The disease of Canine Infertility must be infecting show dog breeding plans as fewer dogs are shown each year.
Canine Infertility Disease
Barbara J. Andrews, TheDogPlace.org Publisher
2017 research confirmed that infertility disease targets quality purebred dogs, devastating fixed-goal breeding plans and further reducing participation in AKC dog shows.
Prior to 2010 huge litters were not rare but by the end of the decade litter records began to reveal a notable decline in litter size. In fact, a disproportionally high rate of sterility or reduced litter size in "high end" purebred dogs became evident. We have kept tabs on this confounding disease and arrived at a troubling diagnosis.
Sterility does not appear to infect puppy mill breeding stock. While some purpose-bred guide, service, or ranch dogs may be immune to infertility disease as a result of less exposure to the general population, the crashing fertility rate in quality purebreds cannot be ignored.
Canine infertility disease emerged in 2000 but wasn’t validated until 2005 when researchers were startled by a 22% reduction in AKC show dog fertility rates. By 2010, an epidemic was confirmed by a whopping 50% decline in the birth rate of top quality purebred dogs as demonstrated by AKC registration statistics!
There appears to be no treatment for the disease or perhaps it is just that few veterinarians willing to address the affliction. There is sound business logic in that position. The number of vets who welcome show breeder clients is vastly exceeded by younger veterinary school graduates who are less interested in the complexities of canine reproduction than in the more profitable business of performing spay/neuter surgeries. As a business model, this makes perfectly good sense. Spaying and neutering a shelter dog presents far less risk than performing a caesarian section on a valuable breeding bitch.
Canine Infertility Disease does not appear treatable. In fact, the decline in purebred birth rates has no effect on a veterinarian’s bottom line. It is possible the vet's office will run out of purebred dogs to spay/neuter but the canine infertility epidemic does not seem to affect mongrels. According to Humane Society statistics, there is such a staggering canine over-population that shelters are forced to kill incalculable numbers of dogs every year! Of course, those are not purebred puppies - those are sold to would-be adopters.
So with infertility infecting the show-bred dog population, how will the upscale family find a purebred puppy? Most will not bother to search for a “real breeder” because pet shops and online outlets are handier. Just as there are pork, poultry, and beef producers, there are kitten and puppy producers. Also regulated by USDA (which fails to control e-coli and other diseases associated with mass produced foods), puppy mills are more likely to produce diseased and/or emotionally deprived puppies that can’t properly adjust to a home environment.
The irony is that the breeding stock of commercial pet producers is immune to Canine Infertility Disease. Perhaps the disease has been removed from the gene pool by careful selection, keeping only the most fertile stock. Proof is that their fertile bitches pump out litter after litter until the reproductive systems fails whereupon the individual factory unit is destroyed.
Sadly, AKC litter registration records indicate only the highest quality purebreds are susceptible to infertility disease. One would think infertility disease in top show bloodlines would have been vigorously researched. Health being a prime consideration, the American Kennel Club established the Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF). It also strongly supports the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) which certifies freedom from a fast-growing list of health defects. The irony is that the American Kennel Club does not seem at all interested in a cure for Canine Infertility Disease even though it seems to only infect high-end show dog breeding stock.
As “show breeders” drop out and are no longer engaged in stabilizing the market for healthy, breed-typical puppies, more storefront pet shops offer cute puppies to impulse buyers. Most have never heard of the American Kennel Club, much less the AKC/CHF or the OFA. They have no way of knowing there is a vast difference in the quality of the product and the guarantees offered by show breeders as compared to commercial breeding factories, frequently referred to as "puppy mills". Indeed, impulse buyers don’t usually care if the puppy is “registered” with or “certified” by AKC. They just want a puppy with no strings, whether it is a purebred, crossbred (Designer Dog), or shelter dog.
Thus, Canine Infertility Disease may not be a problem after all. The number of dedicated show breeders has declined proportionate to the increase in puppy mill production. We can safely assume that Canine Infertility Disease is "self limiting" and therefore needs no action, research, or funding from the American Kennel Club or the veterinary profession.
OK, this was written with sarcasm and a touch of humor but the fact is that we are outnumbered by the puppy mill breeders. The AKC Board renamed them Commercial Breeders which they think "sounds better". That was before we suspected how involved AKC really was with the Puppy Mills... And that is about the same time show-bred litter registrations began to decline.