Friday, February 14, 2014

Doberman Health ~ Health Testing outside the United States

I live in the United States, and as a result have a rather ethnocentric view. I try not to, but there are times I find myself falling into it.

One of those times is with regards to health testing in Dobermans before breeding. Many of the health tests I know about, and thus recommend when looking for a breeder are ones based in (or mostly available in) the United States. But it's a big world out there.

Image of Earth taken from the International Space Station

I'd heard oblique phrases about "health testing being different" in places like Europe, or South America, but it hadn't really registered. Then a new member on Doberman Talk, from South Africa, mentioned in a post that docking was banned. So then I went to The Google and searched "Dobermans in South Africa". Which led me to at least one breed club, in Johannesburg, but also a number of breeders. One of those breeders, Trustdore, has a page on their website detailing Some Health Aspects to Consider Before you Breed or Purchase a Puppy. It's been particularly eye opening!

For instance, Von Willebrand's testing (according to them) is available only through two overseas labs: VetGen in the US, and Laboklin in Germany.

You know Penn Hip? Yeah, that's at the University of Pennsylvania School of Veterinary Medicine. OFA, the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, is based in Missouri. For Hip and Elbow screening, there's the Faculty of Science of the University of Pretoria, which is at the Onderstepoort campus.

(this is what the library at the main campus looks like, picture source here [though it's also the picture on Google Maps])

Similarly, CERF is the Canine Eye Registration Foundation, based in Illinois. Similar testing/rating must be done through Oderstepoort again, or through the Johannesburg Animal Eye Hospital.

For Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM) that particular breeder does not mention the DNA test, but really, the DNA test is currently only a piece of the puzzle and not a definitive answer on whether a dog will or will not develop (and/or pass on) DCM. They do mention echocardiograms, though, and list vets in Johannesburg, Cape Town, Durban, and Port Elizabeth who can offer such screening. 

Because I write Steampunk in South Africa (when I write Steampunk), I've got a vague grasp of the geography there. Cape Town is on the South Western coast, and Johannesburg is 745 miles North East of it, to give you a sense of scale (or not; saying things like that don't mean a lot if you're not looking at a map. But thanks to Google, you can be!). It's a beautiful country, though going off of Google navigation (I've never been to South Africa), it's sometimes the case that what looks like the longest way 'round is actually the shortest way. 

Another interesting thing I noticed when looking at Doberman breeders in South Africa (because once I'd looked at one aspect, why not another?) is you can't get away from "popular sires". I saw Baron Nike Renewal in an awful lot of pedigrees there, and I saw a surprising number of dogs who were related to Elka (via her Norden Stamm relatives). 

Plus, I thought it might be warmer in South Africa than it is here right now. We've got many inches of snow; whether I'm right or not, Africa in my imagination is always sunny.

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