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German Shepherd study reveals health consequences of breeding

There are many reasons to adopt and support your local animal shelter. Not only will you make a difference in the life of an animal (sometimes even a life-saving difference), but by opting for a mix breed versus an expensive purebred, your furry friend has a chance for a longer, healthier life.

Purebred dogs are attractive for a reason and they come with a long line of tradition and traits instantly recognizable. But many studies have shown that purebred animals are predisposed to a whole slew of health problems that their mutt friends simply are not because of the advantage of the bigger gene pool.

Bulldogs and Great Danes are perhaps the most discussed breeds to show the problems with purebred dogs. But now, a recent study out the UK shows how German Shepherd dogs also exhibit the health issues that selective breeding can cause.

The study, published in the Journal Canine Genetics and Epidemiology, follows data collected on over 400 million dogs from veterinary clinics in the UK. Lead author Dr. Dan O’Neill from the Royal Veterinary College said, “German Shepherd Dogs have previously been reported to have the second highest number of health disorders exacerbated by breeding traits, with Great Danes occupying first place.”

Arthritis, hip dysplasia, cancer, degenerative spinal disorders, and osteoarthritis are some of the health issues that German Shepherds and other selectively bred dogs are predisposed to. These breeds are often loved for their specific aesthetic appeal and dispositions. The German Shepherd is unique because it is one of the most popular and widely used breeds today. They fulfill roles in herding, guarding, police, military, and guide-dog work, and actually were bred to be bigger and more confident through the years.

Research from studies like this could have a positive impact on care practices and future breeding for purebred canines like the German Shepherd.

By Kay Vandette, Staff Writer

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