The way to assure, as much as possible, that the dogs we breed will be fit and healthy is testing the parents, their siblings, former ancestors and previous offspring against inherited diseases known to exist in the breed, study their lines' genetics and plan every litter taking all that information into account. In the absence of genetic tests, so far non-existing, this is the safest procedure in order to reduce the odds of the puppies inheriting problems. In the Estrela Mountain Dog, the most common is hip dysplasia, an incapacitating disorder, but dilated cardiomyopathy, a lethal disease, is not rare.
Our dogs are screened against genetic disorders:
Hip and elbow dysplasias
X-rays by Prof. Mário Ginja (UTAD, Vila Real)
or by Dr. Ana Santana
(at Universidade Lusófona, Lisbon)
Ultrasounds and electrocardiograms by Prof. José Paulo Sales Luís
(Instituto Veterinário do Parque and Lisbon University's College of Veterinary Medicine)
or by Prof. Luís Lima Lobo
(Hospital Veterinário do Porto).
This is a fundamental step in order to control those problems, since it tells us if our dogs are normal or affected; however, even if they’re normal, those exams do not give us any clue about our dogs’ genetic make-up – in other words, if they are, or not, carriers for bad genes that might be passed on to their offspring, which might turn out affected. In order to get that information, which will allow us to more effectively control genetic problems, we have to:
know our dogs’ bloodlines well enough, and also the ones of the dogs we use at stud;
get to know if such problems exist in those lines;
check on those problems’ mode of inheritance, as to understand which type of genes are responsible for them;
research and gather as much possible information on every single dog related to those lines, namely as far as genetic defects and diseases are concerned;
check on how every dog we bred is developing and if they have those problems (we ask their owners to perform screening tests);
sometimes, test-mate our dogs, always heading for the betterment of the breed, but also allowing us to know if they are, or not, carriers for a certain defective gene or trait – and that will allow us to plan safer matings in the future.
Therefore, as we plan every litter, we gather as much information about the bitch and the dog as possible, their parents and further ancestors, full brothers and sisters, half brothers and sisters, offspring, etc. – as far as their temperament, health and morphology are concerned. We always aim for each litter to achieve all of these 3 targets. As a rule, we don’t use at breeding dogs or bitches that are affected by serious problems,due to the high risk of their progeny to also become affected or be a carrier for those genes. However, we might eventually breed from dogs with slight or easily solved problems (undershot bite, entropion, slight dysplasia, and others), that will not affect their life quality nor mean a high risk for their progeny to be affected – as long as they’re also carriers or showing typical traits that might benefit the breed.
Our dogs are tested by some of the best specialists
and we present the reports to our