Health tests are a must for all dog breeders. If you’re about to buy a puppy, make sure that you get one from a breeder who has done health testing on his or her lines.
Unfortunately, not too many breeders in the Philippines do this because DNA testing for dogs and other services are not available in the country. At the same time, prices for these services are not cheap. However, these are not excuses for those who truly care about dogs. I still think Filipino breeders should take it upon themselves to do tests that would safeguard their dogs’ health.
I am writing this to share how I did health testing for my mini schnauzers.
In 2016, DNA testing for Mycobacterium Avium Complex was rolled out. MAC , according to the American Miniature Schnauzer Club (AMSC), “refers to an extremely rare but lethal defect of the immune system that allows an overwhelming systemic infection in affected dogs. This disease was first noted in the 1990s and was thought to occur in a specific line of miniature schnauzers.”
When MAC DNA testing was rolled out beyond the United States, I submitted a sample from my dogs. I wrote to the AMSC for a swab kit, and they mailed me the kit. I hand carried it back to the US, where I mailed it to the University of Pennsylvania College of Veterinary Medicine. (It just so happened that I was going to the US; I could have sent the kit through Fedex.) The results were made available online, and these are still recorded in the website of the AMSC.
To make the most of the exercise, I also had my dogs tested for canine dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM), a condition that leads to heart failure in many dogs, including miniature schnauzers. Cardiomyopathy is defined by VCA Hospitals as “degeneration of the heart muscle. As a result of this degeneration, the muscle becomes thinner, particularly the thick muscle wall of the left ventricle. The pressure of the blood inside the heart causes these thin walls to stretch resulting in a much larger heart.”
I was overjoyed to know that my mini schnauzers are free from both diseases. They are also not carriers of these diseases, and the puppies that have, or will eventually come from them will be free from the above diseases.
Of course, MAC and DCM are not the only genetic diseases that mini schnauzers may carry. Cataracts and other eye problems are also common in mini schnauzers, and it breaks my heart whenever I see backyard breeders propagating these lines and producing puppies with cataracts.
To prevent hereditary eye diseases, it’s very important to make sure that the parents’ eyes are tested. Thankfully, most of my dogs came from countries where there are veterinary ophthalmologists. Whenever I have puppies, I ask my vets here check out their eyes when they hit 8 weeks. Fortunately for my babies, everyone’s eyes are clear of cataracts and retinal folds.
While these test results give a measure of assurance, it is important to remember that there are still many unknowns out there, which breeders and dog owners have to watch out for. There are also non-hereditary diseases which can strike dogs.
Mini schnauzers are a hardy breed. By choosing healthy puppies and being vigilant about their health and safety, you can look forward to living a happy life with your schnauzies.