TERMS AND CONDITIONS OF SALE

Prospective buyers must familiarise themselves with the terms and conditions as set out below and are encouraged to ask clarity seeking questions, before buying a puppy.

  1. Whilst we take all precautions to reduce the prevalence of common genetic conditions, the purchase of a German Shepherd Dog puppy is associated with the inherent risk of known genetic conditions, suspected genetic conditions, latent defects and other rare conditions which may or may not have a genetic link. Considering that all necessary steps have been taken to reduce the prevalence of these conditions and that as responsible breeders we do not breed with affected parents. In addition, because carriers cannot be directly identified we cannot take responsibility for the occurrence of any such defects manifesting itself at any stage albeit that the defect is of proven genetic origin. Likewise, we as the seller cannot take responsibility for the unfortunate events where puppies contract the infectious disease after the sale. The breeder can therefore not compensate the buyer for any loss or damage they might have incurred. The purchase of a puppy is truly voetstoots. 

  2. The buyer must satisfy himself/herself through discussion with the breeder that the dog is suitable for the purpose that it is bought. The act of taking the dog into procession is accepted as an indication that the buyer accepts that the dog is suitable for the purpose that the buyer purchases the dog.

  3. We do not sell dogs through a 3rd party (an agent). The person with whom the puppy will stay, even if someone else pays for the dog, will be seen as the legal owner (hereinafter referred to as the “new owner”) of the dog. The new owner must complete and sign the agreement and by doing so indicates acceptance of the terms and conditions as set out.

  4. The dog is sold as a pet, i.e. kept for companionship.

  5. Kazandi breeds under the breed regulations as promulgated by the German Shepherd Dog Federation of South Africa. 

  6. The dog is sold to the new owner subject to the new owner’s acceptance of the risk inherent to livestock in general and more specifically subject to the risk more associated with big breeds of dogs and more in particular German Shepherd Dogs.

  7. The new owner is made aware that dogs are susceptible to illnesses for which the new owner accepts the risk. The new owner, by taking the dog in possession, acknowledges that he/she is familiar with the illnesses associated with German Shepherd Dogs or if not familiar, acknowledges that German Shepherd Dogs are susceptible to illnesses or genetic abnormalities for which the breeder cannot be held responsible.

  8. The new owner must take the opportunity to inspect the animal personally or appoint someone to do so on his/her behalf, to satisfy the new owner that the dog is sound in all respects and in a good condition and state of health.

  9. The right to inspect will be at the premises of the breeder and such right must be exercised before delivery, which is deemed to have taken place irrespective of whether the dog is transported to the buyer at his/her request.

  10. The breeder will administer the basic inoculation regime (4, 6 and 8-week inoculation). If, at the behest of the buyer, the dog is kept at the breeder’s premises, after the basic inoculation regime was completed any additional inoculation and or deworming costs, as well as kenneling fees, shall be refunded to the breeder by the buyer. The buyer will receive a breeder inoculation and deworming certificate.

  11. We strongly advise that the puppy is presented to your own trusted vet within strictly 5 days of purchase and you are welcome to get a refund if your veterinarian recommends the return of such puppy based on some finding made and that he/she puts this in writing. This offer to refund expires in 5 days from signing this buy and sell agreement.

Communication to breeders and prospective puppy buyers regarding genetics and disease

Letter written by:

Dr.K.G.M. De Cramer

BVSc MMedVet (Gyn) PhD

Veterinary Surgeon

Veterinary specialist animal reproduction

Extra-ordinary lecturer, University of Pretoria

Rant en Dal Animal Hospital

Mogale City

South Africa

+27 11 6603110/9

 

Dear All

 

With this communication, I will try hard to clarify the misunderstandings surrounding the horrid word “genetic”. This issue has always been a scourge to breeders. Despite many attempts at clarifying all the complexities regarding genetic improvement, this information is not adequately dispersed to the end consumer (new pet owner that buys a puppy). This reluctance to adequately and directly inform potential buyers about all the risks stems from almost all breeders that feel repressed to unreservedly share all the associated risks when selling a puppy. Breeders should please stop allowing themselves to feel both guilty and accountable for everything that may or may not happen following the sale of livestock. Breeders are not selling a German precision made apparatus that comes with all sorts of guarantees and is manufactured under standard conditions in a controlled environment. The latter is the equivalent in the biological world of being able to finally select the perfect (or near-perfect) specimen and henceforth just clone that specimen to demand and we all know exactly what we are selling and the client receives a known entity and knows exactly what to expect. In the real world, this is not so. Just like we do not know how our children will turn out we also do not know how an individual puppy is going to turn out. This is because we are producing a biological product and not a piece of equipment or apparatus. Biological beings are subject to genetic influences and environmental influences.

 

So now I introduce the horrid word genetic again. So here is the inconvenient truth for all to consider. It has been adequately documented that genes play a role (to some varying degree) in the manifestation of a disease, syndrome, condition, trait and so forth. The conditions are too many to mention. Even susceptibility to disease (e.g. parvo) varies according to breed and individual variation even within a litter. Breeders should no longer even ask the question of whether a particular condition is genetic or not. The only question they should ask is whether they are doing everything in their power to prevent it. To clarify this, I would like to draw some parallels to human conditions. Diabetes in humans, for instance, is genetic is some people, is aggravated by obesity and diet and may result secondary to other concomitant disease or medication or may arise from an unknown origin. The bottom line is the deed was done when you were dealt your genetic cards and all you can do know is to minimise risk by living as healthy a lifestyle as you can and can afford and live with the outcome. Likewise, if we look at HD for instance in the dog, if you breed a breed where it is known that this breed has a high enough prevalence of HD to belong to a HD health scheme to limit the prevalence in the offspring you produce, you have done exactly all you should and all you can. There is and should be no subsequent shame if indeed there is such occurrence. Indeed, you should expect and anticipate the production of puppies that have HD. This is because the HD scheme is not perfect. Only genetically based tests are near perfect and allow us to effectively eliminate and near eradicate a genetic disease. For polygenetic disorders, we are far away from that goal. Hence the result is that when we breed a breed where HD is a known entity then there is a risk. This risk should be accepted by breeders and should be adequately communicated to potential buyers as well. It should also be communicated that this risk is the risk that the new owner takes. With regards to guarantees that breeders give, I advise the following. The only guarantee that you give is that you do not breed with affected HD dogs and that you do belong to a HD eradication scheme. The choice of whether you as breeder wish to give guarantees or not remains a personal choice. However, it is not a good idea to give any guarantees whatsoever in regards to anything. Some breeders are under the erroneous impression that by refunding a dog that they sold that they will retain their good name and reputation. What is more likely to happen is that the owner just thinks (and tells everyone that wishes to listen) that the dog was refunded as an admission of guilt and you have achieved nothing and it has cost you money and unfairly so. What is also likely to happen is that the disgruntled owner may claim money from you because they have had veterinary expenses and by having refunded the dog you have in his or her mind already admitted guilt and you should cough up for this as well. Replacing a dog is even a worse option. Statistically, you are again subject to change. The chance may indeed be that the new owner gets the same problem again or indeed a couple more, totally unforeseen, unexpected and so unfortunate. This is called “Murphy’s law”.

 

Before we move away from HD I would like to introduce the concept of environmental influence. Yes, indeed there is an environmental influence in the manifestation of HD. Presuming you have given appropriate advice regarding nutrition, overfeeding etc. then again you have done your duty. I am personally not interested in the debate of how much environment contributes to the manifestation of a genetic condition. All I am interested in is knowing what conclusive evidence there is and applying that information such as overfeeding before skeletal maturity has been achieved and how it relates to HD in large breeds. The breeder has no control over what the new owner does anyway. Breeders should also not be obsessed with this environmental influence and integrate it too much in their justification of why HD manifested. All that matters is that they as breeders have done the right thing (belong to a scheme and gave appropriate advice) the rest is left to chance and accepted risk by informed consent to the new owner. Many sceptics out there may think that I am being heartless and insensitive to those poor new owners that have now purchased a puppy at great expense and subsequently have the heartache of a dog that suffers greatly from HD, needs chronic medication and are burdened with huge veterinary expenses for surgery or worst-case scenario, may have to euthanize their beloved pet. Others may think that because I service breeders I play the music my clients wish to hear. Neither is true. I have made every effort towards genetic health and general wellbeing of pets. In my opinion, the wellbeing of the pets and evidence-based information to achieve this is the only aspect that matters, nothing else. In this regard, I have written hundreds of layman articles, presented many dozens of seminars to veterinarians and breeders, have published widely in scientific journals and partaken in many continued education endeavours. Unfortunately, it has done little to appease the client out there. That has now become the responsibility of the breeders themselves. My last word on taking any form of responsibility for a disorder is the following. There is a very unfair and incorrect notion by many owners (and unfortunately some veterinarians too) that genetic is synonymous with preventable. This incorrect notion then encourages owners to seek compensation for their loss and grief implies wrongdoing on behalf of breeders when misfortune is diagnosed in puppies they may have sold. Unfortunately, the pet insurance companies (probably due to misinformation) contribute to this erroneous notion. Pet insurance companies ask on their forms whether the condition is genetic or not. Why they do this I do not know. Probably because it will influence the decision of whether the condition is covered or not. What it unfortunately does, however, is that it creates the impression that the condition is preventable. Furthermore, it asks a question which is answered untruthfully and in many cases unscientifically. Vets avoid ticking that box. The scientific truth is that most conditions and even illness have a genetic base to them. That evidence is there. What the pet insurance companies should rather do to manage their claim-risk is to exclude conditions by name or adjust their premiums according to whether the insured wants this or that included or not. 

 

I have only touched on one defect namely HD. There are numerous others. Entropion, ED, pannus, hemivertebrae, slip discs, wobblers, exocrine pancreatic insufficiency, skin fold dermatitis, stenotic nares, elongated palate’s, split palate’s, hernias, allergies, IBD, laryngeal paralyses, retinal and eye problems of all sorts, heart-related problems, neurological conditions etc. etc. They all, to some extent, have a genetic background. Are you going to take responsibility for those also? Can you test for them all? Are you going to keep on feeling responsible and accountable for what nature has installed?

 

Caution should also be exercised with being too liberal regarding taking responsibility for infectious disease soon after the sale of puppies. Puppies are very vulnerable to infectious disease at this stage due to weaning stress, hierarchical stress exposure to foreign pathogens, change in diet and other stressors. Parvovirus is of particular importance in this regard. The incubation period (time from exposure to falling ill) for parvo is typically three to five days for most dogs but may be extended to 14 days (though very uncommon). So if breeders were to consider giving guarantees they should only consider to do so for a maximum of 5 days. Remember that they should only consider to refund and not under any circumstance consider to take responsibility for any veterinary costs that the new owner may have incurred in the meanwhile, even if within the 5 days. Costs in that period can exceed many tens of thousands of rand depending on the disease and who treated the puppy.

 

Implementing what I suggest below require that breeders stop romanticising their breed/s and in particular their breeding stock and breeding practices. No breeder should place themselves (or anyone else for that matter) under the impression that they have a special recipe. Breeding has shared serious risks that all are subject to. More importantly, breeders should not pretend that because their dogs happen to conform perfectly to breed standards that their stock is there for okay. This is because the breed standards are not perfect either. Breed standards can also never be perfect in all the breeds. Indeed, in some cases, we have proof that breeds standards may be in direct conflict with health. I do not wish to enter the combat zone with breeding authorities regarding this matter. All that is of practical importance is that every breed has its challenges. Some breeds much more than others. As a general rule, the risk of serious genetic disease with particular reference to orthopaedic conditions is much greater in large and giant breeds than in small and medium breeds. The only sure way not to have any genetic problems is not to breed. The only sure way for a pet owner not to buy potential genetic problems is not to own a dog ever. Getting a mutt or buying a Dingo or Wolf will also not solve their problem.

 

Finally, the question of how much a puppy was sold for and how that relates to the end product requires some discussion. Some potential new pet owners are either under the impression or are led to believe, that the high price comes with guarantees. If breeders show, perform all the expensive genetic tests available, belong to all the health schemes, go about extensively showing their dogs, import expensive stock to improve their breed, observe acceptable and humane animal practices and animal husbandry, feed the best to their animals and provide all the veterinary care that is required, then they have huge expenses and that justifies the price that they should ask to do all these things correctly. In many cases, breeders should ask far more for their puppies in my opinion.

When potential pet owners wish to buy a puppy from a breeder, there are two parties. A willing buyer and a willing seller with terms and conditions.

 

So what are breeders to do?

Breeders should finally face potential buyers with the facts that breeders have known for many years, namely, communicate the risk of purchase of a puppy. This risk extends not only to known genetic defects but also, suspected genetic defects, latent defects as well as the incidence of infectious disease soon after purchase (such as parvo as explained above). They should include wording such as:

 

Whilst we take all precautions to reduce the prevalence of common genetic conditions, (then the common ones for the breed are listed and you list as many as you know and you also state which health schemes you partake in) the purchase of a (list the breed) puppy is associated with the inherent risk of known genetic conditions, suspected genetic conditions, latent defects and other rare conditions which may or may not have a genetic link. Considering that all necessary steps have been taken to reduce the prevalence of these conditions and that as responsible breeders we do not breed with affected parents and as carriers cannot be directly identified we cannot take responsibility for the occurrence of any such defects manifesting itself at any stage albeit that the defect is of proven genetic origin. Likewise, we as the seller cannot take responsibility for the unfortunate events where puppies contract the infectious disease after the sale. The breeder can therefore not compensate the buyer for any loss or damage they may have incurred. The purchase of a puppy is truly voetstoots.

 

We strongly advise that the puppy is presented to your own trusted vet within strictly 5 days of purchase and you are welcome to get a refund if your veterinarian recommends the return of such puppy based on some finding made and that he/she puts this in writing. This offer to refund expires in 5 days from signing this buy and sell agreement.

 

Breeders of complex breeds such as many giant breeds, Neapolitan mastiffs, Sharpeis, Boerboels, brachycephalic breeds (Pekingese, English Bulldogs, French Bulldogs, Boston terriers) clumber spaniels and many others should take great care in warning owners about specific breed problems that new owners are likely to encounter, more so than with other breeds. Some breeders will elect to disregard such sound advice because it smacks of dissing their breed and out of fear that it may deter potential puppy buyers from acquiring their breed. This is a good thing as it selects for potential buyers that are better informed, are already familiar with the breed and have done their homework. This will aid breeders in making sales to owners that are adequately informed and willing to take the associated risks without wishing to blame the breeder if things go wrong.

 

A very extensive scientific manuscript on genetic disease (authored by de Cramer and Frazer) is available upon request reports@rantendal.co.za. If all breeders of puppies collectively follow this advice, the wider public out there will realise that this is the standard procedure followed for very valid reasons. The only thing that the potential buyers out there could do in conjunction with their veterinarians is to make sure that they buy from breeders that take all the possible precautions to minimise their risk and can prove that they have done so.

Breeders should henceforth no longer feel guilty about all these things that they have been blamed for, for decades despite taking all the necessary precautionary steps. By continuing to do so they perpetuate the erroneous notion that prevention on all these mentioned fronts is remotely possible and they continue to create false expectations in the minds of puppy owners with dire consequences to themselves.

 

Kind regards

Dr Kurt de Cramer