Should I buy a puppy with mange?
June 23, 2011 7:24 PM   Subscribe

I am in the market to buy a French bulldog. However, the one that I wanted to buy was around another dog with sarcoptic mange. While the dog has shown no signs of mange, I am still leery of buying this dog as I have a cat and three children at home. The seller said she will get the mange okayed by a vet before they are sold, but I am still not sure. Has anyone dealt with this before? Any thoughts on whether I should still buy the dog?
posted by amckenzie83 to Pets & Animals (15 answers total)
Could you buy the dog on the condition that the breeder will take the dog back and refund your money if a different, unbiased vet of your choice doesn't give him a clean bill of health? And get it in writing of course.
posted by lovelygirl at 7:34 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

Sarcoptic (I always get it confused with Demodex) happens because a dog, usually a puppy, is immunocompromised. They may be malnourished, have worms all to hell and gone, etc. It's just mites that always exist getting knocked out of alignment and going wild, sorta like those nasty bugs that live in our eyebrows. They dig in and destroy the hair root.

I have had a dog with Sarcoptic before, unfortunately we were 5 sessions into 8 of the dip and he died of an unexpected seizure while on a SAR demo. I miss you Saiorse!

(Apparently some vets will let you bring the hardcore nasty dip home now. Mine wouldn't, but that was quite some time ago.)

If the dog is vet ok'd and is of healthy weight/etc, go for it. Breeder guarantees just mean that if the dog gets dysplasia/cancer/goes blind/etc (whatever they guarantee) they will replace the dog with a puppy and take back the adult dog---who is then promptly destroyed so he/she can't reproduce and tarnish the line. Purebreeding is nasty.

However, I'd be leery of a breeder with a puppy with Sarcoptic, because in my experience it probably means that they went too long before worming, which shows a general neglect. As always, with any purebred dog, you should be able to see at least 3 generations of the line on paper to check for the same name (no inbreeding in 3 generations at LEAST) and ideally the Dam is on site, the Sire if it's a he. Pictures should be available for either.

People just selling "spare" puppies they had with someone else with the same dog won't be able to produce this paperwork---and don't reward them with a purchase.
posted by TomMelee at 7:42 PM on June 23, 2011 [4 favorites]

please please please buy from a reputable breeder and not from a backyard breeder. reputable breeders breed for temperament and health. they interview you either in-person or through a questionnaire to determine your suitability as well as which pup they choose to place with you. they have you sign a contract that should anything ever happen to you or you choose not to keep your pet any longer, the pet goes back to them first. a reputable breeder will also contract you to spay/neuter your pet so you are do not, yourself, become a backyard breeder and/or contribute to the pet population.

the fact that this puppy has been around another dog with sarcoptic mange points to this breeder not being reputable or responsible.
posted by violetk at 9:56 PM on June 23, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would say it is probably not the best idea to get this pup. As others have said, it is an indication of not the greatest care and there could be other issues. I would like to put a good word in for the folks at the french bulldog rescue network or a similar network near you--rescue dogs are a good way to go for a family pet.
posted by agatha_magatha at 10:24 PM on June 23, 2011 [7 favorites]

When we brought our dog home from the shelter at about 5 months old he was recovering from a serious case of demodex. He had been a stray and needed a lot of treatment before he was adoptable. He had another bout of it after coming home with us, but a long, intensive course of ivermectin finally got rid of it.

Demodectic mange ("white mange") is generally due to immunocompromise, and is often seen in stressed-out puppies. Many dogs have the demodex mites on their skin all the time but never break out in mange because their immune systems handle it. Other dogs never fully get rid of it and have to be on meds for their whole life to keep it in check.

From what I'm told, it's extremely rare for people to get it, and it's not contagious to other dogs unless they are also immunocompromised. Some breeds, especially breeds without much undercoat, like dobies or pitbulls, are especially susceptible to it.

Sarcoptic mange ("red mange") is also called scabies and is pretty contagious. People can get it. I hear it sucks. If the puppy's littermate has sarcoptic mange but he doesn't, it could mean he hasn't come down with it yet, or it could mean he has a better immune system than his brother. But you won't know which it is.
posted by mneekadon at 3:53 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

Eep it would appear that again I confused the two. Please disregard my comments and go with mneekadon's. Sorry!
posted by TomMelee at 4:18 AM on June 24, 2011

Before I get started here, let me tell you that I bred cats 15 years ago as a kid. We raised purebred Tonkinese kittens for show and for sale as pets. We dewormed and vaccinated on a very specific sch My father didn't have enough money to buy groceries, he was a drunk jerk in all respects. But if I called my grandmother, she made the two hour drive to come see what was going on with the cats.

No this is not the puppy for you. The answer is right there within your question, "but I am still not sure," is the sentence that most laypeople would point to as the clue.

Unfortunately, the clue is either this dog has been around your children and cat or has not. And frankly, at this moment with this dog, yes and no are both the wrong answer. Yes, because the puppy has been exposed to sarcoptic mange, he can't be around your children or cat! No, because a puppy needs to be a good fit for every member of a household. The personality of the puppy may not be right for the personality of a tail pulling toddler, or a loud running 5 year old. And the cat is a very important part of this equation. True, some cats and dogs warm to each other. Also true that in a cat/dog relationship the cat is fast enough to get out of the way. But if one animal stresses out the other, you're not going to have a happy house.

To help you in your future puppy search, check out the Kennel Name (the breeder has provided you a kennel name, right? Reputable dog breeders register each litter, which is how the pedigree of a given line is "proven") and see if there are any complaints against that kennel. Here is a google search for "French Bulldog Kennel." To find a new kennel, you can add your state name to narrow down your search. So. If the original breeder has sarcoptic mange, I am already suspicious that she isn't a legitimate kennel, because reputable breeders won't allow the public access to an unhealthy animal, and won't present an animal as salable when it is not.

Here's a link to a website I just found about avoiding heartache while buying a puppy. I've linked to page 3, but in the top right there are links to the other pages. I apologize that it's got a few text ads, but I need to get started with my day so it's the first google hit for "buying a puppy" in my internet bubble.
posted by bilabial at 5:30 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

I would be worried about this particular pup, especially on reading bilabial's post above.

If the US is anything like the UK, there are now far more pedigree dogs of all ages in rescues because of the economy. Here's the first result in Google - would you instead consider a rescue?

A good rescue will have the staff to advise you on the best dog for your family, they'll be health checked, vaccinated, (often housetrained!) and a great alternative to finding and checking a reputable breeder. You're often allowed to foster a dog for a week or so to make that the s/he is the best fit for your family.
posted by humph at 6:49 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]

The mites are treatable (but tenacious) in dogs - this is not some horrible fatal disease that must end in death. At least one web site suggests that humans and cats can be infected but this is less likely and easier to deal with. On the other hand, having a vet check the dog once isn't much of a guarantee since there is a huge chance of a false negative.

The real question is why is the breeder having this problem and if they're having this problem, what other problems are they not telling you about. If the answer is, they're part of a rescue network and were taking care of a dog that nobody realized was infected until it was too late, that's one thing. But that's probably the best possible scenario.

The first question you need to find the answer to is are they a reputable breeder who is mostly doing things right, or are you talking to the owner of Hellhole Puppymills Inc.? If the later, just walk away. No, wait. Run. Run away!

Then you need to ask if it's worth it to you to deal with the problem yourself, arrange some sort of quarantine for the dog, etc. or if you should just move on. That's your call.

Then you need to determine if the dog is even infected.

I'd talk to a vet (not of the breeders choosing) and see what they say. If they, uh, know of this person, just move on.
posted by Kid Charlemagne at 7:15 AM on June 24, 2011

If the sarcoptic mange is really the only concern, I wouldn't worry about it, myself. I've fostered 5 or 6 young dogs with mange (one was the most hideous looking thing you ever encountered!) and neither my kids (toddlers at the time) nor my cats ever got it.

But as a rescue person, I hate the idea of anyone supporting breeders. And while all dogs have the mites on their bodies and it's not uncommon for the mange population on their skin to get over-active . . . eh, the fact that it did happen makes me wonder about the breeder. It's not proof that a breeder isn't so great, but it's a supporting argument.
posted by MeiraV at 8:43 AM on June 24, 2011

Breeder guarantees just mean that if the dog gets dysplasia/cancer/goes blind/etc (whatever they guarantee) they will replace the dog with a puppy and take back the adult dog---who is then promptly destroyed so he/she can't reproduce and tarnish the line. Purebreeding is nasty.

This is not necessarily true, and depends greatly on the breeder. Most German Shepherd breeders I've talked to, for example, have some kind of arrangement where they will give either a full or partial refund or a new pup in exchange for proof that the dog has been spayed/neutered. (This sales contract from one breeder I've visited is a good example) Returning the dog to be destroyed is not required. This does vary among breeders, however, and usually doesn't include preventable ailments like mange.

Personally, I would give this particular dog a pass. You're picking out a dog who's going to be your companion for years, hopefully, and you want to make sure you get the best start possible. Even reputable breeders have bad luck with disease, but why risk it? The Humane Society has a good checklist for identifying whether a breeder is reputable here.
posted by crowyhead at 10:26 AM on June 24, 2011

(If you do get the dog, do some googling on Lavender oil for mange. I would never put that toxic stuff from the vet on any on any of my pets again. It's completely needless. Twice with lavender oil cut with a gentler oil, fixes mange up beautifully.)
posted by Vaike at 11:18 AM on June 24, 2011

It seems like you already know this, but use discretion in reading the above answers. Demodex is much more common and is not contagious. Sarcoptic mange is HIGHLY contagious to people and other animals and is infectious as opposed to immune related. It is extremely unpleasant and itchy. When humans are infected it is referred to as Scabies. (I guess no one wants to have to say they have mange!) When we get them in the hospital everyone gloves up. And these are often folks who will pick stuff out of vomit with their bare hands. However, it is quite treatable and usually resolves fairly quickly, maybe a couple of weeks. The people commenting that is wasn't contagious or that it cleared up with little intervention are thinking of Demodex. (Also plus 1 to eveyone suggesting Rescues. I know you didn't ask, but I think they take any my Crazy Rescuer Card if I don't say it.)
posted by troublewithwolves at 1:08 PM on June 24, 2011

I am just learning about these issues myself because my new pup is afflicted with demodectic mange. I am not an expert, but it seems that mneekadon's post above confuses the two types of mange a bit:
Demodectic mange ("white mange")...

Sarcoptic mange ("red mange")...
Google makes it pretty clear that demodectic is commonly called 'red mange.' A cursory search for "white mange" doesn't turn up much of anything.
posted by jon1270 at 5:40 AM on July 13, 2011

Just checked Wikpedia -- yep I got the colors wrong. My dog had demodex. It sucked, but not as bad as scabies would have.
posted by mneekadon at 9:25 AM on July 13, 2011

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