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Inherited Disorders Library

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Health Registries

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) maintains a registry for health testing results in purebred dogs. Radiologists associated with the OFA evaluate hip and elbow radiographs, and the organization also maintains a database of evaluations by other specialists (e.g., heart, cystinuria, thyroid, patella, eyes). The NCA endorses the use of this and other registries. It recommends that breeders submit results to be openly published, regardless of whether the results are positive or negative. The NCA also maintains a database of health testing results.

Looking for a puppy?


Look past the pretty picture


It's amazing what a little fur can hide
What you can't see CAN break your heart

She's so cute and she looks perfectly healthy. But, she can't escape her genes or her early upbringing. Her mother has sub-valvular aortic stenosis and hip dysplasia. Her father has cystinuria. Neither of her parents were screened for these conditions prior to being bred and the chances are good that she has inherited these potentially fatal diseases. Additionally she has spent most of her short life having had little human contact and she is fearful and shy. Adorable yes, and a large heartache for her new family.

Newfoundlands, like all purebred dogs, are vulnerable to some extent to particular health problems, most of which also occur in other large and giant breed dogs. (Do not be misled into believing that mongrels are superior in this respect; they lack a basis on which the likelihood of hereditary disease can be evaluated.) Since these major health problems are not always outwardly evident in young dogs and have at least a modest genetic component, responsible breeders test (e.g., x-rays, blood tests) breeding stock prior to breeding.

No bloodline is absolutely free of all hereditary problems. In particular, the Newfoundland Club of America considers it necessary to test for four disorders (hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, cystinuria, and heart disease (particularly sub-aortic stenosis). Many breeders also test patellas, eyes, and thyroid. Only one of these, cystinuria, has a simple inheritance and a genetic test allowing breeders to completely avoid producing the disease. The others have complex inheritance in which there will be no complete guarantee that a puppy will not develop a problem as it grows into adulthood. Thus, in spite of pre-breeding clearances on both sire and dam, it is still possible that one or more of these diseases can occur.

Health Clearance Abbreviations

HE- OFA Excellent Hips

HG- OFA Good Hips

HF- OFA Fair Hips

HP- Hips Pending OFA

O-OVC Hips/elbows

L- OFA Elbows Clear

LP- Elbows pending OFA

P- OFA Patella Clear

HrC- Heart Clear- Cardiologist

HrS- Heart Clear- Specialist

HrP- Heart Clear Practitioner

HR- Heart clear

T-OFA Thyroid Clear

C- CERF eye clearance

OFA- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals

OVC- Ontario Veterinary College

CERF- Canine Eye Registry Foundation

What Health Considerations Mean to the Puppy Buyer
There are several lessons to learn from information regarding health status. First, with the exception of cystinuria, breeders cannot give an absolute guarantee that these problems will not occur in the puppies they produce. Though the frequency varies, there are no “lines” in which these problems are completely absent. Breeders can, however, minimize the probability of seeing these problems in the puppies they produce by rigorous testing and reporting health test results.
Further, most breeders will have specific clauses in their contracts specifying the conditions for re- imbursement, etc., should a problem arise. Any puppy buyer is advised to discuss these issues with breeders, and breeders should be willing to openly discuss their breeding strategy and the status of their dogs. Health clearances of breeding dogs can be verified at the OFA (offa.org)
and NCA (ncadatabase.org) websites. Remember that communication with the breeder is exceptionally important. If you can’t talk about it while you’re considering a puppy, it’s unlikely you’ll feel comfortable if a problem arises later on.

A note about Health Clearances:

What is CHIC?

In short, CHIC is a database of consolidated health screening results from multiple sources. Co-sponsored by the OFA and the AKC Canine Health Foundation, CHIC works with parent clubs to identify health screening protocols appropriate for individual breeds. Dogs tested in accordance with the parent club established requirements, that have their results registered and made available in the public domain are issued CHIC numbers.

Do test results have to be normal?

No, CHIC is not about normalcy. CHIC is meant to encourage health testing and sharing of all results, normal and abnormal, so that more informed breeding decisions can be made in an overall effort to reduce the incidence of genetic disease and improve canine health.

Learn more about CHIC

Newfoundlands are a CHIC Breed - the following are the breed requirements:

Hip Dysplasia OFA evaluation
  PennHip evaluation
  OVC evaluation
  GDC evaluation
Elbow Dysplasia OFA evaluation
  GDC evaluation
  OVC evaluation
Congenital Cardiac Database

OFA evaluation with examination performed by a Cardiologist

Cystinuria DNA test by a qualified laboratory: PennGen, VetGen, Optigen, HealthGene, or Veterinary Diagnostics Center.
  Alternately, progeny may be cleared by parentage. Please refer to the OFA Website for their policy on "Clear by Parentage".

Hip Dysplasia
Hip dysplasia refers to a syndrome in which malformation of the hip joint occurs during development. The end results are arthritic changes and remodeling in the joint, which may lead to substantial disability and pain, particularly as the dog ages. There is considerable variability in the degree of difficulty individual dogs experience. Some with very poor x-ray results have few, if any, mobility problems, while others, with seemingly mild arthritic changes, experience more severe symptoms.
There are a variety of treatments available. Many dogs do well with conservative treatment—e.g., a variety of pharmaceuticals, such as Adequan® and glucosamine/chondroitin, as well non-steroidal anti-inflamatories (e.g., Rimady®, Previcox®, Ascriptin®, buffered aspirin). Other dogs with more severe disabilities may be candidates for surgical intervention, up to and including total hip replacement. None of these approaches is without the potential for problems, and it is important to have the advice of a veterinarian familiar with giant breeds, your dog’s breeder, and, if indicated, an orthopedic specialist,
It is quite clear that there is a genetic predisposition for hip dysplasia in some dogs, though there is also an environmental contribution. Inheritance is usually described as “polygenic” meaning that at least several, and possibly many, genes contribute to the vulnerability, and parents with clear hips can produce offspring with dysplasia.

Elbow Dysplasia
Elbow dysplasia, technically, like hip dysplasia, is the abnormal development of the joint. Un- like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia is thought to result from one of three distinct syndromes— fragmentation of the medial coronoid process (FCP), ununited anconeal process (UAP), osteochondrosis dessicans (OCD)— all of which can result in secondary arthritic changes and mobility problems. Like hip dysplasia, all apparently have a substantial, but distinct, genetic component, and breeders are dependent on the evaluation of x-rays to determine the status of dogs prior to breeding, since clinical signs may occur at a later age. Full expression of any of the three disorders may require surgical intervention.

Heart (SAS)
Though other cardiac problems (e.g., patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), pulmonic stenosis, dilated cardiomyopathy, valve dysplasia) occur in the Newfoundland, the one of most concern is subaortic stenosis in which a ring of tissue encircling the descending aorta creates increased velocity and turbulence of blood flow. In its severe forms, it is a serious, sometimes fatal, problem and breeders generally have breeding stock evaluated by a cardiologist. Although any ambiguous finding with auscultation (stethoscope) is usually followed with an echo-cardiogram, many breeders believe all potential breeding stock should be checked with an echo-cardiogram, which can provide a much more definitive diagnosis.
Although the genetic component is as complex as that of hip and elbow dysplasia, with careful screening, a large majority of problems can be detected in puppies by 10 to 12 weeks of age. Many Newfoundland breeders are reluctant, therefore, to place puppies before this age. As with hips and elbows, it is possible that two “clear” parents can produce affected offspring. Regardless of age, heart evaluations should always be done by a Board-Certified cardiologist.

Cystinuria is a urinary disorder in which the dog is unable to resorb the amino acid, cystine, from the urine. The resulting increases in urinary cystine concentration may result in stone formation. This can have potentially fatal consequences, particularly in males.
Unlike the other health problems, the inheritance of cystinuria is straight forward. Further, to some extent because of this simplicity, there is a genetic test available, which directly detects the mutation that causes the disorder. Since use of this test allows breeders to detect carriers of this recessive gene, breeders can avoid ever producing this disease.




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