CHS month: Crossbreeds and non-breeding dogs can benefit too

Posted on January 10, 2019 by Daniella Dos Santos

The Canine Health Schemes is a BVA and Kennel Club partnership that screens for inherited diseases in dogs, with screening currently available for hip and elbow dysplasia, hereditary eye disease and chiari malformation/syringomyelia. All these diseases have the potential to be life limiting or life altering, having serious impacts on the health and welfare of dogs.

Hip dysplasia is an inherited disorder of the hip joint, that causes pain and in extreme cases makes movement very challenging, and it is common for both hip joints to be affected. Elbow dysplasia is a group of inherited abnormalities of the elbow joint, and as with hip dysplasia, can cause pain and result in movement being severely affected. There are numerous eye inherited eye diseases covered by the scheme, many of which can lead to blindness or loss of the eye. The Chiari Malformation/Syringomyelia Scheme looks at a debilitating inherited neurological disease most commonly seen in Cavalier King Charles Spaniels, which in its most severe form, leads to a significant shortening of life.

The schemes are just for pedigree dogs, right?

Wrong! The schemes were set up with the aim of improving the health of pedigree puppies, but it’s just as important for crossbreeds too! Generally speaking, crossbreeds are considered to be “healthier” dogs, but it is important to remember that part of their genes will come from pedigree dogs, and so they are still at risk of carrying the same inherited diseases. For example, in practice I commonly see Labradoodles (Labrador x Poodle) with hip dysplasia, and German Shepherd Dog crosses with elbow dysplasia, some of which require surgery. If you have a crossbreed, like a pedigree, it is possible that they could be at risk of suffering from an inherited disease and we would recommend testing before using the dog for breeding.

The schemes are invaluable to ensure that any dogs bred from, crossbreed or not, are producing as healthy as possible puppies, allowing breeders to choose not to breed from high risk dogs.

The schemes are just for breeding dogs…

Wrong! The schemes provide an opportunity to help manage your dog’s health throughout its life too. For example, getting your dog’s hips scored will allow you to implement a lifelong plan of weight control, exercise, physiotherapy or hydrotherapy in cases of hip dysplasia. Annual eye testing will allow monitoring of progression of disease. Longer term, the more crossbreed dogs are screened under the Canine Health Schemes, the more information can be gathered about inherited diseases, and the greater chance there is of ensuring healthy future generations.

Canine Health Schemes are for every dog, to help ensure health and happiness.

Daniella Dos Santos

Written by Daniella Dos Santos

BVA Junior Vice President and AWF trustee

Daniella is currently studying towards a CertAVP Zoological Medicine and is the Principal Exotics Vet at Park Vets Hospital. She is also BVA Junior Vice President, the current Chair of the BVA Ethics and Welfare Advisory Panel and a trustee for the Animal Welfare Foundation.