Healthier pedigree pets
It is really important to be aware of the potential health problems suffered by pedigree dogs, cats and rabbits before you adopt or buy a pedigree pet.
Pedigree pets have been bred to look or behave a certain way. Over time, this has meant that some breeds have developed very exaggerated features like flat faces, wrinkly skin or very short legs. Sadly, a lot of these features don’t just affect the way a pet looks – they also cause painful health problems and welfare issues.
Getting a pedigree pet
We’d always recommend thinking carefully before you buy or rescue a pedigree breed because of the health and welfare issues they face. Some things to think about are:
- Have you done your research and are you aware of all the health problems these breeds can have?
- Will you be able to afford the vet fees if your pet does develop a serious health problem?
- Make sure you consider pet insurance that will cover the potential health problems of these breeds, but bear in mind that their insurance policy might be more expensive than other breeds.
- Are your prepared for the upset if your much-loved pet gets sick?
If you decide to go ahead, think about ways you can choose a healthier, happier pet:
- Think about getting a different breed without a flat face. Take a look at our guide to dog breeds and cat breeds to find out more.
- Consider a crossbreed. They have similar personalities and looks to full breeds but often have less exaggerated features. This means they have a lower risk of the serious health problems.
- Make sure you buy from a good breeder who has the best interests of the litter at heart. Flat-faced dogs are so popular at the moment that there’s a high chance of puppies being illegally imported or from puppy farms. Read more advice on getting a puppy and getting a kitten.
- Choose a pet without the extremely exaggerate features. For example, a pet with the longest possible muzzle, fewer wrinkles, or longer legs.
- Whenever buying a puppy, always use the free-to-download Puppy Contract, to help you ask the right questions and have peace of mind that you are choosing a healthy, happy puppy.
- Make sure your pet’s parents have been health tested to check they don’t have any problems they might have passed on to your pet. You can find out more about these tests on the Kennel Club and Governing Body of Cat Fancy websites.
Doing your research: ‘How do I know which breeds are healthy?’
It is a good idea to do as much research as possible on your chosen breed, before you buy a puppy. Take a look at our information about different breeds to find out about their personality, exercise needs and any health problems they’re more likely to develop:
A lot of the health problems pedigree pets have are because they’ve been bred to look a certain way. You can pick a healthier pet by avoiding breeds with these extreme features Common features that cause welfare issues are:
- Flat faces and short snouts. Read more about flat-faced breeds and the health problems they face.
- Wrinkly skin that can become infected.
- Long or sloping backs which make back pain more likely.
- Short legs which can cause arthritis.
- Very large or very small ears, which can lead to infections.
Pedigree dog health
Find out more about the possible health problems pedigree dog breeds can suffer from.
Advice for owners
Do you have a flat-faced dog? Here's some advice from our vets on maintaining their health and the treatments available to help them breathe more easily.