Every dog breed has their own health issues that they may be prone to. Goldens have 4 main things we test fore beond DNA and those are hips, elbows, heart and eyes. We test to insure we are only breeding the best genetics to give the next generation the best chance posible of not developing any genetic issues.
Hip dysplasia is one of the most common issues in both medium and large dogs.
We do two different hip test on our dogs the first is through OFA. This test looks at the shape and the way the hip fits together. There are three passing scores the first is fair, the second is good and the third is excellent. Anything below these results are failing hips.
The second is Pennhip, this looks at the stretch or laxity in the hip. Pennhip gives each individual hip a numbering score. There is a breed average with scores. Going well below and well above the breed. Average. The lower the number the better the hips are.
Elbow dysplasia is a unfortunately, another common issue in larger dogs. We test through OFA using an x-ray to look for any abnormalities/ deformities in the elbows. OFA scores elbows as normal (these are good elbows) breeders option (these are good elbows that may have a slight abnormality that is not common in the breed) or failing.
There are a few DNA test that can determine genetic eye issues. Beyond these tests we do yearly OFA exams to ensure there are no developing genetic issues.
OFA Will give a normal score for eyes without issues, breeders options, score for issues that are due to injury or not likely hereditary or they will list the issues found in the eye on dogs that do not pass their eye exams.
We test our dogs hearts through OFA.
A cardiologist, specialist or practitioner can do an echo or auscultation to test the dog's hearts for abnormalities. OFA will list harts without issues as normal.
There are several DNA tests we do on our dogs to ensure none of their offspring will be affected by the diseases we can test for.
A dog maybe clear (the dog does not have the disease and cannot pass it genetically), carrier (The dog does not have the disease but carries the DNA to pass it along to offspring if the other parent carries the same DNA gene) or affected (the dog has the disease and carries the jeans to pass it to offspring)
ICH and ICH2
Ichthyosis is an autosomal recessive genetic mutation that affects the skin of Golden Retrievers. The most common symptom of ICH-A is excessive flaking of the skin. Other symptoms include areas of hardened skin and hyperpigmentation, which may make the skin appear dirty or blackened. Symptoms can be mild or severe. Evidence of the disease may be detected when the dog is still a puppy, but symptoms may take a year or more to develop. Additionally, symptoms can improve or worsen, depending on stress and hormonal cycles. Ichthyosis is generally not dangerous to a dog’s health, but can be unsightly and uncomfortable for the dog. ICH-A is frequently related to other health issues such as yeast overgrowth and fungal infections. A dog diagnosed with ICH-A will usually require more care with special shampoos and treatments.
Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration, or PRA-prcd, is a form of Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) in which the cells in the dog’s retina in the eye degenerate and die. PRA for dogs is similar to Retinitis Pigmentosa in humans. Most affected dogs will not show signs of vision loss until 3-5 years of age. Complete blindness can occur in older dogs.
The retina is a membrane located in the back of the eye that contains two types of photoreceptor cells. These cells take light coming into the eyes and relay it back to the brain as electrical impulses. These impulses are interpreted by the brain to “create” images. In dogs suffering from PRA-prcd, the photoreceptor cells begin to degenerate, causing an inability to see changes in light. This results in a loss of vision. Rod cells, which normally function in low-light or nighttime conditions, begin to degenerate first. This leads to night-blindness. The cone cells, which normally function in bright-light or daytime conditions, will deteriorate next. This often leads to complete blindness over a period of time.
PRA 1 & PRA 2
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a category of genetic mutations that cause vision loss and blindness. Photoreceptor cells (light-sensing cells) in the retina begin to degenerate, typically progressing from a loss of night vision to complete blindness.
PRA affects many different dog breeds, and these mutations are breed-specific. In Golden Retrievers, two mutations have been identified (in addition to prcd-PRA) known as GR-PRA1 and GR-PRA2.
Golden Retriever Muscular Dystrophy (GRMD or just MD) is a sex-linked recessive disorder. Dystrophin protein is required in order to connect muscles to bone, acting as an anchor for muscular cells. The mutation of the dystrophin gene is what causes a deficiency of dystrophin proteins in Golden Retrievers.
If the dystrophin gene has a mutation, this production is interrupted, leading to a reduced amount of dystrophin protein. The lack of dystrophin protein leads to the progressive degeneration of skeletal and cardiac muscles. The disease is similar to the human disease, muscular dystrophy.
DM or degenerative myelopathy is similar to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS or Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in that it attacks the spinal column and progresses over the course of a dog’s life without a cure. Because DM in Golden Retrievers affects the myelin sheath of the spinal cord, the only way to see the damage is during an autopsy. Symptoms include swaying while standing, difficulty standing, trouble getting up when lying down and knuckling of the paws. This is when a dog walks on the top of its paws, rather than the pads, particularly when turning and eventually becoming paralyzed.
Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis is a progressive degenerative disease of the central nervous system. In Golden Retrievers, NCL is caused by a two base pair deletion in the CLN5 gene. This causes a frameshift in the genetic coding, leading to a premature termination codon.
Golden Retrievers with NCL begin to develop signs of the disease around 13 months old. Often the first sign of NCL is a loss of coordination during basic movements including walking, running, and climbing stairs. Sings of the disease are particularly noticeable when the dog is excited. As the disease progresses, the loss of coordination becomes evident even when the dogs is calm; the dogs may also experience tremors, seizures, or blindness. Compulsive behaviors, anxiety, and loss of previously learned behavior is also common. Affected dogs may also become agitated or aggressive as the disease continues to progress. Due to the severity of the disease and loss of quality of life, most affected dogs are euthanized by 2-3 years of age.