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Planning Ahead for DNA Health Testing

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Sometimes planning for litters just before or during the holiday season happens depending on when your dam decides to go into season. Savvy breeders, especially those who like to plan ahead, take advantage of setting up a health testing timeline to keep breeding goals on track by buying Embark for Breeders Dog DNA Kits in quantity and even purchasing gift cards to help budget costs throughout the year.  

 

Genetic Health Testing 

The beauty of DNA testing is it can be the first test in the health testing timeline for potential breeding stock because you can test puppies as early as 2-weeks-old. It’s important to identify what breed-relevant genetic conditions your puppy may be a carrier of or at-risk for. Once genetic testing is done, puppies then have to grow and mature before many other phenotypic health screenings come later in life, depending on the breed, before a final decision can be made on keeping a puppy in your breeding program.  

Fortunately, the holiday season is packed with some of the best pricing of the year for dog DNA kits. One question that breeders ask is When Should I Order a DNA Kit? especially when having a litter. Ordering kits once you know how many puppies are in a litter may come with a tight turnaround time with mailing kits, testing, and then returning kits for processing all before the puppies are ready to go to their new homes. 

If you are an active breeder, you may need upwards of 20 dog DNA kits throughout the year.  Buying in quantity lowers the price of the kits, and during the holidays, Embark offers sale pricing. This way swabs will be at the ready when needed to test those 2-week-old puppies to find the one you want to keep with the best genetic profile. 

Swabs don’t expire for more than a year so keeping them around won’t degrade them. If you prefer to order as you need them then plan ahead with a gift card to yourself. When you cover the cost up front you reduce the need to budget for them throughout the year, in addition to other litter expenses. It’s easy to use an Embark gift card toward the purchase of DNA kits. 

Phenotype Health Screenings 

Once genetic health tests are performed, breeders can address other phenotypic tests on the health testing timeline since these tests require dogs to be several months to a year or older for final certification. There are many health screenings, and it’s important as a breeder to educate yourself on breed-specific issues as well as wider canine health concerns. 

Major areas of testing include hips, elbows, patellas, eyes, heart, and ears. The best resource to check for tests that are breed-specific and for all dogs is the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals. They have the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) which lists participating breeds and their AKC parent club recommendations for mandatory and optional health tests. Embark also offers an OFA Submission Report that is downloaded from your dog’s online profile with all your dog’s genetic results that are OFA registrable, along with a link to the OFA Application for DNA Based Genetic Database

Genetic health testing is just the beginning of the health testing timeline, and one part of a holistic approach to screening dogs for health prior to breeding. Embark for Breeders Dog DNA Kits can provide breeders with the tools they need to conduct genetic health testing by breed. By having enough Embark for Breeders Dog DNA Kits on hand when you need them, you can focus your energy on what matters most — playing with your puppies! 

Want to learn more about dog DNA testing? Here are the Top 5 Reasons to DNA Test Before You Breed

 

Lisa Peterson Contributor

Award-winning writer, journalist, and podcast host, Lisa Peterson, is a canine subject matter expert and Senior Content Strategist, Breeder/Veterinarian 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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