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Labradors are susceptible to hip dysplasia as well as other joint problems. All breeding stock should be x-rayed and certified clear of hip dysplasia by OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals).

Labradors are also at risk for several eye problems including: PRA ( Progressive Retinal Atrophy), cataracts, and retinal dysplasia. All breeding stock should be examined annually by a board certified veterinary ophthalmologist. Most responsible breeders will turn that evaluation in to CERF for tracking of various eye problems in the breed and thus have a CERF number for their dog, good for one year. You should ask to see a copy of the paperwork that is turned in to CERF, though, because this form will report on other things that may not deny the dog a CERF number but could be of further interest.

Breeders are beginning to recognize a new problem in the Labrador breed, a defect of the heart termed Tricuspid Valve Dysplasia. After a stud dog on the west coast produced a number of young puppies dying of this disease, he was tested and found with a very mild case, detectable only through an echocardiogram, an auscultation (stethescope) exam was not adequate. It is NOT known at present what the mode of inheritance of this disease is, or how widespread it is in the breed. Ask the breeders whether their dogs have been cleared by an echocardiogram. At the moment, very few dogs are so cleared as we know very little about this problem.

For whatever reason, Labradors appear to be especially prone to ruptured cruciate ligaments. This injury is usually sustained during some type of activity involving twisting the legs -- jumping to catch an object in mid-air, for example. Treatment involves any of a number of surgical options and extremely restricted activity for at least 6 weeks after surgery. It can take up to 6 months for performance dogs to fully rehabilitate.

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