is not universally true for cats.
The general and hopefully obvious consensus is that veterinarians went to veterinary school and into their careers because they love animals and to improve their health. What has happened is that the well-meaning plan of spaying and neutering our pets has not proven to be in the best interests of the same pets. None of us entered this career, after a minimum of 8 years of post-high school education and deeply in debt, to cause harm to our patients and their owners. But in reality, that is what has happened.
I believe as a group, the Theriogenologists, both board-certified and those with a special interest in Theriogenology, are uniquely positioned to lead our non-Theriogenology colleagues back to the new truth, the new normal.
Veterinarians are now seeing published research that shows the following – that pets spayed or neutered young, sometimes before puberty and sometimes before middle age are at increased risk of 1. Orthopedic problems 2. Behavior problems 3. Cancer 4. Obesity 5. Urinary incontinence We will discuss each of these in more detail.
Veterinarians didn’t go to school to spay and neuter dogs so they could 1. sell clients on repairing torn cruciates, pain medications, and joint protectants. 2. Spend their days counseling clients on how to manage their fearful dogs. 3. Create new treatments for the assorted forms of cancer we see in these gonadectomized pets. 4. Counsel clients on increasing their pet’s exercise and managing their diet to manage their weight. 5. Help clients control their pet’s urinary accidents.
Spaying and neutering our dogs became a “thing” in the 1970s. Before that, anesthesia was dangerous. Owners didn’t have much money to spend on pets. Pets were still just dogs and cats, many of whom lived in the backyard or roamed the neighborhood. Population control was not a concern.
In the 40 plus years that have elapsed since the 1970s, pets have moved into the bedroom and in many cases, into the bed. They have become companions, family members and in many cases substitute children. The Millennials are using them as trial-run kids – if they can keep a plant and a pet alive, they may dabble in having children of their own. The Boomers like them to keep their home buzzing after they become empty nesters or widows and widowers. Children are learning responsible pet care and about the loss of a loved one when cultivating pet care skills. Society is concerned about the pet population issues and humane care of animals. Euthanasia is no longer an option when there is a population problem.
However, some of the changes in how society views euthanasia of homeless pets has lead to a lower standard of acceptable pet behavior. In past years, pets with behavior problems including aggression toward humans was not tolerated. If a dog or cat showed aggression toward humans of any age, they were not placed in homes, foster or forever homes. Now, we are making excuses for badly behaved dogs and cats – biting, scratching, and other forms of aggression are not only tolerated but embraced. We assume it is the result of poor socialization, stress, transport, or genetics. Additionally, we are seeing increasing numbers of dogs and in some cases cats, that suffer fearfulness, home destructive patterns, separation anxiety, noise sensitivity, and other previously poorly tolerated activities and behavior. Until this tide is stopped, the single best field for newly minted debt-ridden new veterinary graduates is clearly behavior medicine. Not only is there a surplus of animals in serious need of behavior modification and behavior-modifying drugs, the explosion of opportunities to practice tele-veterinary medicine will allow this group to practice from the comfort of their own homes and offices. They will be able to earn a handsome and well-deserved living while avoiding the costs and tribulations of managing their familial duties.
Unfortunately, despite mounting evidence in the peer-reviewed veterinary literature that spaying and neutering is causing harmful medical and behavioral conditions, many veterinarians are continuing to promote spaying and neutering every dog in their sites, at younger and younger ages. Yes, spaying and neutering young animals is an easier procedure. Yes, this helps with population control. Yes, our clients have become accustomed to having no responsibility for managing their pet’s sexual behaviors and activities.
I went to vet school to save lives. To create new and eagerly anticipated lives.
Many of my colleagues are slow to adapt to and adopt the new thoughts illustrated by the work of Dr. Benjamin and Lynn Hart, Iris Reichler, and Dr. David Waters among others. They don’t want to critically evaluate the literature. They don’t want to believe what it being published. They don’t want to learn to spay and neuter later in life or learn to do ovary-sparing spays and vasectomies, allowing our pets to remain hormonally intact while rendering them incapable of reproduction.
I can and will tell you we know the newly published information is true. We have seen this reality for the 38 years we have been in practice working with many clients who don’t wish to spay or neuter their dogs for the many reasons they put forth. These clients who want to retain their pets hormones should not be brow-beaten and belittled by the veterinary industry and their families who have been led astray by the animal rights extremists.
We have watched 3 generations of pet owners and many more generations of pets pass through our doors. We have seen fewer than 10 dogs who have died OF mammary cancer, ovarian and uterine, and testicular cancer. We have seen untold numbers die acutely of spleen cancer (hemangiosarcoma). We have seen many die of painful and debilitating bone cancer. We have seen far too many die lingering deaths from lymph node cancer. All of these are hard to diagnose and impossible to cure. On the other hand, breast cancer is easily diagnosed, even by clients with their bare hands. Treatment is straight-forward surgical excision of the affected tissues.
In addition to behavior issues, dogs and cats with serious medical problems, some short-term and other long-term, are not only accepted and corrected but used as fund-raising opportunities for themselves as well as a number of other pets processed by the same organization. Bleeding-heart stories are common – not only pets that are already owned by an individual but pets that are homeless and transient.
In some cases, the pets are left to suffer through long-standing and serious, painful and/or debilitating diseases only to be held out as a poster-child for fund-raising organization masquerading as a “rescue” group. Organizations such as HSUS and ASPCA share heart-wrenching photos, pretending the conditions shown are the norm, not the exception. This literally robs kind-hearted souls of their hard-earned money. Tragically, most of the funds from these organizations is funneled back into fund-raising efforts leaving only a tiny percentage going to the local hard-working organizations who genuinely do great work for abandoned and stray pets.
Summary: Read and educate yourself on this life-changing and important procedure BEFORE you spay or neuter your dog or cat. Don’t rely only on your veterinarian as they may have a bias to spaying or neutering early as it is easier on them. Do what is the right thing to improve your pet’s longevity and quality of life. We can arrange a telemedicine consultation if that helps with your decision, based on your pet’s breed and lifestyle.
Contact us at email@example.com for more information.
Once you choose to get a dog from a breeder, it’s helpful to arm yourself with facts so you understand the cost of raising a litter of responsibly bred puppies.
The price varies from program to program, but paying more money for a puppy that comes from a thorough and ethical breeding program can help save costs down the line. Additionally, it’s important to support reputable breeders in order to weed out puppy mills, scams, and irresponsible programs. Not only will you ensure the health and safety of your own puppy, you’ll be supporting an ethical program that truly cares about the well-being of their dogs.
The expenses can add up quickly for a reputable breeder — the average cost of a responsibly bred litter is nearly $16,000. That number can fluctuate, but being a responsible breeder takes a great deal of money, energy, and time. Many breeders begin by traveling to AKC events where the quality of their dogs is ascertained; this process can range anywhere from $3,000 to $8,000.
Following that, stud services can cost up to $1,500 if breeders don’t have a stud of their own. This can also involve travel, overnight stay in hotels, gas, meals, driving, flying, or semen collection. Collectively, this entire process can add up to $4,500. Factor in that many breeders are taking time off of work to travel to a stud or take their bitch to the vet, and those lost wages can max out at $1,200.
A great deal of maintenance is required to make sure the mother of the puppies is comfortable and in good health. OFA and CERF certifications for health can cost around $430 for each prospective dam that will produce puppies. Getting several progesterone tests done is essential as well so the breeder can pinpoint the accuracy of their timing for conception — these tests average out around $400.
Regular health checks are required for the bitch as well, in addition to a Brucellosis test. Brucellosis is a disease that can affect all kinds of dogs and livestock — it can even be transferred from dogs to humans. Signs of the disease are late term abortion, still births, and conception failures. It cannot be overstated how important it is to test both dogs, male and female, for this disease before beginning to breed them. This test, along with a health check, can cost anywhere from $80 to $175.
If implantation or insemination is needed after collecting sperm, this can cost up to $1,000. An ultrasound will be needed soon after all these steps are taken to check in on the status of the pregnancy, which can max out at around $150.
Considering all goes well with the first attempt at breeding, implantation, or insemination, the total cost of breeding before the litter even arrives averages out at nearly $10,500.
In anticipation for the puppies’ arrival, a breeder will have to accumulate all the necessary supplies — including things like a heat mat, siphon bulb, clamps, heat milk, and a whelping box. The cost of this kind of preparation averages out at about $150 as well.
Throughout the pregnancy, breeders invest in extra food, prenatal vitamins, and x-rays to confirm the pregnancy — all of which average out at around $250. The actual cost of birthing can get up to $3,000 depending on whether or not there are complications or if a c-section has to be done.
Once the puppies arrive, AKC litter registrations are $25 initially and then $2 per puppy. Premium food for the nursing mom and weaned puppies who are starting on solid food will cost nearly $600. Essential vet visits for the puppies can add up quickly as well — worming puppies costs around $250 when you factor in stool samples and medication. Shots for Parvo, distemper, and a regular vet visit will land around $400 depending on how many puppies are in the litter.
Additionally, puppy care packages with food, collars, and toys for new owners to take home can land around $160.
Other costs include emergency vet visits, missing work to deliver the puppies, replacing puppy toys and towels, home destruction, utility costs for added laundry and heating, communication with new buyers, and the 24/7 job of looking after a dam and her puppies — all of this can accumulate to nearly $1,600.
Ultimately, the total cost of responsibly breeding a litter of puppies can range anywhere from $7,700 to $23,900. Although it’s an expensive and time consuming undertaking, the energy and thoughtfulness reputable breeders put into their puppies is the foundation of what will be a better world for dogs.
It’s important to note that a high price tag does not always equate to a responsibly bred puppy — scammers, puppy mills, and backyard breeders come in all kinds of sizes and prices. This is why it’s key to make sure you’re connecting with a good source and communicate at length with your potential breeder. At the end of the day, investing a little more money into your puppy now could save you both in the future — and you’ll be supporting a breeder that pours a great deal of money, energy, time, and love into each puppy that comes out of their program.
I have noticed an increase in people reaching out for help after buying a puppy and realizing they might not have gotten exactly what they were hoping for. There is a real need for more education on this breed. A number of ‘pop up’ breeders are literally cashing in on the upsurge of popularity in Staffordshire Bull Terriers.
In an effort to educate we are working on marketing ideas to try to reach people BEFORE they purchase a Stafford puppy so we can make sure they are well equipped with all the information they need to make a good purchase from a breeder who will support and mentor them, a breeder who is involved in more than ‘making puppies’, a breeder who does (and can prove) all breed appropriate health testing, a breeder who will take back a dog they have produced for any reason at any time, a breeder who is involved in breed rescue, a breeder who is well educated on the breed – an honest preservation breeder.
You deserve to bring home a puppy who has been enriched and raised in a loving home environment for the first 8-12 weeks of its life. You deserve the correct temperament. You deserve a happy and healthy, well adjusted puppy. A Stafford puppy should be confident, eager to learn and energetic. Whether or not your breeder feeds raw, naturally rears or not – they should be a well respected active member of the Stafford community. Help us help you!
The new marketing campaign will be designed to target regular people looking for a puppy so they have this information in hand! Tell us what you search for when looking online – tell us what you expect to find – tell us your thoughts on what you are finding when searching. Send an email to wavemakerstaffords @gmail.com with the subject: Stafford Search Study so that we can put together a helpful education campaign.