Frequently Asked Questions  about
Health Clearances and Genetic Testing

Here are some answers to some commonly asked questions regarding canine health testing and ailments. Our desire is to educate anyone who is willing and for us, as canine enthusiasts, to never stop learning. All breeds have their list of susceptibilities to certain health issues. This includes mixed breeds, as they derive from purebreds. The best way to greatly decrease your chances of high vet bills, chronic problems, and an overall unhealthy dog, is to get your future puppy or dog from a breeder who is educated, knows their pedigree's, obtains official health and genetic clearances on their breeding dogs, as we do here at Sage Hollow.           

      We all know that hip dysplasia is a concern for Golden Retrievers, as it is in most every medium and large sized dog breed. We have studied on this topic extensively, along with guidance from our group of amazing Reproduction Specialist Staff at Idaho Veterinary Hospital. Here at Sage Hollow, we embrace proven advancements in testing methods that become available. After learning the facts about PennHIP, there is no denying it is a much more accurate, scientific way to evaluate hips and this method scrutinizes multiple xrays rather than only using one, as OFA does. If our dogs can go through the rigors of the PennHIP evaluations and get a result of being free of hip dysplasia, then we feel incredibly confident that we are breeding a dog with healthy hips. In addition, because PennHIPS scoring system allows us to see their hip scores in a more detailed manner, we as breeders, are able to do a better job at choosing which mate to place with each dog. The icing on cake, is that dogs can be accurately tested at a much younger age.  We are constantly looking for ways to improve the health of our puppies. For more information on PennHIP facts, click here  and you'll be directed to PennHIPS's 'facts page.'
OFA vs PennHIP Ratings could look something like this:
PennHIP Numeric System                  OFA  
0.0 - 0.3                                                                                 EXCELLENT or GOOD
0.31 - 0.5                                                                              EXCELLENT or GOOD
0.51 - 0.7                                                                              GOOD or FAIR
0.71 - 0.81                                                                                              FAIR or possibly BORDERLINE
0.82 - and higher - Would most likely have some hip issues by both PennHIP and OFA standards.
**We are proud to say that all of our dogs are in the top 3 categories!**

Genetic testing goes above and beyond xrays, eye exams, and ultrasounds that shows if a dog has a particular ailment at the time the test is administered. Through genetic testing, a Geneticist evaluates the canine's DNA, in a labratory, for ailments that are known issues in a particular breed. The results reveal if the particular canine has the genetic marker for a particular ailment, or not. Because this is genetics and DNA, the results are good for the lifetime of the dog and will not change.  The results are typically revealed as clear, carrier, or affected. In any given mating, at least one of the dogs should be found to be clear, so that their resulting puppies will not ever suffer from the ailment. This testing is so very vital, and yet, sadly, the vast majority of breeders don't do it. If you want a puppy that will not suffer from the below listed ailments, then make sure you go to a breeder that does specific DNA testing on all their breeding dogs, and pairs them accordingly.           

ICT-ICHTHYOSIS:   The name "Ichthyosis" comes from the Greek word for fish, which describes the skin's resemblance to fish scales. Most affected dogs show signs before one year old with flaky skin and dull hair. Over time the skin develops a grayish color and appears thick and scaly, especially over the abdomen. The symptoms may progress to severe scaling all over the body, may improve with age, or may come and go over the dog’s lifetime. This condition is very uncomfortable for the dog, unsightly, and is frequently related to other health issues such as yeast overgrowth and fungal infections. An affected dog will usually require more care with special shampoos, treatments, and vet appointments. The majority of Golden Retrievers are either ICT Carriers or ICT Affected. To find an ICT Clear Golden, is truly something to be excited about! Only one ICT 'Clear' parent is needed for healthy, symptom free puppies. Considering the vast majority of our dogs are 'ICT Clear,' we will never produce puppies that will suffer from this ailment.

PRA/prcd - PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY/PROGRESSIVE ROD-CONE DEGENERATION:  This is an inherited eye disease that affects Golden Retrievers, resulting in the degeneration of both rod and cone type Photoreceptor Cells of the Retina, which are important for vision in dim and bright light. Results are eventual night blindness, loss of peripheral vision, and visual deficits in bright light. This ailment most commonly causes noticeable symptoms around the young age of only 5 or 6 years old. Considering ALL of our breeding dogs are PRA/prcd 'Clear', we will never produce puppies with this ailment.

PRA 1 -  PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY:   This is an inherited eye disease that affects Golden Retrievers, resulting in night blindness and loss of peripheral vision, sadly, it eventually progresses to complete blindness in most affected dogs. This form of PRA commonly starts around the age of 6 years old, although the age of onset may vary. Considering ALL of our breeding dogs are PRA 1 'Clear', we will never produce puppies with this ailment.

PRA 2 - PROGRESSIVE RETINAL ATROPHY:   This is an inherited eye disease that affects Golden Retrievers, and is similar to PRA 1, but the genetics are slightly different and the age of onset is, unfortunately, younger; as early as 4 years old. PRA 2 also results in night blindness, loss of peripheral vision and eventually progresses to complete blindness. Considering ALL of our breeding dogs are PRA 2 'Clear', we will never produce puppies with this ailment.
DM - DEGENERATIVE MYELOPATHY:   This is an inherited neurologic disorder in dogs, which is basically the canine's version of the human's Lou Gehrig's Disease. Affected dogs usually present in adulthood with gradual muscle Atrophy and loss of coordination typically beginning in the hind limbs due to degeneration of the nerves. The condition is not typically painful for the dog, but will progress until the dog is no longer able to walk. Late in the progression of disease, dogs may lose fecal and urinary continence and the forelimbs may be affected. Affected dogs may fully lose the ability to walk 6 months to 2 years after the onset of symptoms. Considering ALL of our breeding dogs are DM 'Clear', we will never produce puppies with this ailment.

SAN - SENSORY ATAXIC NEUROPATHY:   Sensory Ataxic Neuropathy is an inherited neurologic condition affecting Golden Retrievers. Affected dogs typically present between 2 to 8 months of age with signs of neurologic disease. Symptoms include a lack of muscle coordination, abnormal gait and difficulty balancing especially affecting the hind limbs. Muscle mass appears normal and the condition does not appear to be painful. Although the disease progresses slowly, dogs are often humanely euthanized before three years of age. Considering ALL of our breeding dogs are SAN 'Clear', we will never produce puppies with this ailment.

Question: I notice you say your puppies have low COI's. What is COI?  
*COI is short for Coefficient of Inbreeding. Many studies have shown that dogs with a high amount of inbreeding in their lines, have led to a large array of health problems. Dog's that have lower COI's tend to be healthier and enjoy more longevity in their life spans. Nobody wants to have their dog's life cut short by a serious health issue, conversely, nobody wishes to have a dog that may have lived a really long life, but suffered through chronic health condition(s). Low COI's without health clearances, or high COI's with health testing, can decrease the benefits of either effort. Here at Sage Hollow, we are very proud to say that we produce puppies that have incredibly low COI's and we do health testing and genetic screening for maximum health benefits and longevity.

Here at Sage Hollow, we spend an enormous amount of time examining the latest health studies and statistics. Our work is never done, as we are always learning as new studies become available and advancements in technology expand our ability to do a more efficient job at screening our breeding dogs. We spare no expense on health clearances, genetic screenings, and have a wonderful team of Canine Reproduction Specialists at Idaho Veterinary Hospital, which assist in guiding us through this world of breed preservation. Our passion is for the health, amazing temperaments and continuation of the irreplacable Golden Retriever breed. As a result of this passionate committment, we produce some of the most magnificent Golden Retriever puppies available!