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Old 05-25-2012, 12:58 PM   #16
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I had a mixed breed as a kid, never gave us a moment of trouble. We followed that up with a Husky that had lung problems, an American Eskimo that has had a seizure a month for 12 years, and a Beagle with chronic back problems. Now I have a mixed breed who hasn't had a sick day in her life so far, thank God (we really can't afford vet bills). Definitely digging mutts atm.
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Old 05-25-2012, 01:29 PM   #17
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My parents have the gold standard of pet insurance for their current dog. It's really expensive too, I think in the neighbourhood of about $100/month.

The reason they do is that the old dog had very serious health problems which ended up costing them thousands of dollars to address. He developed epilepsy relatively early in life (about 2-3), eventually the medication he was on caused liver failure, he also developed kidney disease and so on. When they got the next puppy they swore they'd get the insurance to avoid this and the stress each time of taking him to the vet only to be hit with huge bills.

The current dog is now a senior citizen, as he turned 10 earlier this year. His one and only health problem was a yeast infection in his right ear some 7 years ago which was treated with anti-fungals. This dog hasn't had so much as an upset stomach, it's absolutely incredible. And a bit funny that he's got all the insurance he has.

For the record, both dogs I'm talking about are purebred rough Collies.
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:08 PM   #18
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No way, do not have pet insurance and not ever entertaining the idea. From the prices others have quoted me it sounds like a huge rip-off. My dogs are healthy and I stack the deck in my favor based on the pedigree (I realize this isn't an option with shelter/rescue dogs, we took that gamble with Coke). We don't go to the vet unless we need to and I do my own heartworm preventative which costs me $40 per year for up to ten dogs and I only have 3. I can also get my own combo vaccinations which means the only regular thing I need an actual vet for is rabies, which is only required every 3 years here. I don't take my dogs to the vet unless there's something wrong with them and that has been rare, and even in those cases the pet insurance would have still been a total rip off. Nikon cost me about $300 last year with his foot problem but pet insurance would be costing me far more than that and it was a fluke thing. Because cost of living in west Michigan is so low, vet prices are sometimes 2, 3, 4 times less than what they are in other areas of the country. If I have a major emergency I can't cover out of pocket, I'm comfortable opening a line of credit and paying it off within a year.

Also because my GSDs are high level sport and possible breeding prospects they are basically "warrantied" (not common in Europe, very common in the USA) so if one turned out to have a genetic problem, he would be returned to the breeder, neutered, adopted out to a pet home, and I would get a different dog (or, if you're really attached already as I probably would be, you can usually neuter and keep the dog with the problem and get another puppy in addition). Nikon has a genetic problem but it does not effect his ability to be a high level dog or breeding prospect, plus I really love everything about him. So far Pan has been perfectly healthy. Nikon has OFA certified hips and elbows. Pan has hips, elbows, and dentition certified in Germany.

They are pretty much in the clear so far for the common genetic health problems that effect the breed. There are some other things that could still happen but these things tend to occur later in life and tend to present quality of life issues, so not all the money in the world really matters when it comes to making that decision. While pet insurance might help mitigate the costs of treatment/management, depending on the dog and the condition it might not be something I'm willing to even treat.

I do not agree with the current state of health care for humans in this country so I'm not going to support the same model for my pets and let more insurance companies rip me off.

I do have liability coverage for my GSDs as part of my homeowner's insurance though! I've considered getting an additional umbrella policy but with the temperaments of my current dogs it's not necessary (they aren't going to bust out the door and eat someone).
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:22 PM   #19
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I'm interested in your heartworm prevention, Liesje. Can you divulge or is it a trade secret?
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:28 PM   #20
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It's not a secret as long as you don't have a dog with an MDR-1 deficiency (Collies and other herding breeds). I use 1% injectible cattle ivermectin and dose about 8 times stronger than a Heartgard tablet (common heartworm preventative that uses ivermectin as the active ingredient). In my opinion the Heartgard tablets are dosed too low and dogs have gotten heartworm, but they are trying to avoid being blamed for deaths of dogs with MDR-1 deficiency. I don't dilute because my dogs are so large, I don't have trouble dosing with a 1cc syringe but for people with smaller dogs or puppies, dilution with propylene glycol is necessary to get the correct dosage. I give my dogs about .25cc each orally (I "inject" it into/onto a really good treat) once a month. However I should have mentioned above that I do still heartworm test every dog each year (April-ish) so I do go to the vet for that but I take all my dogs at once and am not paying exam fees. If they do have heartworm and you start giving prevention and it kills too many at once it can shock and kill the dog so I check before I start with the ivermectin. I don't do it year-round because it freezes here. I actually started in March this year though because we have had warm weather and had several 80-90 degree days already in March (and then it snowed again go figure).

What kind is your dog and what's the weight? I haven't taken chemistry in so long I had a chemistry professor help me with the dose that I wanted and thought I saved the equation somewhere...
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:43 PM   #21
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Originally Posted by Liesje View Post
It's not a secret as long as you don't have a dog with an MDR-1 deficiency (Collies and other herding breeds). I use 1% injectible cattle ivermectin and dose about 8 times stronger than a Heartgard tablet (common heartworm preventative that uses ivermectin as the active ingredient). In my opinion the Heartgard tablets are dosed too low and dogs have gotten heartworm, but they are trying to avoid being blamed for deaths of dogs with MDR-1 deficiency. I don't dilute because my dogs are so large, I don't have trouble dosing with a 1cc syringe but for people with smaller dogs or puppies, dilution with propylene glycol is necessary to get the correct dosage. I give my dogs about .25cc each orally (I "inject" it into/onto a really good treat) once a month. However I should have mentioned above that I do still heartworm test every dog each year (April-ish) so I do go to the vet for that but I take all my dogs at once and am not paying exam fees. If they do have heartworm and you start giving prevention and it kills too many at once it can shock and kill the dog so I check before I start with the ivermectin. I don't do it year-round because it freezes here. I actually started in March this year though because we have had warm weather and had several 80-90 degree days already in March (and then it snowed again go figure).

What kind is your dog and what's the weight? I haven't taken chemistry in so long I had a chemistry professor help me with the dose that I wanted and thought I saved the equation somewhere...

I'd like that formula too.

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I was being funny on a day I forgot to use my standard -ey guy after trying to be funny, but crossbreeds generally do not have as many health issues or of the type of issue as pure breeds do. My mutt (13 years) is the healthiest dog alive and has needed zero medical intervention save the time he was poisoned due to human error. Meanwhile, every dog owner I know who has insisted on a pure bred dog has had medical issues out the wazoo. I know my evidence is rather anecdotal and the logic blatantly simplistic, but it's fairly widely known that crossbreeds are healthier as a general rule.

Plus, shelters are overrun with them because people only want the "cute" full breeds. You can do an unwanted animal - and your pocketbook - a favor by adopting a crossbreed.
Oh, I know you were probably being silly, that's why I didn't write out a long responses to it. My response was mainly for anyone else that reads this thread and sees that and agrees with the notion.

However, the idea that mutts are healthier isn't scientifically based. There are no statistics that prove this either (most reputable breeders will not allow their dogs to go to shelters and will personally rehome them--the dogs that end up in shelters are almost always the backyard breeders who do not breed for health). It's a complex issue.

It boils down to biology and heterosis. If you breed for good traits and breed out the bad traits you will most likely have a healthy dog. Some breeds are more susceptible to disease than others (and many have been utterly ruined by backyard breeding and over-popularity, with more illnesses). When you breed two animals with a good set of genes, neither of with have any active diseases in recent bloodline history, regardless of their breed, the offspring will most likely be healthy or an improvement of the previous generation. This applies to purebreds AND mutts.

A mutt can easily get the short end of the stick genetically. The healthiest, longest living dog I have ever known was a purebred Springer Spaniel (died 18-19 years of age). I've known so many mutts that had health issues and had to be put down for severe problems before they even hit 10 years. For example, one could argue that a German Shepherd mix with several other breeds could decrease the risk of hip dysplasia, but the genes are still there. The dog will not always get the best of genes. There is no guarantee.

I love mutts though, and would love to have one someday when I can house more dogs. They're great and they need homes too (also unless I was fully prepared to deal with an arsenal of health issues I would not adopt a purebred from a shelter--those were usually very poorly bred). My issue is when people perpetuate this myth that mutts are healthier when they're not.

If you're adopting from a shelter, then yes, the mutt has a better chance. If you're comparing getting a dog from a reputable breeder to getting a mutt that was found off the streets though, your chances of health are better with the reputable breeder.
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:46 PM   #22
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Not my dogs, but my parent's. They have a Labradoodle, Goldendoodle, and West Highland Terrier. No idea on the weights though. I don't currently have a dog, but I know I will again at some point. Maybe you can post the equation if you come across it? I'm not sure that I'd be informed enough to do all that myself, but it would be nice to look into it more when the time comes
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:48 PM   #23
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Coke is our mutt and though none of the dogs have any major health problems he's the *least* healthy of the four (other three are purebred GSDs). He had to have his teeth cleaned at 5 years old, his hip x-rays show some slight remodeling so he will probably have arthritis later on though he does not have hip dysplasia. He is the only dog we've had that gets hot spots. We suspect he's allergic to turkey but can't confirm that, we just don't feed him that anymore.
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:49 PM   #24
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Not my dogs, but my parent's. They have a Labradoodle, Goldendoodle, and West Highland Terrier. No idea on the weights though. I don't currently have a dog, but I know I will again at some point. Maybe you can post the equation if you come across it? I'm not sure that I'd be informed enough to do all that myself, but it would be nice to look into it more when the time comes
You've piqued my curiosity so I'm trying to re-work the math. I could probably give an easy dose for the doodles but the Westie's dose would need to be diluted (though it's still going to be cheaper to DYI the doodles and get the Westie a tablet from the vet).
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:55 PM   #25
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but the genes are still there. The dog will not always get the best of genes. There is no guarantee.
There is no guarantee, but each successive generation will have a greater chance of having that trait bred out (Even then, as you say, there needs to be selective breeding). But if you start out with a breed not known to possess that trait and cross breed, your first generation will have a leg up on the pure bred combination. So just by pure chance, a cross bred animal is less likely than a purebred to display the undesirable trait. Responsible breeding is definitely the key either way
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:58 PM   #26
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There is no guarantee, but each successive generation will have a greater chance of having that trait bred out (Even then, as you say, there needs to be selective breeding). But if you start out with a breed not known to possess that trait and cross breed, your first generation will have a leg up on the pure bred combination. So just by pure chance, a cross bred animal is less likely than a purebred to display the undesirable trait. Responsible breeding is definitely the key either way
This works but IMO careful linebreeding works even better because there are far less unknowns.

Outcrossing to other breeds is not popular among fanciers because most people who want a purebred dog want that dog for specific temperament traits and that gets lost once you start outcrossing based on "pure chance" of better health. I'm actually more picky about temperament than I am about health. Looking at a pedigree, I'm more willing to take a gamble on, say, hip dysplasia than I am on nerve.
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Old 05-25-2012, 02:59 PM   #27
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Oops, I added it into my post too late. I'd be interested in that formula.

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There is no guarantee, but each successive generation will have a greater chance of having that trait bred out (Even then, as you say, there needs to be selective breeding). But if you start out with a breed not known to possess that trait and cross breed, your first generation will have a leg up on the pure bred combination. So just by pure chance, a cross bred animal is less likely than a purebred to display the undesirable trait. Responsible breeding is definitely the key either way
Not if you don't know which dogs are being added into that equation because other health problems are added in as well. For every health problem you rule out another from some other breed can get added in. Cancer, hip dysplasia, deafness, blindness, heart problems, joint problems, etc can all be added into the mix here. Ultimately it's about the breeding, not the breeds. Many of the breeds today were developed after years of cross breeding various breeds to combine a good one so I'm not opposed to it, but careful cross breeding will usually result in an entirely different breed (a new breed, a purebred) and thus the cycle will continue.
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Old 05-25-2012, 03:15 PM   #28
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I can't speak too much for inbreeding of dogs, because I don't know any of the specifics numbers (I'll take Liesje's word for it. She's the resident expert), but just from a purely genetic point of view, a mutt, even with it's mix of all different breeds, each with it's own problems, is more in line with natural selection and natural genetic variation. Without a doubt, the more genetic variation, the healthier the animal. I'm still talking pure chance though. Since there's a high level of unnatural selection going on with dogs, it probably skews that a little more back toward the middle
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Old 05-25-2012, 03:21 PM   #29
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I don't necessarily disagree, Jive, but the problem is that what you're talking about doesn't exist. Even the worst breeders out there don't breed at random, so there is no natural selection or pure chance when it comes to domestic dog breeds that have now been selectively bred for thousands of years. Since no one is going to condone allowing domestic breeds to mate at random, the best way to stack the odds in favor of a healthy dog is to examine the lineage of the dogs and what genetic disorders are common in the breed. Hybrid vigor is IMO too simplistic. Most if not all common genetic disorders in domestic dogs are polygenic (meaning they cannot be predicted with a simply punnett square). If they weren't then we wouldn't still be dealing with them. Since even decades of careful selective breeding and expensive research hasn't come close to eradicating these diseases, I highly doubt pairing dogs at random is the cure. A dog with hip dysplasia can still produce an OFA Excellent offspring and vice versa whether the dog is a 1/8 mix or a purebred German shepherd back to the breed's founding dog. As in Nikon's case, we don't breed dogs with TVS to other dogs with TVS and yet....we still have dogs with TVS. It's not as simple as just not breeding dogs that actually express a genetic disorder to those that don't (or leave it up to natural selection and luck).
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Old 05-25-2012, 03:22 PM   #30
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Neither is really better. There are certain breeds out there that are so riddled with problems a mutt is more likely to be healthier, and others that are not. A lot of different things factor into this.


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I don't necessarily disagree, Jive, but the problem is that what you're talking about doesn't exist. Even the worst breeders out there don't breed at random, so there is no natural selection or pure chance when it comes to domestic dog breeds that have now been selectively bred for thousands of years. Since no one is going to condone allowing domestic breeds to mate at random, the best way to stack the odds in favor of a healthy dog is to examine the lineage of the dogs and what genetic disorders are common in the breed. Hybrid vigor is IMO too simplistic. Most if not all common genetic disorders in domestic dogs are polygenic. If they weren't then we wouldn't still be dealing with them. Since even decades of careful selective breeding and expensive research hasn't come close to eradicating these diseases, I highly doubt pairing dogs at random is the cure.
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