Wednesday, December 26, 2007

JMO--Why Breeders Should Health Test

I receive quite a few inquires about my dogs. One of the most frequent questions is, "Do you Health test. Why?"

I view health testing as a screening tool. When we OFA our dogs' hips, elbows, patellas, hearts, and thyroid we can eliminate dogs from our breeding program with these problems. ALL dogs should be DNA tested for PRA or be cleared by parentage before breeding. ALL dogs should have a CERF exam to detect other genetic eye abnormalities. By eliminating dogs with health problems, the odds for producing dogs without health problems should increase each generation.

Is it a 100% guarantee? No, it's not; some health problems can be recessive and one will never know they are there until the right two dogs are bred to create it. Yet, myself and many other breeders feel this is much better gamble for us as breeders and for you as buyers than buying a puppy from untested lines. Could you spend $5-6,000 to replace both hips in a dysplastic dog? Would you be able to care for a fearful dog blind from PRA? Would you be able to care for a dog with epilepsy?

Any dog breeder who tells you they have no genetic problems in their line is a liar. American Mastiff ( a cross breed-7/8 English Mastiff and 1/8 Anatolian Shepherd- not AKC recognized) breeders state their dogs are free of health problems often present in English Mastiffs. Yet when asked to prove this statement, they can not produce health testing to back up this statement. Where are their health testing results? There is no evidence to document any health testing done in foundation stock (as the founder claims) or in present dogs used for breeding at the "primary" breeding facility of the considered "founder" of this "breed." When asked to produce documentation and list the Mastiffs she used as her "foundation stock"--she has refused. She can provide no documentation that her "American Mastiffs" are bred from dogs clear of genetic problems or that she has health tested any of her dogs.

Can one truthfully state they know of no problems--IF they don't test? Is a 100% guarantee you will find NO problems if you DON"T health test; but your dogs are not FREE of health problems--you just don't know what you have! ALL dogs lines have genetic problems. It's only through health testing that we can detect, isolate and breed to decrease genetic problems. An ethical breeder will truthfully disclose any known health problems in their lines to puppy buyers and breed to eliminate those problems.

No breeder or owner can look at a dog move and "know" whether they have hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, or patella problems The same with cardiac Problems, eye problems, and vWB; but a simple exam by a qualified vet can Clear and "verify" the health status of your dog. No dog should be bred if it has genetic health problems. This is why ethical breeders health test--so as to eliminate dog with health problems from their breeding programs.

Anyone can pull up this information on the OFA site for any OFA tested dog. An informed buyer can verify the health testing of the parents, grand-parents and any other dogs they wish.
The OFA site is listed as a link here on my blog--please do verify the health information on any of my dogs.

I am proud to state that in 25 years of breeding, I have NEVER produced a dog that developed bilateral hip or elbow dysplasia nor have I ever BRED a dog that had bilateral hip/elbow dysplasia. I have never bred a dog that developed epilepsy or PRA. There are not many breeders who have breed over 20 years that can make those same statements truthfully.

I am appalled at the breeders who breed dogs with bilateral hip and elbow dysplasia, PRA, and epilepsy. There can be no justification for breeding dogs with known health problems; I don't care how much you paid for the dog, or how much you spent showing and obtaining it's AKC Championship, or who it's sire and dam are; these are not reason to justify breeding a dog with health problems. As a breeder, if two of your dogs are bred and they produce puppies with these health problems--why would you REPEAT the same breeding? The breed would be better off if you spayed/neutered the dogs and never bred them again.

I have very little respect for breeders who do not health test. I have no respect for breeders who bred dogs with or to dogs with known health or temperament problems. These type of actions do not lead to the overall betterment of our breed. To create a "designer breed" and then claim it to have "superior" overall health because of "hybrid vigor" and lack of "genetic problems"and use no health testing to establish this claim is a lie.

It is the ethical duty of all breeders to breed to improve the overall health, longevity, temperament, intelligence, and trainability of any breed. Our goal should be to produce dogs that are trainable, have an increase life expectancy and less health issues, and are a joy to live with as family companions and pets.

In the long run that's better than a Best in Show win any day. Of course, that just my opinion.