Lets get straight to the point… A “YES” or “NO” answer to these questions can map the entire course of life with your cocker spaniel. And these are the questions you really need to ask the breeder even before you meet a puppy. Because once you see him, the answer may not seem important anymore.
So if you come across an ad for a litter and are eager to run and choose a puppy, ask the breeder if BOTH PUPPY PARENTS ARE HEALTH TESTED.
Health testing doesn’t simply mean that the dam and sire saw a vet for vaccinations & health check. Any dog used for breeding must also undergo specific tests to determine whether or not they carry genes for certain conditions that can affect English cockers.
The mandatory list includes…
…PRA (progressive retinal atrophy), a condition that leads to blindness if the dog carries a defective gene;
…FN (Familial Nephropathy), a disease that affects structure of the kidneys and causes kidney failure;
Plus four more conditions that breeders can test for are…
… AMS (Acral Mutilation Syndrome) characterised to localised insensitivity to pain, which causes dog lick or bite his legs and paws until lesions and ulcers appear. Amputation is the outcome;
… AON (Adult Onset Neuropathy), a neurological disease that causes inability to control limbs movement resulting in full disability by the age of 7.5-9.
… Hip Dysplasia, an abnormal development of the hip socket;
… Gonioscopy to screen for glaucoma.
According to test results, the dogs can be “clear”, “carrier”, or “affected”. The affected dogs must not be bred for. The carrier mixed with a clear dog will not develop a disease, but will pass an affected gene to half of the puppies.
Personally, I prefer parents who are both tested “clear”. Unless a breeder can confirm that his puppies are from tested dogs AND show you original certificates as a proof, do not commit to getting a pup from him. You may be lucky and the puppy will live a long happy life, but you’re running a risk of heart aches, seeing your dog deteriorating, and paying out huge sums to cover vet bills.
Ask for certificates, check the record against the Mate Select register available via The Kennel Club, and if everything is good, get ready to meet that scrumptious puppy!