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** All the information on this page was gathered from

unless cited otherwise.




Health Testing
Below is information regarding the recommended health tests for goldens, OFA hip/elbow/eye/cardiac, pennhip, and genetic recessive diseases.

OFA Tests

OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) focuses on the diseases that can affect animals. These include hips, elbows, cardiac, patella, eyes, genetic diseases and thyroid. It is a database that can store this information to allow breeders and buyers to view the results online by searching an animals name or registered number. 



How are the hips evaluated?

OFA uses one x-ray where the dog is placed on its back in dorsal recumbency with the rear limbs extended and parallel to each other. The knees (stifles) are rotated internally and the pelvis is symmetric. Basically they are on their back with legs extended.

Hip Scores

OFA classifies hip results into 7 different categories noted below:

(view photos on the OFA website)


  • Excellent: Superior conformation; there is a deep-seated ball (femoral head) which fits tightly into a well-formed socket(acetabulum) with minimal joint space.

  • Good: Slightly less than superior but a well-formed congruent hip joint is visualized. The ball fits well into the socket and good coverage is present.

  • Fair: Minor irregularities; the hip joint is wider than a good hip. The ball slips slightly out of the socket. The socket may also appear slightly shallow.

Excellent, Good, and Fair are accepted within the normal limits and given an OFA number. 

  • Borderline: Not clear. Usually more incongruency present than what occurs in a fair but there are no arthritic changes present that definitively diagnose the hip joint being dysplastic.

  • Mild: Significant subluxation present where the ball is partially out of the socket causing an increased joint space. The socket is usually shallow only partially covering the ball.

  • Moderate: The ball is barely seated into a shallow socket. There are secondary arthritic bone changes usually along the femoral neck and head (remodeling), acetabular rim changes (osteophytes or bone spurs) and various degrees of trabecular bone pattern changes

  • Severe: Marked evidence of dysplasia exists. Ball is partly or completely out of a shallow socket. Significant arthritic bone changes along the femoral neck and head and acetabular rim changes


Borderline, Mild, Moderate, and Severely dysplastic are documented with abnormal results." (




Elbow dysplasia is a general term used to identify an inherited polygenic disease in the elbow. Three specific etiologies make up this disease and they can occur independently or in conjunction with one another. These etiologies include:

  • Pathology involving the medial coronoid of the ulna (FCP)

  • Osteochondritis of the medial humeral condyle in the elbow joint (OCD)

  • Ununited anconeal process (UAP)

The dog is placed on their side with their leg flexed and bent at the elbow.

When to OFA Test?

OFA does not give official results for elbows & hips to dogs under 24months of age. While a dog may be tessted prior to 24 months of age, any xrays sent in prior to that will be considered "prelims" or preliminary results. The dog will not get a number until they are 24 months. Dogs that are tested with preliminary results are encouraged to retest at 24mo or older.


Eyes, cardiac, and thyroid can be tested after 1 year of age. Eyes must be tested every 12 mo for up to date results. ​


** All the information on this page was gathered from




PennHip Testing in Golden Retrievers

PennHIP is a method used to screen hips on dogs. It is one of the most effective tools for evaluating hip dysplasia nd osteoarthritis in young dogs. 


In order to do PennHIP xrays, a veterinarian must be certified. Not every veterinarian has been trained to properly take the xrays that Penhip require. It is important that you check with your vet before assuming they are qualified. 


PennHIP testing can be done as early as 16 weeks of age, which is very beneficial to dogs who may be affected by hip issues. This early detection can help breeders make early decisions and pet owners prevent or lessen any risks. 



How are the hips evaluated?

PennHIP uses three different views to determine the laxity of a dog's hip joint. These different views allow the veterinarians to obtain a better reading of the dog's hips. These views provide measurements of the joint laxity, which is called Distraction Index (DI).


PennHIP method:


  • Obtains OA readings from the standard hip-extended view

  • Obtains hip joint congruity readings from the compression view

  • Obtains quantitative measurements of hip joint laxity from the distraction view" (PennHip)


PennHIP involves the assessment of three different radiographic views of the hip joints called the distraction view, the compression view and the EHR. The EHR view is looking for secondary osteoarthritic changes in the joint, the distraction view is to provide a quantitative measurement of joint laxity called the Distraction Index (DI) and the compression view is to assess joint congruity (




Unlike OFA, PennHIP does not give a passing or failing score. Instead, they grade on a score between 0-1. Numbers closer to 0 are better than scores closer to 1. These scores are given based on how loose the femoral head is in relation to the acetabulum. Both hips will be scored, and each side can get a different score. 



For example: a score of  .40 means that the femoral head comes out of the joint by 40%. This means that a dog with a hip score of .80 is twice as laxitive as a dog with a score of .40. The dog with the score of .40 has better hips than the dog with .80.

When to test?

PennHIP can be tested as early as 16 week, however, it is recommended to do a followup at 6mo or a year. 


It is recommended for females in heat or with puppies to be tested at least 8 weeks after lactation or 16 weeks after whelping. It is not thought that a heat cycle affects the laxity of hips, but birthing and lactation may increase laxity. 


What is a good score for a golden retriever?

Dogs are ranked within their breed. Vets from the PennHIP scheme recommend breeding dogs with overall scores and DIs that are better than the breed average, to continue to try to improve the hips in the breed whilst not excessively narrowing the gene pool. The average for a golden retriever is around .55, so it is recommended to breed dogs with hips above this (


PennHIP has labelled dogs with a laxity of .3 as a normal joint laxity.  Dogs with increasing DI values over 0.3 up to 0.7 have increasing joint laxity and an increasing likelihood of hip dysplasia A. Only 5% of Golden retrievers that have been assessed have a DI less than 0.3 (95%). 

** All the information on this page was gathered from 

Paw Prints Genetics

unless cited otherwise.




Genetic Disease Testing

It is very important to test for genetic diseases that can potentially be present in Golden Retrievers. We use to test our golden retrievers. We use the golden retriever panel which includes:


(click on each name to learn more about them)

Degenerative Myelopathy 

Aliases: Canine degenerative myelopathy, DM

Ichthyosis (Golden Retriever Type) 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Golden Retriever 1 

Aliases: GR-PRA1, GR1-PRA

Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Golden Retriever 2

Aliases: GR-PRA2, GR2-PRA

Progressive Retinal Atrophy, Progressive Rod-Cone Degeneration


Neuronal ceroid-lipofuscinoses

Aliases: NCLs

Genetic Results

Results for genetic testing can come back with three results:



-Clear (n/n)- A clear dog means that a dog does not carry the disease that it was tested for. Instead, it carries two copies of the normal gene.


-Carrier (n/d) - A carrier dog means that it carries one copy of the normal gene and one copy of the mutated gene that was tested for. Carriers will pass down the gene to 50% of their offspring. 


-Affected (d/d) - An affected dog means that it carries two copies of the mutated gene that it was tested for and it does not carry the normal gene. Affected dogs will pass down one copy to all of their offspring. 




* Clear (N/N) x Clear (N/N) = 100% Clear (N/N)

* Clear (N/N) x Carrier (D/N) = 50% Clear (N/N), 50% Carrier (D/N) (This is an average, individual litters may see anywhere from 100% Clear to 100% Carrier)

* Clear (N/N) x Affected (D/D) = 100% Carrier (D/N)

* Carrier (D/N) x Carrier (D/N) = 25% Clear (N/N), 50% Carrier (D/N), 25% Affected (D/D) (This is an average, individual litters may see more or less of any result)

* Carrier (D/N) x Affected (D/D) = 50% Carrier (D/N), 50% Affected (D/D) (This is an average, individual litters may see anything from 100% Carrier to 100% Affected)

* Affected (D/D) x Affected (D/D) = 100% Affected (D/D)

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