I am thrilled to announce that Bess' elbows have been rated normal and her hips have been rated EXCELLENT by the OFA!!! We just got the results back today!!
I took Bess in for her OFA x-rays on April 30th. The vet and her assistant were able to get both her hips and her elbows done without sedation. With a dog Bess' size, that's no real small feat considering that for the hip x-rays she has to be flipped onto her back, laid down in a foam support thingy, and have her hind legs stretched out behind her. Not to mention, these x-rays weren't taken by our regular vet (she's not certified through the OFA for these x-rays), so she's in a totally different setting with total strangers. She really did great though! If I had really thought about it more ahead of time and realized how they needed to position her, I would have done some work with her well in advance to get her more used to that scenario.
Some people might be wondering why I even felt these x-rays were necessary. I show Bess in conformation, the traditional dog show. The whole purpose of dog shows is to prove, through competition, that your dog is an excellent specimen of the breed and worthy of potentially being bred. Conformation is how the dog is put together and how they should be built based upon a breed standard. On the flip side, some things are hard to tell from just looking at a dog and watching them gait around a small ring. For instance, a dog could have mild hip dysplasia, but still gait just fine around the ring if they have good supportive musculature. Only x-rays will be able to tell how that dogs hips are doing. Since we know that certain deficiences like hip dysplasia are genetic, you most likely will want to remove that animal from a breeding program. That is a lot of the reasoning behind health testing.
For great danes there are four primary tests that it is highly recommended you do on any animal you may breed. There's the CERF eye exam, the OFA heart exam, the OFA hip x-rays, and the OFA thyroid panel (this is a LOT different than the in house testing that a lot of vets do at annual exams). Currently, Bess only needs her thyroid tested and has had a clean bill of health with everything else. I'm planning on having the blood drawn at her annual exam so that it's easier for me to remember to do it each year. Thankfully my vet can ship the sample out from there.
Health testing is pretty important to me. I really want to know how my dogs are doing and what I need to plan for in the future. With Bess, if we would like to breed her in the future there are several requirements that have to be met before this can happen. We co-own her with her wonderful breeder Georgia Hymmen of Daynakin Great Danes. Bess needs to have all of her health testing done and pass it before it's a consideration. We would also like her to be at least an AKC champion and hopefully a Canadian champion as well. It's not something to be taken lightly and I could go on and on about backyard breeders and what I think of them, but I'll save that for another post.;O)
You might be thinking, "but if it's important to you, then what about Heffner?" Heffner as of yet hasn't had any of his health testing done. He's already neutered and obviously not going to be part of a breeding program, however it is still important to me and he will start getting the testing done as clinics happen. The only thing that's currently holding me back is that my husbadn doesn't quite see the point since Heffner is neutered and his breeder wouldn't care about the results any how. But I care, and it will get done!