One of the biggest parts of being a reputable breeder is health testing. Health testing is something that I realize a lot of people don’t really know what it truly is. Health testing isn’t just a vet check up. While yearly vet checkups are important there is so much more that goes into making sure a dog is worthy of being bred.
So what is Health Testing?
Health testing is a series of tests that varies by breed to ensure you are doing everything in your power to produce healthy puppies. For our dogs that includes.
OFA Hips, OFA Elbows, OFA Heart, OFA Eyes, OFA Patellas, and DNA.
Hips and Elbows
Hips and Elbows are both done by x-ray. The dog is positioned in a certain way x-rays are taken and those x-rays are sent off to the OFA(Orthopedic Foundation for Animals). They are graded by Orthopedic Vets and the results are sent back to you.
There are 7 different ratings for hips. In order from best to worst they are rated Excellent, Good, Fair (all within Normal limits), Borderline, and then Mild, Moderate, or Severe (the last three considered Dysplastic).
For Elbows they are rated Normal or Grade 1, Grade 2, and Grade 3(all three grades are dysplastic).
Heart and Patellas
Heart and Patellas are both test that can be done by any veterinarian unless your breed requires an advanced cardiac. Australian Labradoodles don’t require that. A basic cardiac exam is all that is required of them. For heart testing a vet listens to their heart for a murmur. They are marked as normal or having a murmur. The murmur can be Grade 1-Grade 6. Grade 6 being the worst.
For Patellas the vet is checking for Patella Luxation. They are graded Normal or having luxation. The luxation can be grade 1-grade 4. Grade 4 being the worst.
Both of these exam results are sent off to the OFA for official results.
For eye testing the dog must go to an Ophthalmologist. Their eyes are first dilated and then they get indirect ophthalmoscopy and slit lamp biomicroscopy done on their eyes. This checks for the presence of any observable phenotype of the eye. A form is filled out and mailed to the OFA for certification.
Eyes are scored as normal or abnormal. If abnormal it will be listed why.
DNA can be tested with several different companies. I personally use PawPrint Genetics 99% of the time. For DNA you take a swab or blood sample and send it in for testing. Their sample is tested for genetic diseases and you can test for things like color and coat type. Results are emailed to you.
DNA results can be Clear, Carrier, or Affected. A Clear dog does not have any copies of the disease. A carrier dog has one copy of clear and one copy of the disease but will not be affected by the disease. An affected dog has two copies of disease and is affected by that disease. We breed Clear dogs as well as Carrier dogs. A carrier must ALWAYS be bred to a clear. Two carriers bred to each other would have potential to produce affected dogs. By only breeding clear dogs to clear dogs or clear dogs to carrier dogs you ensure no puppies will have the disease.
So what do we do with these results?
When we test if any of these tests come back with failing results that dog is removed from our breeding program and is spayed or neutered. Every dog in our breeding program has passed all of the tests listed for our breed so that we are doing everything in our power to produce healthy puppies. Removing a dog from our program is one of the hard things we have to do especially when I have invested financially and with time and effort raising that dog but it is the only right thing to do. We also look at those passing results to help make breeding decisions. For example a dog that scored Fair hips I prefer to breed to an excellent or good hip.
So does this mean every dog produced from passing dogs will also pass testing? If we are talking DNA then yes. If both parents are clear then every time the puppies will be as well and even clear bred to carrier will be safe from the disease as well.
The other testing is more complicated that that though. There is a chance that two passing dogs can produce a dog that fails something like Hips. But by doing health testing I am doing everything that I can for healthy puppies.
I attached some hip x-rays to show the difference in Excellent, Good, Fair, and which is the best a hip can score and severe hip dysplasia. I also attached a picture of a normal elbow.
This is just one part of being a reputable breeder but one of the parts that is extremely important to a breeding program. Any questions about health testing? Post them below or shoot me a message. I am always happy to answer questions.