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What Should Dog Breeders Do With A Disabled Puppy?

↯ Key takeaway points

  • Breeders face a difficult decision when a newborn puppy has a disability.
  • The main question to consider is whether the puppy will be able to lead a normal life and have a good quality of life.
  • Responsible breeders will do everything they can to help the disabled puppy and find him/her a loving home.
  • Technology has evolved to offer health tests and disability aids for dogs.
  • Disabled dogs can still live normal and happy lives, with the help of veterinary treatments and support networks.
Breeding Business is passionate about all sorts of domesticated pets. They have written dozens of articles across the web.
Taimoor is a well-traveled practicing veterinarian performing duties related to pet care, staff supervision, laboratory work, and diagnoses.
Published on
Thursday 29 October 2015
Last updated on
Wednesday 21 June 2023
disabled dogs and breeders
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One of the toughest decisions that a breeder must make is what to do when a newborn puppy has a disability. A disabled puppy faces two futures: to be looked after and helped or to be put to sleep.

Even the most responsible breeder who does all the health tests imaginable can go through the experience of having a pup born with a disability and have to face making the decisions on what to do with the puppy. Their experience as a breeder will help them however it will ultimately be their veterinarian who will assist them with the final decision.

Unfortunately, there are some breeders who will immediately have a disabled puppy put to sleep without even considering whether or not the pup could lead a normal and happy life.

The Disabled Puppy’s Quality of Life

The main question that will be asked will be what the pup’s quality of life would be when they grow older. Physical and mental health are what truly matter.

One breeder said she would speak to her vet and the main discussion would be about the quality of life the puppy would have: basically whether or not the puppy would be able to lead a normal life. I have been using my veterinarian for over twenty years and trust his judgment when it comes to my animals. If there’s something that can be done to help the pup, we will do it. Money is no object if it means this pup will have a good life and be loved.

Before making any decision, the owner has to consider that they have to give a lot of attention and special care to this pet, some people commit at the start but in the long run, they get fed up and abandon the puppy. The disabled puppy would need your full dedication and for that, you can come up with some plans on how to manage your life when you have to take care of a disabled puppy.

Dog Breeders & Their Old Habits

There are breeders who have been breeding for several decades and will immediately cull a disabled puppy. Unfortunately, they don’t see the point in spending thousands of pounds to make the pup better. Fortunately, these people are few and far between. The majority of responsible, ethical, and decent breeders will do everything they can for the pups that are born into their care.

As far as they are concerned, these pups are part of the family, more than a commodity to be sold on for money. They will ensure that the pup is found the best home where he/she will thrive and be loved.

Sadly, there are instances where nothing can be done and it’s best to put the pup to sleep. Again it all comes down to the quality of life and whether or not the pup will be able to lead a relatively normal life with the least amount of pain. If you have a pup that’s going to be having surgeries for the rest of its life, you have to ask yourself whether or not it is in the best interests of the dog to be put through this.

The term “Rule with your head, not your heart” is one I have heard a lot. As difficult as it may be, this pup’s life is ultimately in your hands and you have to decide what the best course of action is.

When he was born, we were not sure if he would survive but our vet was fantastic. He gave us all the relevant information and help twenty-four seven and we were able to watch this pup thrive. Rather than rehoming him, we kept him and he has become a loving and firm member of the family.

Breeder, friend of Lynn
An ethical breeder must take care of all their dogs without exception.
An ethical breeder must take care of all their dogs without exception.

Technology Is Evolving!

With the evolution of technology, health testing has become more available for dogs. Breeds have lists of the health tests that are recommended for them.
Unfortunately, not all health tests will prevent a puppy from being born with a disability.

Technology and inventions have also evolved for disability aids for dogs; there are so many products available as well as websites dedicated to these products, including but non-exclusive to and Other websites provide information and support for owners of disabled dogs.

There are so many support networks for those who have disabled dogs where you can get information on helping your dogs.

To Conclude

If faced with the prospect of a disabled puppy, the best advice is to speak to your vet and decide whether or not the pup will have a decent quality of life. You could also speak to other breeders for help as they may have been through a similar issue. Building a network of professionals for such an occasion is a good idea and will help you with other problems you may come across in the future.

Just because a pup is born with a disability doesn’t mean it can’t live a normal happy life. So many new innovations and veterinary treatments are being created every year to help dogs with certain disabilities and problems. There are also many support networks out there that can assist you in helping your dog through difficult times.

Giving up is showing a sign of weakness and would you like your relatives to give up on you at your first serious personal problem? Probably not…

2 comments on “What Should Dog Breeders Do With A Disabled Puppy?”

  1. Thank you for your article and I agree with you. I am a breeder and had one litter that resulted in one puppy born without his right leg. I always health test and strive to breed healthy, good tempered and correct to our standard puppies. I have breed some of the top Australian Terrier’s in the country. The dam of this litter (who doesn’t reside with me) most likely was exposed to something toxic in her first 14 days of inception. She will never be bred again, nor her off-spring.

    There was never a question in my mind as to keeping this puppy or euthanize him, he was going to live! I just needed to help him a bit early on until he could help himself. Much to my surprise, I was criticized by some breeders for not euthanizing him. A couple breeders went on to suggest I shouldn’t have told anyone I had a puppy born this way. I found this to be not only shocking but very disappointing to know that some breeders would hide this from others. Yes, he needed a little help from me to nurse because it was difficult for him to balance while he nursed. Otherwise he did everything on his own.

    I had many people reach out to me hoping to adopt him but I couldn’t part with him as well as I was his breeder and he was my responsibility. My puppy is now three years old, his name is Sparrow and he is perfect just as he is. He can run and jump up on the couch and fly down the stairs, he can do everything the dogs with four legs can do. He also brings lots of joy to nursing homes and other special places he visits.

    I have just finished writing a children’s book titled Perfectly Sparrow that speaks to this topic specifically. I am pleased to know that most current day breeders think of breeding dogs not like farm animals we consume, but the loving companions that they were born to be.

    I have many youtube video’s published about Sparrow you can find under Dunham Lake Australian Terriers. I also have a website dedicated to Sparrow where you can see photo’s and read more about him at

    While we all hope and plan that our future puppies are all born normal, I would never have made a different decision for Sparrow… he is amazing, has a great life and he doesn’t know he is any different ten my other dogs… except he is extra special to me.

  2. Donna Kanabay

    I’ve watched Sparrow from the day he was born, first via Theresa’s live “puppycam” and then through many posts, photos and videos. Theresa is one of my very few heroes and Sparrow is loved by many around the world.

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