The science behind dog breeding has come a very long way in the past 20 years. The kennel I was involved with was always at the leading edge of that available science. Many backyard breeders just hooked up two AKC registered Labradors and had a litter of purebred puppies. The saying back in the day was, “My dog has papers.”

I can remember back in that same time period I was involved with breeding Labrador puppies, and all we needed was a hip X-ray to determine the configuration of the pelvis to see if the rear femurs were within predetermined tolerances. We also did an exam on the parents’ eyes to ensure there were no genetic defects that could be passed on to the litter.

In the current day, if you are a reputable breeder, you do much more. We test for EIC. This stands for exercise induced collapse. We also test for CNM. This stands for Centronuclear Myopathy. It is a genetic muscular disease.

As breeders advanced their programs the result was puppies with far less serious health issues than in years past.

Unfortunately, there is still a large contingent of dog breeders who still don’t know what any of these abbreviations stand for. If someone is offering AKC Labradors for $300 each, you can bet they have not invested the necessary amount of cash to do the tests and gain their results. You can easily spend $1,000 in pre-planning test costs to ready your dog to begin breeding.

It is the same if your dog is a male or female. You can even test to see if your black Labrador carries a recessive yellow gene which might allow him to sire both black and yellow puppies from the same litter depending on the female you choose.

There is another test that we now use called the Embark Dog DNA Test. It is a test that requires you to order the kit in advance. When it arrives, you create a username and password and register your kit online. Included is a swab that you rub for 30-60 seconds inside your dog’s lower jaw. When complete, you put the swab in a tube that is provided and shake it a few times. Place the tube sealed tightly into the pre-paid postage envelope and mail it in. All you have to do next is wait.

The test will use the dog’s DNA to test for more than 170 genetic health conditions. They test more than 250 breeds of dogs and track the parentage back to great grandparents. You can also test your Heinz-57 dog and find out exactly what breed it is and in what percentages.

This was not conveniently affordable in years past. The tests run from about $40-$200. The results will tell a reputable breeder if the dogs they intend to use in their breeding program are up to snuff.

The research partner for the embark test is the Cornell University College of Veterinary Medicine. They will ask you if the results of your test can be used for research purposes. I told them yes.

This just shows how advanced the breeding programs of today’s reputable breeders are. I can only imagine what it will look like another 20 years into the future.

The dog I am testing is Tracer. He has had all of the other tests done and passed with flying colors, but this test was not available when those breedings were done. I have no reason to believe that he has any hidden genetic issues, but the test will confirm that.

Tracer is siring a litter, if all things go as planned, in mid-December. The puppies will run in the $1,100-$1,200 range. He is one of the very finest pheasant hunting dogs I have ever owned and has a great pedigree.

We are taking deposits on the litter and in most cases the litter will be mostly sold out before the puppies ever hit the deck. If you are looking for a quality, health-screened hunting dog with delivery scheduled for about mid-April, drop me an email at and I can give more details. Just remember, life is better with a dog and it is easier to get forgiveness than permission.