In the June 2004 column I wrote about the seven areas recommended for testing of Newfoundland breeding stock by a special committee of the Newfoundland Club of America (NCA). The seven areas are hips, heart, cystinuria, elbows, patella, thyroid and eyes. In that same column I cautioned that breeding good Newfs was not as simple as getting clearances in all seven areas; there are other factors involved in making a stud dog or brood bitch a good breeding prospect. Further complicating the problem of the breeder is the danger of further constraining an already limited gene pool (as discussed in the December 2002 column).
However, now that clearances can be checked on the internet database of the Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), I decided to see how many Newfs have actually received clearances in all seven areas, and consequently, if expecting to have pups from such cleared Newfs is even feasible at this time.
Using OFA standards, 13 Newfs have obtained clearances in all seven areas, eight males and five females. However, as the NCA only recognizes heart clearances when examined by a board certified cardiologist (as opposed to a practitioner with special training or a specialist), only 11 of the Newfs would qualify by NCA standards, six males and five females. Six of these 11 Newfs, three males and three females come from two kennels. This is a good reflection on those particular kennels, but also suggests that some of the fully cleared Newfs are too closely related for breeding purposes.
Considering that the demand for Newfs in North America is in the thousands, there is no way that Newfie pups could all come from litters where both sire and dam are fully cleared, either now or in the near future. The fact that there are a few is a good sign for the more distant future.
Unlike the other areas, clearances for hips by OFA are graded (fair, good and excellent) and this past December I wrote about the 275 Newfs that have obtained the top clearance of Excellent in the past five years, up from 183 in the previous five years. When I cross checked the Newfs with all seven clearances against those with excellent hips, there was only one. Since it takes two to tango or breed, obviously the ideal of a litter from fully cleared parents who are both OFA Hips Excellent is not yet even a possibility.
Peter Maniate has been writing columns for the Newf News, the magazine of the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada, since 1979. In 1996 he started writing a Newfoundland dog column in the Breedlines section of Dogs in Canada magazine on behalf of the Newfoundland Dog Club of Canada. When Dogs in Canada ceased publication at the end of 2011 he continued the Breedlines column in the Newf Newfs.
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