Genetic Testing For Australian Shepherds

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Important Information about the testing we do on all of our dogs

I want to make this page available to anyone who is planning on buying an Australian Shepherd. So many people call me looking for their new family member, yet they have little or no knowledge of the health tests that are available to breeders. We believe whole heartedly that as someone bringing puppies into this world, we should try our very best to only improve the breed. 
One of the ways we do this is by getting important genetic and physical health tests done on our dogs before we breed them. I will name and explain each test we do :

MDR1: Multi- Drug Sensitivity (DNA test) Our dogs are n/n or n/m for this gene

What is MDR1?
MDR1 is the abbreviated name of a gene called Multi-Drug Resistance 

1. A mutation of this gene causes sensitivity to Ivermectin and a number of other drugs. Dogs with the mutation will react to those drugs. Having two copies of the mutation will lead to drug reactions, but having a single copy can also confer some sensitivity with some drugs. Dogs with this mutation have a transport defect - the drug goes in to their brains, fails to be transported out, and builds up to toxic levels. This causes serious neurological problems including seizures and sometimes death.

HC: Hereditary Cataracts (DNA test) All of our dogs are n/n for this gene

A separate mutation of the HC gene is responsible for Hereditary Cataracts in Australian Shepherds. This mutation affects Aussies differently, in that the disease is dominant, but not completely penetrant. This means that only one copy of the mutation is necessary to predispose a dog to the disease, however, incomplete penetrance means that a dog that has this mutation will not always develop HC. Research suggests that the mutation makes a dog 12 times more likely to develop posterior bilateral cataracts at some point in their lifetime. It is likely that a secondary gene interaction occurs in the small percentage of dogs possessing the HC mutation but do not develop cataracts, however, this interaction is not yet know.

It should also be noted that not all cataracts are hereditary. Cataracts can also be caused by old age or injury. Also, cataracts that occur in different regions of the lens can also be familial, however, are not attributed to this gene mutation.


Hips OFA (All of our dogs have a good or excellent grade)

ORTHOPEDIC FOUNDATION FOR ANIMALS

To get an OFA rating, an x-ray is taken of the hips or hips and elbows by a qualified veterinarian, and sent to the board at OFA.   There it is evaluated and given a grade of excellent, good, fair (all passing) or the non passing mild, dysplastic or severely dysplastic.   While this doesn't show if a dog may carry the genes to produce hip problems, it shows the dog itself has normal hip structure.   By doing this test with all breeding dogs, we do all we can to lower the chances a pup may inherit hip or elbow defects.  

Eye Cerf or OFA Eye Certification (All of our dogs have a current certificate)  Since various eye problems are common in all breeds and mixes of breeds of dogs, including Aussies, each year we get all our dogs' eyes examined by a board certified canine ophthalmologist.