All dogs whether purebred or crossbred carry genetic diseases. Some of the advantages of purebred dogs are those diseases are predictable and ethical breeders test for genetic diseases and try to eliminate those genetic diseases from their breeding program. The genetic diseases in crossbred dogs are unpredictable because they can include all the genetic diseases from all the breeds in their backgrounds. And the vast majority of crossbred dog breeders do not test for genetic diseases so do not know what diseases their dogs carry and do not try to eliminate those disease genes from their gene pool.
I am committed to breed dogs that are free of all inherited diseases and that have excellent structure, temperament and breed type, in that order. The inherited diseases in Pembrokes are Hip and Elbow Dysplasia, inherited eye diseases, Degenerative Myelopathy (DM), Patent Ductus Arteriosis (PDA) and von Willabrands Disease (vWD). Right now, from the inquiries I get, DM is the disease most people are concerned with. But I would like to remind people that DM is just one disease in Pembrokes and the other genetic diseases are as important and as disabling as DM. I strongly suggest you Google all these diseases and learn their affect, progression and mode of inheritance. I test for and do not breed any dogs that are affected with these inherited diseases. Genetic health testing is different from passing those tests and testing is different from not breeding affected dogs. Many breeders advertise they test for inherited diseases but they still breed their affected/non-passing dogs. Sort of like people testing for COVID, finding out they are infected but still not wearing masks or self-isolating.
The genetic diseases in Cardigans are Hip and Elbow Dysplasia and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). Other inherited eye diseases and Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) are very rare but exist.
All our dogs that are certified free of Hip Dysplasia by PennHip or OFA, cleared of hereditary eye diseases by a Board Certified Veterinary Ophthalmologist and tested for cardiac diseases by Echo Cardiograms. Our Cardigans come from pedigrees that do not carry the PRA gene. And our Pembrokes are tested for the VWD gene.
In Pembrokes, 60% are homozygous for the DM gene (At Risk), 35% are heterozygous DM (Carriers) and only 5% are DM Clears. The symptomatic DM disease is only manifested in the homozygous form – At Risk. Unfortunately, except for three dogs, all DM Clear champion Pembroke stud dogs carry/are affected by one or more of the other Pembroke genetic diseases. Approximately 10,000 Pembrokes are registered every year by AKC so if all Pembroke breeders bred to the same 3 DM Clear champion stud dogs we would be in a genetic dead-end very quickly. So we have to breed to DM Carrier and DM At Risk dogs to keep the gene pool open.
In addition to breeding out DM from my Pembrokes, I am the only breeder anywhere who clears all their dogs and puppies from Patent Ductus Arteriosis “PDA” with Echo Cardiograms. PDAs are commonly referred to as Puppy Heart Murmurs. Significant PDAs can be found by Auscultations (stethoscope) but very small PDAs can only be found by Echo Cardiograms. In most breeds, puppies gradually grow out of a Puppy Heart Murmur but in Pembrokes many of those heart murmurs remain and can disable the dog as an adult. Unfortunately, there is no DNA test for PDAs, we can only test if the puppy has a PDA. We do not have a test to see if a dog carries the gene(s) for PDAs. The mode of inheritance is unknown.
Cardigans do not suffer from PDAs and very rarely have DM. However, my Cardigans are tested for both DM and PDAs. PDAs are tested by Echo Cardiograms.
We have over 40 dogs cleared of Hip Dysplasia on the OFA database. Both our Cardigans and Pembrokes have at least 8 generations of cleared hips along the maternal line. Which means we have more generations of cleared hips in our Cardigans than any other breeder in the country. I can show you all the health certifications for all the generations of my Pembroke and Cardigan breedings. Whoever you buy from, your puppy will reflect all the health qualification breeding decisions that breeder has made