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post #1 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 12:47 PM Thread Starter
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Health testing in Europe

Hello to all,

I know that the majority of you are not from Europe, and this is maybe not a good place to ask this question, but there are some breeders among us, so I was looking to see what all of you think about differences in health tests done here in Europe when compared to the tests done in America.
If you are a breeder in the Netherlands the only two tests that you are obligated to do if you're a member of Havanese club (or want to become one) would be patella and cataract tests. As we all know unfortunately there are numbers of other things going on in our breed. None of these things are mentioned anywhere on the hav club website. There are in fact a very few words to be found about a health in general (only few words about cataract and patella), especially when compared to the website of Havanese Club of America:

Heritable Health Concerns
• Chondrodysplasia
• Deafness
• Heart Problems
• Liver Shunt
• Seizures
• Hip Problems-Dysplasia
• Legg-Calve-Perthes
• Patellar Luxation

I would add sebatious adenitis and thyroid problems to this list.

Being a member of a big Dutch general dog forum I was discussing this lately with others who are in love with a havanese. When I mentioned hip dysplasia test I almost got laugh out...why would one test dogs small as a havanese for hd was the answer i got from someone who is thinking of becoming havanese breeder.
My little boy has a slow working thyroid. And as I have learned so far this is something that is regularly seen in havanese. According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, Havanese have the 2nd highest rate of hypothyroidism of 140 breeds (up to 26% affected)

I know that there're breeders who import their dogs from Europe and vice versa of course. How do you feel about this issue? I really feel that there should be more tests done if one wants to breed.
Unfortunately havanese is becoming more and more popular around the world, and I'm really concerned about 'our' breed. I don't want them to see them become one of those unhealthy breeds (Cavalier is one who pops up in my mind right away). The main reason I choose a havanese when I was researching different dog breeds was the fact that they're relatively healthy dogs when compared to many other breeds. I feel so sad, because i have the feeling that this will be a next breed that will get less and less healthy because of them becoming so popular.
Being regular visitor of dog shows I have seen enough havaneses with poor temperaments (shy, aggressive) who are bred. There are also enough to be found with crooked front legs (only if you feel them of course, because of the coats masking everything).
One other thing that strikes me is the fact that here in Europe nobody seems to be putting pictures of soaped dogs on their website. And that's one thing that I would really like to see happening. With dogs like havaneses you don't get to see if a dog is truly correct build because of their profuse coats.
if I wasn't so afraid of getting on the plane I would choose to buy my next hav in America lol. It seems like you're doing much more to protect this wonderful breed. I'm not saying that there are no good breeders over here, there are in fact many who do the things right, but in general I would feel more confident buying my havanese from a good breeder in America. If nothing else there are more tests done over there.
Hope some things will soon change over here too.

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post #2 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 02:49 PM
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Heritable Health Concerns
• Chondrodysplasia All sorts of controversy on this one, but people who care don't breed dogs who are low on leg, or have anything but straight front legs with feet facing forward, and doing the best you can to have at most one dog back in a pedigree that was affected. There's plenty of it in the gene pool. There is no "health test" or certification available. It's up to each breeder to show or not show what's under their dogs' fur.


• Deafness Not much of a concern, but we test our puppies with BAER anyway.

• Heart Problems Needs to be done by a Vet who can give a certificate. There are heart problems in the breed that mostly only show up in later years. Longevity of ancestors is about as good an indicator as you can get right now, since certifications haven't been widely availble (still aren't relative to other health tests) for very long.

• Liver Shunt For breeding stock, it's not cut and dried, but those of us who care do complete blood panels with Bile Acid levels on breeding animals. Some who have had puppies with problems have each puppy tested.

• Seizures I don't know anything about this. I don't even know any other breeders that have had issues either.

• Hip Problems-Dysplasia Not widespread in the breed, but I have heard of it. Concerned breeders do OFFA hips, even though it's pretty subjective. Most do preliminaries around age 1. You can't get Certified results until after age 2. Personally, we don't bother with Preliminaries any more, but do submit them after age 2. For this reason, none are bred until after age 2 by us. A lot of breeders get caught up with not breeding a fair to fair, but mainly it's considered important not to breed an animal that gets a "mild dysplastic" , or worse, rating. Anyone with any depth in their own line pretty much knows what they are going to get. Presentation in the xray is as important as the actual hips, so subjectivity is definately a part of it. It takes anesthesia, luck, or your own xray machine to get an "excellent" rating. We won't put a dog under to get a better hip rating.

• Legg-Calve-Perthes Done at the same time as hips.
• Patellar Luxation I think almost any vet can do these.

There are others, but Pam is not here right now, and I can't remember...

edited to add: Of course there is CERF too. Back in the mid '90s there were some dogs who had Juvenile cataracts who went blind before age one. That's when people started doing CERF testing, and I think breeders then did a good job of getting it out of the gene pool. I really don't remember hearing of a case since the '90s, but that doesn't mean that the genes are not lurking still. CERF is done after age one. What you are looking for is something that will turn into a real blinding cataract. Some new vets will write down everything they see, and this scares people unnecessarily. Make sure you use a vet with much experience. We always go the extra distance to a University Vet School to find experienced professors. We don't mind a student looking too, but we want the results by an experienced hand.

Also there are DNA tests now that can tell you if one is carrying one or more copies of "curly" or "shorthair". We have found this very helpful in the past couple of generations, because it makes it easy to get curly out of your line in a couple of generations, or shorthair the same if you have it.

Last edited by Tom King; 01-04-2012 at 02:57 PM.
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post #3 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 03:47 PM Thread Starter
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Tom, first of all thnx for your reply.
Yes, I'm aware of the fact that there aren't any tests available for some of the issues that are listed on the HCA website, but I would love to see them at least mentioned on the Dutch hav website. Even if they are not a big issue in the breed. At this point if you visit that site as a potential hav owner you get the idea that havs are really very healthy dogs with almost no health concerns. I thinks it is better to inform people really good about various health issues that are seen within a breed, even if those do not happen so often. The more information the better for everyone.
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...but people who care don't breed dogs who are low on leg, or have anything but straight front legs with feet facing forward...
Lately I had a conversation about this with two very good breeders who I trust and who really have a heart for the breed, and they both responded something like this....'you can't rule out every dog just because their legs are not straight..you would make already small gene pool even smaller....if everything else is good then I would choose to breed that dog'.
Maybe they are right, I don't know, but somehow I just don't feel good about this.
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It's up to each breeder to show or not show what's under their dogs' fur.
Absolutely, my point was that nobody is doing it, in comparison to this being often done in America. And I don't see a really good reason why one would choose not to do it.
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Deafness Not much of a concern, but we test our puppies with BAER anyway.
Testing the puppies? Nobody does it! I don't see this happening over here in any near future...if ever. That's exactly the point of this whole thread. I think it was Heather who said somewhere that her pups go home with their BAER and CERF already done. It is on this very forum that I ever heard of puppies being tested. Great!

And what about thyroid issues? I went to the best animal university clinic in the country to run tests on Fedja. The endocrinologist told me that this is 'a big dog disease' so to speak, and that the havanese is one of the few small dog breeds who happens to get it on regular basis. Even though there aren't that many havs in this country, (most people never heard of havanese, although they are getting more and more popular) she still have seen enough of them with thyroid issues at the clinic....
And if the information of Michigan State University is really true (I don't know how they got those numbers), then i feel that this is something that really screams out for breeders attention.

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post #4 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 04:42 PM
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You can't get a CERF certification until a dog is at least a year old, so someone saying their puppies get CERFed before leaving doesn't make any sense. I've been told by any number of people, including Vets at NC State Vet School, that there is a lot of stuff floating around in their eyes that doesn't settle out until after a year old. I'm not saying they don't get puppies CERFed, but it makes no sense to.

We have never considered breeding a dog that didn't have straight legs. Our daughter got us into this breed when she was 8 in 1995, and one of the things I told her was that we weren't going to breed dogs with bowed legs (Pam bred Malamutes back in the '70s, and it showed up in them back then (not in Pam's dogs, but we knew about it). Some of the dogs on her list of possible breeds "that the world needed more of-Pam's requirement" had short legs. She was the first person that told me that some Havanese had bowed legs. She was 8 years old. We selected for straight legs to start with, but had to look for almost 2 years to find one we thought was suitable for starting a breeding program. We homeschooled, and it started as a school project. She was the one who came up with the name Starborn. I told her I thought it was a dumb name, but it probably wouldn't amount to anything any way...... (By the way, I was the one that invented soaped pictures.)

We won't even breed one of our males to a female who doesn't have straight legs, or even one that has an ancestor with bowed legs coming into the pedigree on more than one line that we know of. A lot of breeders rely entirely on show results as a basis for judgement of being worthy to breed. That's very low on the list for us. There have been many Champions with short bowed legs. Short legs were even in one of the Standards for a while.

I have seen some high percentage number of Havanese with thyroid problems listed some places, but I know a LOT of Havanese, and maybe a couple that had any thyroid problem. I've never even seen one that had symptoms. I'm certainly not saying they don't exist, but any number like 2 or 3 out of 5 is just wrong. If you know of a number of generations with no symptoms, I don't see the need to test for a problem. Maybe it would be different for the breeders that are bringing in new unknown dogsl the time. It would certainly be a good idea to have a data base of any lines that have a problem, but I just don't know of any.

I have for a long time thought it was a bit silly to test a puppy that you know can hear anyway with the BAER test, but we started doing it for a data base, and have always done it. A lot of people expect it. The vet that does ours is an hour and a half away, and it's always a good excuse for the pups to get some experience traveling anyway. It costs $50 per pup and doesn't hurt.

Last edited by Tom King; 01-04-2012 at 06:34 PM.
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post #5 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 04:56 PM
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I came back to post because I thought about your friends comment about a "small gene pool anyway". Turns out that this is not true. Havanese have the largest number of "genes available per allele" (genetic diversity) as any purebred dog who has had this sort of thing tested. Largest prior that I have seen was the Standard Poodle at 4.4. Some breeds are 2.2. One group of 100 Havanese, mostly with one Y chromosome, came in higher than that. You can have a small number of individuals with a high genetic diversity, or a large number with a small genetic diversity. Genetic diversity is not at all a problem in Havanese. Throughbred race horses are 5.4. They started with 6 sires, brought in 200 mares to them, then added other studs later with unrelated studs in different countries-like this one.
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post #6 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 05:43 PM
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Just a couple of comments. I have a friend who has gotten at least 2 European dogs.
this person doesn't put the dog at public stud, because of lack of health testing on it's ancestors. This person has all the tests Tom mentioned on the dog and only goes one generation, never doubling up. As of now, it has worked ( I might mention this is an established reputable breeder.
Because shelties and collies (my prior and still breeds) I brought along my 1st Hav when I went to do eye checks with the local University opthomologist. I now know to wait until a year old. The baby "passed" her cerf, but, like Tom mentioned, there was something he mentioned that was present but not uncertifiable. Having other cerf exams, all was normal.
Lastly, the Michigan state thyroid test is more reliable than just having the T3 and T4 done. I'm considering it for a Collie I have, she has all the symtoms and I just haven't done it yet. You have to know if one doesn't have a good idea they have a thyroid dog, they wouldn't have these done, thus their large % results. I've been in dogs beginning in the early '70s and in all those years have had a total of 3 shelties ( 2 under and 2 overactive thyroid) and now, most likely the Collie will be underactive. Not great %age.

Becky C
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post #7 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 05:43 PM Thread Starter
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She was the first person that told me that some Havanese had bowed legs. She was 8 years old.
Your daughter sounds like one smart girl !
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I've never even seen one that had symptoms.
It is my personal experience that not showing any symptoms of thyroid problems doesn't say that dog isn't having any. In Fedja's case it was my gut feeling that something wasn't right (and this forum, Missy thnx!) that helped me discover the problem. My vet didn't even want to test him for thyroid deficiency based on my story of his activity levels, his coat, eating...among other things. Fedja just didn't show any typical thyroid related symptoms. And many dogs have it for a very long time before it gets discovered.
Yes, it would be wonderful to have some kind of database with dogs that have some health problems! In fact hav club over here did start some kind of database, which is at this moment not really helpful because it is all on voluntary basis. Biggest majority of the dogs don't have any results of their tests listed. I have placed Fedja's results there the moment I discovered his thyroid deficiency (hoping to help the breeders make good breeding choices). But many breeders choose not to go public with their dogs health results.
It is my opinion that they should make it obligatory for the breeders who want to be members of the club to list those publicly.
That is yet another difference between America and Europe/ or in this case Netherlands. Potential owner in America has the luxury of checking the test results on OFA's website. As far as I know there is no such a website to be found here.
Many people feel uneasy to ask the breeder to actually show them the test results. Been there, than that...you ask them what kind of tests they are doing, and you get the answer, but they don't offer to show them. Then you have to specifically ask to see those, and I know that I felt afraid to ask it because it then sounds as you not believing them. Why not just put these on the website? Would make things a lot easer for everyone.

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post #8 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 05:54 PM
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Yes, but coat problems and the others you listed are symptoms of a thyroid problem, so your dog did show symptoms, and you did very good to check for it. That's what I meant by if there were no symptoms....

As far as putting test results on the website, I have a hard time getting around to working on our website anyway. If I put results on the website, there is no question they would not be updated on time. CERF tests are yearly. We have two dogs that I haven't even gotten around to making pages for yet. Any time I change anything on a page, it dumps all the videos on that page, and if I change the link bars it dumps all the videos on the whole site, so I have to go back and put any video back on individually. So there can be all sorts of reasons that something is not on a website. Most people don't even ask, but if someone emails to ask about a particular breeding dog, Pam emails it to them. She keeps her folders updated, but she doesn't do anything on the internet other than email. We might get one person out of 100 that asks to see any of the health testing results at most, and it's easier for Pam to just email the attachment.
Anyone who takes home a puppy gets a large folder with all sorts of information about both parents, soaped pictures, show pictures, and including all the health testing, whether or not if they ask for it.

Last edited by Tom King; 01-04-2012 at 06:10 PM.
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post #9 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 06:04 PM Thread Starter
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Quote:
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Yes, but coat problems are a symptom of a thyroid problem, so your dog did show a symptom...'
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My vet didn't even want to test him for thyroid deficiency based on my story of his activity levels, his coat, eating...among other things.
Sorry If I sound strange or not that clear sometimes, doing my best as English isn't my language...what I was saying is that his coat looked very very good. He was and still is very active. He is not fat, in fact i would love to see him gain more weight, but he just refuses to est aarrrgggg . The vet asked so many questions about him, and based upon my answers (and his exam) he didn't want to test his thyroid at all. But in the end he did, he must have thought if you so badly want to pay for unnecessary test let's do it...lol...He was totally surprised by the results.

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post #10 of 12 (permalink) Old 01-04-2012, 06:09 PM
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Testing the puppies? Nobody does it! I don't see this happening over here in any near future...if ever. That's exactly the point of this whole thread. I think it was Heather who said somewhere that her pups go home with their BAER and CERF already done. It is on this very forum that I ever heard of puppies being tested. Great!
Yes that was me. I DO health test my puppies with both their CERF and their BAER test. I have been in dogs for over 30 years, I have learned many things in that time and have been through a lot of heart ache too do to dogs that were hopefuls and later found out they could not be put into a breeding program. My long time ophthalmologist vet told me that there are also a lot of things that you can see in the eyes of an 8-10 week old puppy that can later be masked over as they get older. Since then I have made this a practice ever since. About 2 years ago I had produced a puppy that had retinal folds in the eyes, if I had not done the testing when he was 9 weeks old we would have never known and he would have gone off to a show and breeding home. Can you imagine the frustration and heartbreak that would cause for everyone involved? This dog would of had a ton of money out on it to be loved, fed, groomed, shown, etc. all to just find out afterwards that he would have to be petted out.

It's unfortunate in this breed too that too many breeders would consider ever breeding a dog that had punctuate cataracts that supposedly went away. I have seen quite the contrary as I have seen that dogs that were bred that at one time had this issue ended up somewhere down the line of producing or their off spring had produced PRA, yet I hear of "breeders" still breeding these dogs But that is for another discussion.

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You can't get a CERF certification until a dog is at least a year old, so someone saying their puppies get CERFed before leaving doesn't make any sense.
Oh yes you can CERF a dog as young as 2 months. And as I stated above, I do it because then I feel I am doing the best I can as a breeder. To each his own I guess you could say.

Aside from the four required test we have to get a CHIC# we also test for cardiac, Elbows, bile acid and LCP's

Heather

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"What Lies Behind Us And What Lies Before Us
Are Tiny Matters Compared To What Lies Within Us."



Here are some links to help educate yourself in how to fight for your rights to continue to own and love your animals. Please do not be mislead by PETA or HSUS who is PETA in suits.
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