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OFA is a great tool we use to make our breeding decisions. However, we want to make it clear that it is not possible to produce 100 % perfectly healthy dogs. A dog is a living creature, not a product on a shelf. Again, it is very important to understand there are no perfect dogs! There is a misconception that if the parents are tested, all the puppies will be completely healthy for life. Golden retrievers are prone to a wide variety of health issues. Everything from eye, heart, hip and elbow problems to allergies, hot spots, skin issues, immune mediated diseases, hypothyroidism, epilepsy and cancer. Cancer is the main cause of death of golden retrievers. Every breed of dog has their own set of health issues. Most health screenings tell us only what a dog’s health is at one period in time. For example, the orthopedic foundation of animals was founded in 1966. After 55 years of Breeders using selective breeding, hip and elbow dysplasia still remain one of the top issues of dogs. Do not be misled when a breeder tells you the parents are tested so your puppy will never have any of those issues. “Pay more up front, so you don’t spend more in medical bills later,” they say. The truth is dogs with excellent hips can produce puppies with dysplastic hips and vice versa. The same goes for heart and eyes. The health screenings are not perfect but they do allow us to stack the deck in our favor. You have a better percentage chance at a healthier puppy out of health tested lines going back multiple generations but I cannot stress enough, it doesn’t mean you will never run into health problems during your dog’s life.
We find Genetic testing is very important and offers more potential! For golden retrievers these include; Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (NCL), Ichthyosis (ICH), Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRCD, PRA1 and PRA2), Muscular Dystrophy (MD), and Degenerative Myelopathy (DM). These are autosomal recessive genetic mutations. A puppy or dog must inherit a copy of the mutation from each parent in order to be affected. Genetic testing allows us detect asymptomatic carriers and affected dogs prior to breeding to avoid producing affected offspring. At this time, genetic testing has a limited number of tests available. Our hope with the different genetic laboratories and the foundations continuous research that more advanced reliable health screenings and more genetic tests become available in the years to come.