Monday 24 October 2016

When Freddie rolled on his back, something was missing

Maeve noticed that an important part of his anatomy was not there

Maeve knew about the importance of choosing a genuine, top-quality breeder when buying a new puppy. She found a reputable breeder in the west with puppies that were soon to be ready for a home.

Maeve was able to visit the home to see where her pup had been born and reared. She met both the father and the mother of the pups, gaining an idea of how the young would turn out: they were friendly, good-natured dogs.

And the breeder had certificates that confirmed both parents had undergone tests on their eyes and their hips, demonstrating that they were free of inherited disorders. So far, so good.

Maeve was happy that she had done as much as possible to be assured she was buying a good quality puppy. She chose a male, and that's when the issue started. The breeder asked her if she wanted to breed from him, and then seemed relieved when she said "no".

Maeve only wanted the dog as a pet. It seemed odd to be asked this question, but she thought no more of it. The pup, named Freddie, was a gorgeous bundle of fluff, and as soon as he arrived home, everyone wanted to visit him and play with him.

When Maeve's sister called around, Freddie was rolling around on his back, playing, and that's when the question came up: did he have the normal "male tackle"?

None of Maeve's family are used to checking out this type of detail, so Maeve brought Freddie up to see me. When I examined him, the problem was obvious: Freddie had "retained testicles".

In a normal puppy, the testicles descend into the scrotum and can be seen when the pup rolls on his back. In Freddie's case, there was no scrotum, and no testicles.

There's only one likely reason for this: the testicles had not descended. When male pups form in the womb, the testicles develop beside the kidneys, but in the first days or weeks of life they normally descend into the scrotum.

In some pups, like Freddie, they don't descend: instead, they remain in the abdomen. This doesn't cause any short-term problem, but there are three long-term issues.

First, you can't breed from male dogs with retained testicles since it's often a hereditary condition, and there is a high chance that any pups born to Freddie would also have retained testicles.


Second, dogs with retained testicles need to be castrated while the animals are young adults - if the testicles are left in the abdomen, they are likely to become cancerous.

The warm surroundings of the abdomen cause the testicular cells to multiply more rapidly than in the normal, cooler area of the scrotum, leading to a high risk of cancer.

Third, the operation to castrate a dog with retained testicles is more complicated (and so more expensive) than a normal operation, because a search has to be carried out inside the abdomen to locate the undescended testicles.

It's more like a bitch spay than a normal dog castration.

For these reasons, puppies with retained testicles are less desirable than normal pups, and they are normally sold at a cheaper price.

The breeder didn't mention this to Maeve, but she feels that this may be why she was asked if she wanted to breed from him.

As a result, Maeve feels a little hard done by: it would have been preferable if the breeder had mentioned the issue and given Maeve a small discount in recompense.

Freddie may not be a perfect pup in every way, but Maeve reckons he's still the ideal pet for her home.

> A vet check-up is vital after buying a new puppy

> There are sometimes issues that new owners may not be aware of

> It's worth paying a little extra for a healthy pup, but you need to be sure that this is the case

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