Nancy M. Bromberg, VMD, MS DACVO

Almost every pure-bred dog, as well as mixes like Goldendoodles, Labradoodles, Puggles, etc. have inherited or breed-related problems. Some of these problems are ocular, like cataracts. Others can be orthopedic, like hip dysplasia, cardiac, or skin diseases.

So, how do you find a healthy puppy? While there is no way to absolutely guarantee that a puppy will never develop a breed-related issue, there are steps that many responsible breeders take to ensure that they are breeding the healthiest puppies possible.

“Health-tested parents for healthier puppies” is the motto of the OFA.  OFA originally Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, is now known as the Canine Health Information Center, the world’s largest repository of genetic information for dogs.

The Companion Animal Eye Registry (CAER) examination was previously known as the “CERF” examination, is done only by board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists. The examination is to identify any eye problems, and then determining if they are considered inherited in origin. Certain eye diseases, such as cataracts, retinal diseases, glaucoma or keratoconjunctivitis sicca (dry eye) among others eliminates the dog from breeding. Some problems are considered “breeder option”, those that are present but are not vision threatening, like extra lases, entropion (rolling in of the lids), or “cherry eye”.  With many ophthalmic diseases the genetic marker has been identified and can be tested for.

The OFA also evaluates hip and elbow radiographs, and keeps registries for cardiac evaluations, and thyroid screenings. Each breed has recommended clearances. These can be found at

So, when you decide on the breed you want, make sure you find a reputable breeder, that does all the health clearances recommended for the breed. You can request to see the certificates issued by the OFA that these clearances have been done and the breeding stock has been found clear of any inherited eye, orthopedic, heart and thyroid disease

Amanda Brown