It isn't my intent to start out standing on a soapbox but I suspect I will sound like I am.
Is health testing important, yes, it is, more to some than to others. Is it dangerous to the
dogs? Sometimes yes, and again, more to some than to others. Is it worth it? You know the
answer by now!
Why do some do it and others not? I can only answer for myself, I do test for some things
and not for others and my answer to myself is that if I don't test I won't know, plain and simple.
"Not in my lines." Doesn't cut it for me, I bought that one at one time and I paid the price. My
response to that statement nowadays is: "if it isn't in your lines prove it with a test!"
Should you buy a PET from un-health tested parents? It isn't for me to answer that question.
If you are prepared to deal with the possibilities, sure go ahead, but educate yourself ahead
of time, KNOW WHY that breeder doesn't health test. Education is your best friend, after
your dog of course!
The worst issue we have with health testing is the lack of open and honest communication
between Breeders about the results of health testing, good, bad or otherwise, thus the music
on the page (my attempt at humor!). I believe that a breeder is not about bettering the breed
if they don't share!
The NUMBER ONE HEALTH issue in all large and giant breed dogs leaves us without ANY
tests until it is often too late, and that is cancer. Some cancers are genetic, we know that,
again, educate yourself, be armed with information going in.
Back to health testing and MY Mastiffs . . . I DO health test and my dogs have passed some
tests and not others. Do I still breed them? Sometimes yes, sometimes no, depending on
the dog, the test that they failed and the severity of the issue.
I test for Hip and Elbow Dysplasia using the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation For Animals)
method. I have found an amazing vet who does the procedure without the use of sedation or
anesthetics and I am comfortable with this.
I test for Cystinuria through the University of Pennsylvania, this is all that we have right now
although the scuttlebutt is that we are very close to finding the gene in Mastiffs.
I do OFA Cardiac testing on my dogs (I will be doing Thyroid as well).
I do Optigen testing for PRA (will be doing CMR as well).
I do not test for von Willebrand's Disease (vWD).
OFA has a wonderful (albeit difficult to navigate at times) searchable database that includes
results from Cystinuria testing (but only if the owner of the dog has chosen to pay an
additional fee for the listing) and PRA testing as well as a few others. If you are looking for
my dogs in that database I am still working on 'cleaning up' some of my testing as well as
still working on some of the tests themselves. There was an issue with Rocco's elbows
being posted, they were and then they were gone! Rocco failed his elbows with a diagnosis
of minor arthritic changes at FIFTY MONTHS (normal age for testing is 24 months)! Yes,
Rocco is most definitely still part of this breeding program.
The dogs that I have chosen to include in my breeding program were selected with a primary
concern for health and longevity; while I would love to be the Breeder of the next record
breaking show dog, each and every Sunstone Mastiff is first and foremost a PET! I am
proud to say that many of Kaia, Libby, Cora and Rocco's ancestors have lived to see their
teens which is not seen often enough in this breed.
There is an issue with finding the Mystery Mountain dogs in the OFA database (many, if not
most of them are indeed health tested), think about all of the different ways that you could
come up with to spell (or mis-spell), hyphenate, or abbreviate that name and you can see the
problem. If you need help researching a Mystery Mountain pedigree please don't hesitate to
email me, or of course Clark Henderson (I tend to spend more time on the computer!).
If you want the good, the bad and the ugly on health problems that affect the breed click here.
Health Testing Information and Resources:
Mastiff Club of America Health Page
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals Page (hips, elbows, eyes, cardiac, thyroid,
cystinuria and more)
Optigen page (for test submissions and information, results are posted on the OFA
My AMAZING Veterinarian who does my dogs' OFAs is Dr. Randy Popkin DVM.
Reading for all!
Articles Relating to Early Spay and Neuter
Articles Relating to Vaccine Issues
Check back often for updates, this is a
work in progress!