Orion Is Removed From The Breeding Program
April 2005

I’ve been trying to write this post for two weeks now. It’s one of the hardest posts I’ll ever have to write. However, I’m writing it, because I feel I need to share this information with you, as it is important to our breed.

I’m removing Orion from our breeding program. My dream to breed him has come to an end. From the time I had to remove Orion from the show ring, because of his ears failing to go up, I’ve wondered if he should be bred at all. Because of our gene pool being so small, I felt that if he passed all his other health tests, maybe he could contribute to the breed if bred to a bitch with strong, small ears. It is not to be.

When Orion turned one year old, I had his hips done by OFA. The report came back Mild Hip Dysplasia due to subluxation in his right hip. I felt this wasn’t too bad, as we know our breed tends to have loose hips as pups, and they tend to tighten as they grow. So, I decided to wait until he was 2 and repeat the x-rays.

At one year of age, I also had him tested for OFA cardiac certification. He passed and received an OFA cardiac certification number. But, the exam showed he has a heart murmur. This, I didn’t like at all. And, even though several breeders told me it would probably be nothing, I decided I would repeat this test when he turned 2 also.

Well, the tests were repeated, and they weren’t what I had hoped they would be. He did pass his OFA elbows and Thyroid, both are normal. However, his two year OFA hips showed Mild Hip Dysplasia, due to subluxation, this time in the left hip. I went ahead and did a PennHIP also, as I wanted to know what that test would show. His left hip was 0.50 and his right hip 0.52. This would put him in the Still Permissible category.

The cardiac test is the one that broke my heart. I repeated his cardiac echocardiogram and it showed that the valve leak he had at one year of age has gotten slightly worse. It put him right over the high normal, no longer qualifying him for cardiac certification. The high normal for blood flow through his aortic valve is 1.7. He was right under that at one year, he is now 2.15. The cardiologist told me he has a valve leak, does not have SAS, and will be able to lead a normal life. He doubts the valve leak will get worse. Orion has no restrictions, and will be able to continue sheep herding. However, if he was bred, he could produce SAS in his offspring. My heart just broke when I heard this, especially since I had just had him checked by one of his vets, who didn’t hear a heart murmur at all!

I know some here have been talked about and vilified by the splinters for sharing problems about your dogs. I felt I had to take the chance, because it was more important for you to have this information. I will be neutering Orion. I’m just so glad that I had him tested before I bred him! I am horrified to think what could have happened if I had gone ahead and bred him without testing him first! I may have gotten lucky, and bred him to a bitch with no heart problems. But, that would have just created a bunch of carrier puppies. Or, I could have had my regular luck, and bred him to another bitch with an unknown heart murmur, and produced a litter with one or more SAS puppies. The thought just makes me sick!

I know it will be mandatory to have all dogs tested for hips, elbows and heart starting next year. I think this is a great move for our breed, especially as we try to achieve FCI recognition. I urge you all to not wait until it becomes mandatory! I urge you to test all your dogs now! I know many of you have already tested your dogs, and I highly commend you for doing so! But for those who haven’t: Can you afford not to? Can you afford to replace puppies from the litters you are producing if they have SAS? Can you explain to your broken hearted puppy buyers, if they end up with a puppy with SAS, why you bred your dog without testing him/her? I know these are harsh questions. And I know even if your dogs are tested, and are healthy, health problems can still be produced. That’s Orion; he just got a very bad roll of the genetic dice. However, I feel we should all do all we can, and strive to breed the healthiest dogs we can!



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