(As there is a lot of information involved we have put the three biggest health problems on a separate page each).
One of the most common questions we get asked is ‘what do the health test results mean?!’, so we have decided to create this page in the hope that whether you get a puppy from us or choose someone else you are at least better armed with some knowledge as to what everything means! The best way to do this is to first explain what tests are recommended, what they are actually screening for. You could of course write a book on each issue, so we will try to condense this and keep to the known facts and try to avoid speculation and wives tales. Saying this as many breeders will tell you, even though something is not scientifically proven often there is a lot of anecdotal evidence to suggest that there may be some sound basis for some reasoning's!
If after reading this you have any more questions (or are even more confused) then please don’t hesitate to contact us further.
So where dos this lead you the puppy buyer?
The above information is all freely available on the web, and the responsibility is with you the buyer to do the research. No you do not need to make it a mammoth chore, at the end of the day you need to like your breeder, their ethos and their dogs.
You should know that there is no such this as the perfect dog, we all hope than when we get our puppy that the only health problems it will develop will be age related many, many years down the line, however with all the testing and breed analysis in the world the law of averages and genetics would dictate that sometimes in spite of everything some dogs do develop breed specific problems.
Of course with veterinary science moving on and geneticists working on developing tests that can narrow down and identify the genes that cause these problems we may in the future be able to rule out breeding stock with a simple swipe of a mouth swab. Until then we must be realistic and sensible, we have to look at the dog as a whole, It’s health, it’s type it’s temperament, if we only bred from dogs with 100% perfect health tests we would soon find our gene pool massively reduced and inbreeding will bring it’s own problems – as it has done with many breeds in the last few decades which is why we are where we are today with our dog breeds.
This is one of the reasons that Inkomo brings in stock from proven kennels overseas – this allows for fresh blood lines, and creates the diversity that all breeds need.
The question is often posed is breeding an art or a science. This simple answer is it is both, we mustn’t ignore the science, from the health testing to the estimated mated breeding values on the KC website: http://www.thekennelclub.org.uk/services/public/mateselect/ebv/Default.aspx?breed=5131. This is a great system that takes into account a dogs hips and elbows scores based over their pedigree, this is an ever changing value as more relatives and offspring are tested and is one of the few genuinely good things carried out on behalf of the Kennel Club in recent years. It allows for an over view of the bigger picture (you will get sick of that phrase), with regards to hips and elbows.
The future of Health testing
As mentioned geneticists are searching for the key genes that are responsible for a huge number of health problems across all dog breeds, we can only hope that the KC continues to put the money that we pay them (the make £15 everytime a puppy is born and registered and £15 every time a new owner registers with their own details).
As breeders we continue to research bloodlines and do our best to continue a line of contact with all our puppies so that if something does occur we can react if necessary, we have to all be realistic that some problems are preventable but some sadly are just bad luck or bad genes – we can’t change that but we can assess breeding programmes of the future.
In an ideal world these health checks from hips through to heart would be considerably less expensive that the even pet dogs can be screened which will again give the geneticists a much better picture of the health of our beloved breed. As it stands they only get hip and elbow scores if the owner decides to send them off – and if the vet says they are going to be above average then most breeders will not bother getting them scored.
Re-homing dogs that have ‘failed’ breeding tests
The word failure here is a bit harsh, what we mean is a dog that does not meet the strict parameters set by breeders and breed clubs. A dog with 3 elbows or high hips can and will go on and leave a full and active life – yes as it gets older you may notice stiffness and some pain, but we all get that as we get older. This is not to say that this dog may not go on to develop full on HD or ED but if the dog has shown no signs of a problem previously then the paradox is, if it had been intended as a pet in the first instance would we ever have known that there was a fault or weakness??
This applies to the heart as well, if a dog has failed because it is abnormal, you require clarification – is there something specifically wrong i.e. DCM or SAS or a bad murmur or is there a weakness that will not prevent an active life and again if the dog had not been screened would it have been detected?
Obviously, some dogs will have out and out failed and possibly ended up being diagnosed with something definitive, if you are prepared to take on a dog such as this then you must go into it with eyes wide open, you should always have the backing and support of the breeder who merely wants their dog to have as nice and active a life as possible in a less intense environment for as long or as short as possible.
Conversely most dogs with HD and ED are not scored because the problem presents itself before it is old enough to go on and be scored, as it develops in a majority of cases before the dog is 1 year old. Again, in an ideal world these dogs would be scored as they are a vital part of our fight to reduce the occurrences of such debilitating problems.
As a breeder we do everything practically and physically possible to ensure you have a long and happy life with your Newfy, we (and no one) can guarantee that, but we do our best to arm and educate you with all the facts. We continue to review our breeding programmes and seek stock that will improve our lines. We all strive for perfection and no matter what you hear, no one has achieved it yet, dig deep enough and there are flaws in all of us.
However, to us all our dogs are perfect and that is what you need to remember, yes you need to do some groundwork and you need to be aware of what you are taking on but the most important thing to remember is that our dogs are our family and we must enjoy them in whatever shape or form and we must do our best for them.
"Newfoundland dogs are good to save children from drowning, but you must have a pond of water handy and a child, or else there will be no profit in boarding a Newfoundland." Josh Billings
A man is not a good man to me because he will feed me if I should be starving, or warm me if I should be freezing, or pull me out of a ditch if I should ever fall into one. I can find you a Newfoundland dog that will do as much." Henry David ThoreauWalden