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A range of health testing schemes is now available for our gundog breeds.  This section gives you links to information on the screening tests available for each breed of gundog.  The uptake of these schemes varies from breed to breed,  and between working dog and show dog breeders.  As with all veterinary information,  advances are being made all the time, so do check back regularly for the latest information.  For links to specific information on Health Schemes, select your gundog group below.  For information on conditions common to all gundogs scroll down.



Latest news, links and articles:

Screening tests for retrievers

New section with links to information on health screening programmes for retriever breeds...

Genetic Diseases in Dogs:  Information on genetic diseases, how they are inherited and tested for...

Fucocidosis:  Christine Bridgwater give us some compelling reasons why spaniels should be tested for this awful disease.  Click here to read more...

Optigen testing:  More and more breeders are chosing to optigen test their labradors.  To find out why, click here.....






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All responsible large gundog breeders now screen their breeding animals for hip dysplasia (this is a once in a lifetime test) and annually for eye disease.  In addition many breeders now screen for elbow dysplasia which is becoming more common,  especially in Labradors and in Golden Retrievers.

The information on this page is not a substitute for veterinary care.  If you are at  all concerned that your dog's hips may not be normal  or about any aspect of  your dogs health,  please contact your veterinary surgeon for advice.   What follows is a brief summary of the condition  of hip dysplasia in dogs

Hip Dysplasia

Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD )  is an inherited condition.   It comes in a wide range of degrees of severity from extremely mild to cripplingly severe.   CHD is a malformation of the hip socket and is polygenic (passed on through a group of faulty genes).   This group of genes determines the potential for the development of a faulty hip socket in any puppy unlucky enough to inherit them.   The hip sockets the puppy with CHD is born with in most cases look just the same as the hip sockets of healthy puppies.   But the hips of puppies who inherit the HD genes do not grow normally.   In these puppies what should be a nice deep socket, which safely cradles the top of the femur,  fails to grow properly and over time this inadequate socket allows damage to develope in the joint in the form of arthritis.  

The 'expression'  of the genetic potential of the puppy -  or what actually happens to the puppy's hip  sockets as they grow  -  can be influenced to an extent.    The good news is that this potential for 'influencing'  the development of your puppy's hips means you are able to increase his chances of  growing reasonable hip sockets.  To read more about helping your puppy grow strong hips click here..   The bad news is that this ability to 'mask'  to a certain extent,  those animals which are affected,  increases to some extent the possibility that dogs with the potential to pass on the genes for poor hips may be bred from.

The fact that  CHD is not  caused by one single defective gene makes it difficult to accurately trace the path of inheritance.   What we do know,  is that if we breed from a dog with poor hips then the puppies that result are more likely to develop poor hips themselves,  than if we breed from dogs with good hips.   

Schemes exist in many countries now to make multiple measurements of various aspects of the hip joint as seen on x-ray,  and to classify each hip according to an agreed scoring system.  

Uptake of this scheme is growing in the UK especially amongst the larger gundog breeds,  retrievers in particular. It is well worth ensuring that any retriever or large gundog puppy you buy comes from parents who have better than average hip scores for the breed.

The heavier the dog,  the more strain there is on the hip joints,  and it is partly for this reason that testing in smaller dogs has been slower to gain in popularity.  Hip dysplasia in spaniels is often considered to be unusual,  but it does occur and can be devastating when it happens.  Some working spaniel breeders do now test their dog's hips and this is a welcome development.  More breeders will test in the future if buyers keep asking them for hip scores.  


Hip Scores

In the UK hip scores are expressed as a number for each hip  eg  6:6  This would be a total score of 12.   The hips of any dog used for breeding should be better than the breed mean score  for that breed if we are to stand any chance of continuing to reduce the incidence and severity of this disease



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