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Many people looking for a puppy are so happy to find one that they may let their guard down. Even I have made that mistake early on. You might think you just want a pet to love and you don't need a purebred, but if your puppy or older dog contracts a genetic disease the heartache of watching it fail is heart-breaking and the costs can be devastating. A dog with a hidden Thyroid condition could become intolerant of other dogs, or worse yet, of people. In fact, in one study of 1500 dogs that suffered from behavioral problems, 60% of them had thyroid issues. Do you have children or other family members that might be impacted by this? Imagine how you would feel if your Irish Setter went blind due to poor breeding and lack of proper testing for PRA? Irish Setters with CLAD can present with lameness, failure to gain weight, pus filled skin eruptions, bone infections, boils or more! I have read on the Irish Setter forums about dogs which seemed healthy but over time it became evident their dog had serious issues such as these. It is needless, and that is why I, and the various breed clubs, encourage people to do their homework!
Irish Setters (and other purebred dogs) have been labelled as "crazy", "mean", "untrainable", "stupid" and much worse. Most of these labels come from people's experiences with poorly bred dogs. If a breeder is willing to sell you a purebred without papers for a lower cost, run away quickly! This is totally unethical. Remember, it is illegal in Canada to sell a dog as a purebred without supplying registration papers free. The seller must register and transfer the ownership of the dog to the buyer at no cost. This is protected by the ANIMAL PEDIGREE ACT. The potential cost is high both emotionally and financially. All too often these dogs (as well as so many "designer dogs" such as Golden Irish or Irish Doodles) are over-priced and run a high risk of genetic disorders. Commonly, if you mix a breed such as these, the progeny tend to carry the "bad" genes. Some of these breeders claim that tests are done. Some claim the dogs are purebred because both of the parents were purebred. If you really want this puppy, tell the breeder you want them to register the dog and provide copies of all genetic (and other) testing of the parents in accordance with the Animal Pedigree Act and the Canadian Kennel Club (or similar club according to your location.) If they won't provide those things, then you are purchasing a pup that is NOT purebred and is NOT tested for common breed illness, therefore any price should be much, much lower. You might have to wait for a purebred puppy from a reputable breeder, but at least you can rest assured that puppies are not a business, but a means of improving the breed or gene pool and that breeder will have done everything they are able to do to help ensure your puppy will be your cherished companion for well more than a decade. A well-bred, health-tested dog is WORTH the wait.
In addition, in our crazy world there are dogs being sold as purebred that are NOT purebred. Most of the time this means the dog inherits a lot of poor genetics. There are reasons that breeders sell dogs on a non-breeder's contract. It usually means they know there are strong reasons that this dog should NOT be bred - thus any of their offspring will not be eligible for registration with the CKC and MAY NOT be sold as purebred. I have seen dogs like this sold for thousands and thousands of dollars! In fact, many times I have seen them being sold for more than a show quality pup from a dam and sire with Championships with complete health testing and guarantees. Even if you are told they have been health tested, ask for the proof! I just can't stress it enough.... even if you don't want a "show dog" you should ask for and be provided with a generational pedigree, copies of both sire and dam's CKC Registration, a written guarantee and copies of all health tests performed on the sire and dam.
Please take a moment to read this message put out by the Irish Setter Club of Canada.