Like all dogs (purebred or not) Labs have their share of inheritable health problems. The following is a listing of the MINIMUM genetic testing that breeders of Labrador Retrievers should be doing.

Hip Dysplasia - a conditon in which the head of the femur fits improperly into the hip joint socket, causing Pain and lameness. Pain killers and/or surgery are the usual treatments.

Rank
Number of Evaluations
from 1/74-12/01
Percent Excellent
Percent Dysplastic
67
134,979
16.1
13.0

 

Hip dysplasia screening by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, PennHIP or Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) is recommended for all Labrador Retrievers used for breeding.

Expense for this test - Approx. $150-400 for x-rays plus fee to send to OFA

Elbow Dysplasia - a general term that is used to describe a developmental degenerative disease of the elbow joint. There are in fact three different etiologies that can create a diagnosis of ED.

In fact, in Labrador Retrievers we are seeing a greater number of dogs with elbow problems than we are with hip problems.

Rank
Number of Evaluations
from 1/74-12/01
Percent Normal
Percent Dysplastic
Percent Grade 1
Percent Grade 2
Percent Grade 3
14
16,831
87.4
12.6
9.2
2.2
1.1

 

Therefore, elbow dysplasia screening by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals or Ontario Veterinary College is recommended for all Labrador Retrievers used for breeding.

Expense for this test - Approx. $150-400 for x-rays plus fee to send to OFA

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - refers to retinal diseases that cause blindness. Some breeds have blindness by abnormal development of the retina and this is called dysplasia. Other breeds have a slowly progressive degeneration or death of the retinal tissue and this is degeneration. It is a long recognized, hereditary, blinding disorder. It is inherited as a simple autosomal recessive in most breeds.

An annual eye exam by an ACVO (American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists) is recommended from age 1 to at least age 9 for all breeding stock.

There is now a gene test for PRA in Labrador Retrievers (prcd).  Each and every Labrador used for breeding should have this test. 

Expense for this test - Approx. $50 per dog plus OFA fee; $150-$300 for the gene test per dog at Optigen

Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia (TVD) - The atrioventricular (AV) valves in the heart ensure that the blood flows from the atria to the ventricles when the heart beats. Malformation (dysplasia) of the right atrioventricular (tricuspid) valve causes backflow of blood into the right atrium, or tricuspid regurgitation. There may also be narrowing (stenosis) of the valve. Due to the dysplastic valve, the heart works less efficiently.

Methods used to diagnose this problem

  • Ascultation - Cardiologist Veterinarian listening to the heart via stethoscope
  • Echocardiogram - Echocardiography is an ultrasonic examination of the heart. The Cardiologist Veterinarian must be able to perform two-dimensional, pulsed-wave Doppler, and continuous wave Doppler examinations of the heart.

This condition (when it occurs) appears in several littermates, and tends to be more prevalent in some family bloodlines than others - it is suspected that the tendency to have this birth defect is hereditary. It is hoped that through screening of breeding stock and their lineage (parents, grandparents, littermates, aunts, uncles, etc.) efforts can be made to eliminate susceptible bloodlines from breeding programs.

Any dog used for breeding should be examined by a Cardiologist Veterinarian and cleared of this defect once the dog has reached the age of 1 year old.

Expense for this test - Approx. $100-$500 plus the fee to send to OFA

 

Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM) - More and more, veterinarians are seeing Labrador Retrievers, especially field bred Labradors, with an inherited health condition that weakens the muscles, making it difficult for a dog to walk. Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM), or hereditary myopathy, begins in puppies and climaxes at about 1 year old.  This disease is similar to Muscular Dystrophy in human children.

To be affected with CNM, a dog must have two abnormal genes - one from each parent. A dog with only one abnormal gene does not show signs but is a carrier that will pass the health condition on to its offspring if bred with another dog with the same abnormal gene.

Though there is no cure for CNM there is now a gene test to tell whether or not a dog is clear of the gene or a carrier.

Any dog used for breeding, especially if there are field/pet bred Labradors in the pedigree, should be tested for CNM before being bred.

Expense for this test - approx. $70

 

Exercise Intolerance and Collapse (EIC) - A syndrome of exercise intolerance and collapse (EIC) has been recognized in young adult Labrador Retrievers.

To be affected with EIC, a dog must have two abnormal genes - one from each parent.  A dog with only one abnormal gene does not show signs but is a carrier that will pass the health condition on to its offspring if bred with another dog with the same abnormal gene.

There is now a gene test to tell whether or not a dog is clear of the gene or a carrier

Any dog used for breeding, should be tested for EIC before being bred.

Approx. cost for this test - $65

 

How do you know if someone has done genetic testing?

Ask for what genetic tests/clearances has been done on each parent of a litter of puppies. Then ask to see proof of any testing the breeder has claimed to have done. Ask to see the OFA certificates or OVC documents to prove their dogs have been x-rayed free of Hip Dysplasia AND Elbow Dysplasia. Most breeders will have an OFA certificate for their cardiac clearances too. For eyes the breeder should have either a OFA certificate or a copy of their ACVO eye exam findings.   Optigen sends notice of whether or not a dog is clear (Normal), a carrier or affected with the PRA gene.  The testing facility for CNM and EIC will also send test results to show whether or not a dog is clear (Normal), a carrier or affected.

If any breeder cannot provide you with PROOF that these genetic tests have been done, buy at your own risk! Some breeders claim that their dogs have never limped or their own veterinarians have said the genetic testing was unnecessary. I'm sorry, but in my opinion, any veterinarian who says that genetic testing of Labrador Retrievers isn't necessary before breeding should lose their licenses. That is totally irresponsible. Granted, clearances do not 100% guarantee that a problem might not happen to an offspring, but the chances of it occuring are lessened.

 

 

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