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Responsible dog breeders should make themselves aware of the genetic diseases that can affect their particular breed. There is no excuse for breeding dogs with hip dysplasia or a variety of other preventable diseases.
Here at Stud Dog Central I would like to encourage all owners, of both the studs and the bitches that are serviced by them, to consider carefully the results of negligence on the part of the breeders. For instance, hip dysplasia is terribly crippling and can occur in 50 percent or more in some of the larger breeds of dogs! It wouldn’t have to be like this if people who breed dogs would take the time, and the little extra money it takes, to have their dogs tested before breeding them! If the results come out less than "fair", simply don’t breed that dog. No amount of beauty or personality is worth subjecting resulting puppies to a life of severe pain and early death.
Talking with your vet can be a good place to begin. However, there is a wealth of information available to you through places like the OFA website, local breed clubs, and websites for numerous national breed clubs.
Here is a link to the OFA’s statistics database, where you can search for information by disease, or by breed: http://www.offa.org/stats.html. This information can guide you in knowing what things might be necessary to be tested for, in your particular breed of dog. Please take the time to familiarize yourself with your particular dog’s possible genetic weaknesses, and get him or her tested for them before using them to produce puppies.
"Hip dysplasia is one of the most common skeletal diseases seen in dogs. Gender does not seem to be a factor, but some breeds are more likely to have the genetic predisposition for hip dysplasia than other breeds. Large and giant breeds are most commonly affected, including the Great Dane, Saint Bernard, Labrador Retriever, and German Shepherd. Rarely, small breed dogs can also be affected, but are less likely to show clinical signs."
"Patellar luxation is hereditary and especially common in small and toy breeds of dogs... The patella (or kneecap) lies in a "track" on the front of the leg, where it functions in joint movement, sliding up and down easily as the knee bends and extends. In some dogs...the patella does not stay in its track, occasionally slipping (or luxating), usually to the inside of the leg. When this happens, it is called patellar luxation.
Signs of patellar luxation in pets vary depending on how severe the problem is. Most pets tend to skip or hop when walking or especially when running, but some dogs...may hold the leg up completely. Damage caused by the kneecap slipping in and out of its track can eventually lead to arthritis in the knee."
"Elbow dysplasia is a general term used to identify an inherited polygenic disease in the elbow of dogs."
"Elbow dysplasia is a common cause of front-leg lameness in large-breed dogs. Breeds predisposed to elbow dysplasia include the Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, English Setter, English Springer Spaniel, Rottweiler, German Shepherd, Bernese Mountain Dog, Chow Chow, Chinese Shar-Pei, Newfoundland, and others."
Heritable Eye Diseases
"There are many heritable diseases in animals. The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) was established in 1974 to track heritable eye diseases in purebred dogs. A database is maintained through registered purebred dogs examined by board certified veterinary ophthalmologists... This database helps breeders and ophthalmologists monitor eye diseases. ...Many ocular diseases do not appear until later in a dog's life, such as progressive retinal atrophy and some forms of cataract, so annual examinations are necessary to rule out heritable disease."
Inheritance of Canine Deafness
Congenital deafness has been reported for approximately 80 breeds, with the list growing at a regular rate...; it can potentially appear in any breed but especially those with white pigmentation. Deafness may have been long-established in a breed but kept hidden from outsiders to protect reputations. The disorder is usually associated with pigmentation patterns, where the presence of white in the hair coat increases the likelihood of deafness. Two pigmentation genes in particular are often associated with deafness in dogs: the merle gene ...and the piebald gene... However, not all breeds with these genes have been reported to be affected.
"Cyclic Neutropenia is a disease that affects the neutrophils of a dog, which are an integral part of the dog's immune system. Every 10-12 days, the dog will experience a dramatic drop in the number of neutrophils circulating through his blood stream, leaving him extremely susceptible to infections. The dog will often experience diarrhea, fever, joint pain, or other symptoms associated with eye, respiratory, or skin infections. Bleeding episodes can also occur. Unfortunately, most affected dogs will die as puppies, and even with the best care, the dog will not likely live past 2-3 years of age."
This is just a sampling of some of the genetic disorders in dogs.
"Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM) is a grave disease that has been of concern in Labrador Retrievers globally since the 1970’s...By the 1990's, the incidence had increased significantly. This increase is globally due to famous successful Labradors who are carriers being used extensively for breeding.
CNM is a disease where the muscles of the Labrador do not develop properly. The mutation is present in two copies from birth in affected pups. Affected pups have missing tendon reflexes as well as less weight gain than others by four weeks of age...The more obvious symptoms of CNM appear when a pup is between twelve and twenty weeks of age. The pup will begin to stumble and fall when trying to walk. There are difficulties in swallowing since the muscles in the esophagus are affected. Food can then get into lungs causing pneumonia. The symptoms are typically worse in cold weather. The symptoms remain for the entire life of the dog."
Ichthyosis is an autosomal recessive genetic mutation that affects the skin of Golden Retrievers. The mutation prevents the outer layer of the epidermis from forming properly, resulting in skin that becomes darkened and thick and flakes excessively.
The name "Ichthyosis" is derived from the Greek word for fish, which describes the skin's resemblance to fish scales. "The most common symptom of ICH-A is excessive flaking of the skin. Other symptoms include areas of hardened skin and hyperpigmentation, which may make the skin appear dirty or blackened. Symptoms can be mild or severe. Evidence of the disease may be detected when the dog is still a puppy, but symptoms may take a year or more to develop. Additionally, symptoms can improve or worsen, depending on stress and hormonal cycles."
Merle / Cryptic Merle
The Merle gene creates mottled patches of color in a solid or piebald coat, blue or odd-colored eyes, and can affect skin pigment as well. Animals that are “double Merle” a common term used for dogs that are homozygous for Merle (MM) are predominantly white and prone to several health issues. Chances of having puppies with health issues is more typical when two Merles are bred together, so it is recommended that a Merle dog only be bred to a non Merle, non cryptic Merle dog. Many solid dogs are actually crypticor phantom merles and can produce both Merle and double merles.