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Sniffing Out Deceptive Advertising

Are you dreaming of a happy, healthy puppy to join your family? On your journey, you are bound to find countless scams, puppy mills, and other irresponsible breeders. How can you find a breeder you trust is responsible? Your first step is to learn what qualities make a breeder responsible (we hope you will agree that health testing is an essential requirement you will demand from any breeder). However, even if a well-informed puppy buyer has done their research, shady breeders know all the right things to say, and are able to ripoff buyers by mimicking the terminology of responsible breeders.

So how can you sniff out a suspicious breeder? Here are examples of common deceptive advertising terms to be wary of:

1. Describe their dogs as “triple clear

2. Describe their dogs as "health checked" or “vet checked

3. Describe their dogs as “fully genetically health tested for 200+ conditions

4. “My vet says my dogs are perfectly healthy, they've never had any health issues.

5. Describe dogs as “line clear” or “clear by parentage

1. Describe their dogs as “triple clear

This phrase is an automatic red flag and should disqualify a breeder from your consideration. It is clever marketing designed to trick buyers into believing there are only 3 conditions corgis need to be tested for. Simply describing a parent or puppy as “triple clear” means the breeder did not bother with other important health tests. Ironically, one of the 3 tests included in the moniker of “triple clear” is EIC (Exercise Induced Cardiomyopathy), which is not a necessary or relevant test for corgis.

2. Describe their dogs as "health checked" or “vet checked

An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Before breeding, parent dogs must be health tested to determine if they could pass on deleterious genes or poor body structure that will cause illness and/or injury later in life. A health check is not the same as a health test. Before a puppy goes home from a breeder, a vet check/health check will tell you whether or not a puppy is currently healthy, superficially. They can confirm that a puppy is not obviously, outwardly sick, but that doesn’t reflect whether the dog will grow up to be healthy. A vet can’t see “under the hood” to confirm their health in more detail. Although it is important for a puppy to come home with a vet check, it is not the same as preventative health testing.

3. Describe their dogs as “fully genetically tested for 200+ conditions

Genetic testing is only one part of health testing. For any breed, there are a handful of conditions that can be tested for, using a mouth swab to collect DNA. However, tests like Embark include results for conditions that never occur in particular breeds. There may only be 6 tests relevant to a particular breed, and bragging about the others is completely misleading. For corgis, the 2 relevant tests offered by Embark are DM and PRA (and vWD for Pembrokes). Irresponsible breeders want to hang their hat on the cheap genetic testing alone, when the more important testing is phenotype (physical) evaluations.

4. “My vet says my dogs are perfectly healthy, they've never had any health issues”.

Is the veterinarian a reproductive specialist? A dog may be healthy on the day of an exam, but they need more than just a lookover by the vet to be considered healthy enough to reproduce. Genetic health tests and specific physical health tests are required to know whether a dog is likely to pass on healthy traits. Most significant health issues won't surface until later in life, so irresponsible breeders won't be aware of a health concern until well after a dog has already produced puppies, and the families who love them have to deal with the consequences.

No dog is perfect, and it is fishy for a breeder to suggest otherwise. Even the most experienced breeders doing the very best health testing can produce puppies with health issues, but they are knowledgeable and transparent about those possibilities. Irresponsible breeders don't bother to keep track of where their puppies go, nor their long term health outcomes. Even if most dogs are healthy enough that they physically CAN reproduce, a responsible breeder evaluates if a dog SHOULD reproduce by understanding the qualities a dog has to offer the next generation.

5. Describe their dogs as “line clear” or “clear by parentage

These are terms that can be legit, but you should trust but verify. A dog would be called line clear or clear by parentage if both parents were tested for a condition, and both were confirmed to be clear (carry no copies of a gene). You can logically assume that a puppy produced by breeding one clear dog to another clear dog would also be clear, and therefore not require testing. However, irresponsible breeder have learned to use this phrase so buyers won't ask to see health test results. If a breeder uses this term, just ask to see proof of testing results for the most recently tested generation.

Keep in mind that accidents can happen when testing - a dog could receive a false negative result (labeled as clear when they are a carrier with one copy or affected with two copies) or receive a false positive result (labeled as a carrier or affected when they are actually clear). There is always the possibility, however small, of innocent/unintentional human error somewhere in the testing process, or clerical errors in the paperwork. Therefore most breeders will occasionally test subsequent generations to confirm a clear status.

We are adamant that health testing is essential requirement for any breeder, and we implore you to request proof of the following health tests. Like the stereotype of a used car salesman, irresponsible breeders will use excuses, lies, and underhanded tactics to dupe buyers. Once you "drive off the lot" with your puppy, long term health issues aren't their concern. Don’t settle for less - your family and the puppy they love deserve better.

Minimum health testing required for Cardigan Welsh Corgis

  • Hip X-Rays (OFA or PennHIP)

  • Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

  • Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

  • Companion Animal Eye Registry (CAER)

  • Brucellosis (prior to breeding)

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