Health Testing… Why Not ???

Not really sure if at the moment is really the right time to bring this up, BUT, its been on my mind for a few months now, and Im getting VERY frustrated…

Can someone PLEASE explain to me why ALL registered, responsible, ethical Basenji loving breeders arent doing ALL the testing on our dogs, both sexes, PRIOR to breeding them ??? I mean Fanconi, Thyroid, (the Jean Dobbs testing, not just the basic thyroid done inhouse by your Vet), H/E, Patella's, Cardiac, Eyes 😕 😕 😕

People that choose to breed our beloved breed, wish to do so, to improve our dogs, to make them the absolutely healthiest that they can be, whether it be for the potential show pup we keep, or the ones that end up being the beloved pet of our new 'extended family'. This can only be done by health testing the stock BEFORE we breed... I just cant understand why this testing isnt done ??? Yes it costs money, yes its time consuming, yes it can be hard to accept 'crappy' results etc, etc, etc, BUT, this shouldnt be a consideration when we choose to breed, AFAIC...`Mother Nature can throw us a pretty rotten deal, sometimes, but its not a reason to NOT test... I just dont fathom why, when testing is available for all these diseases, that breeders are not doing them ??? We could make OUR breed one of the healthiest of all breeds, if everyone jumps onboard the health testing bandwagon, then of course, using the results to the dogs best advantages... No, Im not interested in talking about the very small group who do test, then ignore results, (usually hiding them), then doing what they want to do anyway... I know there arent many of these, but do know there are people who have/do do this.

Ok, flame suit on, ready for the enlightening responses 😉

Well, I think part of it is that people don't agree on what tests should be done in the breed. Until the CHIC program I don't think there was any consensus and even with the CHIC program there are many who don't really agree with the tests chosen. Another part is that there are some breeders who do test but do not register results with OFA and CERF so the results are not public if someone was looking for the information. Then there is a whole other group who just feel that it won't happen to them, those problems only happen to other people.

But thats just the annoying part…

I dont know why we dont ALL do the tests that I listed... These are all areas that affect the health, welfare and longevity of our beloved dogs... Why wont/cant people agree that these are the diseases that affect the Basenji, so therefore these are the diseases that we test for... NO ifs, NO buts ????????????????? Its not that hard surely :mad: 😕

As for those that choose to bury there heads in the sand, and refuse to see that their dogs dont have any problems, (but they dont test so I cant see how they can state that…), I did mention in my original post, 'responsible, ethical' breeders !!!

It is really hard to get consensus about what are genetic problems in the breed and that is among people who are studying the data available to make that sort of decision. It is even harder when some data isn't available because abnormal results need not be submitted and the owner knows if their dog is affected prior to submission as with patellas and cardiac results.

Even the terms "respsonsible" and "ethical" are left to interpretation. Some people who bury their head in the sand about some problems would consider themselves "responsible, ethical" breeders.

It can be a frustrating issue but without a gene test that makes it clear the issue is definitively genetic there will always be some who think that it is not. Heck, even with a gene test some will still disagree, but those are far fewer.

@lvoss:

Well, I think part of it is that people don't agree on what tests should be done in the breed. Until the CHIC program I don't think there was any consensus and even with the CHIC program there are many who don't really agree with the tests chosen. Another part is that there are some breeders who do test but do not register results with OFA and CERF so the results are not public if someone was looking for the information. Then there is a whole other group who just feel that it won't happen to them, those problems only happen to other people.

Exactly this. I, for example, don't agree with the whole "Dr. Dodds" testing, and I wouldn't be pleased if someone called me irresponsible for not doing 'her' tests. I have my questions about the elbows? I actually did X-ray Tillo's elbows, but only because he's active in agiliy and has to jump 'Large'. Is it known in the breed that there are dogs with ED? And I also don't really get the cardiac? Who judges them, a specialist or is every Vet ok?

Of course, I agree, if you want to breed responsible you have to know as much as possible.. The danger with doing all these test, is that we are going to exclude lots of dogs from the gene pool if they aren't 'perfect' on all the points.

I think there are also other things that need to be done to keep the breed as healthy as possible: a limit on the times to use a bitch and a dog in breeding, which leads to using more different dogs and bitches and a spreading of genes. We also need to watch out with inbreeding.

Cardiac has to be done by a specialtist…. many of our shows have cardiac clinics here in the US. And as far a Dr. Dodds, you don't have to use her for a full Thyroid panel there are other approved labs that do full Thyroid panels. I for one thing that Thyroid is important in our breed.

And the thing that I don't get is the many that do not do eyes. How important is their eye sight? Pretty important.... and not just at 8/9 wks but for their life time, especially since PRA is late onset. So long term exams are very important. Personally, I do baby CERF, again at around 1yr and then every two years till about age 8, then every year. However that said, I do not always post the results to OFA, but they are available if anyone asks or if there is a change, those I do post.

Cardiac auscultation does not have to be done by a specialist but the report will say on the OFA site whether it was done by a specialist or general practitioner. Another issue though with the Cardiac exam is that auscultation just says whether the dog has a murmur, it doesn't say what the cause of the murmur is. So it would be up to the owner to take it further to find out the cause by going to a specialist.

I am not a big Dodds fan, sorry. She finds thyroid that other labs agree isn't there. Use the OFA approved labs yet.
For the rest, agree or not, you test, you report and you do the tests. Otherwise you are not, imho, responsible. Nothing is hurt by doing fanconi, eyes, heart, hips, thryoid and H/E. I'd vote elbows and patellas, but wouldn't consider the breeder unethical to forego those. The rest are basic.
And imho, if they aren't reported to OFA or CERF, your dog failed or you didn't do them. I wish, like Germany, all results had to be reported. Of course unethical breeders can still pay local vet and just not DO them if suspect will fail, but it would help.

@lvoss:

Cardiac auscultation does not have to be done by a specialist but the report will say on the OFA site whether it was done by a specialist or general practitioner. Another issue though with the Cardiac exam is that auscultation just says whether the dog has a murmur, it doesn't say what the cause of the murmur is. So it would be up to the owner to take it further to find out the cause by going to a specialist.

Thanks for that correction, if I was going to do Cardiac, certainly I would go to a Specialist.

@DebraDownSouth:

I am not a big Dodds fan, sorry. She finds thyroid that other labs agree isn't there. Use the OFA approved labs yet.
For the rest, agree or not, you test, you report and you do the tests. Otherwise you are not, imho, responsible. Nothing is hurt by doing fanconi, eyes, heart, hips, thryoid and H/E. I'd vote elbows and patellas, but wouldn't consider the breeder unethical to forego those. The rest are basic.
And imho, if they aren't reported to OFA or CERF, your dog failed or you didn't do them. I wish, like Germany, all results had to be reported. Of course unethical breeders can still pay local vet and just not DO them if suspect will fail, but it would help.

x2

The point of health testing is to ensure you are only breeding the best of the breed and not passing on genetic conditions that weaken their health.

Of course, I agree, if you want to breed responsible you have to know as much as possible.. The danger with doing all these test, is that we are going to exclude lots of dogs from the gene pool if they aren't 'perfect' on all the points.

I dont think testing is about being perfect, it's about ensuring you are not breeding dogs with genetic conditions that could be passed on. There are always varying degrees, for example OFA hips, range in gradings, it's ok to breed a "fair" scoring, as long as you are taking into consideration the OFA scoring of other family members and the scoring of the mate/mate's family.

@DebraDownSouth:

For the rest, agree or not, you test, you report and you do the tests. Otherwise you are not, imho, responsible. Nothing is hurt by doing fanconi, eyes, heart, hips, thryoid and H/E. I'd vote elbows and patellas, but wouldn't consider the breeder unethical to forego those. The rest are basic.

My sentiments exactly.

As someone buying a companion dog, it's reassuring to look back a number of generations to check test results.

@lvoss:

Even the terms "respsonsible" and "ethical" are left to interpretation. Some people who bury their head in the sand about some problems would consider themselves "responsible, ethical" breeders.

Sad but true. I know several breeders who think they are the bomb though I would not refer any one to them for a basenji for those very reason. IMO, I think the best things we(collectively) can do is to not support any breeders who do not test and publicize via OFA, the bare minimum: fanc, hips, eyes, and thyroid (with eyes and thyroids being done as per CERF/OFA recommendations: eyes yearly, thyroid yearly up to a certain age then every few years). The only exception might be if you have a good vertical pedigree of normals by which to base your health decisions on or a legitimate reason (ex: Drew only has one eye which means he can not be CERF'ed though his remaining eye is tested every 4 months). By not supporting means to me not referring, not purchasing, not using their studs etc. To do so is to perpetuate the problem of not testing and/or not disclosing.

IMO, peer pressure can have a tremendous and rewarding impact if used constructively. I would love if the BCOA emulated the PWDCA - where I have heard and assume it is still true that untested animals can not be advertised in the breed publication. Talk abut putting the betterment of the breed first! Wow.

@DebraDownSouth:

I am not a big Dodds fan, sorry. She finds thyroid that other labs agree isn't there. Use the OFA approved labs yet.

Working in the field my impression is she is not well respected amongst her peers especially those folks who have board certified specialties in endocrinology; mostly appealing to pet people who might not know any better but like her approachability and/or a few breeders.

As stated - there are several labs that can do the OFA profile.

@DebraDownSouth:

And imho, if they aren't reported to OFA or CERF, your dog failed or you didn't do them.

Absolutely agreed. This same sentiment went around the BBR list a long time ago so I know other breeders/fanciers think the same. When I am talking with folks about the breed I specifically bring this up so they know who to ask hard questions to if they want to pursue a certain breeder or who to avoid entirely.

When I first started in the breed in 1994 there was not much testing going on. While newbies like me who felt this was not a good thing and would ask/question this practice got hounded quite a bit by the older and wiser (not age) contingent, I am very glad to say that the pendulum has swung the other way and while not perfect - many more breeders are testing and testing more diseases in general.

That's what I mean about peer pressure having a positive effect. As newer people came in to the breed and began more in depth testing, the more normal it became for all to do the same, new and old.

What does Ghandi say? "You must be the change you wish to see in the world".

@starrlamia:

x2

The point of health testing is to ensure you are only breeding the best of the breed and not passing on genetic conditions that weaken their health.

I dont think testing is about being perfect, it's about ensuring you are not breeding dogs with genetic conditions that could be passed on. There are always varying degrees, for example OFA hips, range in gradings, it's ok to breed a "fair" scoring, as long as you are taking into consideration the OFA scoring of other family members and the scoring of the mate/mate's family.

When you say "only breeding the best of the breed" you are actually saying that it is about being as close to perfect as possible.
Every dog has recessive genetic conditions that can be passed on, just like with humans. Thing is to make sure there aren't any pups born that have a high chance of being homozygous for it. That makes it important to test, not only breeding stock, but also sibs etc, not only before breeding, but also at an older age.. But it makes it just as important to keep the inbreeding as low as possible and the population used as breeding stock as big as possible. This is why you should not only breed with dogs that are (nearly) 'perfect'. (same with using only champs or whatever..)

About the testing of dr. Dodds. I didn't mean her judgement, I don't know her or her 'work', so I can't judge it. I meant the full panel she recommends being done. I don't see the need for that. And not because I'm a 'know it all', but because I talked about it with our specialist in endocrinology at the University and he convinced me.

About the cardiac exam, I'm honest enough to say I'm not sure I would go to a specialist (although we have a very handsome one at the uni with a very sexy accent 😉 :D) with my bitch and/or dog for such an exam. Tillo for example is healthy. He's super fit and he goes to the vet every year for a small check up, including a (probably smaller) cardiac exam. If nothing shows up there, in my eyes there is no need to see a specialist. Am I being irresponsible now?

Btw.. we haven't got a "OFA" overhere, but I also talked to our ophthalmologist and he told me that all the eye exams that are being done on pure breds are in a database and those results are available for everyone. The owner has to sign for that before the exam is being done, so bad results can't be kept a secret. (ah well.. as long as all vets are being fair…) I don't know how it goes with other results..

Btw2.. in the Netherlands we just found out that there maybe are some things that perhaps could be a problem in our breed.. so the club is trying to obligate an eye exam and a Fanconi test being done before breeding. I'm not sure how far they/we are.. (Btw3: to get pedigrees for your pups it isn't needed to breed via the club, so if you don't want to test, you can breed outside the club)

@Janneke:

When you say "only breeding the best of the breed" you are actually saying that it is about being as close to perfect as possible.
Every dog has recessive genetic conditions that can be passed on, just like with humans. Thing is to make sure there aren't any pups born that have a high chance of being homozygous for it. That makes it important to test, not only breeding stock, but also sibs etc, not only before breeding, but also at an older age.. But it makes it just as important to keep the inbreeding as low as possible and the population used as breeding stock as big as possible. This is why you should not only breed with dogs that are (nearly) 'perfect'. (same with using only champs or whatever..)

About the testing of dr. Dodds. I didn't mean her judgement, I don't know her or her 'work', so I can't judge it. I meant the full panel she recommends being done. I don't see the need for that. And not because I'm a 'know it all', but because I talked about it with our specialist in endocrinology at the University and he convinced me.

About the cardiac exam, I'm honest enough to say I'm not sure I would go to a specialist (although we have a very handsome one at the uni with a very sexy accent 😉 :D) with my bitch and/or dog for such an exam. Tillo for example is healthy. He's super fit and he goes to the vet every year for a small check up, including a (probably smaller) cardiac exam. If nothing shows up there, in my eyes there is no need to see a specialist. Am I being irresponsible now?

Btw.. we haven't got a "OFA" overhere, but I also talked to our ophthalmologist and he told me that all the eye exams that are being done on pure breds are in a database and those results are available for everyone. The owner has to sign for that before the exam is being done, so bad results can't be kept a secret. (ah well.. as long as all vets are being fair…) I don't know how it goes with other results..

Btw2.. in the Netherlands we just found out that there maybe are some things that perhaps could be a problem in our breed.. so the club is trying to obligate an eye exam and a Fanconi test being done before breeding. I'm not sure how far they/we are.. (Btw3: to get pedigrees for your pups it isn't needed to breed via the club, so if you don't want to test, you can breed outside the club)

Best doesnt mean perfect, or there wouldnt be any dog breeds lol breeding the best means breeding dogs that can contribute to the health/temperment of the breed. Obviously there will always be some recessive conditions that unless you can get them tested for genetically, will be passed on. Personally, dont care for conformation titles on dogs, I tend to put more emphasis on health testing then titling (unless thats what I want in a dog…)

First Basenji's

@sinbaje:

IMO, peer pressure can have a tremendous and rewarding impact if used constructively. I would love if the BCOA emulated the PWDCA - where I have heard and assume it is still true that untested animals can not be advertised in the breed publication. Talk abut putting the betterment of the breed first! Wow.

[…]

When I first started in the breed in 1994 there was not much testing going on. While newbies like me who felt this was not a good thing and would ask/question this practice got hounded quite a bit by the older and wiser (not age) contingent, I am very glad to say that the pendulum has swung the other way and while not perfect - many more breeders are testing and testing more diseases in general.

That's what I mean about peer pressure having a positive effect. As newer people came in to the breed and began more in depth testing, the more normal it became for all to do the same, new and old.

What does Ghandi say? "You must be the change you wish to see in the world".

Thank you for this. I find this very encouraging. As I've mentioned before, I've been trying to uncover more information about my other, non-Basenji dog's hypothyroidism, and frankly, I've learned SO MUCH more from Basenji people. I haven't found as many breeders willing to talk openly about thyroid issues in Bowdu's breed (it could just be that they don't discuss in public forums, or that they're not online in general). But relative to the number of hypothyroid dogs I've been encountering in his breed, the LACK of numbers in the OFA database is really disconcerting. I'm being told that the responsible breeders do test, but they don't publicize their results – though they'll have them on hand if asked for by a potential puppy buyer. That, to me, is inadequate. I would rather have all results out there in the open, good or bad, because it means more to me that the breeder DID them than if they're perfect. I took it for granted that OFA results, like Fanconi, were public by default. I suppose the stakes are higher with something like Fanconi, but I still wish publicizing test results was mandatory across the board. That way it's very transparent who is doing the tests, who is not, and who is trying to hold their cards close to their chest, as it were, by consulting a private vet of their choice to verify all health records.

Just out of curiosity, does anyone know how it was decided that Fanconi results have to be public in the OFA database? Which other tests are like that?

The Fanconi test being public regardless of the results was done by the Basenji Parent Club. Since it was our test that we wanted included in the OFA database, the BCOA set the requirments.

@tanza:

The Fanconi test being public regardless of the results was done by the Basenji Parent Club. Since it was our test that we wanted included in the OFA database, the BCOA set the requirments.

The only exception to this rule were/are any tests done for research purposes. These results are not on the OFA site, and I assume it would be up to the owners to authorize them to be made public knowledge, which not everyone is willing to do.

Is that fair to every one else who has no choice? Not in the world according to me. 😃

First Basenji's

@sinbaje:

The only exception to this rule were/are any tests done for research purposes. These results are not on the OFA site, and I assume it would be up to the owners to authorize them to be made public knowledge, which not everyone is willing to do.

Is that fair to every one else who has no choice? Not in the world according to me. 😃

What kind of research purposes? For sponsored health surveys and the like? If they're just "testing" the reliability of a test, for example, and need a research sample pool, I could understand why they'd not want to publicize the results, for fear that they're not accurate enough.

@curlytails:

What kind of research purposes? For sponsored health surveys and the like? If they're just "testing" the reliability of a test, for example, and need a research sample pool, I could understand why they'd not want to publicize the results, for fear that they're not accurate enough.

The one that comes to mind - to the best of my knowledge - should not have had anything to do with the reliability of the results (it was done in 2009 - 2 years after the start of public testing in 2007 when most kinks should have long been worked out).

Of course being 2 years after public testing began, I can not think of any legitimate reason for the need for research nor the need to keep it private, but then I am oftentimes guilty of giving too much information vs not enough. 😉

I'll see if I can find the reference I am thinking of and if so, will ask - assuming I did not already. Will have to look.

I am learning much via this discussion. Thanks for posting this question.

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