If you type in English Springer Spaniel or English Cocker Spaniel, or click on the link to see tests for dogs who are 'related' to your breed, you'll be happy (?)- or sad, I think -get a boatload of tests that you can pay to have done for your dog. WOW! I am thankful EVERY SINGLE DAY that we share our lives with a breed of dogs with comparatively healthy genes. Not to say we don't have our share of issues, and make no mistake about it, I intend to be first in line with my dogs if or when that epilepsy research ever pans out with a genetic test. But take a look at the diseases of related spaniel-like breeds-kidney disease, eye disease, exercise induced collapse, thrombocytopenia, PRA and on and on. Sheesh. Makes me glad those Welsh folks were so isolated and reclusive they didn't get involved with a lot of other breeds for centuries. Just remember, folks, while the health of our Welshies could be a LOT worse, there's always room for improvement in our own breed's health profile.
And on the subject of health, since I'm chairing the WSSCA Health Committee now, I'll make a plea or two to my friends and puppy owners and breeders. If we want to keep this breed healthy, then we need to TRACK the health of our dogs. That means we need to get the diagnostic (different from genetic) testing for thyroid and hips and elbows and eyes done that your breeder has asked for and maybe even written down for you on your dog purchase agreement. And it needs to be available to the public at large on the OFA web site, so we can find it and review it. While no one likes bad news, if you don't talk about the bad stuff, you can't make it turn into good stuff later on, when we can identify dogs who throw certain characteristics, or identify families of dogs with disorders. Each health report that's posted about a group of puppies in a litter becomes a building block of information for the next generation of dogs. It becomes vital for dog breeders who are looking for stud dogs with a propensity to throw healthy puppies. It becomes vital for dog buyers who want to a high performing agility dog who won't have to worry about elbow or hip dysplasia. It becomes important for the pet owner who doesn't want to pay for testing and medicine for thyroid disease for the dog's lifetime.
So please, folks, get that testing done! Remember to go to the vet for your dogs tests with a copy of all their AKC names and numbers, (hey, just type it up and keep it in your wallet for when you go to the vet!) and make sure the techs write the correct number on each sample for the thyroid tests and send them to the proper lab (like Michigan's) for evaluation and posting to OFA. And look for Eye Clinics in your area and take all your dogs, or find a vet certified by the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmology (ACVO). They are often affiliated with major vet schools in less populous areas of the country. And if you are going to a vet and not an eye clinic for eye exams, pay a bit extra for the gonioscopy test for glaucoma. While the Ophthalmology books are all listing WSS as having glaucoma, we know it is rarely seen in the US. But we are finding Welshies with the narrow iris to cornea angles that may be precursors of future glaucoma. There are certainly cases of glaucoma in Welshies diagnosed in the UK, and a small incidence here, too. And when the breeder emails you and says it's time for the hip and elbow tests, don't argue about the cost, just 'Get 'Er Done'. You knew about the cost when the breeder talked with you at the time you agreed to buy a puppy. It's really PENNIES A DAY that it costs you for the testing when you figure it all out. Do it because if you want your best friend to be healthy, you have to know if they are going to have problems with arthritis that could shorten their hunting career or their dock diving career or their lure coursing or agility or rally or obedience career. You won't know if you don't test...simple as that!
In other words, JUST DO IT! Get that TESTING DONE! I'm just sayin'-breeders need to know ALL this information-it's IMPORTANT to all of us who love this breed to be not only the caregivers for our dogs, but the guardians of their health-both in their genes and in their furry and warm and funny little bodies.
Till the next interesting sideline I click on that lets me get on a soapbox...