As puppy buyers we often simply don’t know what we don’t know. So as not to be misled, most of us can search out pertinent information on reputable sites and educate ourselves – once we know what to look for!
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) owns and maintains the database of canine health testing results in the U.S. They use the parent breed club recommendations, in our case Poodle Club of America (PCA), to establish the minimum requirements to earn a Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) certification. Please note the wording “minimum requirements”. There are many other tests that can be done to ensure breeding dogs are less likely to reproduce known genetic health issues.
These are the published OFA requirements for Standard Poodles and should be completed before breeding (at minimum):
Hips – OFA or PennHip evaluation (OFA must be done after dog reaches 24 months, Pennhip after 4 months, for certification that is valid for the life of the dog)
Eye Examination – ACVO Ophthalmologist exam (eye exam certification is good for 12 months from the date of the exam)
Health Elective (one of the following)
OFA Thyroid evaluation – blood test to detect hypothyroidism which typically manifests between 2-5 years of age across breeds 3-4 years in standard poodles
OFA Sebaceous Adenitis evaluation – a skin biopsy to detect this hereditary disease (no DNA test for it yet) but has high rate of false negatives
Congenital Cardiac Exam – ACVIM examination to detect congenital heart disease
Advanced Cardiac Exam – OFA evaluation which can be done after 12 months of age, the certification is good for the life of the dog
Basic Cardiac Exam – OFA evaluation which can be done after 12 months of age, the certification is valid for 12 months from the date of the exam
Poodle Club of America also recommends the following DNA tests:
Neonatal Encephalopathy with Seizures (NEwS)
vonWillebrand’s Disease Type I (vWD)
What else can we do?
Dog owners today also have the ability to DNA test for a number of other standard poodle genetic diseases, and the list is constantly growing as new discoveries are made. Breeders can make informed decisions about their breeding dogs with this collection of knowledge.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA-PRCD)
Day Blindness/Retinal Displasia (DB/RD)
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
GM2 Gangliosidosis (GM2)
Intervertebral Disc Disease Type 1
Understanding what a breeder is telling you will help you, as a puppy buyer, make informed decisions as well. So let’s take a look at the OFA database for our retired foundation dam, Gigi. In the orange box at the top right, you can search the dog’s AKC registration number or part or all of its name. If there are more than one possible dog listed, you will have to click on the desired dog in the list.
The site will then display the tests that have been submitted to OFA, but you will next have to click on the dog’s name in the left column to actually see results (2nd and 3rd images) under the FINAL CONCLUSION column on the right (after scrolling if necessary). You can also check the date of the exam to ensure the basic cardiac and eye exams have not expired (they are good for 12 months from the date of the exam).