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All of Smooreaussies Australian Shepherds have been genetically tested for the breed specific disease panel through Pawprints Laboratory. In addition, OFA hips/elbows and/or PennHips are also done at 2 tp 3 yrs of age by Orthopedic Foundation of Animals. This is preformed by a licensed veterinarian and xrays are read by orthopedic radiologist for animals to make sure breeding pairs do not have dysplastic hips. CAER annual eyes are done on sire and dams. All health clearance copies are included in all puppy packets.
Humans and animals are no different when it comes to inherited genetic issues. There are no perfect dogs; even if they have been tested clear for everything now that is offered for that specific breed, eventually there will be a test somewhere down the line that will find something. DNA doesn't lie. You can't pass a gene you don't have. I have collected either blood samples or cheek swabs for breed specific diseases that can affect Aussies. I use Animal Genetics, Pawprints laboratories.
Below are some of the tests and definitions of each test that have been done on my Aussies, but for further detailed information please refer to the website links below. If you have any questions about these tests, please contact me, I would be happy to answer your questions to the best of my knowledge. (AKC.org; ASCA.org; Animalgenetics.org; Pawprintsgenetics.com; vetdnacenter.com)
OFA: Orthopedic Foundation of Animals (offa.org) X-ray films done to detect hip dysplasia. These x-rays are evaluated and given a grade of excellent, good, and fair; which are all passing. The non-passing grades are mild, moderate and severely dysplastic.
Penn Hips: PennHIP is a radiographic screening method for hip evaluation. The technique assesses the quality of the canine hip and quantitatively measures canine hip joint laxity. The PennHIP method of evaluation is more accurate than the current standard in its ability to predict the onset of osteoarthritis (OA). Osteoarthritis, also known as degenerative joint disease (DJD), is the hallmark of hip dysplasia (HD).
***For further information regarding hip dysplasia, please go to this website. Very educational read and I highly recommend it. www.instituteofcaninebiology.org/blog/the-10-most-important-things-to-know-about-canine-hip-dysplasia
***Additional information on hip dysplaisa; also insightful information.
HSF4-HC: Hereditary Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye caused by a breakdown of tissue in the eye. In canines, cataracts are often familial. A one copy carrier of this disease can be affected. Although it should be noted that not all cataracts are hereditary. Cataracts can also be caused by old age or injury.
CEA: Collie Eye Anomaly is a congenital, inherited, bilateral eye disease, which affects the retina, choroid, and sclera. It can be a mild disease or cause blindness. There is no treatment or cure for CEA.
Genetic test for CEA/CH provides a powerful management tool for the breeder. This genetic test can distinguish all three genetic states – normal, carrier and affected. With this information, the breeder can plan matings that avoid producing any affected dogs by always selecting one parent that is normal. The other parent can be normal, carrier or even affected, and no affected dogs will result. This breeding recommendation is a big step forward, especially for breeds and countries where frequency of CEA/CH is much lower.
PRA: Progressive Retinal Atrophy is an inherited disease of the retina in dogs in which the rod cells in the retina are programmed to die. PRA occurs in both eyes simultaneously and is non-painful. It is usually seen in dogs older than four to six years old.
DM: Degenerative Myelopathy is a spontaneously occurring, adult-onset spinal cord disorder that affects dogs, and is similar to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis otherwise known as Lou Gehrig's Disease in humans. Genetic testing of the gene in Australian shepherds will reliably determine whether a dog is a genetic Carrier of degenerative myelopathy. Degenerative myelopathy is inherited in an Autosomal Recessive manner in dogs meaning that they must receive two copies of the mutated gene (one from each parent) to develop the disease. Carrier dogs do not have features of the disease but when bred with another carrier of the same Mutation, there is a risk of having affected pups.
CMR1: Canine Multifocal Retinopathy is an autosomal recessive eye disorder which causes raised lesions to form on the retina which alters the appearance of the eye but usually does not affect sight. CMR is resecessive, so both parents would need to be carriers of the mutation to produce an affected puppy.
MDR1: Multi-Drug Resistance Gene, a protein that is responsible for protecting the brain by transporting potentially harmful chemicals away from the brain. In certain breeds, a mutation occurs in the MDR1 gene that causes sensitivity to Ivermectin, Loperamide, and a number of other drugs. Carriers of this mutation should not be given Ivermectin products that is found in many heartworm prevention medicine on the market. This is a genetic mutation that can be worked around; simply put DO NOT give Ivermectin products.
Every living creature has certain genetic issues that they are prone to; it is being educated and knowing how the gene mutations work. DNA tests can be tremendously helpful to breeders, but like any technology they can also be abused in ways that only increase difficulties for breeders and misery for our dogs.
To read about how to constructively use DNA tests: www.ashgi.org/home-page/genetics-info/testing.
ASCA (Australian Shepherd Club of America) in Aussie Times magazine- "Do These Genes Fit?" The information is extremely insightful on the Genetic Issues of Australian Shepherds.
To sum it up; when one parent is a carrier, having ONE mutation of a gene (normal/mutant), or is affected, having TWO mutations of a gene (mutant/mutant), the dog should only be bred to a DNA tested clear mate (normal/normal). This means the probability is 50% of offspring will test clear, normal/normal, & 50% will test as carriers when one parent is a carrier (normal/mutant) and one parent is clear (normal/normal). When one parent is affected (mutant/mutant) and the other parent is clear (normal/normal) ALL puppies will test normal/mutant getting one normal gene from the normal/normal parent and one mutant gene from the mutant/mutant parent.
As a responsible breeder, these tests are performed to find genetic issue’s so we can breed away from them. However, cutting every dog from the program that tests with a genetic issue could be detrimental to the breed. The more genetic tests that become available, the more likely we are to find genetic issues. I would rather test and know an issue is there so I can breed away from the issue and prevent the offspring from being affected than not test and have my buyers uninformed or remove dogs from the program that have a lot of qualities to sustain the continuation of the breed. If we cut every intact dog from the gene pool that tests with a genetic mutation, there won't be anything left to breed. It takes only 1 generation to breed out carrier genes and 2 generations to breed out 2 mutant genes. Over time, these tests will prove beneficial in cleaning up genetic issues that plague the breed, but it does takes time.