Guinea pigs are not bred for health by most breeders. There are no genetic tests that can be done on guinea pigs to determine if they will be healthy, and guinea pigs must be bred by a relatively young age (8 months). Most chronic genetic problems only show up as the pigs age (much like hip displaysia in dogs). Only the most gross deformities will be avoided, and many breeders will not even do that. I have 2 pigs that came from a breeder, and they were both dead by 4.5 years old. One died of osteodystrophy, and the other struggled with lifelong problems with gi stasis. Of the group, the majority died before the age of 4 due to the inbreeding that the breeder did in order to make the pretty swirlies in the coat so that the piggie could win lots of ribbons, YAY!
I'm sorry that I'm not willing to lie to you. Your pig was sick because it came from a pet store. I can't change that fact. It is the most common thing rescues see every single day, and you came to the forum feeling guilty and wanting an explanation as to why your pig died. Your pig died because it was purchased from a mill. The majority of guinea pig breeders are also backyard breeders, and there is no way for them to guarantee a healthy pig at this time because of the fact that pigs are bred before they have a chance to display any genetic problems. Heck, a pig can have 3 generations of progeny before a genetic problem shows up -- most breeders will not bother tracking down 150+ pigs and taking them out of production.
Rat breeding is very different because of their shorter lifespans (genetic problems become apparent much more quickly and when they're still in good physical breeding condition) and because (quite frankly) most rat breeders care more about the longevity and the health of their animals than the majority of guinea pig breeders. I would buy a breeder rat from a responsible breeder in a heartbeat. Guinea pigs are typically raised in "livestock" conditions because their overarching "show" body is an offshoot of ARBA. They raise meat and laboratory animals as well. I wish I could type every single awful breeder experience that we've had at the rescue, but you'd just throw up your hands and accuse me of bullying you more. A responsible rat breeder would be horrified at the thought that their rats may be "culled" for snake food, yet this is the most popular way of "disposing" of "ugly" guinea pigs and rabbits that don't fit their standards.
I'm not saying that breeding guinea pigs for health can't be done, but I've never met a breeder that tracked their progeny, enforced no breeding contracts, etc, like the responsible breeders in the rat community; whereas I have met and talked to dozens and dozens of responsible rat breeders that I would happily shake hands with if I ever met..
And seriously for all the people that are bullying others into getting a rescue pig, have you ever thought that maybe those petstore pigs that keep coming in may be from people that have been shamed by people like you to the point that they bring the pig to the nearest rescue so they can go buy from a breeder so you will no longer shun them and treat them as incompetent fools?
No, most people would be ashamed to abandon an animal because of what someone on the internet said.
We are as gods to the beasts of the fields. We order the time o' their birth and the time o' their death. Between times, we ha' a duty. - Terry Pratchett.
"Men have forgotten this truth", said the fox, "But you must not forget it. You become responsible, forever, for what you have tamed. - Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
Last edited by Jennicat; 06-24-2009 at 02:14 PM.