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Building Stones

The science of genetics is a world with new opportunities for the breeder to improve the health of a bloodline. Decades of xrays and veterinary evaluations of both phenotype of the dog and Xray's, have been unsuccesful to eradicate the Hip Dysplasia problem. It is still prevelant and a challenge for a breeder to stay clear from. We have started research in the link of genetics, hip dysplasia and hip laxity several years ago. Breeding is like a puzzle and the more small pieces you can control, the higher the chance for healthy pups. There are never guarantees, but science is making small steps to help responsible breeders succeed.

The science of genetics and genome testing, epigenetics, are not yet fully accepted by the veterinary world, but in future one can not ignore it. Within the canine world genome testing is accepted by some though feared by others. Misinformation is often the culprit. Contact us at any time for more information.

DNA health tests are a combination of facts and fiction.

FACT is that these DNA tests from whatever laboratory you choose will be an asset to your breeding program. But don’t fall for the nice shop talk and the fancy website marketing. Research what you really need for your breeding program. I breed Malinois that have been mixed many generations ago. So it would be prudent to do DNA tests covering the shortcomings from any breed that is within my Malinois bloodline.
You also must not blindly follow everything a laboratory claims. For example, when I started applying the DNA test of VHL genetics on my dogs I was particularly interested in their Hiplaxity gene test. I tried to research their gene and their medical research findings but could not find anything. They claimed in 2017 that the hiplaxity gene had simple heritability. I asked them for their research, they apparently have a patent on this genetic test. But would not open their medical findings to the public. I had many discussion with a Dutch veterinarian who xrays thousands of dogs a year for hip quality. He said that that genetic test did not have more then maybe 2-5 % influence on the whole hip dysplasia problem. Finally now VHL genetics has adjusted their explanation for the hiplaxity test that it is a polygenetic trait and does NOT have simple heritability. They are finally honest about this specific test. You must be a critical thinker and not plainly believe what laboratories claim.

Breeders that claim that their dog , which has passed a DNA health test, is cleared from the diseases which they are tested for, is not accurate! This is fiction ! When breeders claim the above they misinform potential new puppy owners.

For example ; Embark quote about a heart disease gene test DCM 1 and DCM 2: “DCM2/DCM1… is incompletely penetrant, meaning that while having one or two copies of this mutation is thought to confer some increased risk of developing DCM, it is by no means predictive of disease. DCM is a highly complex disease that is modulated by many genetic factors, most unknown.
Which means the embark genetic test for the heart failure disease DCM does NOT predict whether or not the dog will get the disease or not.

Many diseases are multifactorial. Meaning that it takes different genes, mutations or other influences like hormones, if there is risk for the disease. You must use DNA testing in combination with Xray diagnostics , bloodline history and breed history.

For example diseases can also have a different level of heritability per breed. Some breeds even have their own gene for a specific disease in a DNA health test. Genes can be breed specific, so if your german shepherd dog carries the eye disease gene PRA connected to the Swedish vallhund, it still does not give you much information. You would then test for all 20+ ocular disease genes to get a real picture. PRA, progressive retina atrophy; each laboratory has a different approach to which ocular disease gene to test for your dog.





































Another example are the 7 single nucleotide polymorphisms SNP’s they found for the Labrador retriever in predicting hip dysplasia, yet this genetic test is not used for other breeds. 

Research in DNA also claims that the genetic picture for hip dysplasia can be different per breed, a very complex problem!! 








Lets analyze a couple DNA tests

When you do DNA tests for the Malinois in my opinion you must combine different tests. Only then you are thorough and use the DNA health testing to better your breeding program. Do not automatically remove carriers from your breeding program, and do not promise future puppy clients that fully screened and cleared pups are worth more then carriers.

DCM, Diluted Cardiomyopathy ….. The Embark laboratory has only DCM1 and DCM2 mutations in their test. But VHL genetics has DCM1, DCM2, DCM 3 available in their testing. DCM3 is specific for the schnauzer, so if you have a mixed breed with a schnauzer in the bloodline I would recommend you add DCM3 to your health testing. There is even a juvenile DCM , seen in portugese waterdogs that I have not yet found in any laboratory screening tests. 









SDCA, cerebellar ataxia …. VHL genetics has 5 tests to cover this disease, but Embark only tests the early onset cerebellar ataxia version.

VHL genetics is the only one having the hiplaxity and fbn2 tests, small pieces of the puzzle for hipdysplasia. No other laboratories have these.

NCL, Neuro ceroid lipofuscinosis, a central nervous system malfunction; Embark laboratories have the most extensive testing for NCL with 12 tests. Finland only has 5. VHL genetics has 8 versions but you will need to pay extra to test them all. 


Do your homework. Never claim your tested dog is free of disease because they are cleared in test results. True DNA health testing is more expensive than doing only one laboratory health package. You will need to use different tests to truly cover each angle of the DNA testing.


Propective Evaluation of a patended DNA test for CHD. (2017)

This 17-marker patended panel the most promising test for CHD so far....

Worldwide Screening for Canine HD; Where are we now? (2012)

40 Years of screening .... OFA/FCI/BVA/PennHip ... low interobserver agreement. Research has revealed 19 chromosomes responsible for HD...


Veterinairy research report on Hip Laxity  (2020)


For more information on genetics and our program

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