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Hi, I’m new to the forum and looking for advice. We’re looking to buy a new pup having recently lost our beautiful 6yr old lab. I didn’t really look into health testing last time (through my inexperience) but am keen to do the right thing this time. I have found a litter with health tested parents but the dam has a hip score of 5:16 apparently due to jarring her leg at 5 months and causing a hairline fracture.
Is there anything I can ask for from the breeder to prove this is the case? Looking at the KC register the parents/grandparents scores look okay with the highest score in the grandfather at 7:7.
Also, when I’m asking for a ‘clear eye certificate’ does that mean the same as pcrd-PRA clear?
Any advice from the experts much appreciated!
Laura x
 

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OK, I'll take eyes first. There are two possible forms of eye testing. The BVA/KC/ISDS eye test, (clear certificate) which is a visual test, rather like the bit of a human eye test where the optician looks into your eye. It's checking the "mechanics" of the eye. Are there any visual signs of problems. There are all sorts of problems which can affect a dog's eyes, some it could be born with and some which might develop over time. Such things as Persistent Pupillary Membrane is one of the former and would be detected with the first eye test. Hereditary cataracts and PRA are amongst the latter with these occurring at almost any time during a dog's life. In view of this the eye test is a yearly test.

Trouble is, because the above test is a visual test it can only see things after they have occurred. But there is a test which will tell us if PRA will occur in the future. That is the DNA test. A dog which is DNA clear for PRA can never produce a puppy which will ever develop PRA. But it takes a male and a female to produce a puppy and depending on the other dog used the pup could be a carrier. But that is of no matter unless you intend to breed at some time in the future. But the problem with DNA tests is that they are problem specific. They only cover one form of one problem. As an example, we know of at least 2 forms of cataract affecting Labradors, but we only have DNA tests for one form. Also there is no DNA test for cataracts, so for these reasons dogs to be used for breeding should have been subjected to both the DNA test and the BVA/KC/ISDS test.

Now hips. A test result of 5/16 is to me unacceptable. Yes it's possible that the 16 "Could" be the result of an injury, so it's down to, "Do you trust the breeder?" But even a score of 7/7 is not good. The breed average, both sides added together is only 6 total. For my part I set a top limit of 12 total, so 7/7, 14 total to me is just too high to be bred from.

Any part of the above which you dont understand, just post and I'll try to explain further.
 

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OK, I'll take eyes first. There are two possible forms of eye testing. The BVA/KC/ISDS eye test, (clear certificate) which is a visual test, rather like the bit of a human eye test where the optician looks into your eye. It's checking the "mechanics" of the eye. Are there any visual signs of problems. There are all sorts of problems which can affect a dog's eyes, some it could be born with and some which might develop over time. Such things as Persistent Pupillary Membrane is one of the former and would be detected with the first eye test. Hereditary cataracts and PRA are amongst the latter with these occurring at almost any time during a dog's life. In view of this the eye test is a yearly test.

Trouble is, because the above test is a visual test it can only see things after they have occurred. But there is a test which will tell us if PRA will occur in the future. That is the DNA test. A dog which is DNA clear for PRA can never produce a puppy which will ever develop PRA. But it takes a male and a female to produce a puppy and depending on the other dog used the pup could be a carrier. But that is of no matter unless you intend to breed at some time in the future. But the problem with DNA tests is that they are problem specific. They only cover one form of one problem. As an example, we know of at least 2 forms of cataract affecting Labradors, but we only have DNA tests for one form. Also there is no DNA test for cataracts, so for these reasons dogs to be used for breeding should have been subjected to both the DNA test and the BVA/KC/ISDS test.

Now hips. A test result of 5/16 is to me unacceptable. Yes it's possible that the 16 "Could" be the result of an injury, so it's down to, "Do you trust the breeder?" But even a score of 7/7 is not good. The breed average, both sides added together is only 6 total. For my part I set a top limit of 12 total, so 7/7, 14 total to me is just too high to be bred from.

Any part of the above which you dont understand, just post and I'll try to explain further.
Hi John,

Thank you so much for such a comprehensive reply. That all makes perfect sense! I’m so glad I came across your forum.

Since posting I have found out that although the parents have been dna tested, neither has had a BVA test (by his own admission, this was omitted due to his inexperience as a breeder).

When it comes to the hip situation, my feeling is that he is being honest about the accident, but still with the one grandparent with a hip score of 14 combined I think there are too many alarm bells ringing for us to pursue this.

And so the search continues...!

Thank you again.

Laura
 

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Hi Laura,

I'm in the same situation as yourself. Lost our 6 1/2 year old lab just before Christmas.

One thing you haven't mentioned in your post is elbow scores..... We didn't check for elbows last time and unfortunately our pup suffered from elbow dysplasia, and had to have quite an expensive arthroscopy early in her life.

We are now looking for a new pup, and wouldn't consider any where the parents don't have perfect 0 elbow scores, alongside what you've already mentioned.
 

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Something I posted recently, not by any means all encompassing, but might help people looking for a pup.

26475
 

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Just to post a bit more about hips and elbows, you are right to look further back into the pedigree, as it isn't just the combination of the immediate parents, but what is behind them as well in the pedigree, and how those two pedigrees combine together that determine what the progeny will inherit. But the problem is, if you look back through both pedigrees for sire and dam and can't spot any unusually high scores/grades, they could still in combination produce problems, and this is where the KC Estimated Breeding Value tool comes in handy as it tells you the possibility of either sire or dam producing problems. Another way to look is look at what the stud dog is producing, has he been mated to any bitches with a similar pedigree, and have these matings produced any problems. It's a long and laborious task as the KC website is terrible at the minute (they recently switched and the new and 'improved' website is just diabolical), but it is worth researching thoroughly.

I'm a bit different to John, to me 7/7 would be my upper limit for an absolutely outstanding dog, as long as the estimated breeding values were good. By an outstanding dog I mean one that is a good representative of the breed, fantastic temperament, lovely correct conformation and I'd want to see some desire to do what they were bred to do as well. My current bitch has yet to be scored, her mum has 5/5 hips, grandma has 0/0 hips (and is now 14 and still loves to plod about) but great grandma had 10/9 hips, which, at that time, was only 2 points above the breed mean standard. A few years ago the KC switched from using the mean to the median, which brought the combined score down even lower, and it now stands at 9. One of Branta's sister's has had her hips and elbows done, although it will be a while before the official results are through, they looked as though they would be similar to her mum, so a possible 5/5 with 0 elbow grade, which I'm absolutely over the moon with if that's the case.
 

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I'm a bit different to John, to me 7/7 would be my upper limit for an absolutely outstanding dog
We all have our personal "Top limit" and it's always going to be an arbitrary figure. One of the men involved in developing the hip scoring was the late Dr Malcolm Willis. Some years back the Flatcoated Retriever Society held a health seminar and invited Dr Willis to speak. I was present at the time and one think he said stuck in my mind. The Flatcoats always had better hips on average than Labradors, at that time being a 9 total against a 14 total, and his comment was that Flatcoat people should not fixate on that figure, that the aim should always be to breed dogs with hips good enough to do the job. That by eliminating dogs with a score of over the breed average they could be removing dogs from the gene pool who had a lot to offer the breed. That dogs with a score of 14, or even 18 could likely live out their lives without ever having problems.

But then came the other side of the coin, Jemima Harrison's TV program, "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" Jemima is a lovely person, but she did have a bee in her bonnet, and rightly so. Not everything was perfect in the world of pedigree dogs, and she exposed the KC as being very amateurish. I personally always believe that was the reason for the KC changing the method of calculating the breed hip averages from Mean to Median. At a stroke that changed the average from 12, which it was at that time, to something like 6 and a bit, allowing the KC to claim a success! And of course the recommendation has always been to only use dogs for breeding who are at, or better than the breed average. So over night, the recommendation changed from 12 total to 6 total and in theory a whole range of dogs were eliminated from the breeding gene pool, with the attendant problems that caused to the coefficient of inbreeding. (I'll talk about that later if anyone is interested.) But it's a fact that literally every action a breeder takes, every limit set, has an effect on another part of breeding. There is a lot of truth in the saying that a dog is not just a pair of hips, a dog is a sum of ALL the parts.
 

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We all have our personal "Top limit" and it's always going to be an arbitrary figure. One of the men involved in developing the hip scoring was the late Dr Malcolm Willis. Some years back the Flatcoated Retriever Society held a health seminar and invited Dr Willis to speak. I was present at the time and one think he said stuck in my mind. The Flatcoats always had better hips on average than Labradors, at that time being a 9 total against a 14 total, and his comment was that Flatcoat people should not fixate on that figure, that the aim should always be to breed dogs with hips good enough to do the job. That by eliminating dogs with a score of over the breed average they could be removing dogs from the gene pool who had a lot to offer the breed. That dogs with a score of 14, or even 18 could likely live out their lives without ever having problems.

But then came the other side of the coin, Jemima Harrison's TV program, "Pedigree Dogs Exposed" Jemima is a lovely person, but she did have a bee in her bonnet, and rightly so. Not everything was perfect in the world of pedigree dogs, and she exposed the KC as being very amateurish. I personally always believe that was the reason for the KC changing the method of calculating the breed hip averages from Mean to Median. At a stroke that changed the average from 12, which it was at that time, to something like 6 and a bit, allowing the KC to claim a success! And of course the recommendation has always been to only use dogs for breeding who are at, or better than the breed average. So over night, the recommendation changed from 12 total to 6 total and in theory a whole range of dogs were eliminated from the breeding gene pool, with the attendant problems that caused to the coefficient of inbreeding. (I'll talk about that later if anyone is interested.) But it's a fact that literally every action a breeder takes, every limit set, has an effect on another part of breeding. There is a lot of truth in the saying that a dog is not just a pair of hips, a dog is a sum of ALL the parts.
Agree with absolutely everything you've said, although I have to say the portrayal of every breeder involved with showing dogs was producing inbred unhealthy dogs did nothing at all for dog breeding. It pushed many people looking at buying a puppy away from all KC registered dogs, which is entirely unfair when so many are actually trying hard to produce healthy, fit pups that are good examples of the breed. I couldn't even begin to guess how many times I've had to explain to someone who doesn't understand what hybrid vigour truly is that claims all cross breed dogs are healthier than inbred pedigree dogs. The show was also untruthful in that many of the dogs featured weren't show bred, and some weren't even KC registered from memory.
 

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Thats very true, Jemima did go a little overboard. But luckily I was able to subdue her a little on the Labrador front. As you know, I was involved in a small way, researching both Labradors and Flatcoats for her when she was making the program, and was able to prove that both Labrador and Flatcoat inbreeding was not as bad as she first thought. Cavalier King Charles came out badly over Syringomyelia, GSD's of course over exaggerated hind angulation.

But coefficient of inbreeding, or CoI as it's know is much misunderstood by many people who should know better. The conservationists tell us what a wonderful job they have done by establishing a colony of Red Kites not far from me in the Chilterns, established with just a dozen or so birds there are now thousands. Then a colony of Cranes were established on the Summerset Levels with just 6 founding birds. Beavers on a Scottish estate. The fact that all of these and very many more are vastly inbred seems to pass people by, where everyone is jumping to criticise pedigree dog breeders! Yes we know things like inbreeding depression exist and health problems can occur. Cancer in Flatcoats, primarily due to a popular sire. We ourselves got a "Get out of jail free" pass when the DNA test for PRA was developed. We had the 6 top Labrador Field Trials champions all either carriers or affected by PRA, at the moment the test appeared! When I tested Amy the top canine ophthalmologist in the country, Prof. Peter Bedford, said to me, "But why John? You dont have a problem in your breed!" That was how near we came in Labradors to disaster. But as I said above, everything is linked. The more dogs you eliminate from the gene breeding pool for some problem or other, the higher the CoI goes, along with the problems that might cause.
 

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I was chatting with a work colleague yesterday and he was saying he was looking to add a Labrador puppy possibly in the summer, but wasn't in any hurry. I think he was rather surprised when I told him he'd left it a bit late to start looking, as most nicely bred litters are spoken for before they are born at the minute.

Unfortunately I don't think the majority of breeders use the health tests at all, some ignore them when their results aren't what they wanted, with some excuse as to why they should still breed on. I saw one bitch with an elbow grade of 3 bred on from because of the pedigree, which, although nice, had all the usual culprits in there so not exactly unique. I've always got options with the pups I have out there now, if Branta's hip or elbow scores come back not what I want, then there is the possibility of bringing back in another pup from one of my own lines elsewhere. And when I say my own lines, that line is about 1mm long in the grand scheme of things when compared to established and well known breeders, but it's still nice to know I have the option there.
 

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Hi Laura,

I'm in the same situation as yourself. Lost our 6 1/2 year old lab just before Christmas.

One thing you haven't mentioned in your post is elbow scores..... We didn't check for elbows last time and unfortunately our pup suffered from elbow dysplasia, and had to have quite an expensive arthroscopy early in her life.

We are now looking for a new pup, and wouldn't consider any where the parents don't have perfect 0 elbow scores, alongside what you've already mentioned.
Thanks Ian. Yes, these particular parents had elbow scores of 0 and we’re definitely checking those scores out alongside all the dna tests, hips and BVA eye examination this time.

Sorry to hear you lost your lab too, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. Best of luck in your search for a new puppy. We’re not finding it very easy so far but hoping that will start to change as we come out of lockdown and head towards Spring! 🤞
 

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With my old Amy, I knew the stud dog I liked. I was at a BBQ one August with the stud dog owner and told her that I was ready for a pup and she promised to let me know when a nice bitch arrived for mating. It was February when I had the phone call, went to see the bitch and put my name down for a pup. Chloe was very similar, except in her case it was the bitch I particularly liked. Chatted to the breeder and she told me who she intended using, a dog I liked. So again my name went on the list and it was a matter of waiting for the bitch to come into season. So in both cases it was 5 to 6 months after making the decision that I got my pup.
 

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I had one guy had to back out of having a pup from my last litter, and wants to wait now for a pup from Branta. I don't know if he will wait that long but he's now at least aware of what he needs to look for in terms of health testing and a nicely bred puppy.
 

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Hi, me again! I took your advice and looked for good local stud dogs which brought me to a fantastic breeder with unadvertised pups. Parents have good hip/elbow scores (both 0 elbows, 2:4 and 5:5 hips) and dna tested for pra, crm, eic, hnpk and sd2). Sire has BVA eye certificate but due to current covid situation, dam doesn’t. Do you think this is an acceptable risk to take?
Many thanks again!
 

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but due to current covid situation, dam doesn’t.
Sadly thats very true at the moment. I co-organise eye testing sessions so know exactly the problem. We hold testing sessions twice a year and our session last April had to be cancelled due to covid19. Things improved during the summer so were able to hold our October session, but because there had been no testing earlier in the year we were inundated with applications and had to turn people away. Our next session will be in April again all being well, but of course there is no guarantee that it will go ahead, but already we have as many dogs entered as we can handle. And it's the same with hips. The BVA announced a week or so ago that they were putting all hip and elbow scoring on hold for the time being.

If the pup is what you like then during these difficult times I would quite accept that the lack of a current eye test certificate is due to covid and not the fault of the breeder, so particularly as the sire and dam have been DNA tested for PRA I personally would be happy to go ahead.
 

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Sadly thats very true at the moment. I co-organise eye testing sessions so know exactly the problem. We hold testing sessions twice a year and our session last April had to be cancelled due to covid19. Things improved during the summer so were able to hold our October session, but because there had been no testing earlier in the year we were inundated with applications and had to turn people away. Our next session will be in April again all being well, but of course there is no guarantee that it will go ahead, but already we have as many dogs entered as we can handle. And it's the same with hips. The BVA announced a week or so ago that they were putting all hip and elbow scoring on hold for the time being.

If the pup is what you like then during these difficult times I would quite accept that the lack of a current eye test certificate is due to covid and not the fault of the breeder, so particularly as the sire and dam have been DNA tested for PRA I personally would be happy to go ahead.
Thank you so much for your advice John. I really appreciate your help! Best wishes, Laura
 

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I managed to squish in to a group testing session with my youngster (admittedly organised by someone more organised than me), but had to cancel her hip and elbow x-rays as we couldn't travel from a Tier 3 area to the vets we'd booked in with. So we are still waiting, I think she'll be two years old before we manage to get plates taken, and possibly three by the time the BVA have got through the backlog of all the plates to score and grade. I know some breeders are sending plates off to Australia (via email) to be scored via their system, which then cannot be recorded on our UK KC. This pandemic is going to have a huge effect on the information about the health test results of our dogs, I'm not sure why the BVA can't work remotely as they are doing in other countries, rather than sitting together to discuss, but the knock on effect will be enormous.
 

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Never being short of an opinion, I fell out with some people only yesterday about this very subject!

There is no doubt both the KC and the BVA have had a terrible year from the point of view of public opinion! The KC by launching a new web site 100 times worse than the web site it replaced. Difficult to navigate and missing so much that was on the old site that one has to ask, what on earth were they thinking of? Or maybe they were not thinking at all! The

BVA have certainly not covered themselves in glory over hip and elbow scoring! OK, there is an excuse over eye testing because this brings members of the dog owning public into very close contact with the tester, certainly well under 2 meters, and I accept it is not safe for either the tester or the dog owners. But with hips and elbows, that in the 21's century should not need ANYONE to come into contact with anyone. It can all be done easily on networked computer screens the the panel's own homes. It's certainly not rocket science.

But just to make my position 100% clear, I am completely opposed to using overseas testing. America for example although testing in the same way uses a totally different and incompatible system of scoring, using letters instead of numbers. If I remember correctly an "A" in America is in the bracket of 0 to 4 in the UK. Australia uses a system very similar to ours, but our KC does not put either US or Aus scores on a dog's record, meaning that a prospective puppy buyer cannot go onto the KC's web site and check up on the score. This alone means any unscrupulous person could print their own scores and most people would not know, simply because most people in the UK have never seen a US or Aus hip result certificate! It becomes a cheat's charter. But as if that is not bad enough, the results will not go onto the KC's Estimated Breed Value, probably the most useful thing the KC have developed in recent years. Literally it will kill EBV's stone dead!

No, this hip and elbow issue should have resulted in the various breed councils and breed clubs beating a path to the KC and BVA's door demanding action. I do happen to know that moves are going on behind the scenes, but I also believe those actions should not be "behind the scenes," They should be out in the open so people KNOW whats happening. That brings more pressure to bare. The actions of both the KC and BVA are unacceptable. Breeders pay for this service, a service neither the KC or BVA are providing.
 

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Never being short of an opinion, I fell out with some people only yesterday about this very subject!

There is no doubt both the KC and the BVA have had a terrible year from the point of view of public opinion! The KC by launching a new web site 100 times worse than the web site it replaced. Difficult to navigate and missing so much that was on the old site that one has to ask, what on earth were they thinking of? Or maybe they were not thinking at all! The

BVA have certainly not covered themselves in glory over hip and elbow scoring! OK, there is an excuse over eye testing because this brings members of the dog owning public into very close contact with the tester, certainly well under 2 meters, and I accept it is not safe for either the tester or the dog owners. But with hips and elbows, that in the 21's century should not need ANYONE to come into contact with anyone. It can all be done easily on networked computer screens the the panel's own homes. It's certainly not rocket science.

But just to make my position 100% clear, I am completely opposed to using overseas testing. America for example although testing in the same way uses a totally different and incompatible system of scoring, using letters instead of numbers. If I remember correctly an "A" in America is in the bracket of 0 to 4 in the UK. Australia uses a system very similar to ours, but our KC does not put either US or Aus scores on a dog's record, meaning that a prospective puppy buyer cannot go onto the KC's web site and check up on the score. This alone means any unscrupulous person could print their own scores and most people would not know, simply because most people in the UK have never seen a US or Aus hip result certificate! It becomes a cheat's charter. But as if that is not bad enough, the results will not go onto the KC's Estimated Breed Value, probably the most useful thing the KC have developed in recent years. Literally it will kill EBV's stone dead!

No, this hip and elbow issue should have resulted in the various breed councils and breed clubs beating a path to the KC and BVA's door demanding action. I do happen to know that moves are going on behind the scenes, but I also believe those actions should not be "behind the scenes," They should be out in the open so people KNOW whats happening. That brings more pressure to bare. The actions of both the KC and BVA are unacceptable. Breeders pay for this service, a service neither the KC or BVA are providing.
I'm surprised you had an opinion John ;)

When I took Branta for eye testing it wasn't me that took her in, we had to wear masks and the vet nurse took her in to the vet; the only time we saw him was at the end when he gave us the results, all done with social distancing.

The KC website and the mess they are in is appalling, I'm still waiting for the replacement certificate I needed to take Branta for eye testing in October, ordered on the 29 July 2019; thankfully they accepted the enormous A3 one I had but just didn't stamp it.

As for the BVA, they have shot themselves and the KC in the foot, as some are realising it's cheaper to send plates abroad now, which will do nothing for all the information gathered over the years, now possibly going to be made pretty much worthless if people don't continue using the system of hip scoring and elbow grading we have.

Anyway, I'm off to work to look at some cross beams on Dewsbury Station, I get to go to the most salubrious places!
 

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When I took Branta for eye testing it wasn't me that took her in, we had to wear masks and the vet nurse took her in to the vet;
We did the same thing. Steph, Jac's daughter is a vet nurse, so we used her. But there are so many places of possible contamination, leads, even the dog's fur. So however careful you are there is always a risk.

Have fun on the railway!
 
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