Detailed Information on Dog Testing

What is OFA?

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) is a not-for-profit organization based in Columbia, Missouri that aims to research and prevent orthopedic and hereditary diseases in companion animals. The OFA maintains a database for hip dysplasia and now also maintains databases on other genetic disorders. 


What is Hip Dysplasia?

Hip dysplasia is an abnormal development of the hip joint, influenced by hereditary factors, nutrition and exercise.The hip is a ball and socket joint and in HD the socket may be shallow so the head of the femur fits loosely which in turn leads to wear and tear and arthritic changes. The disease is characterized by bunny jumping when running, stiffness after exercise and difficulty in getting up. The testing falls into seven different categories. Those categories are Normal (Excellent, Good, Fair), Borderline, and Dysplastic (Mild, Moderate, Severe).


What is Elbow Dysplasia?

Elbow dysplasia is a condition that can manifest in a variety of developmental disorders of the elbow leading to osteoarthritis of the elbow joint.  The disease has a genetic component which is why breeders look at this.  The scores for each elbow range from 0 (clear) to 3 (badly affected).  


What is MD? 

Muscular Dystrophy mutation is sex-linked and located on the X chromosome. So while both male and female dogs can be affected, GRMD is mostly a disease related to male Goldens. Females can be carriers of the mutation, however, and will not exhibit any symptoms. The lack of dystrophin proteins leads to the progressive degeneration of skeletal and cardiac muscles. The disease is similar to the human form of muscular dystrophy. Symptoms appear relatively quickly, at about six weeks to two months of age. An affected dog will exhibit muscle weakness, difficulty standing or walking normally, and difficulty swallowing, Symptoms can range from relatively mild to severe.


What is GR-PRA1 & GR-PRA2?

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a category of genetic mutations that cause vision loss and blindness. Photoreceptor cells in the retina begin to degenerate, typically progressing from a loss of night vision to complete blindness. Both GR-PRA1 and GR-PRA2 are inherited.


What is PRA-PRCD?

Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration, or PRA-prcd, is a form of Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) in which the cells in the dog's retina degenerate and die. PRA for dogs is similar to retinitis pigmentosa in humans. Complete blindness can occur in older dogs. Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration is a form of PRA known to affect over 40 different breeds. PRA-prcd is inherited as an autosomal recessive disorder. A dog must have two copies of the mutated gene to be affected by PRA.


What is ICH?

Ichthyosis is a hereditary skin condition found in many breeds.  Some people have equated it to dandruff but in varying degrees.  Some dogs have a horrible case of it with scabs and sores and they live with this their entire lives while other dogs may be affected with it and never have a flake on them.  Recently a test has been created to test to see if a dog is clear, a carrier or affected. 


What is NCL?

The neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinoses (NCLs) are a class of inherited neurological disorders that have been diagnosed in dogs, humans, cats, sheep, goats, cynomolgus monkeys, cattle, horses, and lovebirds. Among dogs, NCL has been reported in many breeds. NCL is almost always inherited as an autosomal recessive trait. This neurologic disease becomes apparent at approximately 13 months of age.  Often the first sign of disease is a subtle loss of coordination that is more apparent when the dog is excited.   The extent of the incoordination gradually increases.  The dog may begin pacing or circling when 15 months old and seizures often start before 18 months of age.  Visual impairment and behavioral changes also start at that time.  The neurologic deficiencies slowly but relentlessly increase and affected Golden Retrievers are often euthanized due to deteriorating quality of life when 30-to-35 months old.