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Knee Issues in Pure-Bred Dogs

Pure Bred Dogs and Cruciate InjuryI am sorry to learn that more dogs require knee surgery than humans in the USA today. I have been told that by a list member on here and am still shocked to think about this situation. My sincere sympathies to all, especially to the dogs, for having to go through such pain and management concerns, let alone the outstanding expense to the owners.

My “story” here is to help educate, albeit I am naive to all the knee issues that plague dogs. Some people on this list may know what I am going to write about – I think a link concerning the canine health databases should be listed at your home page. How they pertain is if there is deemed a genetic condition that caused the weakness. It is past time to have this sort of thing well-documented. Thanks to the list owners here.

I am posting that through generations of health screening for sound patella, it would be hoped to avoid knee issues caused by inherited defect. Also, I was prompted to write because of reading about a Poodle named Jake. If your Poodle (any size) has an inherited health issue and you know the pedigree, please take the time to register the information at the Poodle Health Database (PHR) available through http://www.poodlehealthregistry.org/

One may also wish to place any pedigreed dog or cat (of a breed listed) on the Orthopedic Foundation of Animals (OFA) that has a health issue that has a database there. This database service is FREE to document disorders (alternately, clear results for health concerns do have a listing fee). The OFA started out as a hip registry, but now lists most common disorders and is associated with the University of Missouri.

Know that although I have been told time and again that Standard Poodles do not experience patella problems, because I blended our standard line with miniature lines (patella luxation issues run in the mini gene pool), I have for the last eleven years tested the dogs considered to be used in our breeding program for knee issues. (We brought the modern Miniature Poodle blood in because the Std Pdl gene pool has gotten very small. 18 + generations ago, these varieties were interbred more often with regular success too.)

My list member friend sent me the link about dear Jake, an advanced aged Standard Poodle that had knee issues. The fact that the owners wrote that they felt there was a genetic component to the tear prompted me to write today. My sincere appreciation for all the educated owners posting here and how they care for their dogs.

Perhaps the more people that learn about health databases such as the PHR for their own fancied pure-breed (or possibly start one for their chosen breed!), the more people can be aware of possible problems like knee issues in particular lines of dogs. Educating the public is what I have witnessed help dogs many times. I am writing today with those hopes.

Remember, no one thinks Std Pdls have knee problems – ask your vet. Every time I suggest an owner has their Std Pdl’s patella certified/OFA registered before breeding I get the same story – that there are no knee problems in Std Pdls. It may be rare, but it is absolutely experienced even without mini influence up close. Just how very easy is it for the vet to give a certification to those being used in breeding? EASY. And how about the breeds that have VERY high percentages of knee problems and what can be done to help up front? People can take the precautions of certifying the patella on those dogs considered for breeding. Again, educating the public COULD help turn the statistic stated at the beginning of this post of dog/human knee surgeries around and it would be wonderful to see that happen in our lifetime.

Knee Injuries in Pure Bred DogsWhen health-screened clear of luxating patella (and other common disorders, hip dysplasia, etc.) for several generations, it seems good reason that the resulting dogs are a better bet to avoid knee issues if not permitted to become over-weight and exercised within reason. Sadly, no one can avoid all accidents. Please know that I am writing not as any authority of knee issues, but as a concerned dog fancier with extensive experience in health screening dogs for basic inherited disorders (hips, patella, eyes, skin, thyroid, etc.).

It is not impossible to locate just who is accomplishing the testing and taking their selected-for-breeding dogs’ health very seriously by utilizing the www.offa.org databases. Nearly all breeds (even rare and crossbreeds such as Labradoodles) have fancier participation and no one very serious about breeding the best in dogs considers a dog born in the USA that is from a pedigree not fully published on these databases for screenings completed to have the relatives designated as CHIC.

Please help educate – tell all you know looking for a pure-bred dog about this simple FREE shopping aid known to all the better dog breeders (not necessarily fully-utilized by all of them – you must check the sire / dam and that their parents are listed with passing health tests).

So the information above is possibly hind-sight as prophylactic advice that I can lend for those suffering through a knee issue at this time. Try your best to avoid again by possibly looking to work with someone that takes health seriously in dogs before they use them in mating when considering another pure-bred if a pure-bred is your choice. Very few countries around the world make such testing mandatory and passed successfully and those countries are not in North America.

Check your breed parent club to see if there is a health database already in place or how you could assist in making one. (http://www.akc.org/clubs/search/index.cfm and select National Clubs). Nearly all parent clubs have gotten on board with the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC). If knee issues are a problem in the breed you fancy and patella checks are not part of the CHIC designation requirement, you may wish to petition the parent club board to change that. CHIC designation is awarded to dogs that complete a set of health screenings before they are used for breeding the next generation. Because the results are publicly posted, few, very few dogs with non-passing results are used further in any breeding programs. I have seen CHIC work a lot of good for pure-bred dogs over the last 12 years.

One can explore CHIC here: http://www.caninehealthinfo.org/

Select CHIC breeds to see the requirements for CHIC designation per breed.

I have helped initiate one of the important breed-specific on-line pedigree/health databases. The people at Poodle Health Registry were very helpful to the AKKAOA breed club when members there were hopeful to start their own – so, do not hesitate to contact PHR to ask how you may start a database for your breed if one does not exist and you are passionate about helping a chosen breed of dog.

Especially to Jake the Poodle’s owners and all that helped him through his condition, please now know about the PHR and see what you can do to include him so his information can be properly documented for those wanting to know about this sort of condition.

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