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OFA vs. PennHips:

PennHips can be performed as early as 16 weeks of age. OFA won’t certify hips until 2 years of age. FACT: NEITHER is a guarantee the dog won’t be dysplastic at some point during his or her life and does NOT guarantee offspring will not be dysplastic as well. These tests are NOT DNA tests. OFA is simply an opinion based on a snapshot in time, otherwise known as an x-ray, and can change from year to year. The xrays can also be manipulated. FACT: PennHips requires the PennHip certified DVM to send in EVERY xray taken of the dog whether the xray is good, bad, or simply doesn't turn out well. OFA DOES NOT require the DVM taking the xrays to send them in AT ALL so if the DVM taking the xrays does not feel the dog will pass they just tell the dog owner NOT to send them in for review or rating. FACT: OFA is simply the opinion of the OFA board. PennHips is a calculated number using measurments then plugged into a formula BY THE BOARD RADIOLOGIST resulting in an accurate measurement and reading that is fair for everyone and cannot be manipulated. Learn more here: http://info.antechimagingservices.com/pennhip/navigation/penn-HIP-method/distraction-index-measuring-laxity.html

FACT: according to the OFA website link at http://offa.org/stats.html#breed then choose the Australian Shepherd breed ..... OFA CLEARLY states for evaluations dating back to 1974 through 2014 for the Australian Shepherd breed testing Hips for 34,033 Australian Shepherds only 5.8% were found to be abnormal. Only 4.1% were abnormal for elbows in 2014 and fell to 4.0% in 2015. Abnormal hips has risen by a whopping .3% in 2015 to 6.1% found to be abnormal for Hip Dysplaysia out of 35,500 Australian Shepherds tested by OFA. AND the rank out of breeds of dogs tested by OFA fell from #136 in 2014 to #140 in 2015. That’s NOT anywhere close to the top 10 or even in the top 100 breeds of dogs known for hip dysplasia PER OFFA STATISTICS. BUT .... for Degenerative Myelopathy the abnormal percent is listed as 21.3% …. more than 3 times higher than the abnormal rate of hips and more than 5 times higher than the abnormal rate of elbows! PLUS the percent of carriers of DM is listed as 24.6% so add in the risk factors of tested carriers being bred to other UNtested potential affected (abnormal as listed here) or carriers and the risk increases even more for potential offspring. Both Optigen & www.ashgi.org cite that as of 2011 16% of Australian Shepherds out of 1196 tested have one or two copies of the CEA gene … that’s 2.7 times higher than the reported rate of hip dysplasia and 3.9 times greater the risk than elbow dysplasia.

www.pawprintgenetics.com cites that in North American alone 47% of 1421 Australian Shepherds tested carry one or two copies of MDR1 & 69% of Australian Shepherds tested in ONE study worldwide carry one or two copies of the MDR1 gene. Multidrug Resistency means Ivermectin and products listed on the drug sensitivity list for herding breeds should ONLY be administered in CORRECT doses. If you or your vet cannot measure these products accurately THEN DON'T ADMINISTER THEM. MDR1 stat's are important for breeders to share with their puppy buyer’s vets for the treatment of parasites and also for anesthesia at time of spay/neuter. Breeders who choose not to test and pass along these important DNA genetic results for MDR1 can cause fatalities when using the wrong products for deworming, flea & tick control, or if a vet prescribes a drug listed on the drug sensitivity list to treat a simple health issue.

These statistics posted on OFA’s website tell me there are far more GENETIC issue's that plague a MUCH GREATER percentage of the Australian Shepherd breed than hips and elbows that we need to be DNA GENETICALLY testing for and breed away from because we already know how to do so by breeding affected and carrier dogs to tested clear mates. There is no gray area with this method and DNA CANNOT CHANGE so any dog testing clear IS clear for their life …. unlike the OFA & PennHips tests. Since there is NO DNA GENETIC test available for hips and elbows it's still pure luck that breeding OFA tested dogs evaluated as excellent, good, or fair to a mate of the same or better will produce non dysplastic pups. I have not seen any proof that the chance of producing dysplastic pups is reduced with OFA. AND according to pawprintgenetics study 50% of Australian Shepherds are carriers or affected for Degenerative Myelopathy. 29% of Australian Shepherds tested were found to have one copy of Dilated Cardiomyopathy. 29.3% were found to have one or two copies of HSF4 cataracts. That means an Australian Shepherd is 5 times more likely to be a carrier or affected by HSF4 than hip dysplasia AND it only takes ONE copy of HSF4 for the genetic issue to express itself. Based on these numbers .... I would rather take my program in the direction of cleaning up KNOWN genetic defects by way of DNA testing so I have a yes or no, black or white answer with NO gray area for my buyers. I also have to wonder, since 50% of the breed is a carrier or affected with Degenerative Myelopathy, if dog owners and vets may be confusing Degenerative Myelopathy with hip dysplasia on untested dogs since the symptoms seem to be so similar with affected movement of the hind limbs and spinal column.

In addition, for the x-ray to be taken for either OFFA or PennHips the dog must be anesthetized. Any time a dog, or person, is anesthetized there is a risk they will not wake up. With such a low incidence of hip dysplasia reported in the Australian Shepherd breed, again based on OFFA’s posted statistics, breeders are taking an enormous risk of anesthetizing their breeding dogs for an x-ray in a breed that ranks #136 out of 173 breeds known to have issue for hip dysplasia and makes no guarantee regarding hip dysplasia for the dog being tested or offspring he/she may produce during their lifetime. I prefer to make my investment in DNA genetic testing with a yes or no answer, black & white, with ZERO gray area to breed away from genetic issue’s proven to have a much great risk in the Australian Shepherd breed.

Here is how DNA genetic testing works: When one parent is a carrier, having ONE mutation of a gene (normal/mutant), or is affected, having TWO mutations of a gene (mutant/mutant), the dog should only be bred to a DNA tested clear mate (normal/normal). This means the probability is 50% of offspring will test clear, normal/normal, & 50% will test as carriers when one parent is a carrier (normal/mutant) and one parent is clear (normal/normal). When one parent is affected (mutant/mutant) and the other parent is clear (normal/normal) ALL puppies will test normal/mutant getting one normal gene from the normal/normal parent and one mutant gene from the mutant/mutant parent. As a responsible breeder, these tests are performed to find genetic issue’s so we can breed away from them. However, cutting every dog from the program that tests with a genetic issue could be detrimental to the breed. The more genetic tests that become available, the more likely we are to find genetic issues. I would rather test and know an issue is there so I can breed away from the issue and prevent the offspring from being affected than not test and have my buyers uninformed or remove dogs from the program that have a lot of qualities to sustain the continuation of the breed. If we cut every intact dog from the gene pool that tests with a genetic mutation, there won't be anything left to breed. It takes only 1 generation to breed out carrier genes and 2 generations to breed out 2 mutant genes. Over time, these tests will prove beneficial in cleaning up genetic issues that plague the breed but it does takes time.

CERF is Canine Eye Registry Foundation. For many years this test has been the only test available for the eyes. Only a certified canine ophthalmologist can perform this test and there is typically only 1 or 2 canine ophthalmologist’s per state so many breeders have to travel several hours for an appointment. This exam is, however, in my opinion quite disappointing. The test consists of the canine ophthalmologist simply looking in each eye for 5 seconds & noting any discrepancies in the vision on a form. The problem with this test is a dog can still have one gene normal/mutant, making them a carrier to contribute to defective eyes in their offspring when bred to a carrier or affected mate, or they can have 2 genes making them affected mutant/mutant. Having one gene, normal/mutant, means each puppy the parent produces has a 50/50 chance of having the positive gene passed to them. Having 2 genes, mutant/mutant, means each puppy the parent produces WILL have an affected gene because the parent has no "normal" or "negative" gene to offer their offspring and a puppy CANNOT get a gene that a parent doesn't have to offer. The ophthalmologist CANNOT tell by simply looking into the eye if the dog has one or two genes or is cleared by parentage. They can only tell if the dog HAS a genetic disorder AFTER the condition has already developed. If the dog has already contributed to the gene pool by producing litters of puppies they will have carrier offspring that will contaminate the gene pool when bred to carrier or affected mates. The DNA tests are readily available & now at a relatively affordable cost so breeders who are not utilizing these DNA tests are simply not interested, or concerned, with the betterment of the breed OR with placing quality healthy puppies with their buyers. AGAIN, only having the CERF on the eyes does not mean you are getting a quality healthy dog with no issues. It means that the dog has simply not "developed" a condition that the ophthalmologist can "see" at time of testing.