Health Test Screenings
For the better breeders, health screenings is an integral part of the breeding process. Reputable breeders do not want to breed animals that have a high likelihood of passing the congenital disorder on to future generations.
The following health screenings are a helpful guideline for the kind of health testing you should inquire about on the sire and dam of a prospective litter. By being familiar with these tests you can prepare and ask questions of the breeders you communicate with and locate a breeder you can be comfortable with.
Hip and Elbow Screenings
Kennels utilizing responsible breeding practices will screen all their breeding stock for hip and elbow dysplasia using an independent registry. In the United States, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), and the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (Penn-HIP) are the appropriate registries; In Canada the Ontario Veterinary College Hip and/or Elbow certification program (OVC) provide hip and elbow screening.
All of these registries rely on a panel of independent certified orthopedic surgeons and radiologists to review and grade the radiographs submitted by the breeder’s veterinarian. Its important to realize that veterinarians cannot provide a certified health clearance for hip and elbow dysplasia. They are trained to take appropriate Xrays, and then they send those off to the appropriate registry for evaluation.
There has been a somewhat deceptive practice of late to obtain a letter of “clearance” issued by a regular vet, which is not considered adequate by experts in the field of animal orthopedics, and hence is not acceptable. Make sure that you ask for a copy of the certificate from the breeder that shows proof of Hip and Elbow clearance by the OFA. You can also ask for the AKC Registration number of the parents and then do a search on the OFA website using that number. A simple report will be displayed telling you whether or not the Sire and dam have passed these tests.
There are other tests, but at minimum, a reputable Rhodesian Ridgeback breeder screens for hip and elbow dysplasia and will provide you with the OFA, Penn-HIP or OVC certificates on both the sire and dam of the litter – and often of their parents and grandparents as well. Generational health testing is particularly useful as it indicates a long succession of healthy breeding practices.
Hip and elbow screenings are required only once in the life of the dog.