This testing is done to ensure the dogs are free from heritable thyroiditis. While hypothyroidism is not life-threatening and is easily treated with daily medication, its prevalence in the breed has been a concern: Ridgebacks rank # 8 in the OFA’s list of breeds most often diagnosed as affected, and hypothyroidism is the #1 health problem reported in the RRCUS health survey.
While some breeders have their thyroid panels interpreted by the OFA (and subsequently have the results posted on the OFA web site), others do not, instead choosing alternate means of interpreting the panel results. Because the three values required for a “pass” on the thyroid panel can fluctuate, and because some values are more important for the accurate diagnosis of heritable thyroiditis than others, some breeders choose to have a veterinary endocrinologist or pathologist assess their dog’s thyroid status. Other may turn to a veterinarian with a nuanced and breed-specific understanding of thyroid disease (such as Dr. Jean Dodds of Hemopet), a Rhodesian Ridgeback breeder-veterinarian, or their personal veterinarian familiar with autoantibody profiles.
In the absence of an OFA Thyroid clearance, a breeder should be able to discuss the results of current and previous thyroid panels on the sire and dam of the puppy with you and present authoritative documentation of the normal thyroid status and lack of evidence of heritable thyroid disease. This should be plainly written and easily understood.
Thyroid evaluations are recommended regularly on dogs in active breeding programs.