German Shepherd Dog > Are health clearances necessary before breeding? (79 replies)
by Blitzen on 04 February 2012 - 17:50
|Since this has understandably morphed into the inclusion of the importance of working ability, aren't many of you breeding for both anyway? Don't you do the health tests you consider appropriate for the breed and use the results when planning your next breeding? Don't most here title their dogs in some venue before breeding them?|
by starrchar on 04 February 2012 - 18:37
|As always Blitzen you make excellent points.|
by VKGSDs on 04 February 2012 - 19:16
|Honestly when I see breeders testing for everything under the sun it sends up a red flag. I wonder why they need to test all their dogs for all those things? Have they been cropping up in their lines? Are they using tests (which are not always entirely reliable) to make breeding decisions rather than years of experience and knowledge about their lines and their health?|
For me, hips, elbows, and DM make sense. Hips and elbows you cannot certify or rule problems in/out without x-rays. DM is definitely a prblem with this breed tends to happen later on, so if you didn't know a dog had it, he could be bred several times before symptoms start to show. I will be testing my breeding prospects for DM though the breeders I've purchased from did not (haven't held that against them, no reason to suspect DM in their lines).
The other things are things that I would only expect a breeder to test for if their dogs showed symptoms or they had those diseases in their lines and were trying to eradicate them.
I don't think breeder should do it just because it's there. Then why don't parents do preventative screening like CT scans, MRIs, and EEGs for their children? Because you don't do these things without a reason.
by Blitzen on 05 February 2012 - 00:23
Are we sure we know which health issues are problems in this breed. It's hasn't been too long ago that some breeders said they saw no need to xray hips, none of their dogs were lame. Then it was UAP, never had that either. A DNA test for DM has been available for almost 4 years and still some have never heard of the test or DM? Who knows what CERF exams, thyroid scans, cardiac tests, etc would find. Maybe we don't really want to know.
by BlackthornGSD on 05 February 2012 - 01:10
|Well, yeah, I guess you wouldn't know what problems your dogs might carry if you've only owned them for a year or so.|
I am pretty sure that my 13.5 year old female is clear of inherited heart and vision problems and that she doesn't have problems with her thyroid, or PF, or EPI. or juvenile renal disease. Her oldest kids are 10 now--so far, all of them are clear of those problems too. She was tested (clear/clear) for the DM gene a couple of years ago, so I have been pleased to be able to tell the people who have puppies from her that they will never have to worry about that particular horror.
She's still going strong now, too, although two of her pups (different litters) have died of hemangiosarcoma. As soon as there is a DNA test for that, I'll be using it.*
So, yeah, if someone's been breeding for a while and has done more than just buy a pregnant bitch, they should have seen the consequences and tell-tale signs of health problems.
Longetivity is its own sort of testing, I suppose, and survival is the best certification of all.
*The sires of the two kids who died (age 8 and age 10--too young!!!) both survived to be over 11 years old and neither died from hemangio; I don't think we're going to find that a single gene is responsible or that it will be easy to eliminate from the GSD gene pool.
by Rik on 05 February 2012 - 03:36
|Maybe we don't really want to know." Blitzen, you said a mouth full there. HD/ED are required by the SV because it had reached near epidemic proportions and was affecting the "product". If these other issues reach that level, then there will be mandatory checks for them also.|
The spinal issues I mentioned in my previous post was a gift from an Am. Grand Victor, owned, bred and foisted on the public by a GSDCA officer at the highest level.
I guess I was lucky, but DM is one of the few issues listed here that I never saw or was even aware of before I read of it here.
Thyroid is for sure something I would test for if I was a breeder starting out. I would be much more concerned with allergies than CERF.
The bitch in my avatar is 5 y.o. has a ZW of 74, V rating in Germany and the U.S. In the 3 years I have owned her has never required a vet visit for anything other than routine fecal exams and vaccinations. Has stools like rocks. In her most recent outing was a regional Siegerin and passed lifetime breed survey. Can see a sleeve at 50 yards and has the heart to get her there at full speed. Did well in the one AKC show she entered, but according to some here, I should start looking for reasons not to breed her. I just think that is BS. There are no perfect dogs.
There is an Am. S/L in my area who is in Law Enforcement. I watched him grow up and he was very promising for the Am. show ring. He was washed out because he could not wag his tail (a gift from the same Am. GV I mentioned above, 6 gen. later). He is also sickle hocked. But he will damn sure track your azz down and he is damn sure ready for the fight when he gets there. But breed worthy, not by a country mile. Just an anecdote for anyone who considers that putting a dog in LE is automatically furthering the breed.
I would be much more con Passes st P HasS SSS P
by Blitzen on 05 February 2012 - 03:48
|Ah.....allergies...the bane of many a GSD yet so many consider them a minor "skin problem" and think it's perfectly OK to breed dogs with allergies and to repeat breedings that have produced them.|
I guess if breeding good GSD's were easy, there would be lot more good ones, eh?
by Kalibeck on 05 February 2012 - 04:19
|I certainly wish there was a test for EPI. A dog that has been perfectly healthy with no issues at all can suddenly manifest this awful disease at 3 to 7 years with no warning. By that time, the dog could have been bred & passed this along, with out ever knowing the dog was a carrier. While the symptoms can sometimes be controlled, there is no cure, & it is expensive & heartbeaking to treat. The severe nutritional collapse (essentially starvation) of the dog can lead to nervous system problems as the myelin sheath is destroyed unless cobalamine injections are also provided (as intrinsic factor is lost) along with the triad of digestive enzymes that the pancreas usually supplies.|
Interestingly enough, this disease was limited to GSDs & 1 or 2 other breeds, & now has spread throughout the canine world to other breeds, which would argue against heritability.
But a test of any sort, or vaccine against, EPI would be my wish. jackie harris
by workingdogz on 05 February 2012 - 10:28
"So, yeah, if someone's been breeding for a while and has done more than just buy a pregnant bitch, they should have seen the consequences and tell-tale signs of health problems.
Longetivity is its own sort of testing, I suppose, and survival is the best certification of all."
Excellent statement Blackthorn!
Just like "pop up stores" we have
"pop up breeders". Those that have done
nothing more than buy dogs/puppies-
titled or untitled- and become "breeders".
The usual lifespan for the "pop up breeder"
is about 3-5 years max. By this time,
the progeny are maturing and problems
start to appear, and even though the buyers
may have a "guarantee", the "breeder" is no
longer breeding, so too bad so sad.
Health clearances are a super idea, but don't
just focus on those as a breeding tool. Make sure
when you set out to breed German Shepherds,
that you are in fact doing so, this is supposed to be
a "working/herding" breed, so work them too!
It's how we can hope to maintain important
traits like biddability, agility and courage!
I've said it before and will say it again.
When you take a dog and start to work it,
(I'll use schutzhund as my arena of work),
you will start to see any real problems in the
dog. Does the dog travel well, does he stay
sound or come up sore? Tire easily? No natural
endurance etc? You will also find out more
about that dogs temperment and what makes it
tick by having the dog perform exercises at your
The health testing will let you know there are
or are not issues present too, but don't just stop
there! It will become a fad to have all those tests
instead of working titles.
by shepherdhope on 05 February 2012 - 11:12
|I would go to a breeder that extensive health tests, than just hips and elbows. Due to all the conditions and problems with the shepherds. I would think they were being fantastic ambassador for the breed. Why would anybody think health tests are a red flag?|
by starrchar on 05 February 2012 - 13:56
by Abby Normal on 05 February 2012 - 14:01
|I too do not see health clearances as a red flag, nor as a 'marketing' tool. If the dog is clear of those diseases, it is clear.|
What I do think is that we have no idea of the prevalence of any of these diseases in the breed because of the limited testing. We don't really know to what extent of a problem any of them are in the breed as a whole. If everyone tested we would get a clear picture. We would know whether we could 'avoid' or whether we would need breed carrier to clear, or whether we could not even do that if the problem was too entrenched, as some conditions are in some breeds. We are blind, and sometimes it appears that we want to stay that way.
It may be better than we think, in which case we could truly work to eradicate some of these diseases for good. It may be worse, in which case a very careful approach would be needed so that the gene pool was not reduced even further. But without knowing, how can a sensible breeding strategy be designed? We can't just keep ignoring the problems the breed has, or stumbling along as we are now surely? As a breed I don't even think we HAVE a clear breeding strategy that covers anything healthwise other than hips and elbows. Not from the SV, nor certainly from any breed club/council or body in the UK. I can't speak for other countries, but would be interested to hear whether any club or body was taking the lead in GSD health?
I have often mused about what would happen if and when a test for epilepsy is developed. Everyone says they want it but my deepest fear is that people will be afraid to use it. Just my opinion, and just some thoughts that sometimes go round in my head, and I would hope to be wrong.
As an 'end user' as someone put it, and not a breeder, I would be seeking a breeder who does health tests for DM, AF, Hips & Elbows. In the UK I only know of one! If there was a test available for EPI and Epilepsy, I would also want those as a minimum. There are others I would list as a nice to have, but not a need to have.
by sachsenwolf on 05 February 2012 - 14:44
|First: Even if a breeder knows their lines and thinks that means they shouldn't test for x, y, and z, because they've never had it come up... What happens when you outcross to another line? Don't you want to know IF you bring something in? Are you just going to take the other breeder's word that their line is clear of x, y, and z too? Even if they are honest, what if they aren't nearly as knowledgable or observant? What about issues that can remain dormant and sprout up after several generations? (Or even new mutations??) Few breeders can say that they've been breeding their line exclusively (inbred anyone?) for 5 or so generations. Point I am trying to make is just because you've never had something turn up in your line, does not mean you won't. Because you don't expect it, you are probably less likely to have the vet listen to the heart, check the eyes, etc. and may miss it for a considerable time. |
Second point: For those concerned with elbows right now (as not everyone is)... wouldn't you love to get your next dog/pup from a line that can show the dogs had clear elbows for many generations? Well, if we have a big issue with something down the road that we don't have right now, you'd be ahead of most if you can pull up the proof that generations of your dogs were clear. Of course we are only going by phenotype, but you have to work with what is available.
Third point: If a breeder was only testing hips and hearts, nothing else, then that would be a red flag to me that there are having issues in the cardiac department. But if they are testing for everything or most things, I'd just think they are throughal and certainly don't put money ahead of the health of their lines.
Last point: I would guess less than 10% of breeders here have been breeding the same lines for 20 years or more. MAYBE it's logical that they don't need to screen as much because they have a lot of first hand knowledge of their dogs, BUT what kind of example are they setting for everyone else? If "I know my lines" is the rational you give for not screening, then who's to stop less experienced/knowledgable breeders from using your same arguement? Breeding is not cheap and we all like to save a buck here and there, but hopefully not at the expense of our breed. Now I don't expect everyone to test for EVERYTHING as that would cost a fortune, and some things are advisable to do yearly and that's not necessary, but the less expensive and less intrusive tests, yes I'd want to see the parents of a pup I bought tested for them... it's for the greater good.
by Blitzen on 05 February 2012 - 16:33
For me, if I knew the breeder was breeding for a reasonable number of years, respected, and known for breeding healthy dogs, I'd probably be more lenient about which healthy tests I would want before buying a puppy. Breeders like Blackthorn and my co-owner have been observing their dogs long enough to have a good handle on what they need to check for. If one establishes a healthy line of GSD's, I assume that are not going to compromse that record so will be very diligent about which outside dogs they bring into the mix.
by shepherdhope on 05 February 2012 - 17:03
|Longevity and survival can happen in a really poorly dog . I had Kee for 12 and a bit years. |
She had: AF
Colitis on and off I could go on and on
by shepherdhope on 05 February 2012 - 17:28
There is a blood test called TLI Trypsin Like Immunoreactivity to diagnose EPI. Will try and find out more. Found the info on Kesyra GSD UK.
by Jenni78 on 05 February 2012 - 17:46
by Kalibeck on 06 February 2012 - 02:18
|The TCL1 test for EPI can diagnose a dog that has EPI, but can not predict if a dog will get EPI. The dog must already have symptoms for the test to be accurate.|
And I guess that's my point about longevity. My Kali's breeder was breeding GSDs with a mentor for >40 years. Her dogs were healthy, her pups were healthy. My girl's parents were healthy & long-lived. My girl's 1 & only litter, to a male from very different lines, but healthy also.....& I get 2 pups with issues that could very well be genetic. No other pups with these problems are admitted to on either side. So did I just draw a poor hand on the first deal? I'll never breed from either line again, despite how wonderful the dogs are, because I know now what lurks there. And who knows why this manifested in this litter. I know that there are niches in breeding horses, combinations that produce animals that are much better than you'd expect the sire/dam combination to produce.....could there be reverse niches? Combinations that bring all the, for lack of a better word, crap up to the fore-front? And wouldn't genetic testing be a way to keep that from happening? I'm not blaming Kali's cancer on genetics, tho' they probably do play a part, I just think that our enviornment also plays a significant part in that. I'm talking about EPI, bowel issues, & other issues. Stuff that I'm sure some day there'll be tests for. Why wouldn't you use tools like these if they were available. I know why, if you've developed an awesome dog that you intend to breed & then do the tests...? All your work & investment could be down the tubes. But if you could test a pup before you made that uber-commitment in time & energy, emotion, & $$$....wouldn't it be a very good thing? Just sayin'.....from the bitter land of disappointment!
by Jenni78 on 06 February 2012 - 03:10
|Many of the ailments you're citing are not proven genetic, hence, some of the difficulty in testing. Some issues are congenital, some are of unknown origins, and some are complex but hereditary. Many fall under a general auto-immune syndrome category. I think genetic predisposition and then ENVIRONMENT are working hand in hand and until we clean up BOTH sides, nothing will improve, regardless of testing. |
This is long but interesting to think about. I agree with much of it. http://www.videxgsd.com/PDF/Immune%20System%20Problems%20in%20the%20Canine.pdf
by shepherdhope on 06 February 2012 - 11:07
|I'm only a pet owner so have no real idea of pedigree's,titles or genetics. Common sense tells me we have created the majority of the problems due to over use of some stud dogs,being to inbred, wanting the perfect look the best working dog. We pick who mates with who. I know there are some fantastic ambassadors for the breed. If my shepherd hadn't been so ILL I would be none the wiser thinking hips are all you need to be concerned with. I know a little now about most problems with in the bred because of Kee what a way to find out! She was my first shepherd.|