Health Testing Dogs



Health testing dogs, it’s not something everyone does which is kinda crazy! In my opinion, in order to be known as an Ethical and Reputable Breeder, This Is a Must!

Nothing beats a long walk with your beautiful furry friend on a fresh morning. But these beautiful creatures are unable to tell you what they are going through. Most dogs are good at hiding signs of disease in the early stages as part of their survival instincts. Veterinarians across the globe recommend regular health testing of dogs, to ensure the early detection of diseases and disorders.



Responsible breeding has many costs associated. There are many breeders that love their dogs and take great care of their dogs; however, they are breeding blindly by not doing health testing. The most common reasons, you will hear from a breeder, that does not do health testing are:

  1. I know the lines of my breeding dogs are free from heart problems, HD, and/or ED.
  2. I can tell by the dog’s movement that there is nothing wrong with it structurally.
  3. My dog has been to the vet many times and the vet listened to their heart and did not hear anything or they would have told me.
  4. Why bother with the expense when you can take two dogs with perfect hips, elbows, or hearts and still produce a puppy or puppies with problems.
  5. It is too expensive.

In my opinion, as a breeder and a veterinarian, these are just excuses. There is some truth to all of it but breeding blindly, in my opinion, is not only risky to your program but to your dogs, the dogs they create, and the families that buy those puppies. When things pop up and BELIEVE me, they will, you have protected yourself from some blame by the fact that you have been a responsible breeder and done your due diligence to breed only healthy dogs.

HEALTH TESTING DOGS: The Importance Of Health Tests

The vital importance of health testing is to do your best not to put unhealthy dogs out. If you love your breed, you most definitely do not want to create unhealthy dogs. Health testing for HD and ED is vital as most dogs do not have perfect hips nor perfect elbows. However, if you know what you are working with, you can mate them to a better specimen.

For instance, I breed Bernese Mountain dogs. I have an AKC champion male that is in perfect health except for his elbows. He has ok elbows that are closer to good elbows than they are too bad so I still use him in my breeding program. Now here is where the importance of HD/ED testing comes in for me. I will only breed him to females that have excellent elbows! This helps me to keep his lines in use and lessen the probability of creating puppies with elbow issues. If I did not know his elbows were less than perfect and I bred him to a female that had only ok elbows or worse…I would be greatly increasing the chances of creating pups with elbow issues. This is what I mean about the risk of breeding blindly.

HEALTH TESTING DOGS: Detecting Diseases

When it comes to breeding dogs, There is a much greater chance of an underlying disease that may be present and could be transmitted to its mating partner. That’s why wellness examinations and testing are particularly important. With that being said the risks for many of these diseases can be greatly reduced, just by doing the testing on both dogs.

Besides, Puppy buyers want their new puppy to have a long and healthy life. Each breed carries a set of particular hereditary problems. Reputable breeders conduct regular screening tests for these diseases on the parents of a litter and share the results with potential puppy buyers.

A complete health examination in breeding dogs consists of a history, physical examination, semen evaluation, and testing for Brucella. Abnormalities such as joint diseases or spinal problems Can be evaluated with a general physical examination.

Your vet should do a very thourgh evaluation of the males penis and the females for any abnormalities like any growth, swelling, or abrasions.

If your vet suspects any abnormality in pituitary or thyroid glands, he will suggest some Blood tests and a Urinalysis.

Some of the most common diseases tested for in breeding dogs include:


One of the most common inherited problem in dogs is hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia involves abnormal development of the ball-and-socket joint, popularly known as the hip joint. The disorder includes changes to the shape of the hip and the development of osteoarthritis. As the dog gets older, the joint undergoes excessive wear and tear leading to varying degrees of pain, discomfort, stiffness, and lameness.

Signs of hip dysplasia are usually non-detectable in very young puppies and appear between the age of four and twelve months. Symptoms can vary widely between individuals and breeds from mild stiffness after exercise to severe lameness.

Some popular breeds at risk of hip dysplasia are Border Collie, German Shepherd, German Shorthaired Pointer, Golden Retriever, Labrador Retriever, Mastiff (all kinds), and Rottweiler. Some prominent signs of hip dysplasia include:

  • A reluctance to exercise
  • Difficulty in using the stairs
  • Groaning while resting or getting up
  • Lameness (unable to walk properly)
  • Stiffness after rest

Diagnosis of hip dysplasia

Although a regular physical examination has now way of telling just how severe the HD is, There is another way to find out this information.

The BVA/KC scoring scheme, is by far a much more reliable method for the evaluation of your dog’s hips.  The scheme screens animals for abnormalities in the hip joints and allows breeders to choose dogs with the best hip joints for breeding.

The experts grade each of the hips on nine different criteria including the angle made by the hip, how well the ball fits into the socket (acetabulum), the shape of the socket, and the shapes of the head and neck of the femur. The hip score is the sum of the points of nine radiographic features in each hip joint. The minimum or the best score for each hip is zero and the maximum or worst is 53.

Yes, It is possible to relieve most of the signs of pain and limitation of movement, You should not use dysplastic dogs to breed.

Sophisticated medications and various surgical procedures are now available. A joint health supplement Cosequin Maximum Strength Plus MSM has shown some promising results in HD. Heat application, good bedding, exercise, and weight management, as well as physiotherapy, also play a part in improving the symptoms.



Canine elbow dysplasia (ED) is a condition that involves abnormal development of the elbow joint.

The radius, ulna, and humerus are the three bones of which the Elbow consists of.

Elbow dysplasia involves a set of conditions grouped into medial compartment disease (fragmented coronoid process (FCP), osteochondrosis (OCD), joint incongruity, and cartilage anomaly) and ununited anconeal process (UAP). Elbow dysplasia is often hereditary.

It can occur in most dog breeds, but most commonly it is observed in large breeds.

Symptoms of elbow dysplasia generally begin at the age of 5-18 months, however, dogs with mild disease do not exhibit any symptoms until the arthritis is developed. Common symptoms of the disease include;

  • Front paws pointing outwards (abnormal angle of elbows)
  • Reluctance to walk or play
  • Limping or stiffness (usually worse after exercise)
  • Swollen elbows (in severe cases)

Diagnosis of elbow dysplasia

Diagnosis of elbow dysplasia can be made with clinical examination combined with radiography. During the physical examination, a dog may show signs of pain on extension and bending of the elbow joint. X-rays may detect any bone fragments, ununited anconeal process, and signs of inflammation. Your vet may suggest some advanced imaging techniques like MRI, CT scans.

Like Hip Dysplasia, (BVA/KC, OFA, Penn) scoring scheme is also available for the evaluation of dog’s elbows. The scheme screens dogs for abnormalities in the elbow joints and allows breeders to choose dogs with the best elbow scores for breeding purposes. The elbow radiograph is evaluated on the (BVA/KC, OFA, Penn) scoring scheme as well. The extent of elbow dysplasia is graded by a scale of 0 to 3 (0 being the best and 3 being the most severe).

There are numerous options available for the management of elbow dysplasia. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAID’s) are usually the first line of treatment to relieve the associated pain. If your dog is in severe pain, rest may be necessary.

Physiotherapy can help strengthen muscles and relieve the symptoms. Hydrotherapy is also a practical way to exercise your dog without straining the joints. Joint supplements, like Cosequin Maximum Strength Plus MSM, might slow down the development of arthritis.



By performing a physical examination, reviewing the history, and interpreting the results of tests or imaging, your doctor can diagnose Cardiovascular disease.

Heart testing is a screening test performed to help with the selection of the best pets to breed from.

The physical examination includes listening to the sounds produced by internal organs like the heart and lungs using a stethoscope. Palpation involves examining parts of the body by feeling with hands and fingers for abnormalities like swellings and to examine pulses. Imaging techniques include radiography, electrocardiography (recording electrical activity of the heart in the form of a graph), and echocardiography (a type of ultrasonography). There have been official heart testing schemes available for certain breeds with a high incidence of congenital or acquired heart diseases.


Canine Transmissible Venereal Tumor

Canine transmissible venereal tumors (TVTs) are cauliflower-like, nodular, and multilobulated in appearance. A TVT can range in size from 5mm to more than 10 cm.

TVTs are almost always located on the genitalia. The tumor is transplanted adjacent skin and oral, nasal, or conjunctival mucosa and can be transmitted from dog to dog by direct contact with the mass.

TVTs can be easily diagnosed by cytological examination of fine-needle aspirates or impression smears. PCR is another tool with improved diagnostic accuracy and can facilitate the decision of when to discontinue chemotherapy.


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