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Julie Borst Reed
Kirk S. Reed


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Poodles: Health Testing, Screening and Results

This report was compiled by J B Reed and permission is granted to repost.


Today, many Poodle Breeders looking to maintain the health expressed in their dogs produced are utilizing the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) health databases.  The Poodle Club of America, in cooperation with the AKC Canine Health Foundation and the OFA, has set the basic criteria of health screenings for each variety of Poodle in the Canine Health Information Center ’s (CHIC) program. The letters CHIC are noted behind the dogs that have these basic screenings registered publicly at the site.


It has now been five years since the Poodle breed has joined the CHIC program and there are currently –

211 Miniature Poodles designated as CHIC

1759 Standard Poodles designated as CHIC

And 114 Toy Poodles designated as CHIC

This means that these dogs have had the basic health screenings accomplished for their variety of Poodle.  The results still need to be studied by interested parties at the database, but the CHIC designation means pass or fail the certified test results are posted publicly at the database.  Most tests require that the dog has its permanent ID checked by the veterinarian and all must have the ID listed on the submittal form.  Positive ID can be tattoo or microchip.


It is vital for the breed to have open communication among breeders and average owners and/or prospective new owners concerning genetic diseases that have been known to develop in the breed.  It is important that tests are understood as to which diseases are preventable and which are not in the breed.  Dog breeders as well as the general public are becoming more aware of the OFA databases and the worth in documenting the health screenings for dogs and cats.  With increased participation, the real worth of these public databases will be noted within the breeds because of the better communication provided by the certified documentation placed on the database, thus availing the information for those that wish to study those results when making breeding and buying decisions..


The listing of a health screening or test is free if the disease is determined.  There is a small fee to list passing results.  These fees are in addition to the fees for the testing and should be looked on as a donation to the betterment of the breed by dedicated fanciers.   Yes it can become expensive when registering several dogs, but these databases are for better information/communication of not only what the dog of today is made of, but from whom the dogs of tomorrow may be descended.  There are reduced fees for multiple listings submitted at one time by one owner.


A common over-statement made today is to refer to all canine health testing and screenings for genetically-transmitted disease as “genetic testing.”  This can be misleading, as often those listening understand the statement to mean that a dog has completed genetic testing provided by DNA analysis for definitive answers.  The difference between screening hips at a particular age and a DNA test (that does not exist) for hip dysplasia  are very different,  Please learn and share the differences in the language of health screenings and genetic testing to better communicate among all interested.


Everyone is encouraged to consider making the effort to have your Poodle(s) qualify for the CHIC designation.   The following is an outline to introduce and discuss the CHIC program.


The basic criteria:

Miniature Poodles (1 test / 2 screenings)

1) Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) DNA Test

2) Eye Evaluation

3) Hip (Dysplasia) Evaluation


Standard Poodles (3 screenings minimum)

1) Hip (Dysplasia) Evaluation

2) Eye Evaluation

3) One or more of these screenings:

    a) Thyroid Evaluation

    b) Skin Evaluation (for Sebaceous Adenitis)

    c) Cardiac Evaluation


Toy Poodles (1 test / 2 screenings))

1) Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) DNA Test

2) Eye Evaluation

3) Patella Evaluation


The following list of the health/disease databases for Poodle owners to learn and know can be further studied at where much of the material included in this report has originated.  Please note that dogs used in breeding programs should absolutely be a part of these statistics tested and reported to the databases by the Fancy; included also should be any of their close relatives, show or pet dog status, breeding or non-breeding status.  Pictures added to the OFA database page for the individual dog add a special element of the actual Poodle and are always appreciated.


The many health screening and test clinics (often offering fees at a reduced rate) held across North America can be utilized by influential Breeders as well as any Poodle owner.  Nearly all dog breeds are now in the OFA databases (and even mixed breeds) but this report is a focus on the Poodle varieties: Miniature, Standard and Toy (M,S,T).  All dog owners are invited to take advantage of most of the clinics offered throughout North America and there is a regularly updated list of ‘where and when’ on OFA at: 

There is also an incredible list of clinics maintained by the Cavalier Fanciers at:


OFA Health Databases for Poodle Owners to Know –


CA = Cardiac – (M,S,T) Many congenital heart defects are thought to be genetically transmitted from parents to offspring; however, the exact modes of inheritance have not been precisely determined for all cardiovascular malformations.     Read more about the different types of heart screenings at   All Poodles should have at least  a Cardiac auscultation performed by a veterinarian with advanced training in the subspecialty of congenital heart disease,  Standard Poodles especially should have either that simple auscultation exam and the results registered or the more in depth study performed in an echocardiographic examination performed by a board-certified, veterinary cardiologist.   The echocardiographic exam’ is an elective test for Standard Poodle CHIC determination.

CERF =   Eyes  -  (M,S,T) The Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) records examination findings by board-certified veterinary ophthalmologists on examined dogs and includes any eye disease. Annual re-evaluation is recommended and you can verify current annual certification at . These test results will also appear on the OFA database if any other test results have been submitted to the OFA for the dog.   Every dog used for breeding should have these annual exams so that the dog can be evaluated for good eye health.  At this time, only one CERF exam during the dog’s life needs to be registered for each variety of Poodle to count towards CHIC determination.


DNA = currently 4 tests for Poodles with results eligible to be posted to the OFA database.

Study  because these tests are fairly definite, it would be wise to study these closely and test (especially breeding dogs) for any that apply. These are the current, definitive, genetic tests.  More tests will be added through the years.


Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) (S) is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease has an insidious onset typically between 8 and 14 years of age. It begins with a loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs. The affected dog will wobble when walking, knuckle over or drag the feet. The mutation that causes dogs to be at risk for developing DM has been identified and the test kit can be purchased through OFA at:  as is the DNA test below.


Neonatal Encephalopathy with Seizures (NEwS) (S) a previously undescribed, fatal developmental brain disease in an extensive family of Standard Poodles. The disease is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait, and most affected puppies die shortly after birth. With intensive nursing care, affected pups can be kept alive for a few weeks; however, none have survived past their fifth week. Scientists have recently mapped the disease locus, identified the mutant gene and the mutation causing the disease, and devised a DNA test which distinguishes normal, carrier, and affected Poodles.


Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) (M,T) is one eye condition which results in retinal degeneration and blindness in the affected dog...  Toy and Miniature Poodles can be genetically-susceptible to this disease and this DNA test is a requirement for CHIC determination in Toy and Miniature Poodles.  This DNA test is for the PRCD form of PRA.  This test is an absolute must-to-know the results on for the mates considered in Toy or Miniature Poodles. 

The OptiGen PRCD test is done on a small sample of blood from the dog. The test analyzes the specific DNA mutation causing PRCD-PRA. The OptiGen test detects the mutant, abnormal gene copy and the normal gene copy. The result of the test is a genotype and allows separation of dogs into three groups: Normal/Clear (homozygous normal), Carrier (heterozygous) and Affected (homozygous mutant).  This information is available at:


Possible results using the OptiGen PRCD test


Risk Group

Significance For Breeding

Risk of PRCD Disease

Homozygous Normal


Can be bred to any dog, extremely
low risk of producing affecteds

Extremely low



Should be bred only to Normal/
Clear to remove risk of producing

Extremely low

Homozygous Mutant


Should be bred only to Normal/
Clear to remove risk of producing

Very high

There are no OptiGen of “A,” “B,” or “C” ratings given as results as in the past.  The results from this test are now reported simply as: “Normal/Clear,” “Carrier” and “Affected” results for Miniature and Toy Poodles.


Von Willebrand's Disease (vWd) (M,S,T) a bleeding disorder resulting in unabated bleeding, either spontaneous (from the membranes of nose, mouth or GI tract) or resulting from wounds or surgery. von Willebrand's disease is detectable by DNA testing performed by VetGen , so a potential breeding dog can be certified as clear, or determined to be a carrier or affected. You can search at for results on a particular dog that may have been tested with results registered.

NOTE About "vWd clear by parentage - If both parents have tested genetically clear of vWd, they do not have the gene to pass on to their progeny.  VetGen would like you to verify the clear by parentage by utilizing their particular DNA test for parentage at an additional price.  Very few owners have opted for that step.  vWd is a DNA test for any variety of Poodle.  Carriers could be in any variety, but in the past have been noted more often in the Standard variety.


HD = Hip Dysplasia: (M,S,T) affects hip joints, resulting in pain, lameness and degenerative joint changes. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) tracks results of veterinary examinations for hip dysplasia; you can search at for results on a particular dog that may have been tested with results registered.  X-ray is required for hip health determinations.  There is a caution not to test females near estrus at the link for this database: as hip laxity increases during the estrus cycle.  For the results to be eligible for the OFA database and inclusion in CHIC, the films must be evaluated by veterinarians at OFA, PennHIP or the Canadian OVC.  Standard and Miniature Poodles are required to have this evaluation for their CHIC determination. Toy Poodles are rarely affected.


LP = Legg-Calves-Perthes - (M,S,T) a condition that is also screened for with x-ray of the hips.  LCP is the more normal abbreviation of the condition and the disease is named for the three last names of the scientists taking credit for its discovery.  The disease is a disorder of hip joint conformation (occurring in both humans and dogs). In dogs,  LCP is most often seen in the miniature and toy breeds between the ages of 4 months and 12 months of age.  A dog with a passing OFA hip evaluation after 2 years of age is also known to be clear of this disease.  Dogs as young as one year of age can be certified free of this condition with completion of the screening per:

PA = Patellar Luxation: (M,S,T) "slipped stifles" are a common problem in small breeds.  In Toy and Miniature Poodles, this is an inherited structural abnormality in the stifle (knee joint) that can lead to a stilted gait, lameness, and degenerative joint disease.  You can search at for results on a particular dog that may have been tested with results registered.  Toy Poodles are required to have a signed veterinary statement concerning the condition of their patella as one of the criteria for CHIC determination.

SA = Sebaceous Adenitis: (M,S,T)  a skin condition in which sebaceous glands become inflamed, resulting in scaling, odor and hair loss. Affliction can vary from extremely mild to severe; poodles with subclinical cases look completely normal, even though they have SA and can pass this genetic disease onto descendants. You can search at for results on a particular dog that may have been tested with results registered. Skin punch biopsies are needed to be evaluated by an approved lab for inclusion in the OFA database.  The biopsies can help detect subclinical cases.  This testing is one of the elective choices for CHIC determination in Standard Poodles. .

TH = Thyroid - (M,S,T) just like people, dogs can suffer from hypothyroidism (under-active thyroid).  Symptoms are obesity, hair loss, fatigue, skin problems, and infertility.  Hyperthyroidism (overactive thyroid) is much rarer in dogs. You can search at for results on a particular dog that may have been tested with results registered.  All three varieties of Poodles should have their thyroid monitored, especially if any of the above symptoms occur.  At this time, a thyroid test run (through an OFA approved lab only) is an elective test for Standard Poodle CHIC determination.  Owners are advised to draw blood for this test at least a month away from an estrus cycle/



Other Health Databases Available Though OFA

BR = Baer Testing:  Congenital Deafness in dogs (or other animals) can be acquired or inherited.  Few Poodles have had this test run.  Deafness has not been shown to be a problem in the Poodle breed.


EL = Elbow Dysplasia: is a general term used to identify an inherited polygenic disease in the elbow of dogs.   Standard Poodles rarely have elbow deformities, but because they are large and often used in performance events, there are quite a few Standard Poodles that are in this database/


SH = Shoulder Osteochondrosis Dessicans (OCDMore often seen in males and larger breeds under a year of age, this is considered to be an inherited disease.  There is a disruption in ossification of the cartilage mold beneath the articular cartilage of the joint. This results in aseptic necrosis and when the weakened area collapses, the articular cartilage fractures resulting in lameness.   this disease is rare in Standard Poodles, but does occur,



Poodle CHIC Requirements

Miniature Poodles (3 tests)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) DNA Test

Eye Clearance

   CERF evaluation

Hip Dysplasia

Standard Poodles (3 tests minimum)

Hip Dysplasia

Eye Clearance

Health Elective (One of the following tests) All tests should be checked before breeding.

Toy Poodles (3 tests)

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) DNA Test

Eye Clearance

Patellar Luxation  OFA evaluation



Certainly having at least the basic testing accomplished, whether Miniature, Standard or Toy Poodle, and then registering the results publicly, will be of great benefit to those today and in the future that study these issues before selecting mating pairs.  The CHIC program should help a new generation of Breeders consider these screenings (and the definitive test in the case of Toys and Minis) as basic prerequisites to selecting breeding stock along with temperament, inbreeding levels and conformation considerations.


There are now 115 breeds/varieties participating in CHIC.  The 50,000th dog acknowledged as CHIC is nearing designation at this writing in late 2008.


“CHIC is about being health conscious, not about being faultless,” wrote

Jerold S Bell, DVM in his article, Removing the Stigma of Genetic Disease, This article was first published in the October, 2003, AKC Gazette, the same month the Poodle breed joined the CHIC program.  To read the article in its entirety you may Google the title or use this link   In the article, Dr Bell also states, “Reducing the stigma of genetic disease involves raising the level of conversation from gossip to constructive communication. Dealing with genetic disorders is a community effort. Each breeder and owner will have a different level of risk or involvement for a disorder. We do not get to choose the problems we have to deal with. Breeders should be supportive of others who are making a conscientious effort to continue breeding their dogs while decreasing the risk of passing on defective genes.


Each month the CHIC program names a Champion of Health.  The first Poodle to be so named is honored here:  Ch. Random Wind In Your Dreams
“Joshua” is bred & owned by Leslie and Suzanne Newing, who have actively and successfully bred Miniature Poodles for over thirty years. “Joshua” finished from the Bred-By-Exhibitor class as a puppy with multiple Best of Variety wins. He has sired 15 champions to date, including the current #1 Miniature Poodle, and was the top producing Miniature Poodle stud dog in 2006. “Joshua” has met the Poodle Club of America ’s requirements for CHIC, is sired by a CHIC dog, is out of a CHIC dam, and has himself sired CHIC offspring. “Joshua” clearly represents a line of healthy successful dogs, and is a credit to his breeder-owner’s commitment to health screening.



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