Health testing in pedigree dogs can take two forms: 
  • Clinical testing evaluates the current condition of a dog for certain diseases. This includes procedures such as eye testing or hip scoring, where a specialist will examine the dog to see if they are actually affected.
  • Genetic (DNA) testing evaluates the dog scientifically and can tell us whether an animal is clear, a carrier or affected for a condition. An affected result does not always mean that the dog will develop the condition, but it does tell us that we need to be careful how we use them in a breeding programme. It is valid to use an affected animal to maintain genetic diversity, as long as you ensure they are mated to an animal that is genetically clear of the condition. This combination will not produce affected puppies, which should either eliminate or substantially reduce the risk of any symptoms developing later in life.

The term 'vet health check' is when the breeder takes the litter to the vets for a general check up before they go to their new homes. The vet will weigh the puppy, check things like the heart and teeth, weigh them and maybe take their temperature, giving an overall impression of their general health on that day and highlighting areas of concern, such as heart murmurs.


'Health testing' is used for more specific conditions and includes both clinical and genetic DNA tests. Exactly which tests a dog needs prior to breeding depends on their breed, since each breed is predisposed to its own set of diseases.DNA testing is easily available for many breed-specific health issues, is relatively cheap and is a useful tool for breeders to ensure they produce healthy puppies. DNA testing is particularly useful for some conditions that do not affect dogs until later in life, where dogs may not be showing symptoms at typical breeding age.


Veterinary Centers of America
American College of Veterinary Surgeons
UC Davis
Washington State University
American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Dogs Naturally
Dr Conor Brady

This information is not meant to be a substitute for veterinary care. Always follow the advice provided by your veterinarian.