Glenbern Golden Retri​evers

health testing

orthopedic testing

As Canadians, we used to have Hips and Elbows evaluated and certified for breeding dogs at 18 months of age by Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) or Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM). Both colleges stopped doing evaluations, leaving Canadian breeders having to look elsewhere for evaluations.

OFA / OVC / BVA / Pennhip / FCI - are the most commonly used certifying bodies to evaluate dogs' hips & elbows. All are reputable, yet they all have differing ages at which they will 'certify'. 

Glenbern Goldens have been screened after the age of 18 months by a variety of the hip/elbow methodologies as described below. I provide puppy families with paper copies of all the health screening tests performed on parents (prior to their being used for breeding).  According to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), the reliability of 13-18 month prelimary hip evalutions with the two year old hip evaluation grades in dogs, was 95.2% reliable. (OFA - Preliminary Evaluations)

Below is a breakdown of some of the various testing agencies, and the age requirements for each of these agencies.  As you can see, there are some wide age discrepancies in regards to the age the dog can be certified:  

Pennhip screening includes three separate radiographs and can be done as early as 16 weeks of age.  

British Veterinary Association (BVA)
Located in England; will evaluate and certify hips and elbows on dogs over 12 months of age. 

Federation cynologique Internationale (FCI):
Located in Europe; states "the minimum age for official hip radiographs is one (1) year for most dog breeds and 18 months for large and giant breeds."  

Ontario Veterinary College (OVC) / Western College of Veterinary Medicine (WCVM): 
Canadian colleges; no longer offer certfications, but used to evaluate and certify hips and elbows at 18 months of age. Many Canadian dogs from earlier generations will have OVC certifications.

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)
Located in the United States. In order to get a final clearance from OFA, dogs must be 24 months of age. OFA will do preliminary evaluations ('prelims') before 24 months of age. (OFA may post preliminary results on their site, but will also state that dog should be re-examined at 24 months of age, in order to be 'certified'.)

Taken from the OFA website:
"Preliminary Evaluations for Animals Under 24 Months: Frequently, breeders want early knowledge of the hip status on puppies in a given litter. Preliminary hip evaluations may be as valuable to the owner or breeder as the final OFA evaluation. This allows early selection of dogs for use as show/performance/breeding prospects and dogs best suited for pet homes.The OFA accepts preliminary consultation radiographs on puppies as young as 4 months of age for evaluation of hip conformation. If the dog is found to be dysplastic at an early age, the economic loss from the cost of training, handling, showing and so forth can be minimized and the emotional loss reduced. These preliminary radiographs are read by the OFA staff veterinary radiologist and are not sent to the outside consulting radiologists. The regular OFA hip grading scheme (excellent, good, fair, etc) is used to report preliminary cases. A previous OFA veterinary journal publication* compared the reliability of the preliminary evaluation hip grade phenotype with the 2 year old evaluation in dogs and there was 100% reliability for a preliminary grade of excellent being normal at 2 years of age (excellent, good, or fair). There was 97.9% reliability for a preliminary grade of good being normal at 2 years of age, and 76.9% reliability for a preliminary grade of fair being normal at 2 years of age. Reliability of preliminary evaluations increased as age at the time of preliminary evaluation increased, regardless of whether dogs received a preliminary evaluation of normal hip conformation or HD. For normal hip conformations, the reliability was 89.6% at 3-6 months, 93.8% at 7-12 months, and 95.2% at 13-18 months. These results suggest that preliminary evaluations of hip joint status in dogs are generally reliable. However, dogs that receive a preliminary evaluation of fair or mild hip joint conformation should be reevaluated at an older age (24 months).*Corley, EA, et al. Reliability of Early Radiographic Evaluation for Canine Hip Dysplasia Obtained from the Standard Ventrodorsal Radiographic Projection. JAVMA. Vol 211, No. 9, November 1997.

Estimated Breeding Values (EBV): 
Another approach to health screening is Estimated Breeding Values.  This method has been in use for some time now in Euorpe, and Cornell University has recently started a database for North American dogs.  EBV evaluates the genetic value of an individual dog, in relation to the whole of the dog's breed, and the dog's individual pedigree.  These EBV's are intended to help breeders reduce the prevalence of hip/elbow dysplasia by more accurately evaluating genetic risk.

dna testing - mode of inheritance

There are a number of diseases that are inherited in an autosomal recessive fashion for which we now have a DNA test to determine each dog's health status.  An autosomal recessive disorder means two copies of an abnormal gene must be present in order for the disease or trait to develop.

Dogs will fall into three categories:

CLEAR: Dog has inherited two 'Normal' genes. 'Clear' dogs can safely be bred to any dog.

CARRIERS: Dog has inherited one 'Clear' gene and one mutant gene. 'Carrier' dogs are NOT at risk to develop the disease, but should only be bred to 'Clear' dogs.

AFFECTED: Dog has inherited two mutant genes. Dogs are at risk for developing disease at some point in their lifetime. An 'Affected' dog can be bred to a 'Clear' dog; offspring from such a breeding would all be 'Carriers', but would not develop the disease.

Many dogs are 'Clear by Parentage', meaning both of their parents have two 'Normal' copies of a gene and therefore can only pass on 'Normal' genes to their offspring. 

Autosomal Recessive Diseases Affecting Golden Retrievers:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA): is a degeneration of the layers of the retina that are responsible for vision. The disease is progressive, eventually resulting in blindness. There are three types of PRA (PRA1, PRA2, PRA_prcd) for which a DNA test is available.

Icthyosis (ICT): is a mutation that prevents the outer layer of the epidermis from forming properly, resulting in skin that becomes darkened and thick, with excessive flaking. Evidence of the disease may be detected when the dog is still a puppy, and as such is often referred to as 'puppy dandruff'. 

Degenerative Mylopathy (DM): Degenerative Myelopathy In Dogs | VCA Animal Hospitals (

Muscular Dystrophy (MD): Muscular Dystrophy | VCA Animal Hospitals (

Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinoses (NCL): Golden Retriever Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (NCL) (

Genetics Basics-Modes Of Inheritance

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