Are you looking for an IG puppy?
If you are, there are many things to consider. While many people focus on age, gender, and color when looking for an IG pup, it is really more important to consider the breeder of your future family member. Will the breeder stand behind you by taking the puppy back, at any time in its life, for any reason, if you are unable to care for it? If your pup will be a family pet and not a show dog, does the breeder require spay/neuter by a year of age? Will the breeder be there for you when you have questions? What if there is a medical problem? Will the breeder be honest about any relatives that have had similar problems, and perhaps save you time and money spent at the vet? Or does the breeder’s concern for you and your new baby end after your check has cleared? There are many questions to ask, none more important than those regarding health.
Unfortunately IG’s are plagued by their share of health problems. A health survey conducted in 2012 by the Van Andel Research Institute collected data on over 700 individual IG’s, and revealed that 15% have broken a leg, 14% have had one or more seizures, and 6% have had an autoimmune disease. The incidence of autoimmune problems in the breed is likely higher since the average age of onset of AI disease1 is around 8 years of age and most of the dogs from the survey were younger than eight. Other health problems include heritable lack of enamel (enamel hypoplasia) and other dental issues, progressive retinal atrophy, glaucoma, legges perthes disease, luxating patellas, and hypothyroidism. More detailed information on these health problems is provided elsewhere on this website.
The Italian Greyhound Club of America has a standard list of recommended health tests for all IG breeding stock. In order to receive CHIC certification, an IG needs to have the following health tests:
OFA Patella certification any time after 12 months of age
Screening OFA hip radiographs after 24 months of age
OFA thyroid profile at least once at age 3 or older
OFA or CERF eye exam – at least once at age three or older
Although a CHIC number can be obtained with only one eye exam at age 3 or older, the Italian Greyhound Club of America recommends annual eye exams for all breeding stock. In the past few years several DNA based genetic tests have become available to the fancy. These tests are for PRA, acute narrow angle glaucoma, and familial enamel hypoplasia. This means that breeders can now eliminate or dramatically reduce the incidence of these problems in their breeding program – if they use the tests.
Be an informed consumer when you are looking for your IG puppy. Ask questions about the health of the line. If the breeder states there are no health problems with their line – look elsewhere. A simple declaration of “no health problems” is just not realistic given the small gene pool and the reported incidence of health issues from those who are being honest. Also consider, what is the breeder’s reason for producing puppies – is it mainly financial? Or is it the overall betterment of the breed? Does this breeder have a history of keeping in touch with and helping their pet owners when they need it? Ask for references. And most importantly,ask to see Health Test Results! The best breeders in today’s world are using all that science has to offer to help them breed healthy dogs.
Layle Griffioen, DVM
IGCA Health Liaison