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Genetic Health Testing for Standard Poodles


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Embark for Breeders offers seven breed-specific genetic health tests for the Standard Poodle among the 250+ genetic health conditions for which Embark tests. Breeders can easily share breed-specific Embark DNA test results on parents or puppies with the one-page DNA Health Summary report.   

Genetic health testing is an integral part of a responsible dog breeding program. When using genetic health testing, it is important for breeders to educate themselves about concepts such as modes of inheritance, penetrance, prevalence, and phenotype for a specific variant (mutation) in your breed to apply test results. Breeders also need to know which variants are causing health concerns in their breed, and which health conditions currently have no genetic test available. This handy search function by breed or health condition can show breeders which DNA tests Embark provides. 

Embark for Breeders DNA tests for the Standard Poodle include the following conditions. The health condition percentages based on clear, carrier, and at-risk status presented on common, rare, and very rare genetic risk factors are based on a subset of dogs within the Embark database and do not necessarily represent all dogs of this breed. While we are not able to provide specific population numbers at this time, we believe the data provided here to be sufficient to inform on current trends within the North American population of Standard Poodles. 

Common genetic health risk factors <95% clear rate

There is one common genetic condition based on Embark data in the Standard Poodle, with less than 95% of dogs testing clear. 

Degenerative Myelopathy, DM (SOD1A)

The dog equivalent of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, DM is a progressive degenerative disorder of the spinal cord. Because the nerves that control the hind limbs are the first to degenerate, the most common clinical signs are back muscle wasting and gait abnormalities. The mode of inheritance is recessive. 

* SOD1A vs SOD1B

Please note: While we test for the SOD1A variant, we do not test for the SOD1B (Bernese Mountain Dog type) variant at this time. Degenerative Myelopathy genotype results apply only to SOD1A.

  • Based on Embark-tested Standard Poodles that have opted into research, here’s a snapshot of the breed today: 93.9% of dogs tested clear, 5.9% tested carrier, and 0.1% at risk, for Degenerative Myelopathy, DM (SOD1A)

Citations:  Awano et al 2009, Shelton et al 2012, Capuccio et al 2014 

Rare genetic health risk factors 95-99% clear rate

These are the rare genetic conditions in the Poodle, from most to least prevalent, with 95% to 99% of dogs testing clear. 

Chondrodystrophy and Intervertebral Disc Disease, CDDY/IVDD, Type I IVDD

Type I Intervertebral Disc Disease (IVDD) is a back/spine issue that is a health condition affecting the discs that act as cushions between vertebrae. With Type I IVDD, affected dogs can have a disc event that ruptures or herniates towards the spinal cord. This pressure on the spinal cord causes neurologic signs ranging from a wobbly gait to impairment of movement. 

Chondrodystrophy (CDDY) refers to the relative proportion between a dog’s legs and body, wherein the legs are shorter and the body longer. Multiple variants can cause a markedly chondrodystrophic appearance, as observed in Dachshunds and Corgis. However, this particular variant is the only one known to also increase the risk for IVDD. The mode of inheritance is dominant. This is a linkage test.*


DNA sequences that are close together on a chromosome tend to be inherited together. Because of this, we can use genetic variation surrounding a specific variant (i.e. “linked” to it) to infer the presence or absence of a variant linked to a health condition or trait. Linkage tests are not as predictive of your dog’s true genotype as direct assays, which we use on most other genetic conditions we test for.

Research indicates that dogs with one or two copies of this variant have a similar risk of developing IVDD. However, there are some breeds (e.g. Beagles and Cocker Spaniels, among others) where this variant has been passed down to nearly all dogs of the breed, and most do not show overt clinical signs of the disorder. 

 Citations: Brown et al 2017, Batcher et al 2019

Progressive Retinal Atrophy, prcd (PRCD Exon 1)

PRA-prcd is a retinal disease that causes progressive, non-painful vision loss. The retina contains cells, called photoreceptors, that collect information about light and send signals to the brain. There are two types of photoreceptors: rods, for night vision and movement, and cones, for day vision and color. This type of PRA leads to early loss of rod cells, leading to night blindness before day blindness. The mode of inheritance is recessive. 

  • Based on Embark-tested Standard Poodles that have opted into research, here’s a snapshot of the breed today: 98.2% of dogs tested clear, 1.6% tested carriers, and <0.1% tested at-risk for Progressive Retinal Atrophy, prcd. 

Citations: Zangerl et al 2006

Von Willebrand Disease Type I, Type I vWD (VWF)

Von Willebrand Disease (vWD) is a type of coagulopathy, a disorder of blood clotting. vWD is characterized into three types based on clinical severity, serum levels of vWF, and vWF multimer composition. Dogs with Type I vWD have low vWF levels, normal multimer composition, and variable clinical signs. This blood disease has a recessive mode of inheritance.  

  • Based on Embark-tested Standard Poodles that have opted into research, here’s a snapshot of the breed today: 98.3% of dogs tested clear, 1.6% tested carriers, and <0.1% tested at-risk for Von Willebrand Disease Type I, Type I vWD (VWF)

Citations: Brooks et al 2001

Neonatal Encephalopathy with Seizures, NEWS (ATF2)

ATF2 is a DNA-binding protein that mediates the cellular response to DNA damage. It has been linked to various diseases, including NEWS; notably, mice deficient in ATF2 have neurologic deficits like NEWS puppies. This disorder has a recessive mode of inheritance. 

  • Based on Embark-tested Standard Poodles that have opted into research, here’s a snapshot of the breed today: 98.8% of dogs tested clear, and 1.1% tested as carriers, for Neonatal Encephalopathy with Seizures, NEWS (ATF2)

Citations: Chen et al 2008

Very rare genetic health risk factors >99% clear rate

The following genetic conditions have a greater than 99% clear rate and are considered very rare genetic diseases in the Standard Poodle. 

GM2 Gangliosidosis (HEXB, Poodle Variant)

GM2 Gangliosidosis is a disease with a recessive mode of inheritance. A lysosome is a structure within the cell that digests and removes waste. When the lysosome cannot recycle waste properly, the waste accumulates and causes the cell to die. This form of lysosomal storage disease (gangliosidosis) is caused by a build-up of a fatty substance known as ganglioside, especially in cells of the nervous system.

Citations: Rahman et al 2012

Osteochondrodysplasia, Skeletal Dwarfism (SLC13A1, Poodle Variant)

As a fetus, most of the body’s bones start as cartilage models of themselves. Over time, the cartilage is replaced with the bones your dog is born with. Dogs affected with osteochondrodysplasia have a mutation in the SLC13A1 gene, which codes for a protein that transports minerals into the developing bone. Defects in this gene disrupt the cartilage-to-bone transition, leading to inappropriate skeletal development.

Citations: Neff et al 2012

With seven known conditions in the Standard Poodle, this is evidence that genetic disorders are of concern within the breed and other conditions are likely to be identified in the future. By DNA testing your Poodle with Embark, you can help accelerate more novel discoveries to help your breed and all dogs. 

Canine Health and Breed Resources 

Poodle Club of America

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA)

OFA Canine Health Information Center (CHIC)

OFA-CHIC Health Testing Requirements for the Standard Poodle


      Hip Dysplasia 

      Eye Examination 

Health Electives

      Autoimmune Thyroiditis

      Sebaceous Adenitis 

      Standard Congenital Cardiac Exam

      Advanced Cardiac Exam

      Basic Cardiac Exam

Remember, genetic health testing is not a diagnosis of a disease. Please consult your veterinarian for any health issues with your dog. To start your DNA testing journey, explore Embark for Breeders Dog DNA Kits. 


Lisa Peterson Contributor

Award-winning writer, journalist, and podcast host Lisa Peterson is a canine subject matter expert and Content Strategy Lead at Embark Veterinary. She served as the American Kennel Club director of communications and club communications for 10 years before becoming a Westminster Kennel Club public relations consultant from 2016 to 2021. Lisa began owning, breeding, and handling Norwegian Elkhounds more than 35 years ago, and today is an AKC judge and AKC Breeder of Merit.

Read more about Lisa Peterson

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