Health testing can be very confusing for those who are not seasoned breeders. Everyone tells you to make sure your puppy is health tested... but for what? We do NOT expect you to be health testing experts, and we welcome any questions about the health and well-being of our dogs and your future puppy. We encourage you to please ask us any questions you may have!
To help potential doodle owners further understand health testing, we created this guide. Please keep in mind that the following is what we at Red Spring Farm believe that Goldendoodles, (ALD) Labradoodles, and Bernedoodles need to be tested for- every breeder will give you a slightly different answer. Thankfully, the majority of reputable breeders will agree that certain tests are a necessity.
Whether you are getting a Red Spring Farm pup, or a doodle pup from another breeder, PLEASE keep the importance of health testing in mind. At the same time, remember that there are other considerations that need to be made when choosing a breeder. Does the breeder actually back up their health testing by offering a health guarantee (see our guarantee here) and does the guarantee refund you or simply require you to return your family pet (we do NOT require you to return your family member)? What is the temperament of the parent dogs? Does the breeder kennel their adult dogs outside, or are they kept as family pets or in guardian homes? If allergies and shedding is a factor, remember that certain generations, such as F1B or multigens, are the better choice for allergy sufferers.
HEALTH TESTING CRASH COURSE!
There are two types of health tests. Genetic and Physical. I will break these down individually.
The genetic tests are very reliable and can be taken at any age. Genetic diseases are much simpler to diagnose and predict than physical disease (such as hip dysplasia. For each of the genetic tests that we perform, their are 3 possibly outcomes. The dog could be CLEAR of the disease, where both alleles are normal (N/N), AFFECTED by the disease, where both alleles are affected (A/A), or a CARRIER of the disease, where one allele is normal and the other is affected (N/A). Carriers are healthy and make excellent pets. Carriers and even Affected dogs can be used in a cautious breeding program as long as they are paired with a CLEAR mate (so no affected offspring are ever produced). With appropriate testing, no affected dogs of the following diseases should ever be produced.
What genetic diseases should Goldendoodles and/or ALD Labradoodles be tested for? Disease descriptions summarized from Paw Print Genetics.
Centronuclear Myopathy: A progressive muscle disease with first symptoms presenting between 6 weeks to 7 months of age with exercise intolerance, awkward gait and difficulty eating. As the disease progresses, symptoms also include generalized muscle atrophy, downward flexion of the head and neck, low muscle tone and more frequent episodes of collapse when exposed to cold temperatures. Dogs typically have a normal life span, but affected dogs usually have life-long medical problems due to the underlying muscle disease.This disease is found in Labrador Retrievers.
Congenital Myasthenic Syndrome (Labrador Type): an inherited neuromuscular disease in which affected dogs develop severe exercise-induced weakness of all four limbs leading to collapse around 2-3 weeks of age. Affected dogs will have decreased reflexes in all limbs and a short-strided gait that becomes more pronounced with exercise. Dogs must be humanely euthanized at a young age due to disease severity. This disease is found in Labrador Retrievers.
Cystinuria (Labrador Type): Is an inherited kidney diseases in which affected dogs fail to reabsorb cystine, allowing large amounts to pass into the urine, which forms crustals and stone that block ther ureters or urethra and stop the flow of urine. Dogs with Cystinuria have recurrent inflammation of the urinary tract and stones, causing infection, kidney failure, and even death. This disease is found in Labrador Retrievers.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM): The canine equivalent of Lou Gehrig's Disease, DM destroys part of the nerves in the spinal cord slowly resulting in paralysis and death. This disease is found in Golden Retrievers, Labradors Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, and all sizes of Poodle.
Dystrophic Epidermolysis Bullosa (DEB): A skin disease affecting dogs and affected dogs show symptoms at birth, with fragile skin that develops blisters, sores, ulcers, and scarring of the skin. Open wounds can cause infection and pain. Though symptoms decrease with age, dogs will be prone to developing skin lesions for the rest of their life. This disease is found in Golden Retrievers.
Elliptocytosis: A rare inherited blood disorder in which red blood cells in affected dogs appear oval-shaped and can have serrated edges. An affected dog may present with anemia and be smaller than its littermates, but will live a normal lifespan. This disease is found in Labrador Retrievers.
Exercise-Induced Collapse (EIC): An inherited neuromuscular disorder that effects the hind limbs causing a wobby, uncoordinated gait in the hind limbs after 5-20 minutes of streneous exercise. Sometimes symptoms can progress to full body weakness, muscle paralysis, confusion, seizures, and in rare cases, even death. This disease is found in Labrador Retrievers and Cocker Spaniels.
Familial Nephropathy (Cocker Type): An inherited disorder of the kidneys in which affected dogs allow protein from the blood to be filtered by the kidneys and lost in the urine. Symptoms of chronic kidney disease appear between 6 months and 2 years of age, include excessive thirst and urination, vomiting, inappetence, weight loss, weakness and fatigue. Affected dogs die of chronic kidney failure within a year. This disease is found in Cocker Spaniels.
GM2 Gangliosidosis: Affected dogs lack enzymes for breaking down certain carbohydrates in their cells, resulting in glycoprotein toxicity. This slowly breaks down the brain and nervous system. Symptoms begin at about 1 year of age, and include vision loss, difficulties walking, loss of balance, head tremors, vomiting and death before the age of 2. This disease is found in all sizes of Poodle.
Glycogen Storage Disease VII (PFK Deficiency): Is an inherited metabolic disorder in which the dog has insufficient activity of the phosophofructokinase Enzyme, which breaks down glycogen for energy. This results in damaged red blood cells and skeletal muscle cells. Affected dogs have pale gums due to anemia and be lethargic. After streneous activity or periods of excitement, affected dogs may have red or brown urine, muscle cramping, and jaundice. As affected dogs age, they may have recurrent episodes of hemolysis and muscle wasting which progressed to the inability to walk. This disease is found in Cocker Spaniels.
Hereditary Nasal Parakeratosis (HNPK): Affected dogs experience extreme dry, rough skin on the tip of the nose by the time they are 1 year of age ranging in severity from minor scaliness tom painful, deep cracks. Dogs with HNPK often need continuous topical therapy to prevent excessive symptoms. This disease is found in Labrador Retrievers.
Hyperuricosuria (HUU): An inherited condition in which dogs have elevated levels of uric acid in the urine. Uric acid can form crystals and stones in the urinary tract, which can cause inflammation, frequent urination, and blood in the urine. Dogs with HUU are at risk for urinary tract infections, blockages of the urethra, and kidney infections. This disease is found in Labrador Retrievers.
Ichthyosis (ICH): A skin disorder that causes the skin to become scaly and flaky resulting in a coat full of dandruff. Owners with even mild allergies often have difficulties living with ichthyosis affected dogs, and dogs are prone to skin infections. Frequent baths are necessary to prevent build up of dandruff. Ichthyosis is a disease found in Golden Retrievers.
Improper Coat (IC): This is not a health condition, but the coat gene that causes Golden Retrievers and Labrador Retrievers to have short hair on their nose and face. It is a natural, healthy gene... but nobody wants a Goldendoodle, Labradoodle, or Double Doodle to have short hair on its face... we all want that adorable teddy bear look! At Red Spring Farm, we test for it so this so your doodle looks like a doodle! This gene is found in Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, and Cocker Spaniels.
Muscular Dystrophy (Golden Retriever Type): Affected dogs lack the ability to produce enough protein and this effects muscle growth and control and is similar to Muscular Dystrophy in humans. Symptoms range from mild to severe, but the end result is succumbing to the disease. This disease is found in Golden Retrievers.
Myotubular Myopathy Type 1 (MTM1): Affected puppies are typically normal at birth, but between 7 and 19 weeks of age they present with muscle weakness especially in the hind limbs, decreased muscle mass, a hoarse bark and difficulty eating. The disease rapidly progresses from generalized muscle weakness and frequent episodes of collapse to a complete inability to stand or even raise their heads within 4 weeks of initial presentation. Most dogs must be euthanized between 3 and 6 months of age due to severe progression. This disease is found in Labrador Retrievers.
Narcolepsy (Labrador Type): An inherited form of narcolepsy typically present between one to six months of age with an inability to stay awake for extended periods of time and episodes of collapse and sleep following positive stimulation such as play or food. Affected dogs fall asleep faster than normal dogs and appear sleepy more frequently. During episodes of collapse dogs have a sudden loss of muscle tone and appear uncontrollably sleepy but may or may not completely fall asleep.This disease is found in Labrador Retrievers.
Neonatal Encephalopathy with Seizures (NEWS): Affected puppies are smaller than littermates at birth, have difficulty nursing after a few days of life, and often die by 1 week of age. Surviving puppies present with neurologic symptoms including muscle weakness, tremors, inability to walk, and frequent falling, quickly progresses to severe seizures resulting in death before 2 months of age. This disease is found in all sizes of Poodle.
Osteochondrodysplasia/Skeletal Dwarfism: An inherited muscoloskeletal disease, affected dogs typically present at about 3 weeks of age with stunted growth. Puppies often walk differently than unaffected littermates and stand with their feet turned out and hind legs splayed. Their legs are short and bent with enlarged joints and clubbed feet. They also have flatted rib cages and under bites, which can affect their ability to nurse and breathe. While affected dogs can survive for many years with supportive care, they will develop arthritis and will likely have breathing difficulty due to their deformed ribcages. This disease is found in all sizes of Poodle.
Osteogenesis imperfecta (OI): A collagen deficiency present at just a couple weeks old that causes broken bones, fractures, and lameness. Also called Brittle Bone Disease. Bones of affected puppies are thin, and due to the severity of the disease most puppies are euthanized at an early age to prevent a life of suffering and pain. This disease is found in Golden Retrievers.
Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration (PRCD): s one of many types of Progressive Retinal Atrophy... a disease that causes the retina of the eye to slowly degenerate. Dogs that are AFFECTED with prcd-PRA will slowly lose their eyesight. This disease is found in Golden Retrievers, Labrador Retrievers, Cocker Spaniels, and all sizes of Poodle.
Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration Type 4 (PRCD4): Is one of many types of Progressive Retinal Atrophy, a disease that causes the retina of the eye to slowly degenerate. Dogs that are AFFECTED with PRCD4 will slowly lose their eyesight. This disease is found in Labrador Retrievers.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy Type 1 (GR-PRA1): Is a type of Progressive Retinal Atrophy that causes the retina of the eye to slowly degenerate. Dogs that are AFFECTED with GR_PRA1 will slowly lose their eyesight. GR_PRA1 is more common that GR_PRA2. Found in Golden Retrievers.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy Type 2 (GR-PRA2):Is a type of Progressive Retinal Atrophy that causes the retina of the eye to slowly degenerate. Dogs that are AFFECTED with GR_PRA2 will slowly lose their eyesight. GR_PRA2 is less common that GR_PRA1. Found in Golden Retrievers and occasionally Labrador Retrievers.
Pyruvate Kinase Deficiency (Labrador Type): An in herited metabolic disease, affected dogs have insufficient activity of the pyruvate kinase enzyme which breaks down glycogen for energy. Deficiency of this enzyme results primarily in easily damaged red blood cells (hemolysis). Affected dogs typically present between 4 months and 2 year of age with pale gums from decreased numbers of red blood cells (Anemia) and lethargy or exercise intolerance. Clinical findings during a veterinary exam include severe anemia, hardening of the bones, and an enlarged spleen and liver. While dogs can live for several years with this disease, they typically die from severe anemia or liver failure by 5 years of age. This disease is found in Labrador Retrievers.
Retinal Dysplasia/Oculoskeletal Dysplasia Type 1: An inherited Collagen disorder affecting dogs. Dwarfism and eye abnormalities may be apparent as early as 4 to 6 weeks of age in affected puppies. The dwarfism is characterized by shortened forelimbs that become curved as the dog grows. In puppies, the top of the head may be noticeably dome shaped compared to littermates. A range of eye abnormalities is visible on a veterinary eye exam of which retinal detachment and cataracts are the most common. Carrier dogs do not have skeletal changes but may have mild eye abnormalities, including retinal folds. This disease is found in Labrador Retrievers.
Sensory Ataxic Neuropathy (SAN): A neurological disorder that presents itself in puppies around 6 months old, resulting in loss of coordination and difficulty using the hind limbs. Though it progresses slowly and appears to be painless, most dogs must be euthanized before the age of 3 as the use of their body shuts down. This disease is found in Golden Retrievers.
Skeletal Dysplasia 2 (Dwarfism): an inherited muscoloskeletal disease in which dogs develop a mild form of “disproportionate dwarfism” consisting of short legs with normal body length and width. The leg bones are shorter, thicker, and slightly curved and the front legs are frequently more affected than rear legs. Joints and eyes are not typically affected with this disease. This disease is found in Labrador Retrievers.
Von Willebrand Disease Type 1 (VWD I): This is a blood clotting disorder similar to hemophilia in people. There are two different genes that need to be tested, this is the 1st type. AFFECTED dogs can bleed profusely from small wounds, causing life threatening blood loss. This disease is found in all sizes of Poodle (particularly Standard Poodles).
Every single reputable dog breeder will use breed improvement programs such as the the OFA, Dr. Wallace, E-Vet, Pennhip, and the Companion Animal Eye Registry (CAER) to evaluate their dogs. Please stay away from any breeder that does not test their breeding dogs for breed-specific structural abnormalities or who claims that these tests are not accurate. While these tests are not as "black and white" as genetic testing, it is proven that parent dogs who score normally are significantly less likely (some as little as 1% chance) to produce offspring with the tested health issue, while affected dogs are much more likely to produce affected offspring.
-Hips: These are two of the most common tests that detect hip dysplasia. All breeding dogs should have had one of these tests performed because puppies out of parents with healthy hips are less likely to get hip dysplasia. Unfortunately, hip dysplasia is not purely genetic (there are physical causes as well, such as overexertion at a young age, living on slippery surfaces like hardwood floors, and poor diet). OFA, Dr. Wallace, E-Vet, and PennHip Elbow evaluations require x-rays.
-Elbows: These are two of the most common tests that detect elbow dysplasia. All breeding dogs should have had one of these tests performed because puppies out of parents with healthy elbows are less likely to get elbow dysplasia. Unfortunately, elbow dysplasia is not purely genetic (there are physical causes as well, such as overexertion at a young age, living on slippery surfaces like hardwood floors, and poor diet). OFA, Dr. Wallace, E-Vet, and PennHip Elbow evaluations require x-rays.
-CAER Eye Clearances must be performed regularly to verify that there are no underlying congenital sight problems that cannot be detected from genetic screening. Regular eye exams performed on the parent dogs helps prevent the chance of genetic eye-related issues passing to offspring. Our active breeding dogs see a veterinary ophthalmologist prior to being bred.
-Patella Small breeds are especially prone to Patellar Luxation, where the hind knee moves out of place resulting in pain and lameness in a severely affected dog. Our vet examines function of the patella in each of our breeding dogs so we can make pairing decisions to reduce the incident of significant patella luxation in our minis.
-Cardiac Golden Retrievers are known to have issues with Congenital Heart Defects, such as heart murmur. It is impossible to genetic test for these problems, so parent dogs must pass a cardiac exam. Our vet checks for murmurs and abnormalities in each of our breeding dogs. If a possible problem is found we have an echo performed by a veterinary cardiologist.
Congratulations on making it all the way through the crash course! Still have questions? We encourage you to ask them... Contact Us!