1) The importance of Health Screening Tests

Posted in Canine Health

The Kennel Union of Southern Africa (KUSA) is the oldest dog registry in Southern Africa and celebrates its 121st Year in 2012.  The Kennel Union is a member of the FCI - Federation Cynologique Internationale (International Canine Federation) and is the only South African registry recognised by the Kennel Clubs of the United Kingdom, America, Australia and New Zealand.  Only KUSA Export Pedigrees are accepted by these registries for re-registration purposes.

The Kennel Union is not only a registry for purebred dogs but is also the governing body for dog related sports such as Agility, Flyball, Carting, Obedience, Dog Jumping, Working Trials, Breed Conformation Shows etc. and is the custodian of the Breed Standards for purebred dogs in South Africa.

Whilst one of the main functions of the Kennel Union is to maintain a registry of the ancestry of purebred dogs in South Africa, the Kennel Union also plays a role in encouraging and promoting the responsible breeding of purebred dogs and promoting the breeding of healthy and well-adjusted puppies.  This is achieved via several initiatives that are supported by the members and which show their  commitment to adhering to sound and well established principles.  The Kennel Union is one of the few registries in South Africa to insist that all puppies be micro-chipped in order to be registered, which is the responsible thing to do, in view of the many dogs that are having to be re-homed or euthanized because of an inability to find the owner of breeder.

What differentiates the Kennel Union from other registries is that it not only records the ancestry of dogs but also maintains  a database of health screening test results for hereditary diseases that can be tested for by means of DNA and/or clinical tests.  Test results for Hip Dysplasia & Elbow Dysplasia are reflected on the Certificate of Registration (Pedigree), whereas all other test results are reflected on the Annex to the Certificate of Registration (Health Certificates) for dogs that have been tested.  Such information is of great importance when selecting dogs for breeding purposes to assist in reducing the number of dogs born with hereditary diseases.

The KUSA Annex to the Certificate of Registration (Health Certificate) has been widely accepted and has become very popular.  When purchasing a purebred puppy, breeders should be asked if the  parents have been screened for any hereditary conditions and if a KUSA Health Certificate is available for scrutiny.  A wide variety of DNA-based tests are now available to breeders.  This will reduce the risk of acquiring a dog  that may develop a debilitating hereditary condition, which may result in unnecessary suffering and financial distress at a later stage. 

You should determine whether the breed you are interested in, is predisposed to any hereditary conditions, ascertain whether there are any tests available to determine the status of the parents (clear, affected or carrier) and ask to see health test results.