When it comes to predicting health in our puppies, some of the tests are simple and straight forward. We can see, using a basic genetic test, whether or not our parents are carriers or affected by certain genetic disorders.
Other tests are a bit more subjective, and some even open to interpretation by the veterinarian performing the test or reading the results.
While we cannot yet predict the likelihood of every possible health concern, I do feel that it is important to do as much as we can to ensure our pups live a long and healthy life.
Following is a list of the health tests we perform, as well as the reasoning behind them.
As mentioned before, genetic testing is a straight forward way to find out if a dog is a carrier for over 100 different genetic conditions! We feel so blessed to be able to quickly and easily get an overview of their genetic make-up! We choose to use Embark for all of our genetic testing. I find their results to be reliable, and the information is easy to read and share with our clients. At this time, none of our parents are carriers for any genetic issues that could be passed down to their offspring. However, we may at some point add a dog to our program that may be a carrier. That parent paired with a dog that is not a carrier for the same condition could not produce puppies that are affected. Genetic testing is the bare minimum that should be done to ensure we are not producing puppies affected by easily identifiable disorders.
We have our potential parents hearts checked after 12 months of age. At that time, we can certify our results with OFA. The cardiac test is recommended by The Poodle Club of America, and can reveal a possible inheritable condition that could affect offspring. This test can be performed by your veterinarian, although not all vets perform this test. As of this time we travel over three hours to have our dog's hearts checked.
This test is done by an animal eye specialist. While there are some conditions that can result in vision issues that we cannot yet test for, this examination is quite helpful in ensuring we are not at risk of passing along a hereditary eye condition.
This is one of those tests that are subjective and it is only a piece of the puzzle that is hip dysplasia. Current studies suggest that up to 80% of hip dysplasia cases could be caused by environmental factors. For this reason we include an exercise booklet to help guide our new owners in appropriate activity for their new puppy.
This test results in a score of Excellent, Good, Fair, Borderline, Mild, Moderate, or Severe. A dog with a score of fair, good, or excellent can safely be bred with a degree of confidence. Any other score would indicate an issue that needed to be addressed.
We use the OFA hip radiographs to guide us in our pairings, as well as giving us a picture of our potential parents health. Unfortunately, an injury could result in a negative score, even though it would not affect their offspring. I spend quite a bit of time on this subject, and research is constantly changing the way we do things.
While the OFA hip radiograph measures how tightly the hip fits in the socket, the Penn-HIp radiograph measures how deep it sits in the socket. This test can be done anytime after four months old. This test does not give a rating of Excellent through Severe, rather they use a point system to compare your dog with others within the same breed. Once again, this is a test that is subjective and can be affected by the radiograph taker, as well as the reader. It is just one more tool in our tool belt. It is a bit more challenging finding a veterinarian that is able to perform this test. Our prospective parents will have at least one of these tests completed prior to breeding.