Health and Genetic Testing in our American Staffordshire Terriers
Before we start, Parastone’S American Staffordshire Terriers wishes to thank our vet, Drs. Dré Koolen of Animal Hospital Ell for all his help and support through the years. Dr. Koolen is an innovative diagnostician and a skilled surgeon. His expertise and common sense has brought us through some tough situations with seeming ease. Dré is a wonderful, compassionate vet and all the AmStaff’s love him. We do, too. Many thanks to Dré and his terrific staff.
Many people who call us looking for a puppy are concerned with how long the dogs live. We tell them that there is no way to know ahead of time, but that by doing a comprehensive battery of tests for genetically linked health problems we can hedge our bets and hopefully help our dogs live longer and happier lives.
Here at Parastone’S we test for a number of items:
We test our whole breeding stock for heart defects by echocardiogram. This is costly and time consuming, as echoes are not readily available from most veterinary facilities. We have been fortunate to find a Board Certified Cardiologist who we can work with. The “accepted standard” of testing is that listening (auscultation) to the heart is enough. We go one step further and do echocardiogram, which is an ultrasound of the heart. This way, we can be absolutely certain that there are no defects of the heart chambers, valves, vessels, etc.
Kidney Function Defects:
Our dogs have a urine protein/creatinine ratio done every year. This shows whether or not their kidneys are functioning properly.
Our regular veterinarian checks all the dog’s patella’s once a year when they have their check-ups. However, we have started using a Board Certified Orthopedic Veterinarian to palpate our patella’s. There seem to be a wide range of techniques employed by the various vets we have seen check patella’s, so since we would rather be safe than sorry, we are using an orthopedic vet. This affords a consistent testing program and a uniformity of data.
Hip- & Elbow Dysplasia
The hips and elbows of our dogs are x-rayed and formally assessed and certified by the commission Welfare of the Dutch Kennel Club (Raad van Beheer). This is an essential part of our approach for a sustainable breeding program.
Cerebellar Ataxia is a neurological disorder. This disease is also called Cerebellar Cortical Degeneration or Neuronal Ceroid Lipofuscinosis (NCL). The first signs of the disease usually appear between 3 and 5 years of age in affected dogs. More rarely, early or late-onset symptoms can appear between 1.5-3 years or after 5 years. Symptoms are loss of balance, difficulty cornering, and falling when shaking their head. When they become unable to walk without falling repeatedly, owners usually make the difficult choice to euthanize. The clinical diagnosis is realized by excluding others diseases and confirmed by a MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging). We do a DNA test that is reliable, easy to do from a cheek swab (Cytobrush®) that can be done at any age as soon as the animal is identified (by chip). Once validated by the test, the genetic status of the dog will not change throughout his/her life. Here at Parastone’S we only breed with dogs, which are tested and proven Ataxia clear (normal homozygous). This guarantees that the disease will not develop and there will be no transmission of the genetic anomaly.