Our Minions all come from exceptional, proven pedigree lines that contain champions in all areas of show, obedience and hunting. Each has been thoroughly tested for soundness related to physical and recessive genetic health issues which can be potentially passed to subsequent generations. See OFA and PennHip results for hips and elbows. CAER/CERF (eye) clearances are listed with OFA — see OFA link for each dog. Did you know there are 41 genetically-passable issues, just for eyes alone, that a CERF exam can identify?! By providing these clearances we are committed to doing all we can from the breeder side to provide healthy puppies!
While we cannot predict long-term physical outcomes with 100% certainty, quality of bone and structure does tend to be passed in a consistent way. With regard to bone and joint health, there is one significant factor that is not within our control, and that deals with how the puppy is raised after leaving Fidelity Farm! Growth plates in Labradors don’t close until puppies are approximately 18 months of age. From the time they go home with you at 8 weeks until then, it is critical that care be taken to not expose them to overly strenuous or prolonged activities that could harm their growing bones and joints. Long walks (or runs… yikes!); extended and/or vigorous play with people or other dogs; jumping off things higher than their shoulders; etc., are all examples of things that can cause irreparable physical harm to a growing puppy — even one with great orthopedic genes! Though puppies many times have seemingly boundless energy, it is important that you be mindful of setting boundaries of protection in these areas. The following article goes into more detail.
All breeds of dogs have particular recessively-carried genetic conditions that through a selective breeding program can be completely avoided. Specifically recommended Labrador recessive issues we test for include: Dilute, PRA, PRCD, EIC, HNPK, Degenerative Myelopathy, Centronuclear Myopathy, Retinal Dysplasia/Oculoskeletal Dysplasia, and Skeletal Dysplasia. Some of “the best” Labrador show, breeding and hunting individuals are carriers for various recessive issues. Being a carrier does not diminish a dog in any way! There has been much discussion regarding this, and overall consensus suggests that removal of all carriers from breeding programs would lead to a very limited gene pool; which in turn could potentially trigger, additional challenges.
Genetic clearances give peace of mind that you will not have to deal with the heartbreak of a serious, preventable malady. For each test a dog can be: Normal, Carrier, or At-Risk (affected). Puppies inherit traits (dominant and recessive) — half from each parent. Normal means that your dog has two copies of the normal DNA sequence for the gene being tested. Carrier means that your dog carries one copy of the normal and one copy of the mutation, but is not affected. If both parents are “carriers” for a specific disease trait, their offspring will have a 50% chance of being “affected”, so that is something we carefully watch for and would never allow. If one parent is a “carrier” and one is “normal” (which is common), half the puppies might be born “carriers”; however, 0% (none) will be “affected”. This is precisely why genetic testing is so critical!
We adamantly discourage any type of supplementation for a puppy, as this can easily lead to toxicity of certain vitamins and minerals, as well as improper bone and overall rate of growth. Puppies should be fed food designed to support a slower rate of physical growth that is proper for a Labrador. Those designed for “large breed puppies” (i.e., those dogs whose adult weight will be greater than 50 pounds) tend to be the best option. As compared to regular (non-large breed) puppy food, these options are lower in fat, calcium, phosphorous, and vitamin D. When evaluating these foods, the Calcium to Phosphorous ratio is important – should be a range (C:PH) from 1.1:1 to 2:1. The following two articles are great to help explain this important information. The first is from AKC . The second is a bit more scientific, and provides a bit more extensive detail.