Health Testing.

This page contains information about health problems that I test my Miniature American Shepherd breeding dogs for so that the puppies that they produce can have the best chances of living healthy lives that I can give them. The health testing that I do on my Miniature American Shepherd breeding dogs exceeds what is officially recommended by the Miniature American Shepherd Club of the USA's (MASCUSA's) health committee for entrance into the CHIC program.

Important Health Tests for Miniature American Shepherds:

Hip Displasia (Required for CHIC)

In the United States, the recommended organizations for hip screenings are the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) and PennHIP. These tests determine whether a dog has hip dysplasia and how likely it is that it will develop hip dysplasia in its lifetime. They unfortunately cannot tell you whether a dog will produce hip dysplasia, but screening hips and breeding dogs with good hips and a good hip history helps lessen the chance of producing it.

OFA Hip Evaluation

OFA Hip Evaluations are done by having a veterinarian take a hip-extended view x-ray of a dog and mail the x-ray to OFA. OFA then sends a copy of the x-ray to 3 independent outside evaluators who give the hips either a normal rating of Excellent, Good, or Fair, or a dysplastic rating of Borderline, Mild, Moderate, or Severe. The final result is determined by a consensus of the 3 evaluators. OFA requires dogs to be 24 months old or older for this test, but they will do a preliminary evaluation, which is only sent to one evaluator, before a dog is 24 months.

You can read more about OFA evaluations on OFA's website.

PennHIP Evaluation

PennHIP evaluations are done by specially trained PennHIP veterinarians who take 3 different x-rays of the dog, the distraction view, the compression view, and the hip-extended view. These x-rays are then sent to PennHIP where quantitative measurements are taken of the hip joint laxity. These measurements, along with how your dog compares to other dogs in your breed are then sent back to you to aid you in your breeding decisions. PennHIP evaluations can be done as early as 16 weeks of age, but PennHIP recommends retesting those dogs at 6 months old to a year old.

You can read more about PennHIP evaluations on PennHIP's website.

Canine Eye Certification (Required for CHIC)

Eye certifications are recommended once every year to check for eye problems that a dog may have developed. Many eye problems do not develop when a dog is young, so it is important for their eyes to be checked every year, rather than just once as puppies. The eye certification exam is done by a board certified (ACVO) veterinary ophthalmologist. After the exam, the ophthalmologist fills out a paper, noting which eye problems, if any, he or she found in my Miniature American Shepherd. The dog then either passes or fails based on the severity of any problems present and whether or not the specialist believes that the problems are hereditary. If the problems are hereditary, but are not considered to be serious problems, a dog can still pass, but the form still notes that the problem exists. The veterinary ophthalmologist writes notes at the end of the form for the owner's reference.

You can read more about Canine Eye Certification on OFA's Eye Information page.

prcd-PRA (Required for CHIC)

Prcd-PRA stands for "Progressive Rod Cone Degeneration - Progressive Retinal Atrophy". This disease requires two copies of a mutated gene to affect a dog's eyesight. It causes a dog's retinas to degenerate over time, eventually blinding the dog. OptiGen is the patent-holding laboratory for this test, and it can be done by sending in a blood sample or a cheek cell sample, but they do not provide swabs. All of my Miniature American Shepherd breeding dogs are Normal/Normal for prcd-PRA.

You can read more about prcd-PRA on OptiGen's prcd-PRA Test page.

MDR1 (Required for CHIC)

Dogs with one or two mutant copies of the MDR1 gene have a genetic predisposition to adverse drug reactions after taking one of over a dozen different drugs from this problem drugs page: Problem Drugs. Approximately 50% of Miniature American Shepherds have at least one mutated MDR1 gene.

Washington State University is the patent-holding laboratory for the MDR1 test and has not licensed it to any other lab in the United States.

You can read more about MDR1 on Washington State University's MDR1 site.

HSF4 Gene Mutation

Dogs with one or two copies of the HSF4 Gene mutation, sometimes referred to as "HC", are more likely to develop juvenile cataracts than dogs that do not have any copies of the gene mutation. All of my Miniature American Shepherd breeding dogs are Normal/Normal for the HSF4 gene mutation.

You can read more about the HSF4 gene mutation on Animal Genetics' website.

Degenerative Myelopathy

Degenerative Myelopathy, or DM, is a disease that requires two copies of the gene mutation to affect a Miniature American Shepherd's health. Miniature American Shepherds with two copies of the mutated gene are more likely to develop the disease, which affects the spinal cord and destroys cells that send and receive messages from the brain. Symptoms start with difficulty to walk and progress until the Miniature American Shepherd cannot walk or control its bladder. Dogs usually do not develop degenerative myelopathy until they are about 8 years old. All of our dogs are Normal/Normal for degenerative myelopathy.

You can read more about Degenerative Myelopathy on Animal Genetics' Degenerative Myelopathy page.