I have this client…she raises dogs for fun and, occasionally, she profits financially, too. Mostly, though, it’s a labor of love—Rottweiler love, to be exact. Her most recent acquisition to her burgeoning pack of canines includes one very fancy pedigreed Rottie (for whom she traveled to Germany to personally hand-pick for his breeding potential).

Because I have misgivings about his personality (aggressive!) I recommended she neuter him (she has kids he interacts with). More specifically, I pressed her to keep him out of her dogs’ gene pool—no breeding whatsoever.

Undeterred by my advances, she elected to check his hips in preparation for a life of stud-dom. Indeed, he’s a thing of beauty (and, consequently, she’s unable to comprehend that this $10,000 dog has been rendered a completely frivolous expense as a result of some random vet’s opinion). Mind you, he’s never been shown. She has no time, energy or inclination for such extraneous undertakings. His papers and his gorgeousness should be enough, she warrants.

In light of her determination to breed this dog (one I can’t get close to without a muzzle and a ready cache of sedatives), I guess I should be pleased that she’s at least elected to check his hips in advance of his first foray into canine parenthood.

X-rays (under full-on anesthesia, as is the protocol for all dogs) at two years of age (again, the required age for certification) consequently revealed moderate hip dysplasia.

Horror of horrors! This one’s a dud!

The most well-regarded certifying body for canine hips (the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or OFA) reached a unanimous decision in favor of denial to certify. So much for that. The X-rays were of excellent quality—but the hips were bad. That’s it for his life as a stud. No appeals possible.

Still not satisfied that this was possible (the Germans had shown her paperwork proving excellence in his forebearers’ hips), she sought a second opinion (not that it was going to change the outcome as far as the head honchos at the OFA were concerned).

The board-certified orthopedist she sought for a second opinion gave her the same line: Not only is this an aggressive dog not worthy of inclusion into any breeding program, his hips are dysplastic. Period. End of story. No fancy digital X-rays will refute these findings.

Although this owner was frustrated and out a huge chunk of unrecoverable change, this is when I’m gratified there’s a system in place to protect dog lovers everywhere from too-invested dog breeders. Though I consider this client a basically well-intentioned owner (she doesn’t want puppies with bad hips polluting her beloved breed any more than I want to inform people like her that their dogs’ hips are dysplastic), emotions run high when heavy-duty finances (not to mention ego) are on the line. Overlooking aggression is just one symptom of that.

It’s clear that animal lovers everywhere are well served by an independent body’s ratification of good health. It should be just as clear from this example, however, that certification of hip status alone is not enough to ensure that you’re getting a wonderful pet. Who knows what lurks in the hearts of emotionally biased dog breeders everywhere?