Before breeding, it is important to research and run genetic tests to find out if your dog is a good breeding candidate. Some dogs inherit health conditions from their parents that make them poor candidates, and this is more common in purebred dogs. Research your dog’s breed and talk to your veterinarian to find out what problems are common among that breed, and what tests should be done. If your dog carries a genetic disorder it doesn’t necessarily mean that she will experience these problems. It just means that she should not breed because she could pass this gene on to the next generation
Following are brief descriptions of some common genetic problems that may affect your dog’s breed. It is important to discuss with your veterinarian if you should test your dog for these or other hereditary problems.
Dogs who test positive for any of the hereditary problems listed below are not good breeding candidates.
Hypothyroidism can be an inherited problem that is easily treated and controlled. It is more common in mid to large size breeds such as Golden Retrievers, Doberman Pinschers, Greyhounds, Poodles, Miniature Schnauzers and Irish Setters.
Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland – located in the neck just below the voicebox. This gland regulates your dog’s metabolic rate. In hypothyroidism not enough thyroid hormone is produced – this causes slow metabolism.
Hip and joint
Hip dysplasia is an inherited problem that primarily affects large breeds such as German Shepherds, Labrador Retrievers, Golden Retrievers and Rottweilers. Hip dysplasia means that the hip socket and the head of the large femur bone do not fit together properly. Hip dysplasia is diagnosed through X-rays. Fortunately because responsible breeders test for this problem before breeding the incidence of hip dysplasia has been reduced.
Patellar Luxation is a hereditary condition that is more common in smaller dogs. With this condition the kneecap will slide out of place and lock the leg straight. Diagnosis is fairly straightforward and surgery can correct the problem.
There are different forms and causes for cataracts but some forms, such as juvenile cataracts, may be inherited depending on the breed. A cataract is a structural change in the lens of the eye. A lens with a cataract is cloudy white. Your veterinarian will be able to tell you about other hereditary eye problems common to your dog’s breed.
Hearing impairment can be an inherited problem in some breeds. Inherited deafness is often caused by a defect of the inner ear, auditory nerve or in the brain.
Other genetic health conditions
Every breed is different so the health conditions mentioned here may not affect your dog. However, responsible breeding means that you make yourself aware of the possible problems and test for them. Although no dog is perfect, and imperfect dogs still find loving homes, there are too many dogs in shelters to breed for any reason other than trying to achieve the Breed Standard. Therefore any dog that tests positive to a genetic disorder should not be bred.
Pre-Breeding Tests II
To produce a healthy litter the bitch and stud dog must be physically and mentally healthy. Health tests must be performed before breeding, and vary depending upon the breed. The following article provides an overview of the most common health tests, however further research and consultation with your veterinarian will be necessary to determine the necessary tests for your chosen breed.
Your veterinarian will conduct two tests done one month apart to determine the evidence of brucellosis, a sexually transmitted disease that can cause the bitch to abort her litter and can cause infertility in male dogs. An infected dog may appear to be healthy, so testing before breeding must be done. A dog diagnosed with brucellosis should not be bred.
CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation)
Submit eye examination results given by a veterinary opthamologist to CERF annually for certification. The eye examination will look for PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), cataracts or other eye diseases. A dog diagnosed with eye disease should not be bred.
OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals)
Dysplasia: Submit hip and elbow X-rays taken by a veterinarian to OFA for evaluation. If the X-rays are rated ‘Fair,’ ‘Good’ or ‘Excellent’ the dog can be bred. If the X-rays are rated ‘Dysplastic’ the dog should not be bred. Dysplasia is a hereditary joint disorder that can be very painful and, although it can be treated, no responsible breeder would breed a dog with this rating.
Thyroid disease: OFA can also evaluate blood tests taken by a veterinarian to test for thyroid disease, which can cause reproductive problems. A dog with thyroid disease should not be bred.
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals