Monday, June 17, 2019

Genetic Testing

Puppy buyers I feel your pain! I absolutely hate trying to buy puppies from other breeders because I find it incredibly difficult to find what I am looking for, and in this day and age I would expect quality to be out there and readily available. Usually we like to create our own dogs to raise and breed but occasionally I need to add to our bloodlines which means that I have to buy from someone else. Recently I started searching for a few new Cocker Spaniels and I was looking for certain colors and breeders that do genetic testing, this doesn't sound difficult, but unfortunately it was, and I am truly disappointed in what I found.

All of my dogs are genetically tested. Back in the day when testing first began I had to take the dogs to the vet (an hour away,) get blood samples in a specific type of tube with specific labels, drive them to the post office to do special shipping, and then wait for the results, all after paying an expensive fee to the genetics lab, a vet bill for the blood draw, and another fee for shipping. It was a pain but worth it because I then knew the genetics on my dogs.

Now days genetic testing is much more readily available online, it's affordable, and there are many more test options out there. I have an account with an online genetics lab, I set up a profile for a dog that I own, I order a breed specific test panel, they send me a test kit, and when it arrives I do a few cheek swabs to collect their DNA, put it back in the mail and in a couple of weeks I have the results. It's much more affordable, takes less time, and is easy to do.

When searching for new puppies this Spring I contacted three different breeders that had what I was looking for and asked all of them if they genetically tested the parents, all of them said no! The first lady I contacted told me that she didn't test because the lab was 2 hours away and it was really expensive. Wrong answer and a poor excuse when you can do testing online as I described above.

The second lady told me no because her dogs are all raised at her home. Again, wrong answer and a poor excuse. It's great that she raises her own breeding stock because she can see their personalities and general health but she cannot tell me their genetic makeup simply by raising them. I'm not going to go into scientific details here but even if a dog isn't affected w/a disease they can still carry a gene for it and it's vital to not breed two dogs that carry a gene for a disease because they will in turn produce puppies affected by said disease. A genetic test will answer all of that for you.

The third person caught my eye because in his ad he said that the parents were "health tested" so I thought finally, someone that does testing! When I contacted him and asked what tests were done on the parents he told me that they were vet checked on a regular basis, no genetic testing. This was false advertising and a really good ploy to get someone to think that he was doing the right thing, but he wasn't. A vet check is not a "test," and he was probably hoping that people just wouldn't ask for more details. A vet can do a full physical exam, blood work, x-rays, etc. but they still can't tell you about genetics unless a specific test is done by a genetics lab.

I was so disappointed in my search, these people were asking $1,000-2,000 for their puppies and were breeding without doing the simple and easy tests that all breeders should do.

If you're looking for a puppy don't be afraid to ask if the breeder does genetic testing, you don't have to fully understand all the details of it but it should tell you a lot if their answer is "No."

All of our dogs are genetically tested so that none of our puppies will knowingly be affected with genetically derived diseases. We currently are using Paw Print Genetics and Embark as our testing labs.