Health Tests and Puppies

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Health Tests and Puppies

Rhodesian Ridgeback Puppies - Khamioka Ridgebacks
Axl’s babies (Chi right in the middle) – Janak Jago of Metalrock X Okameeli Koshka Brodie
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Many people seem to think that breeding a litter is a license to print money.  Honestly? … if it’s done right, it really isn’t at all.  The costs involved in producing a healthy puppy are not insignificant and the work and time spent getting all your “ducks in a row” before mating even takes place can be pretty eye-watering.
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It’s really important, if you are looking to buy a puppy, that you find yourself a breeder who not only knows what they’re doing, but is prepared to takes the steps to do as many health tests as possible BEFORE breeding.  That said, new tests are becoming available all the time, so just because a test wasn’t done in the past, doesn’t mean it should not be performed on subsequent matings in the future.  A good breeder will keep abreast of such topics and ensure that they do the absolute best they can to breed a healthy litter for the welfare of the puppy, and their owners, who will have to live with the breeders choices for many years to come.
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Often, different breeds will have specific genetic problems to test for – not all breeds suffer the same hereditary conditions, so you need to ensure that YOUR breeder has tested for all the problems which can be associated with your chosen breed.
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There are MANY tests (and I do mean pages full!). These can range from everything including hip and elbow scoring to ensure sound and healthy joints which will less likely result in arthritis and mobility problems in later life, autoimmune diseases, early onset deafness, blindness, epilepsy, spinal problems, coat colour, coat length etc etc (the list truly is immense).
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Just now in Ridgebacks, for example, a new test has become available to test for something called JME (Juvenile Myoclonic Epilepsy).  I’ve just had my boys tested by submitting samples from them at Crufts (there are genetic labs in various countries who you can send samples of blood or cheek swabs away too and they will have the results back to you usually within a couple of weeks) – the laboratory we used was Laboklin UK – http://www.laboklin.co.uk/laboklin/ – I’m very relieved that Axl and Chi’s results have come back and been reported as clear which means they do not carry the gene and so any resulting puppies from either of them will not be affected either.  When we used Axl at stud and he produced his family of 12 puppies, the need for this particular test wasn’t known and wasn’t available, but testing now not only means we know that Chi is clear should he sire a litter in the future, but it also means we can report back to Axl’s puppy owners that another test has been done retrospectively and that their babies are clear too.  When you breed a litter, you are responsible for each and every pup FOR LIFE.
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JME is something very new to most of us in the Ridgeback world, so to ensure it is not passed on in future litters, testing to see if it is in the lines of any dog which may be used in a breeding programme is a must.
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Simply then, my advice would be that you research your chosen breed and find out which health tests are advisable specifically for them (some tests MUST be carried out in line with Kennel Club guidelines, but others are simply ADVISORY.  However, just because a test is listed only as “advisory”, doesn’t mean that breeders should scrimp on the testing.).  Find a breeder who is as particular about making sure the resulting pups will be sound as you are.  After all, you will hopefully have a good 12 years or more with this bundle of joy and it’s 12 years you want to spend enjoying rather than going backwards and forwards to a vet for conditions that could have been avoided.
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Rain and Axl with baby Chi
Rain and Axl with baby Chi

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