Labrador Articles

Labrador Retriever Health Testing History 

Dog breeders have the responsibility to perform health screening tests on any adult dog prior to a planned breeding, but the health screening that is mandated to be done has changed considerably over time.    

Initially the only health testing required for Labrador Retrievers consisted of screening for Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD).  

In 1966 the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) was founded as a not-for-profit organization by the Golden Retriever Dog Club of America and the German Shepherd Dog Club of America to maintain data of inherited diseases in dogs. 

To screen for CHD, your Labrador's veterinarian x-rayed the dog's hips in accordance with the radiographic instructions set forth by the OFA.

Two decades after the founding of the OFA, Dr. Gail Smith at the University of Pennsylvania developed a different radiographic system to measure hip laxity which she believed to be the cause of degenerative hip changes in dogs. 

The relationship between OFA proponents and PennHip advocates have never been in alignment with each other. 

PennHip measures the laxity of hips under anesthesia to produce a calculated distraction index (DI) that is compared to other DI's for the breed of dog being examined.  DI's of dogs to be used for breeding should be in the top 50% of their breed.  

OFA assesses the coxofemoral luxation (the dislocation of the hip joint resulting in displacement of the femur head from the acetabular socket) to determine a certification classification of the dog.  

Which methodology for predicting CHD is correct?  No one can agree on that answer yet.  What breeders do have is the option to use both testing methods. 

Next came the requirement to screen Labrador Retrievers' eyes which meant a visit was necessary to see your local canine ophthalmologist. 

CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) was the original eye registry which was founded in 1974 by a group of concerned purebred dog owners and breeders whose goal was to eliminate inherited eye diseases in purebred dogs through registration, research and education. 

CERF was disbanded in 2012 when the OFA took over the collection of data and renamed
the eye data collection registry CAER (Companion Animal Eye Registry).  

​Phew!  We aren't even half-way done! ​​

The third test for Labrador Retrievers debuted in 1990 by the OFA and it was to test for canine elbow dysplasia.  

In the ensuing years, our scientific community has been busy mapping the canine genome.  As a result of mapping the canine genome, the first DNA health tests were offered in 2007.   

Just 5 years later, the minimal required health screening required for the Labrador Retriever increased to: 

Hip Dysplasia (CHD) 
Elbow  Dysplasia (ED)
Eye Examination (CAER) Companion Animal Eye Registry
DNA testing for Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC)
Optional health screening for the Labrador Retriever Adult Dog is:​
DNA testing for Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM)

Labrador Retriever breeders can additionally health test their Labbies using DNA testing for: 
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
Uric Acid (Hyperuricosuria)
Coat length 
Coat color ​​