Health & Testing

Red-Dawn Goldens, Xandra with Alicia

Every dog breed has one or more health concerns that follow their line. A good breeder knows what potential health risks are associated with the Golden Retriever breed and does the proper testing to help avoid health issues from developing.

Red-Dawn Goldens Breeding Protocol:

Parents (including Grandparents/ Great Grandparents) have testing and certification of Clear/Normal health for Hips and Elbows (no dysplasia) Heart, Eyes (by the ophthalmologist), Thyroid, Patellas and in good overall health. One or both Parents DNA tested Clear/Normal so insure your puppy can not inherit the following: PRA Progressive Retinal Atrophy (blindness), PRCD Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration (blindness), Von Willdebrands 1 & 2 (hemophilia), Degenerative Myelopathy (Lou Gehrig’s Disease), Dystophic Epidermolysis BullosaGM2 GangliosisdosisIchthyosisNeonatal Encephalophay with SeizuresOstepchondrodysplasiaOstogenesis InperfectaSensory Ataxic NeuropathyCystinuriaCentronuclear Myopathy, ElliptocytosisExercise-Induced CollapseHereditary Nasal ParakeratosisHyperuricosuriaMuscular DystrophyMyotubular Myopathy 1NarcolepsyPyruvate Kinase DeficiencyRetinal Dysplasia/Osculoskeletal Dysplasia 1Skeletal Dysplasia 2. Our goal as the breeder of your future puppy is to produce the healthiest litters because of our diligent testing protocol and superior genetics.

Details of testing of the Red-Dawn parent dogs:

It is not possible to prevent all health problems as dogs are still made up of many genes, and there are many variables at play, but the proper testing helps a breeder reduce the odds of a health problem. The following list explains what Red-Dawn tests for to help insure you get a healthy puppy from us.

  1. Orthopedic issues like hip and elbow dysplasia: Both hip and elbow dysplasia occur in Golden Retrievers. It doesn’t follow a set genetic path, and it is thought to be polygenic in nature, which means there are multiple genes that help create dysplasia. It’s not a simple inherited defect. Further complicating the matter is that the environment can also enhance a problem or even create a problem in a perfectly healthy animal. Excessive weight, poor diet, and heavy exercise and repetitive joint stress (such as impact jumping and running) can all contribute to dysplasia. A breeder can help limit the amount of dysplasia in a pedigree through the use of OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) testing to certify normal hips and elbows on the parents. Dogs with an OFA score of Excellent, Good or Fair should be the only dogs allowed to produce puppies.  Owners of dogs also need to ensure a proper environment that supports healthy joint development.
  2. Patellar Luxation:  Patellar Luxation is related to the knee popping in and out of place. The way these issues are inherited is not fully known, so testing is the only way to help reduce the problem at this time.
  3. Eye problems like Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration (PRCD): These eye issues can lead a dog to early blindness. To the naked eye, a dog will look perfectly fine, and in fact could produce many offspring before developing a noticeable problem. This is why testing is so important. A DNA test can help determine what dogs may be a carrier for eye problems like PRA so that 2 carriers are never bred together. Regular eye health exams can also help limit the spread of other eye disorders where a DNA test is not possible.
  4. Degenerative Myelopathy (Lou Gehrig’s disease): The disease affects the White Matter tissue of the spinal cord and is considered the canine equivalent to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease) found in humans. Affected dogs usually present in adulthood with gradual muscle Atrophy and loss of coordination typically beginning in the hind limbs due to degeneration of the nerves. The condition is not typically painful for the dog, but will progress until the dog is no longer able to walk. This is a condition passed on by a recessive gene, so it is important for a breeder to do DNA testing to find out which dogs are clear, carriers, or affected and breed accordingly to avoid passing the condition onto offspring.
  5. Von Willebrands Disease: This is a bleeding disorder that is similar to hemophilia in people. Dogs that are affected with the disease will bruise and bleed from the most minor of incidents, including vaccinations. DNA testing allows a breeder to ensure that no dogs being used for breeding are carriers of the disease.
  6. Heart health: Breeding dogs can be checked for heart problems. Currently the OFA will pass a dog as cardiac normal if the dog doesn’t possess a heart murmur at all or if it is innocent.

There are other health conditions that can arise, like Seizures, but in those diseases there currently are no preventative testing that can occur. Instead, conscientious breeders know their pedigree line of their breeding dogs in order to avoid producing unhealthy puppies.

Many potential diseases where a DNA test can be done, such as Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Exercise Induced Collapse, and Von Willebrands Disease, are conditions that are spread through recessive genes. A DNA test will let a breeder know what dogs may be carriers (posses the gene but not be affected), affected (have the gene and the disease), or clear (neither have the gene or the disease). This knowledge allows only those dogs that are unaffected to be bred. Any dog that is a carrier can be left in the gene pool but must be bred to only a clear dog. Two carriers should never be bred, and affected dogs (even if symptoms are not present) should also not be bred.

Some diseases the inheritance is polygenic or unclear. These include hip dysplasia and patellar luxation. For these diseases only x-rays, examinations, and health clearances of past dogs in the line are the only way to help limit the spread of the disease. It’s not fool proof, but it the best method currently available.

Science is always changing, and new health tests and methods will become available. It is hoped that many more health problems can be limited in the future through further tests, as they become available to breeders.

To learn more about what tests are currently available, please visit the website for OFA: http://www.offa.org/index.html

We DNA test our dogs with Embark, Optigen, VetGen and PawPrint Genetics. This link shows the DNA testing of our stud, Romeo, on PawPrint’s site.

PawPrint Genetics, Red-Dawn’s stud dog “Romeo” Crane Hollow’s Sir Lucky