As a breeder and a veterinarian the health of my dogs and the dogs I raise and place has a very high importance in my heart and mind. I do my best to make sure I retain records of all the dogs I have and what testing they've received as well as anyhealth issues they've presented with. I also try to maintain contact with my puppy owners to hear about what they have going on with their dogs and be there for support as well as to take their information for considering in the overall health of my lines. One of the things that I personally consider mandatory is health testing. The health test may change as time goes on and we decide we need new or more testing for our breed but it's my goal to keep abreast of them and try and make sure that I'm doing my part to improve the health of the breed. I also try to advertise on my site the results of the dogs that I have tested. In their stats section you can click on the link and view the result of the testing.
If you are planning on purchasing a puppy, regardless of the breed, find out what health test are relevant for the breed you are researching and make sure that the breeder you are working with is doing their part for health testing. Ask to see copies of the certifications of the parents of the puppy your are buying. Health testing is not a guarantee of health, but it does demonstrate part of your breeder's committment to the health of the breed.
CERF Testing: This is an physical eye exam that looks for physically seen deformation or problems with the eye itself. The exam is performed by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist and the certification is only valid for one year and needs to be repeated. I try and get my dogs done every other year at the outside and so far have not have any signs of eye disease show up in my kennel. This test is a physical examine only, it does not evaluate the DNA makeup of a dog to see if they may carry copies of a gene that would affect eye health.
Cardiac Testing: This test begins with listening to the heart (auscultation) and then should any abnormalities be noted on the ausculatation the dog should have a follow up echocardiogram to further delineate the abnormality. I have had dogs that have failed the cardio test for a variety of reasons and those dogs were all spayed/neutered and placed without producing any offspring. The dog must be greater than a year of age for this test to be valid for OFA submission. I listen to all my puppies hearts prior to them leaving for new homes, but I do make sure to follow up with a cardiologist for certification on the dogs that I plan on breeding
Thyroid Testing: This test involves a blood draw for evaluting the thyroid levels. This test is potentially the toughest one to work with as it is not a straight yes or no answer. Many things can alter thyroid levels and the tests may need to be rerun to recheck results. Breeds have different baselines and all of this can make the results difficult to interpret. I've had all breeding dogs tested and some retested and some have come back as hyopothyroid and thus equivocal for OFA. I've had some dogs that have required suppplementation and while they showed few to no physical signs, they did improve in some ways on supplementation.
mdr1 Testing: This is a genetic test run through Washington State University and looks for copies of the mdr1 gene. This gene is associated with ivermectin sensitivity in herding breeds and is part of our heritage. there are a fair number of drugs that an affected dog is sensitive to. Some breeds have shown an increased sensitivities to these drugs even if the dog is a carrier. So far I've not heard of that in silken windhounds, but it is worth knowing what drugs should be monitored more carefully. All silkens here at Tangaloor are tested for the gene and it is one of my goals to gradually breed it out of my program. Carriers are only bred to Clear dogs and all puppies are tested for the gene prior to being placed in homes or retained for breeding.
DM Testing: This test is for the condition known as Degenerative Myelopathy. Recently it was discovered to have genes associated with it and so many breeds that have this condition are undergoing testing. Because of the heritage of the silken windhound, all of the dogs at Tangaloor hae been tested and all are clear of the gene. It appears from a sampling of over 50 dogs in testing that the outlook is good that silkens may not have this gene. I would still recommend that any silken showing DM sypmtoms be tested to rule out that possibility.
CEA Testing: This is a genetic test for Collie Eye Anomaly that can result in vision impairment in breeds where this is prevalent. Due to our heritage we have begun screening silkens for this disease. Thankfully, even silkens that have tested as affected do not show any vision impairment. However, I still plan on working to remove it from my program without losing genetic diversity. Carriers will be bred to only Clear dogs and puppies will be tested prior to being placed in homes or retained for breeding.