In general, the Black Russian Terrier is a healthy, robust dog. Like many large breed dogs, they are prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. Like all dogs, they can have other health problems. It is important to ask questions about each dog or puppy you are considering for your family. Remember, there is no perfect dog. Every dog will have some health problem in its lifetime. Even the best breeders and best parings may produce some puppies that have problems. Breeders make the best selections they can based on known risks. Genetics play a part as does environment. Everyone’s goal is to produce a happy, healthy dog that possesses the best Black Russian Terrier traits and characteristics.
The AKC Parent Club, the Black Russian Terrier Club of America, (www.brtca.org)recommends testing dogs for
· Hip Dysplasia screening by radiographs (x-rays) after 24 months of age.
· Elbow Dysplasia screening by radiographs (x-rays) after 24 months of age.
· Cardiac Evaluation after 12 months of age (puppies should already be screen by auscultation before they go to their new homes).
· Companion Eye Certification (CARE) by an Ophthalmologist.
· DNA testing for Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis & Polyneuropathy (JLPP).
· DNA testing for color including K locus (Dominant lack) and A locus (Agouti).
A CHIC number (Canine Health Information Center http://www.caninehealthinfo.org/) is assigned to each dog whose test results are made public in the OFA database. You may hear breeders talking about CHIC numbers because they are proud that they’ve completed all of the recommended tests. Look closely at the wording … they COMPLETED the tests; this does not mean the dog PASSED all of the health screenings. For this reason, it is important to look at the OFA database yourself – take no one’s word for it. Even if you see official “OFA Certificates”, please look for yourself. If you need help navigating the OFA database, ask for it. There is no substitute for doing this. Go to www.ofa.org
In addition to the above mentioned tests, there are other tests and screenings that breeders may do. Additional information is always useful. Screenings that you may see are:
· Hyperuricosuria (HU)
· Degenerative myelopathy (DM)
There many resources/tools for finding the right breeder, so I won’t go over that subject. However, I do recommend that you talk to a minimum of 3 breeders. Choose a breeder whose puppy raising philosophy and health testing most closely compliments the expectations you have for your future puppy.
In recent years, genetic color testing became a requirement for completing CHIC testing. While genetic color may not have a direct tie to a health condition, it is still be important to preserving the integrity of the breed. After consulting with geneticists, researchers, and world renowned experts in the Black Russian Terrier, it was determined that the only acceptable color for this breed shall be black. Non-black pigment has been associated with temperament instability. Color testing will help breeders produce puppies that most closely resemble the standard, which is a black dog. Non-black dogs may be registered (they are still purebred), and they may compete in companion sports. Non-black dogs may not compete in the AKC conformation show ring. Non-black coloring is a disqualification.
Dentition is a confusing “test.” It is not a test at all, but rather it is an exam. A veterinarian counts the dog’s teeth and notes any missing teeth. Dentition does not guarantee the scissors bite which is required in the breed standard. There are numerous other DNA tests and other screenings that may have no significant role in the breed at all. Ear infections, hot spots, environmental allergies, food allergies, digestive problems are all problems in the breed. Ask about these problems in the breeding pair so you have an idea of what you may expect in a puppy. Not all of these conditions are related to the breeding pair or the breeder. Allergies and sensitivities can develop as a result of numerous environmental conditions. Ear infections and hot spots may be environmental or may be related to grooming and/or housekeeping.