The Great Dane Club of America and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has implemented a list of different tests that should be performed on all dogs that are going to be bred PRIOR to breeding. These include OFA Hips, OFA Thyroid, OFA Echo (heart echocardiograms are to be performed as a prescreening for DCM) and OFA Eyes. I also perform OFA Elbows, OFA Patella’s and OFA Shoulders as a requirement for prescreening for my breeding program. 

These tests are done prior to breeding in order to better detect any problems that can be passed onto the offspring in which a general practice veterinarian may not always be able to detect. These tests are more in-depth and provide a better look at the health of the dog intended to be bred. 

All results are submitted to OFA are made public on the OFA (www.ofa.org) website. It is simple to research a dog’s results, all you need if their registered name or registration number. The dog that has completed all health testing as recommended by the GDCA and OFA will receive a CHIC number. The CHIC number is active as long as the breeder continues to re-evaluate the testing that OFA recommends being performed once a year. I personally do eyes once a year and echocardiograms every other year.

Unfortunately, there are many breeders who will claim they perform all these health clearances, but do not and will fake OFA paperwork. A simple way to avoid a breeder who “hangs OFA papers” is to ask them for the dogs registered name or registration number and search the OFA website for yourself. It is VERY important to take the time to research the breeder and their dogs. ASK QUESTIONS! A reputable breeder will take the times to talk to you as they want to get to know you before being comfortable with placing a puppy in your home and you should want to get to know your breeder as well. 

RED FLAG # 1 

If a breeder says that health testing is a "waste of time", "unnecessary" or “I take my dogs to the vet and they say that they are healthy”. A general practice veterinarian CAN NOT detect hip dysplasia, OCD shoulder, thyroid deficiency / genetic deficiency or any genetic eye mutations without the proper radiographs, diagnostic instruments necessary to give a diagnosis or determine whether something can be passed onto the dogs offspring.

RED FLAG # 2 

If a breeder doesn't require an application, offers a minimum of a 2 year health / genetic guarantee and for you to sign a return contract. This usually means they are more interested in placing a puppy for money and don't care about the puppy or where he / she is going. 

Here is a wonderful list of things to look for when looking to get a puppy aside from the 2 listed above : 

https://www.akc.org/press-center/articles/responsible-breeders/

https://positively.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=9762

I have provided links for each of my girls to their OFA results and have thei color panels readily available There are also a number of genetic and DNA tests that the GDCA does not require but are still recommended to aide breeders in proper pairing to help ensure a healthy litter. Color testing is performed via cheek swab in which tells you what colors your dog does or doesn't carry, which in turn helps breeders to produce only the colors that they intended to. These tests are very cost effective, there are a plethora of different DNA labs (we personally choose to use UCDavis in California). 

There are also test markers for Bloat (this test is very new and has only recently become available to the public, we are still very unsure of its accuracy as bloat can also be caused by environmental issues) and Inherited Myopathy in Great Danes (also called Inherited Cardiomyopathy in Great Danes), this issue has been more common in Fawn and Brindle lines but has recently been noted in Harlequin lines as well and Dilated Cardiomyopathy, we have chosen to not test currently for these as the genetic markers that are currently available aren't for great danes so testing would be a mute point as there are no other results to compare to. Once the markers have been generated for great danes we will then start to test everyone in our program.

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