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Chocolate Havanese

Costs of health testing

You may occasionally hear of breeders who do not do health tests or who test minimally. Some of these indicate there are no problems in their lines so there is no reason for it. Others will say that health testing is unnecessary and simply too expensive so they do not do it. Others do the bare minimum also indicating it is too expensive to test more extensively. Some breeders do the tests but don't bother to certify, usually stating cost as the reason. For those who think it is unnecessary, who are they kidding? No line is 100% free of problems. The bottom line is, if you don't test, you don't know. For those who indicate the cost as being prohibitive, let's explore that further. Just how expensive is it really?

eye If you just start with basics such as the recommended tests for the Havanese breed as outlined by the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC), that would include a patella check, an eye exam, a hearing test and a hip evaluation. Within the past year, I have done all of these basic health tests plus a few extra, so here is an example of actual current costs. The costs of certification with CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) and OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) have been included as I feel this is an important step of the health testing process.

Basic Health testing 4 Tests for CHIC requirements

Hearing Test - BAER Can be done after 8 weeks of age $60.00
BAER certification for hearing Results sent to OFA for certification $15.00
Routine Exam with Patella check (12mo) Checked by your own veterinarian $60.00
Patella Certification (over 12 months) Exam results sent to OFA for certification $15.00
Eye Test (1 year) Eye exam by a veterinary ophthalmologist $35.00
Eye Certification (CERF) Results sent to CERF for certification $15.00
Hip Xray and exam X-rayed by your own veterinarian $200.00
Hip Certification (over 24 months for certification - earlier exams get preliminary reading). X-ray will be read by three radiologists and an OFA hip grade assigned. $35.00
Eye Test - should be done annually Exam by veterinary ophthalmologist $40.00
Eye Certification (CERF) - 2nd year Results sent to CERF for certification - Resubmissions are lower fee $10.00
Total ............................ $485.00

Hip X-ray A few additional tests were also done. During the routine physical exam, our veterinarian also did a cardiac exam by asculation (no additional charge). The exam was submitted to OFA for certification at a cost of $15.00 (dog must be at least 12 months of age for cardiac certification). At the same time as the Hip examination was done, an elbow evaluation was also done. This is a good time to check elbows as the cost of adding on to an existing procedure is much less than doing two procedures separately. The Hip exam cost appears high; but keep in mind that this includes chemical sedation often recommended for proper positioning, the radiograph plates, the procedure itself and a submission charge. An extra plate for X-ray cost us about $50.00. The fee for elbow certification, when sent in with hips, is only an additional $5.00. The dog must be at least 24 months of age for elbow certification. A certification request for LCP (Legg Calve Perthes) was sent in at the same time. This can be read from the same X-ray as hips, and so there is no additional charge for certification when they are sent in together or if the LCP is subsequently requested from an existing Hip X-ray. OFA is only one option for hip evaluation, OVC, GDC, and Penn Hip are others. The costs for our additional three tests were only $70. This total cost of $525 covered the 4 tests required for Havanese to be assigned a CHIC number (CERF, BAER, Hips and Patellas), the annual recertification for eyes and also included the additional tests of Cardiac, Elbows and LCPD. These are actual costs incurred for one two year old Havanese in 2007-2008. Prices of course can vary depending on your location and veterinary clinic. Costs for individual tests may also be lower or higher when done at designated clinics. Certification costs are fixed but do occasionally have small increases.

Not everyone chooses to certify their health tests. My question is "Why Not"? The cost is really not that high and there is significant value in certification. You get a certificate of proof that the health tests were done and the test results can be accessed publicly for verification which is helpful for serious puppy inquiries and for anyone doing breed research. It is also much easier to send a certification number which can be verified rather than having to find and scan in results from forms that may be difficult to read or understand. To me, not certifying is like skipping the final step.

Eye test certification is only good for a period of one year so this test needs to be done annually. A yearly routine physical exam is wise. It may also be a good idea to check patellas and have a cardiac asculation done at every routine physical exam. The basic health testing on one breeding dog plus 5-6 years of ongoing testing and re-certification where appropriate still adds up to less than the selling price of one pet/companion puppy! Additional testing if desired beyond the basics will come at additional cost, but even so, the total costs of health testing are not nearly as exorbitant as some would have you believe.

Testing cannot eliminate all problems but does contribute to minimizing them. The health of future generations of Havanese may depend on it. Can you afford to health test? The real question may be "can you afford not to?"