What health problems are present in the breed?
Know the answer to this question. It isn’t terribly difficult to find the common health concerns for any breed. If looking at a hybrid dog research each parent breed carefully. Be aware that the vast majority of diseases are common in most breeds. So just because a parent breed in a hybrid dog doesn’t list the disease as “common” it doesn’t mean the breed is free from that disorder.
A hybrid breeder that claims they breed first generation dogs and therefore they are all free of health problems is an idiot and someone to run away from. They are either willfully ignorant or they are a greedy liar. Either way I proclaim them all idiots and I’d tell them all so if I thought it would change their breeding practices (but it wouldn’t).
If a breeder says there are no health problems, cites “hybrid vigor” or states that she has never had dogs with health problems “never in my dogs!” she is a dirty liar. This is a breeder to immediately discontinue communication with. This is one of those “deal breaker” answers.
Every single breeder has had health problems in their dogs at some point or another. They all should test carefully and every dog that has ever died on the property should have had a necropsy (animal autopsy) performed to find out the reasons for the animal’s death; regardless of the animal’s age. This information is invaluable and necropsies are performed free of charge by good veterinarians. There is absolutely no reason not to do this unless the breeder doesn’t care.
The breeder should be able to give you a detailed list of health disorders that can occur in the breed and should give you a short list of the most common ailments. The breeder should also be able to tell you which tests are available to seriously limit diseases with a genetic component and which diseases are much more difficult to eradicate; be they not-genetic and/or for other reasons.
It is not enough that the breeder simply state that the dogs are tested. The breeder should be willing to show you the paperwork to prove that the dogs are tested, both via DNA tests and yearly health examinations by veterinary specialists.
The breeder that says these tests “don’t work” or are too unreliable to bother with is also a dirty liar (I’m avoiding saying “big fat liar” because the stereotype that being big and/or fat is always “bad” is hurtful and untrue. I know I’ve written that phrase in the past since it is a common vernacular. Please excuse me if I have. I have been overweight before and I know phrases like that can be very hurtful).
DNA testing is extremely reliable (nearly 100%) and yearly health screenings don’t eliminate risk but they can absolutely limit it and none of these tests are cost prohibitive for even the smallest scale “hobby” breeder. If you could have a test performed for $100 (only one time needed for the dog’s lifetime) and be able to guarantee pups free from a certain disease, would you do it?
If having these tests and breeding two “clear” dogs means that you’d only infrequently need to test offspring you keep for breeding since they’d be “clear by parentage”. This is a minor investment. Would you test your dogs? Of course you would!
What about yearly exams that cost less than $100 per dog. There is no reason not to have these tests done. These testing practices should amount to less than one litter per year.
A hobby breeder can easily afford to have these tests done. I know personally because I am a small time hobby breeder and I price my dogs well below market value and donate many and I’m able to completely fund the program with the puppy-money. Only the most expensive DNA tests cost around $250 and the rest are around the $100 mark. There is no reason not to have these tests performed other than the desire to turn a larger profit. Greedy scum. Avoid breeders that don’t test and be frank about your reason for looking elsewhere. Perhaps if enough potential buyers make this statement a greedy private breeder will begin to test their dogs.