When it comes to the health of my animals I make it my first priority. If you dont have any healthy parents to begin with you wont have healthy puppies! I went through having my dog get hip displaysia as a kid and the surgery was not fun and very emotional for me. All my puppies will be as healthy as possible. Of course there is nothing for sure as it goes with mother nature. But I have taken many steps to ensure health of my puppies and that right there will save you hundreds to thousands of dollars in possible vet bills. I encourage my buyers to take the entire puppypack, & its contents, with them to the vet for their well baby checkup after receiving their new puppy from my care into their home. My puppypack includes copies of the parents pedigree, DNA profile certificate, Hereditary Cataracts test, PRCD/PRA report, CERF when applicable, Ofa hip report & MDR1 testing.
See explanation for each test below.
What are hereditary cataracts?
The typical inherited cataract in Australian Shepherds is bilateral, involving both eyes, and on the posterior (back) side of the lens. These cataracts usually begin in the cortex, the outer layer of the lens.
Generally, cataracts are first detected during a routine eye exam on a mature adult, but they can arise in young adulthood or in early old age. Cataracts in very young Aussie puppies are extremely unusual.
Disease progression varies. Some dogs' cataracts progress so slowly the dogs retain functional vision throughout their lives; others become blind in short order. One eye may first show signs of the disease before the other, but with hereditary cataracts the other eye will most likely develop one within a few months.
Cataracts start small and grow. When first noticed they may be referred to as "punctate". Not every small cataract will advance, which is why the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists and the Canine Eye Research Foundation give dogs with punctate cataracts a passing exam report. Even though the dog has passed its exam, if it is a breeding animal, the owner should hold off any breeding plans for six months to a year until a subsequent exam can determine whether the punctate is developing into a more advanced cataract.
What is PRCD?
Progressive Rod Cone Degeneration which causes PRA Progressive Retinal Atrophy. These are diseases of the eye known to be a problem in the Australian Shepherd breed. HC is Hereditary Cataracts .... also a disease of the eye prominent in this breed. For HC & PRCD/PRA the test results should read nothing other than n/n for both parents of the puppy you are purchasing. ALL puppies from 2 parents with n/n tests are also n/n because a puppy cannot get a gene that a parent doesn't have to offer so there is no way a puppy with 2 n/n parents can have an affected gene. These tests are done by a DNA swab & are 100% accurate, providing the sample was swabbed correctly without contamination of another dog or human, as DNA cannot be changed or falsified in any way. This is a yes or no test, black & white, with ZERO gray area. They either have it or they don't & a dog cannot "grow" a new hereditary cataracts or PRCD gene later in life.
What is MDR1?
MDR1 is Multidrug Resistency which means Ivermectin products should not be administered for flea & tick control, heartworm prevention, or as a dewormer. There are many other quality products on the market to use for the treatment & prevention of these parasites. MDR1 can also interfere, or cause a dog to react, to some cancer fighting drugs ... this is only a problem if the breeder is purposely producing puppies with a greater risk of developing cancer. Its basically just nice to know if youre dog is positive for MDR1 so you know not to use Ivermectin products. I avoid them regardless of the results.
What is Cerf?
CERF is Canine Eye Registry Foundation. For many years this test has been the only test available for the eyes. Only a certified canine opthamologist can perform this test and there is typically only 1 or 2 canine opthamologists per state so many breeders have to travel several hours for an appointment. This exam is, however, in my opinion quite disappointing. The test consists of the canine opthamologist simply looking in each eye for 5 seconds & noting any discrepancies in the vision on a form. The problem with this test is a dog can still have one Hereditary Cataracts or PRCD gene n/p, making them a carrier to contribute to defective eyes in their offspring, or they can have 2 genes making them affected p/p. Having one gene, n/p, means each puppy the parent produces has a 50/50 chance of having the positive gene passed to them. Having 2 genes, p/p, means each puppy the parent produces WILL have an affected gene because the parent has no "normal" or "negative" gene to offer their offspring and a puppy can't get a gene that a parent doesn't have to offer. The opthamologist cannot tell by simply looking into the eye if the dog has one or two genes or is cleared by parentage. They can only tell if the dog HAS Hereditary Cataracts or PRCD/PRA AFTER they develop one or both of these conditions. If the dog has already contributed to the gene pool they will have affected offspring that will contaminate the gene pool. The DNA tests are readily available at a relatively affordable cost so breeders who are not utilizing these DNA tests are simply not interested, or concerned, with the betterment of the breed. AGAIN, only having the CERF on the eyes does not mean you are getting a quality healthy dog with no issue's. It means that the dog has simply not "developed" a condition that the opthamologist can "see" at time of testing. It's just something to be aware of.
What is OFA?
OFA is Orthopedic Foundation for Animals & has been the ONLY hip test available for many years to rule out hip displaysia. The problem with this test is it is simply the "opinion" of the panel of vets who review the xray with no scientific methods used for review to determine a rating. A dog can be rated as excellent with one vet & poor with another vet because it is simply a person "looking" at an xray and giving their own personal opinion. You can also test a dog at different ages during his/her lifetime & get different readings/ratings. So as long a dog is tested atleast "Fair" with normal ranges from their parents, siblings etc., than I feel great about it.