I know many of the LABfans have concerns with It’s a Lab Thing allowing Breeders into the guide with so many Labs that need rescuing. You cannot deny our passion and sincerity for Labradors and especially Labrador Rescues. We always will encourage that you look to rescuing before purchasing. However, I do know that some will want to go with a breeder. Whether they want a Labrador for hunting, field test competitions, therapy and so on. This is why we here at ILT have worked with Danielle Pellicci very closely with recommended guidelines for Labrador Breeders that want to be in the Pick of the Litter Guide as well as a Code of Ethics that Qualified Labrador Breeders will be held to.  Why? Well ILT believes that Highly Responsible Labrador Breeders are an essential part to the preservation of the breed. It is the highly responsible breeder that is not there for the almighty buck, but for the Love and continued betterment of the Labrador. One of those areas has to do with Health Certifications that can be properly obtained and in my view, a MUST.

Blackfoot Labradors South Carolina (6)

So I talked with Danielle and asked for some more insight into these certifications. Just in case you do not know, Danielle Pellicci, of Blackfoot Labradors, is a contributing author to ILT. She has been with us from the beginning. Her Lab “feather” caught my eye from a picture that she posted and I went to her Facbook page (as I always do)to check out her Labradors. I was blown away at how beautiful her Labs were as well as her facilities and her attention to bettering the breed.

Antonio: Hey Danielle how are you doing? Thanks so much for helping out with this. I really want to create a movement with Labrador Breeders and change the way some think or go about Breeding. So tell me, what do you look for or consider when you think about having a litter?

Danielle: Ok… I think Its fair to say that I start with health certifications for my breeding dogs before ever considering a litter. Then, I can consider a pedigree “match” with potential Sires/Dams based on those health certifications as well as titles, accomplishments, looks, temperaments, and the linage of ancestors behind each (being influenced by generations of those health certifications and performance statistics).

Antonio: I have heard about certain health certifications and read about some of the more common types when I was first researching Labradors before we got Brody. What are those certifications and could you explain a little about them?

Danielle: Absolutely. Regarding HEATH CERTIFICATIONS: 

#1) OFA hips and Elbows …… If it is known that any injury to or subluxation of patellas in the bloodline I may also have the “knees” tested, but it is standard for me to get an official OFA rating on each breeding dogs hips and elbows. 

Hips are rated as:  displastic , fair,  good or excellent…. Elbows are either: normal or dysplastic (showing evidence of degenerative joint disease). Bitches or Dogs with hip ratings of “fair” can be bred but as a personal preference, that bitch or dog would have to have a more than exceptional pedigree and accomplishments to warrant producing a litter. That breeding (in my opinion) should be combined with a dog of excellent hip rating. 

A dog:male or bitch:female can not get certified until after 24 months of age when growth of the dog is complete. 

The organization that does these certifications accepts radiographs from veterinarians who must manipulate the dog in a specific manner to show the complete detail of the joints. 

#2) Eye certification. 

We test our breeding stock annually for degenerative inherited diseases of the eye. A special Canine Ophthalmologist MUST conduct this test. Results are submitted to the Canine Eye Registry Foundation for a pass or “fail” score. This is called a CERF certification. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a growing concern amongst Labrador Breeders and retinal folds can be detected in this eye exam. If the ophthalmologist finds evidence of retinal folds those dogs can have a simple blood test to find out if PRA (progressive Retinal Atrophy) is a possible cause. PRA is an inheritable disease… 

#3) Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) and Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM)……Just like the inheritance capability of PRA these two genetic conditions can be hidden within a dog’s genes … a dog can be clear of the conditions, be a carrier of, or be affected by. 

I have found that MOST average dog owners can not grasp the difference between an AFFECTED dog and a CARRIER dog. A Carrier dog will have NO SIGNS of the disease…. this is why testing a SOOOOO important. A carrier dog CAN be successfully and safely added into a responsible breeding practice. 

EIC episodes show signs similar to that of heat-stroke and many veterinarians today are STILL un-aware of the condition and treat it as such.

CNM is a much more debilitating disease and many dogs will die from it if affected. Sadly, signs do not begin to rear their ugly heads until a pup is about 6 months of age… it is a down hill road from there 🙁 

Antonio: Wow. helps a lot. I can see why a having those tests done for the certifications are so important when considering a litter. Even to a prospective owner… knowing about these certifications could make a huge difference if they decided to go the Breeder route. Thanks so much for explaining this to us. It really shows in your Labradors.

Danielle: No problem. Next time we can cover some of the other aspects I look at as well when considering a litter. Obviously Health is at the top of the list.

If you would like more information regarding these Health certifications you can check them out here:

[box title=””]

OFA information can be found here:  www.offa.org
CERF information can be found here: web.vmdb.org
PRA information can be found herewww.optigen.com/opt9_test_prcdprabs.html 
EIC information can be found here: www.vdl.umn.edu/ourservices/canineneuromuscular/eic/taylor2008/home.html
CNM information here: www.labradorcnm.com/pages/site/0-frame_site.html[/box]

What do you think? Should all Breeders begin to take a look into health certifications?


[boxparagraph]Contributing Author: Danielle Pellicci, has over 18 years of experience with dogs, and has been a full time professional dog trainer/competitor since 2001. She and her dogs have participated in events including retriever hunt tests, field trials, agility, earthdog, rally obedience, & obedience trials. Blackfoot Kennels[/boxparagraph]


4 Responses

  1. BlackFoot Labradors on Facebook

    Thanks ILT! I was happy to take part in the interview, and, above all, I hope it will help potential NEW PUPPY OWNERS to ask the “right” questions and look for the “right” types of litters… we can avoid back-yard breeding, puppy mills etc… by ceasing the demand for pups bred in irresponsible manners. Thank you for helping spread important education to LAB lovers!