We submit all of our health testing results to OFA so they are availble for the public to see. OFA has partnered with parent clubs of all breeds to offer what is called the CHIC program. Our dogs at Alue are fully health tested above CHIC standards for the Standard Poodle breed. For Standard Poodles those tests include hip dysplasia PennHIP or OFA testing, eye exam by a certified ACVO opthamologist, and an elective test of either thyroid, cardiac, or SA skin punch.
Here is a list of tests that we do at Alue and a bit about them.
Hip Dysplasia: If you chose to do the OFA view, you can do prelims starting at 4 months old. If you send prelims in, they will be graded same as finals, but they will not qualify towards a CHIC number as prelims. In order for the prelim score to be recorded, your dog must be 12 months of age or older and they must have their microchip number verified at the time of the xray. OFA grades hips based on a set list of criteria and radiographs are reviewed by a team of three vets. If a dog passes with excellent, good, or fair hips, a dog will recieve an OFA number and will be recorded in the website. If a dog fails with borderline, mild, moderate, or severe HD, unless an owner marks permission for failing hips to be listed, the results will not be listed on OFA. PennHIP is a science, measurement based hip exam that looks at three different xrays to develop their score. Both tests have their merits and I have used both tests with my dogs.
Elbow Dysplasia: OFA will grade both elbows for degenerative joint disease (DJD). ununited anconeal process (UAP), osteochondrosis (OCD) and fragmented medial coronoid process (FCP), which can occur all at once or a dog can have one out of the three. While ED is not a recommended test for Poodles, I firmly believe that we as breeders should test our dogs; we are already getting hip xrays, why not do your elbow xrays at the same time? Like hips, your elbow results will not be certified until your dog is two years of age. OFA will rate elbows normal for passing or grade 1-3 for failing results. You can have one passing elbow and one failing elbow, so that is something to keep in mind as well.
CERF Eye Exams: Eye exams are extremely important in breeding animals. Eye exams can only be done by board-certified opthalmologist. A CERF exam is not the same as your regular vet looking at your dogs' eyes during a physical exam. "There are eye diseases in the dog for which there is evidence of a genetic or heritable cause. The American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists has listed ten of these diseases as automatic “fails” (this means the affected dog is ineligible to receive an eye certification) because of the significance of the condition to vision and/or the very strong evidence of heritability". Eye exams need to be done yearly for them to be considered up to date in the OFA database.
Cardiac: OFA offers two databases for cardiac exams. The one that we do at Alue is what is called the Congenital database; all that means is that our regular vet listens to their hearts and if they find no evidence of a heart murmur or any abnormalities, they give the dogs a "normal" and in the database they are marked as being done by a practitioner. I am personally confident in my exams being done by my normal vet, but if you want a more in depth exam or have an abnormality come up in your congenital exam, you can do an advanced exam done by a certified vet with a doppler. For an OFA number, your dog must be 12 months of age, but you can get a preliminary exam done for your information. Failures are graded on a scale from 1-6.
Patellas: Patellas are another orthopedic exam that itsn't required for Standard Poodles, but it's another test that I believe we should do as it takes no extra effort on our part and can be done in a normal vet exam. Your dog must be 12 months of age for an OFA number. In large breeds, there is a related component to hip dyslasia. Your vet will manipulate your dogs knees in the exam to be sure they don't pop out.
Thyroid: Thyroid exams are a blood draw that gets sent off to OFA approved labs. You can get a prelim test done before 12 months of age, but you will not get an offical OFA number until your dog is older than 12 months of age. OFA recommends testing every couple of years up to 4 years old, and then testing every year after for hypothyroidism. The test look at these three things; Free T4 (FT4) .Canine Thyroid Simulating Hormone (cTSH), and Thyroglobulin Autoantibodies (TgAA). If you get back an abnormal result, you should wait 6 months and retest.
Dentition: Dentition is another elective test we do. Dentition counts adult teeth and makes sure they are all erupted and notes any missing or retained teeth. Teeth are important to me in my program and I want it noted throught the generations my dogs have proper teeth count.
Degenerative Myelopathy: DM is a DNA disease that causes gradual paralysis by degeneration of the spinal cord. Poodles are an at risk breed and absolutely need to be tested. Breeding carriers is a personal decision that should be taken seriously, but there is nothing directly wrong with breeding them as long as you are careful and research your pedigrees. Never breed carrier and carrier in the Poodle breed. Disclaimer: this advice does not apply to other breeds, only to Poodles.
Neonatal Encephalopathy: Affected puppies will be weak, uncoordinated, and mentally dull from birth. If they survive the first few days, they nurse adequately. They may not, however, be able to compete with stronger pups in the litter and their growth may be stunted. Some cannot stand at all. Others manage to struggle to their feet and walk with jerky movements, falling frequently. Seizures develop in most affected pups at 4-5 weeks of age. Attempts to control these seizures with medication have proven futile, and the pups die or are euthanized before they reach weaning age. Therefore testing is absolutely necessary in breeding pairs.
Progressive retinal atrophy, progressive rod-cone degeneration (PRA-prcd): This is a late-onset genetic disease that affects eyesight in Standard Poodles. Evidence in affected dogs can first be seen on an Electroretinogram around 1.5 years of age for most breeds, but most affected dogs will not show signs of vision loss until 3 to 5 years of age or later. Due to the fact symptoms won't appear until adulthood, testing before breeding is necessary.
Von Willebrand Disease I (VWDI): VWD is an inherited bleeding disorder where affected dogs have less than half of the normal level of von Willebrand coagulation factor (vWf), which is an essential protein needed for normal blood clotting. Affected dogs may bruise easily, have frequent nosebleeds, bleed from the mouth when juvenile teeth are lost, and experience prolonged bleeding after surgery or trauma. Less often, the bleeding may be severe enough to cause death. Due to the variable severity of the disorder, affected dogs may not be identified until a surgery is performed or trauma occurs at which time excessive bleeding is noted. Due to the severity of the possible outcome of this disease, breeding pairs need to be tested.
There are a few ways to order your genetic tests, you can order through Paw Print Genetics, Optimal Selection, and Embark. If you want to also test your color genetics, I definitely suggest buying a panel like OS or Embark. Or wait for one of many PPGs 50% off sales. OS tests for parti, Embark does not. I suggest doing your research and picking whichever company works for you and your dogs.
UC Davis VGL
UC Davis developed a test for genetic diversity, and it is some very exciting stuff! This test has markers for short tandem repeat loci that test diversity in the indvidual dog and across the breed. DLA haplotypes class I and II genes were used to identify genetic differences in regions regulating immune responses; meaning that they have theories about DLA types 1003 that carries a slightly higher risk of Addisons and SA, 1006/2004 and 1006/2007 that carry a higher risk of SA, and the 1007 that carries a higher risk of Addisons disease. None of these DLAs mean your dog will absolutely have or produce Addisons!! It just means there is a slightly elavated risk and a breeder needs to be mindful when looking at prospective breeding pairs. Internal Relatedness (IR) is a measurment that is unique to each dog and their genetic diversity. We as a breed are shooting for dogs to have either 0 or negative IRs; the higher the IR, the more inbred your dog is. Click here to go to UC Davis and read all about the test! While this test and the information used are still young, we have so much information and there is much more to come!! All my dogs are tested and public in the Betterbred database and I truly believe all breeders need to look into this test and how it helps our breeding programs! You can also go to the Standard Poodle breed page on Betterbred and look at the information and definitions of each term while also seeing every public tested dog in the database and look at their profiles! All you have to do is create a free profile.
So let's break down VGL a bit more into easier to digest chunks! Let's jump into a light overview of the Standard Poodle breed history. Standard Poodles are a rather highly inbred breed because they come from about 5 top producing dogs from Jean Lyle at Wycliff kennel. She was a very successful breeder in the 1950s and all Standard Poodles come from these dogs. You can read here about Wycliff percentage and where our breed bottleneck comes from. Let's look at DLAs next! DLAs control the immune system, among other things. As I touched on earlier, there are DLAs that have been linked to be more risky than others when it comes to autoimmune issues, and there are also DLAs that have been found to be rarer across the breed. One set of DLA comes from the dam and one comes from the sire, which means that if you have a dog with the 1007, breed to a dog that does not. Outlier Index is the measurement of how unsual a dog is and fluctates with breed numbers. The breed average is .23 and dogs that are outliers are .30 and higher. The lower OI means a dog is within the cluster of related dogs.
Day Blindness/Retinal Degeneration (DB/RD)
This is a test that is very very important to me. One of my past fosters actually had day blindness and it's a heart breaking disease. Day blindness is a disease that affects vision in bright lights. In Poodles however, unlike other forms of day blindness in other breeds, the DB/RD mutation causes a more complete retinal degeneration in the affected dog such that they eventually lose both cone and rod cell function resulting in vision loss under all lighting conditions. With day blind affected dogs, owners need to be very vigilant when outdoors and indoors they need to try to not move furniture and make sure that there are wide paths for the dog to walk in the house. Getting googles for outdoors can help give your dog confidence in the sunlight to be a normal dog. While it hasn't been proven, it is thought via the cases we have seen that it runs more prevalent in multi lines (though it has been seen in solid dogs) so I firmly believe multi breeders need to be utilizing this test. It can only be purchased through Wisdom Panel formally Optigen.