When buying a puppy, both parents should be hip and elbow scored and have a current clear BVA eye certificate. Labradors can easily be DNA tested to see if they carry the gene for the *conditions below. As long as one parent is tested clear, puppies won't be affected. Some conditions are more serious than others but all can affect quality of life.
Hip scoring - Hip dysplasia is a horrible condition and any dog being bred from should be hip scored. The score should ideally be below the breed average of 14. Although genetics do play a part in hip dysplasia, environment and how the puppy is raised will also have a bearing on the hip score.
Elbow Scoring - We consider elbow scoring to be just as important as the hips. Elbow dysplasia is becoming increasingly common in Labradors. 0:0 is the best score; 3:3 is the worst. New guidelines from the BVA and the KC, state only dogs with elbow scores of 0:0 should be bred from - "It is strongly recommended that breeders choose breeding stock (both dogs and bitches) from animals with an overall elbow grade of 0. Dogs with elbow grades of 2 or 3 have marked osteoarthritis which is highly likely to be due to ED. Dogs with elbow grades of 1 show mild or early osteoarthritis which is also likely to be due to ED. As ED is progressive, many dogs with grade 1 elbows who were tested at a young age may go on to develop grade 2 or 3 elbows later in life, despite initially being considered suitable for breeding".
BVA Eye scheme - Every dog being bred from should have a clear current BVA eye certificate - test every year.
*Progressive Retinol Atrophy (PRA) - PRA is a disease that causes the retina of the eye to degenerate slowly over time, resulting in eventual blindness.
*Central Nuclear Myopathy (CNM) - CNM is a debilitating, ultimately fatal disease. It usually shows up at around two weeks of age, weight loss is observed with a lack of reflexes and an awkward gait which gets worse with age. CNM is more common in working lines, although it has now popped up in show lines.
*Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) - Dogs affected with EIC develop muscle weakness, incoordination and collapse after just five to fifteen minutes of exercise. It often needs a certain trigger for an attack. EIC can be life threatening in extreme cases: if the dog is swimming and has an attack, it could easily drown.
*Hereditary Nasal Parakeratosis (HNPK) - Affected dogs show scales and crusts on the nose pad and can develop painful fissures on the nose. The nose can bleed and will be very sore. In extreme cases the feet are affected too.
*Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) - Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease has a late onset typically between 8 and 14 years of age. It starts with loss of coordination in the hind legs and the weakness gets progressively worse until the dog is unable to walk. It usually takes between 6 months to 1 year before dogs become paraplegic.
*SD2 - SD2 (also known as dwarfism) is a genetic condition that causes long bones to stop growing before being fully developed. Dogs inheriting SD2 develop legs that are shorter than the recognised breed standard despite a normal sized body. Most commonly, front limbs are more severely affected than hind legs with this disorder. The ulna and radius bones of the front limbs may also be slightly more bent in comparison to normal dogs.
*Cystinuria – This is an inherited autosomal recessive disorder and is characterised by the formation of cystine stones in the kidney, ureter and bladder.
*Copper Toxicity (Labrador Retriever type) - This is an inherited metabolic disease affecting dogs, resulting in chronic liver failure. Dogs with copper toxicosis have a decreased ability to excrete dietary copper from the body resulting in excessive copper storage in tissues and organs, including the liver, which can result in liver damage and subsequent cirrhosis. Though the age of onset and speed of disease progression are variable, most affected dogs will present in middle age with non-specific signs of liver dysfunction including weight loss, lethargy, weakness, vomiting, diarrhoea, and abdominal pain. In late stages of disease, affected dogs may develop signs of liver failure including abdominal swelling, jaundice, and neurological dysfunction. Dogs found to have one or two copies of the mutation may benefit from certain therapies. Copyright © Paw Print Genetics.
Estimated Breeding Values - EBVs, are a well-established way of estimating a dog’s genetic risk of developing a specific health condition or its severity. The Kennel Club has developed EBVs for two conditions; hip dysplasia and elbow dysplasia. Each dog’s EBV is calculated by linking pedigree information with data from the BVA/KC health schemes, allowing the genetic risk to be calculated for every individual in the pedigree. EBVs can then be compared across the breed to determine which animals have a higher or lower genetic risk than breed average. Copyright © The Kennel Club.
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