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There are several health problems associated with Newfoundlands.  Newfoundlands are prone to hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, and cystinuria (a hereditary defect that forms calculi stones in the bladder).  Another genetic problem is subvalvular aortic stenosis.  This is heart defect involving defective heart valves.

There are health tests that can be performed on the Newfoundland.  These tests do not dictate if a dog should be bred or not bred; however, it does help guide the breeder in making informed decisions. 
I am a firm believer in health testing and feel it serves as an excellent guide for the breeder.  I am also a firm believer in proper diet, exercise, and protecting the environment of your Newfoundland to assure proper growth and development.  I believe the development is 100% genetics, followed by 100% environment.  Genetic considerations are the entirety of what we must consider as a breeder.  Once the puppy is born, environment is 100% of how well that puppy will do within the possibility of his genetics.    
Keep in mind a breeder is not required to perform these health tests by AKC, the State, or any other authority.  It is a decision that each individual breeder makes.  I work with many veterinarians and specialists to achieve the testing desired, and several of them are two to three hours away from our home and require appointments a month or two in advance.  Each vet specializes in one area of testing compared to the next vet and each test is a separate appointment, a separate trip, and a separate expense.  It is a huge commitment for any breeder health testing their dogs.

I have personally health tested over 50 Newfoundland dogs.  This is my breed of choice and all I raise. 
I have written reports & copies of clearances 
Here are tests recommended for the Newfoundland breed and what the test results mean:
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) performs evaluations on hip x-rays and elbow x-rays.  The OFA also has a database for dog owners to submit additional health testing performed by licensed veterinarians/specialists/laboratories and the OFA will record these test results for public viewing.  
Hips:  The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) examines hip x-rays submitted by a licensed veterinarian.  The OFA has 7 (seven) grades for a Hip evaluation from Excellent to Severe (hip dysplasia).   The hip x-rays are evaluated by three radiologists to determine the score.  Scores of Excellent, Good, and Fair are considered, by consensus, to be acceptable scores.  The OFA has a public database for a dog x-rayed on or after 24 months of age and will issue a certificate for acceptable scores or provide a written report of abnormal findings.  If a dog is x-rayed prior to 24 months, OFA provides a written report to the breeder of all results and will publish the results of a 12 month old or older if the owner agrees to release the results whether normal or abnormal results.    
Hips:  PennHip is another method of hip evaluations performed with hip x-rays.  The x-rays are submitted to PennHip by a licensed veterinarian.  PennHip evaluates the x-rays and issues the results with a DI (Distraction Index).  PennHip evaluates each hip, allowing individual assessment.  The Breed Average DI for Newfoundland is .58.
DI of .00-.32 is tightest hip   
.33-.43 is top 10% of the breed
.44-.46 - top 20% 
.47-.54 - top 30%
.55-.57 - top 40%
.58 - Breed Average 50%
PennHip does not have a public database.  All evaluations and scores are provided to the veterinarian in a written report.

I am a curious, analytical type of person.  I will test one dog by OFA method, then another dog by PennHip, and have started testing by both PennHip and OFA as a comparison for my own curiosity.  Personally, I prefer PennHip due to several factors: 

Why Gentle Giant Newfoundlands uses PennHip:
1.  Newfoundlands compared to other Newfoundlands
2.   PennHip uses scientific measurements to determine distraction index 
3.  PennHip requires veterinarian training and acceptance into their program (only PennHip certified vets can submit xrays)
4.  The most important factor is PennHip requires the vet submit all radiographs whether good or bad hips.  Meaning, the breeder cannot withhold the xrays if the dog has abnormal hips.  This results in an accurate database for our Newfoundland breed. 

Elbows:  The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals examines elbow x-rays submitted by a licensed veterinarian.  The OFA will determine if the Elbows are normal or will grade at three levels the extent of elbow dysplasia found.  All reports are provided to the breeder in a written report.  The OFA has a public database of all normal reports for a dog x-rayed on or after 24 months of age.
Patellas (the knees):  The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals also has a public database for Patella Luxation.  A licensed veterinarian grades the knees with either normal down to four levels of luxation.  The breeder can submit the veterinarian report to the OFA for a dog examined on or after 12 months of age.  
Heart:  The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals has a public database for normal Heart reports for a dog examined on or after 12 months of age.  The dog will be graded as either normal down to Six Grades of a heart murmur.  Innocent cardiac murmurs (Grade I) are believed to be related to normal blood flow in the circulation.  Innocent murmurs are most common in young, growing animals.  For this reason, the dog must be 12 months or older to be accepted in the OFA database.   
The Cardiologist (center) and his vet students visit GG Newfs

Cystinuria:  Cystinuria is a genetic disease that causes calculi stones in the bladder.  A laboratory will evaluate a sample from the dog to determine if a dog is a carrier or clear of cystinuria.  Both the Dad and Mom must be carriers for the disease to develop in the off-spring.  If one parent is a carrier and the other parent is clear, the offspring will not develop calculi stones in the bladder.  The breeder may submit the laboratory result to the OFA database.  If the term "cystinuria cleared through parentage" is used, it means both the Mom and Dad of that dog have been cystinuria tested and had clear results, meaning the offspring is clear as well.
If a breeder claims cleared through parentage, you can verify the information on the OFA website or the breeder will have the written test results on the parents verifying the parents have been tested clear of cystinuria.   
Cystinuria is completely genetic.  If every breeder would commit to testing their dogs and make informed and educated breeding decisions, this disease could be eliminated from the Newfoundland breed.   



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