In an effort to preserve this amazing breed and provide outstanding family members I will only breed dogs that have passed my high health standards. Each of my dogs are screened for genetically linked diseases (described below) through Paw Print Genetics and Vet Gen labratories.
After my dogs turn 2 years old I have their hips and elbows x-rayed and sent to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) to be inspected for any sign of dysplasia and will only breed dogs that have been cleared. The passing scores for hips are Excellent, Good, and Fair. Passing elbows are rated as Normal.
An OFA thyroid panel is run several times throughout my dogs’ lives to continually check for normal function. Thyroid panels are run at years 2, 3, 4, and 6.
Irish Setters are prone to vision problems from mid to late life, aside from the genetic tests I run on each dog, I also do annual eye screening through the OFA.
Puppy health starts long before conception! Dam and Sire are health tested as mentioned above and vet checked for any non-genetic health concerns prior to breeding. The Dam is kept on a supplement to support fetal health and is checked by my vet at days 30 and 55 to ensure the pregnancy is progressing without complications.
Puppies are monitored around the clock for the first 2 weeks as this is their most vulnerable period, weights are checked twice a day and room temperature constantly monitored.
The puppies are placed on a deworming schedule of 3, 5, 7, and 9 weeks using 2 separate types of dewormer. All puppies can be born with worms due to larva laying dormant in the Dam, unaffected by regular deworming and becoming active again during pregnancy. This is why a strict deworming schedule for ALL Dams and pups is vital.
Why do puppies need multiple rounds of vaccinations?
At the time of birth the puppies first meal from mom is rich with Colostrum. Colostrum contains a concentration of antibodies from the Dam which protects the puppies young bodies from communicable illnesses. These antibodies wear off at varying rates based on the individual puppy and Dam but have been known to last as long as 18 weeks! More common though, is 8-14 weeks. Vaccinations need to be administered near the time that the matenal antibodies are low in order for the vaccine to stimulate the puppy's immune system to start producing it's own antibodies, this is the reason for multiple boosters, to try to catch the immune system when the maternal antibodies are wearing off.
I administer the first vaccine at 8 weeks of age and use a modified live virus for Parvo and Distemper. I suggest the puppy receive 2 follow up vaccines from their new vet at ages 12 weeks and 16 weeks. I do NOT suggest any other vaccines until the puppy is 8 Months old, which is the earliest I suggest giving the Rabies vaccine. Irish Setters are one of the breeds at high risk of H.O.D.
A Painful Condition In Puppies HOD usually affects puppies from 2-8 months old, the period of rapid growth. The cause of HOD isn’t entirely known but there have been higher occurances of HOD in puppies that have been heavily vaccinated during the at risk period as well as puppies on a high protein diet. In many cases there are no lasting side affects but in severe cases there may be perminent damage to the bones and joints. For this reason we strongly suggest following a conservative vaccine schedule and waiting until 8 months of age before giving the Rabies vaccine. For nutritional prevention advice please click HERE
So what DNA tests do we screen for and what are they?
We screen for PRA-Rcd1, PRA-Rcd4, CLAD, GLD, DM, and vWD
PRA = Progressive Retinal Atrophy, a recessive diseases which leads to progressive blindness with type 1 being early onset and type 4 being mid to late life onset. As a recessive trait a puppy must have 2 copies of the gene in order to be affected, a puppy with 0 or 1 copies will be unaffected. None of my dogs to date have carried this gene.
CLAD = Canine Leukocyte Adhesion Deficiency, type 1. This is a recessive immunodeficiency disorder which causes a severely impaired immune system. Affected dogs (2 copies of the gene) usually develop symptoms shortly after birth and have recurrent infections throughout life. None of my dogs to date have carried this gene.
GLD = Globoid cell leukodystrophy. This is another recessive trait, requiring 2 copies to be affected. Affected dogs are normal at birth but at about 3 to 6 months of age, these dogs show signs of muscle weakness and uncoordinated movement due to abnormal accumulations of fatty myelin bi-products affecting the ability of certain nervous cells to make myelin. None of my dogs to date have carried this gene.
DM = Degenerative Myelopathy which is a recessive gene common to most dog breeds. Not all dogs with 2 copies have proven to be symptomatic but 2 copies do greatly increase risk. This disease affects the central nervous system through degeneration of spinal material leading to paralysis. The average age of onset is 9 years. None of my dogs to date have carried this gene.
vWD = Von Willebrand Disease. vWD is a bleeding disorder caused by a lack of clotting protein. This recessive gene is documented to the breed but uncommon. Dogs with 2 copies have the potential to have bleeding problems so carrier status is important to know prior to any surgeries. None of my dogs to date have carried this gene.