Some tests are without question: Cerebellar Ataxia (CA) is a serious neurological disease that can cause death at a young age. The CA DNA test is critical to identify silent carriers of this disease. Spinone with a “Clear” rating do not pass on the cerebellar ataxia gene to their offspring (for CA test info. see pg. 2). Canine Brucellosis is a bacterial infection similar to Chlamydia in humans. This sexually transmitted disease results in stillborn puppies. Once contracting canine brucellosis, even after treatment, your pet will more than likely become a carrier of the disease. The simple blood test is well worth everyone’s time.

A few points to remember regarding testing. One must consider that the dogs we have today were bred from dogs selected by breeders for their conformation, ability, intelligence, or other attributes the breeders felt would improve the breed as a whole (sometimes, just a sweet temperament).

Using testing as your most important criteria, is the newest fashion. This trend is based on the new tests available. While it is considered likely breeding high scoring studs to high scoring dams will give an upward curve to the testing scores, it will most certainly limit the gene pool.

“For the most rapid genetic change, the breeder can decide to mate only the tightest-hipped dogs within the breed (those with the lowest DI) and then continue to inbreed for tight hips from there. This approach, however, will create increased inbreeding. Founding a breeding program on only a few dogs, and inbreeding on these dogs, would reduce the overall genetic diversity in the gene pool and could contribute to the loss of some desirable traits or lead to the expression of some undesirable traits. This reality affects some breeds more than others. For example less than 5% of Golden Retrievers have hip laxity in the ‘tight-hipped’ range, meaning a DI below 0.30. If one were to require that breeding candidates conform to this standard, 95% of the Golden Retrievers would be excluded from breeding, resulting in a serious reduction in genetic diversity. This breeding strategy would neither be practical nor acceptable to breeders and is not recommended by PennHIP. ...” 

  1. - Excerpt from Antech/PennHIP website, Jan. 2014,

Nature versus nurture should also be a consideration. There are many warnings that puppies (those under 4 to 5 months old) should not be allowed to; race up and down the stairs, careen wildly around with older pets, jump too high, etc. OFA and PennHIP testing only show the current state of the dog’s bones and if there is any deterioration or damage. They do not reveal the source of the damage. Barring visible fractures, bones injured in play during formative years are essentially indistinguishable from hip laxity that is genetically inherited.

In the quest for excellence there are no guarantees high-scoring parents will result in a litter of high-scoring puppies. Likewise, our Sofia has an ʻExcellentʼ (PennHIP) score. Her sireʼs ʻFairʼ OFA hip-score crossed with her damʼs ʻGoodʼ OFA hip-score resulted in an ʻExcellentʼ scoring puppy. While this may not be the case for the whole litter, we must acknowledge all of those ʻExcellentʼ scores had to come from somewhere. Donʼt get me wrong, I am not saying ʻExcellentʼ scores should be ignored. I am saying, “test scores should be a consideration as part of the whole, rather than a limiting factor.”

Ignoring ‘Normal’ test scores is like tossing out the puppy with the bath water. Too many times there is the tendency to follow the Übermensch (Aryan Superman) breeding model, without regard for the value of ‘Normal’. Not every puppy will be the next show champion, but they may provide a genetic option needed in the future. The inherent danger for rare breed dogs is in limiting the gene pool. I would recommend new owners of Spinone Italiano to be mindful that this is a breed others have worked over decades to save from extinction.

- Sherry Durst, Jan. 2014


~ References and Examples Continued on Page 2 ~


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