Breeding Dogs with Known Health Issues?

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, March 16, 2018
Short and long-coated American Alsatian puppies

QUESTION: Is there ever a reason to breed a dog with a known health issue?

ANSWER: As you know, great health is, and has always been, the Dire Wolf Project's number one goal because without great health, the dogs that we cherish so much suffer. We constantly and diligently work to eliminate all health issues from the breed as quickly as possible with as less damage to the breed as possible. We do not compromise on this issue, no matter what others may believe about us.

That being said, it is always good to remember that we are not God and sometimes health issues creep up when we least expect them. It is always extremely heart wrenching when we find that one of our dogs has acquired a health issue. We grieve just as deeply with the owners and we honor our lifetime health guarantee each and every time.

That being said, there are times when it becomes necessary to breed a particular dog with a known health issue, on purpose, when, and only when, it is the only way to eliminate the health issue completely from the breed [or line] as quickly as possible. Indeed, this may temporarily produce a few puppies who may become affected with the condition, but the overall health of the entire breed and the puppies within the breed's future would otherwise be at stake if we did not make this very difficult decision. It is worth noting that breeding a dog with a known health issue on purpose for the purposes of cleaning out the health issue from the entire breed is practiced with caution and is extremely rare.

So, yes, there are three reasons why we might breed a dog with a known health issue.
1. The health issue in question is not known to be genetic in nature and we would lose important genetic traits within the breed if we did not breed the dog.
2. We want to completely eliminate the health issue from further plaguing the breed and at the same time do not want to lose a particular line from the breed, causing valuable genetic diversity to be lost.
3. The health issue is extremely minor in nature, such as CMR, and we can easily take the chance that puppies will never become affected in order to continue to work on eliminating the health issue from the breed without eliminating a valuable contributing line of dogs.

There are those who adamantly disagree with this rare, but necessary, practice. How can we ever knowingly produce puppies who may become affected by a health issue? The answer is because the entire breed as a collective is more important than one, single individual. It is for the sake of the entire breed that we must make such a careful decision. Luckily, it is very rarely required and, as always, we will remain open and honest about it when it is required.

Unfortunately, some take this information about us, twist it using it to turn others against us. That is no concern of ours. There are those that cannot, or will not, understand the very difficult reasons we do what we do. They will take what I have spoken here, honestly and openly, to others in order to feed their hatred of us. We do not concern ourselves with them. We must not engage their petty, hate-filled lives.

If someone has a question about something that we do, please ask. As we have always been, we are honest to a fault. haha. We do, however, require that you ask with respect.

We would like to send you a free gift for spending some time with us at the Dire Wolf Project.

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Jennifer Stoeckl is the co-founder of the Dire Wolf Project, founder of the DireWolf Guardians American Dirus Dog Training Program, and owner/operator of DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito. She lives in the beautiful inland northwest among the Ponderosa pine forests with her pack of American Dirus dogs.