Why breeders are testing for genetic health disorders
Breeders and all new dog owners now have the choice to screen the health and future health of their puppies and sire and dam used for breeding. This involves various tests that can detect any underlying genetic health issues and issues that are present. Following on from these health tests, the owners, breeders or potential owners of a puppy can decide whats best for their dog and whether to breed or not.
New dog owners will do everything they can to ensure that the health of their new puppy and dog is well cared for. All dogs will need health tests throughout their lives to hopefully prevent any serious health implications. This will involve looking at the dogs DNA and checking for any genetic disorders.
Health tests can help provide a clear prognosis as to whether there is any presence of a disease, problem or future health issue potentially forming. The health tests are there to provide a diagnosis and then rated with a scale from minimal risk, or almost certainty that there is a health issue.
This then gives the breeder a choice as to whether to carry on with the breeding process. All responsible breeders will not look to breed from a dog that has severe health colocations, however, sadly, there are some cases where dog breeds with health related issues are used for breeding and in this case the puppies are puppy farmed. This is why you should always do your checks when buying or adopting a puppy. If you think that the puppy has come from a puppy farm, you must report them to the RSPCA.
The importance of genetic health testing in dogs
There are various tests available and any particular test that the sire and dam may undergo, largely depends on their predisposed risk factors. Health testing can be costly, but is recommended for reassurance and decision making. As previously mentioned there are various tests available to new potential dog owners and breeders. There are several popular tests that breeders usually test for and these are: elbow dysplasia, hip dysplasia, eye disease and DNA screening for any genetic issues.
Health tests like this are mostly performed at the veterinary practice and then the tests are normally sent away to be examined by a genetics expert or professional specialist. Screening of the DNA can be preformed by analysis the dogs DNA, which requires a simple swab from the dog being tested. This can also be performed on puppies and adult dogs.
Once the tests have been finished and analysed professionally, how the results are then taken into consideration are entirely down to the person who requested for the tests to be done.
For the breeder, the results could potentially be used to then make a decision as to whether they breed from the dog in question, and for the puppy buyer, a difficult decision as to whether they buy or adopt the puppy.
As previously mentioned genetic health testing can be costly and in most cases the responsibility of paying for the tests depends on who requires the testing. This then raises the debate as to really who requested the testing, whether its the breeder or the potential owner enquiring about the future health of the puppies in question.
This question isn't so straightforward as to who would pay for the costs of the health screening. The person (would be the buyer of the puppy) who organised for the tests to be done, is responsible for payment of the testing. This cost still applies regardless of the outcome of the testing, whether it's positive or negative.
If the breeder chooses to have the breeding sire and dam tested, the cost of the testing ultimately relies upon the breeder. Again, regardless of the outcome, whether positive or negative. The breeder would be responsible for payment.
Further health test information
In relation to conducting test screening, the Kennel Club holds a vast database of information on health related tests that their registered dogs have undergone. This provides in-depth information for breeders to understand health-related issues and tests of the ancestry of the dog in question, searching by their name.
In addition to this, there is another register in place where information is collated for the findings of multifocal retinal dysplasia (MRD), (most common tested conditions of the eye).
Dog breeds predisposed to genetically inherited conditions
Listed below are the high-risk dog breeds recognised by the Kennel Club that are most likely to develop a genetic health condition in their lifetime.
- English Bulldog
- Basset Hound
- Clumber Spaniel
- Chow Chow
- Dogue de Bordeaux
- French Bulldog
- German Shepard
- Neapolitan Mastif
- Saint Bernard
- Shar Pei
There are various other breeds, that are predisposed including the Cavalier King Charles Spaniel and the Labrador, who are also known to have potential risk factors for conditions such as hip dysplsaia Chihuahuas that suffer with luxating patella.
However, these tests are available for any dog breed should you be concerned about the future health of your dog.
If you are a someone looking to buy or adopt a puppy or a breeder looking to test the gene pool of your sire and dam; you must be finically secure before a commitment such as this. Looking after an animal is slightly different to caring for a human being. Dogs rely on you in more ways than one and you need to ensure that you research any concerns that you have and have the appropriate level of insurance to cover yourself and your pet.