Hot on the heels of the new DNA test for Juvenile Cataracts comes this breakthrough from Cornell – a possible DNA test for Canine Hip Dysplasia! The possible ramifications for dogs and for dog breeders are staggering. No more waiting until 18 months to find out that your (already pointed, or in some cases already finished) show dog has hip dysplasia. No more excuses for not eliminating affected dogs (arguments I’ve heard – “We have too much invested in him”, “She’s already finished, and HD isn’t that big of a deal”). We now possibly have a chance to screen our dogs young, and remove affected dogs from our breeding programs.
It’s a mistake to think that HD only affects large breeds, or working dogs. I’ve personally owned a dog with HD and luxating patellas, and it took lengthy and expensive surgery to give her back movement and a semblence of comfort. I know other breeders who’ve suffered alongside their affected dogs, as well. It’s true, perhaps, that it needs to be a severe case to affect a French Bulldog, but the simple fact is that since HD is unquestionably a genetic disease, any affected dog has the potential to produce offspring who can go on to become seriously afflicted.
If these advances in genetic screening contine, we will have progressively more tools at our disposal to enable us to make breeding choices that will truly impact our breeds and our bloodlines, in ways more important than any show ring win. Let’s hope that breeders are willing to take advantage of them, and to follow through on their results.