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"What's the deal with health testing anyway?" - "Is it really that important?" - "Why should I bother testing if I know my dog is healthy?" - "I don't plan on breeding my dog, why should I care if his parents are tested?" All of these questions are valid, especially for the general pet owner who has never heard of the importance of health testing and what it is accomplishing throughout the dog world.
According to The Kennel Club of the UK, "Testing all potential breeding stock, where relevant, allows breeders to determine the chance a dog may pass a disease causing gene on to its offspring, giving them the information required to avoid producing clinically affected puppies.1"
Many of the inherited diseases that affect dogs are a result of a mutation on a single gene, thus making it incredibly easy to predict their inheritance. Every puppy gets 50% of their DNA from each of their parents - so if both the dam and sire are clear of known inheritable diseases, it can be predicted with relative certainty that their offspring will be clear too.
It gets a little more complicated when you start to consider the fact that some dogs are non-affected carriers of these diseases. This means that they inherited a bad copy of the gene from one of their parents and a good copy from the other. They aren't affected by the disease, but they are still able to pass on a copy of the bad gene to their progeny. This scenario is where DNA testing becomes the most important! If you didn't know that your dogs were carriers of the same disease and bred them together, there would be a 25% chance that they will produce puppies that are affected by the disease, and an additional 50% that they will pass along one bad copy of that gene, creating more carriers. By utilizing DNA testing, breeders are able to identify any disease carriers in their program, and can use that information to avoid producing affected puppies.
OFA-CHIC Labrador Specific Testing Recommendations
- Hip Dysplasia
- Elbow Dysplasia
- CAER Eye Exam
- EIC (Exercise Induced Collapse) DNA Test
- D Locus (Dilute) DNA Test (this is a color only test, it has no indication into the overall health of the dog)
- CNM (Centronuclear Myopathy) DNA Test
- Cardiac Evaluation
- prcd-PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) DNA Test
Breed-Specific or Full DNA Panel Tests
- Congenital Macrothrombocytopenia
- Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
- Hereditary Nasal Parakeratosis
- Hyperuricosuria and Hyperuricemia or Urolithiasis (HUU)
- Macular Corneal Dystrophy (MCD)
- Oculoskeletal Dysplasia 1, Dwarfism-Retinal Dysplasia (OSD1)
- Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency
- Skeletal Dysplasia 2 (SD2)
- Alexander Disease
- Canine Elliptocytosis
- Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome
- Golden Retriever Progressive Retinal Atrophy 2 (GR-PRA2)
- Myotubular Myopathy 1, X-linked Myotubular Myopathy (XL-MTM)
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy - crd4/cord1
- Copper Toxicosis