There are certain tests to be aware of that can help determine how healthy the parents of your prospective puppy are. Unfortunately, these tests can only examine the outward appearance of the dogs, but cannot truly certify that the dogs do not genetically carry the diseases. Therefore, none of these tests are a guarantee that the puppies will be perfect, but they are the best way to reduce your risks. It is very difficult for breeders to say definitively “No dog from my kennel will get these diseases”. Testing cannot gaurantee anything other than a reduced chance that these conditions will be passed on. They are not perfect tests, but they are a start, and are our only weapon in the fight to eradicate genetic diseases from pure bred dogs.
It is an erroneous myth that pure bred dogs are more prone to disease than mixed breeds (or mutts). In fact, this has never been proven. Most owners of mixed breeds never have their dogs put through the genetic tests that pure breds under go, so their chance of producing affected offspring is much greater than a pair of rigorously tested pure breds. “Hybrid Vigor”, another popular myth, has been repeatedly proven to only have any resonance in the first generation of offspring, and the same genetic diseases rapidly re appear by the second generation of offspring of mixed breed pairs. Add to this the fact that you cannot accurately predict the size, temperment or appearance of mixed breed puppies.
In short, pure bred dogs are not perfect, but many caring breeders are doing their best to improve their over all condtion. Here are some of the things that are being tested for, what their signifigance is, who governs the testing, and what you should look for. Most breeders will perform some or all of these tests, please take the time to ask first. A general site for more info on genetic disease in pure bred dogs is “Eliminating Genetic Diseases in Dogs: A Buyer’s Perspective”
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
2300 Nifong Blvd
OFA evaluates x-rays of hips and elbows for the presence of hip and elbow deformities, especially dysplasia. Hip dysplasia is a crippling joint disease that is more of a problem in larger breed dogs, but does also occurr in smaller breeds. There are some surgical methods to help correct the problems but they are costly and painful. OFA has booklets on bone and joint problems that can be obtained from them for more information.
Canine Eye Registration Foundation
1235 South Campus Courts
West Lafayette, IN
CERF registers dogs who have been examined by a board certified ophthalmologist and certified to be clear of any eye defects that the CERF recognizes as genetic. There are some defects which are present in the Frenchies that are not recognized by the CERF, so possibly obtaining copies of the exam sheets from the breeder and having the sheets interpreted by a qualified veterinarian can help determine which defects can be considered as genetic.
VWD & THYROID
vWD – Comparative Hematology Section,
Diagnostic Laboratory, College of Veterinary Medicine, Cornell University.
PO BOX 5786, Upper Tower Road,
Ithaca NY 14852-5786
Thyroid – Animal Health Diagnostic Laboratory,
Endocrine Diagnostic Section,
PO BOX 30078,
Lansing, MI 48909-7576
or to the above address for vWD.
Von Willebrand’s Disease and thyroid testing are two other tests commonly performed. Von Willebrand’s Disease is a bleeding disorder that causes abnormal bleeding that can be dangerous during surgery and can be indicative of autoimmune disorders. Low thyroid is a common problem in Frenchies, causing such things as immune problems, allergies, skin problems, and breeding problems. Low thyroid can be treated with medication, but it can be a nuisance.
OTHER GENERAL REGISTRIES
Genetic Data Collection (GDC)
PO BOX 222, Davis CA 95617, Phone 916-756-6773
OPEN REGISTRY for Hips, elbows and eyes on the French Bulldog.
They will also evaluate, patellars, skull, hocks, and shoulders . They also certify at 12 months of age, for those of you who want a early OPINION on your Frenchies. They have 3 individuals view your dogs x-ray, as opposed to OFA which has only 1 doing their rating on prelims (X-RAYS before the age of 2 years).
OVC (Ontario Veterinary College)
Maintains database on hips and patellas (pass/fail), and maintains spinal database for Canada (which we initiated in 1995).
BAER testing and registry
Heart screenings, no registry
JHC – Juvenile Inherited Cataracts
Various DNA testing facilities – results recorded via OFA database