There is always a lot of questions about health testing...we hope that this page helps! Make sure to check out the infographics at the bottom of the page that dive into the specifics of each test.
Feel free to save and share the infographics as you wish - that is what we made them for! But please respect that the text within this page was written by us, so we would appreciate if that doesn't get stolen.
Health testing is a tool that we can use to our advantage to make better, smarter breeding decisions to minimize risk in our future generations and therefore positively impact our dogs’ quality of life (and the future of the breed).
Why do you do a safety on a vehicle before buying it? To make sure that even though it looks good on the outside, that everything is working well under the hood. The same can be said about health testing. My dog may run, jump and play without restriction and seemingly have no obvious health concerns, but we don’t know for sure unless we health test him. Getting your breeding dogs health tested will allow you to make better breeding and ownership choices.
WHAT IS IT & WHEN CAN IT BE DONE?
Health testing is much more involved than a simple vet check or annual exam! Please see the infographic below for the minimum required health testing for the American Bully. The age listed is the minimum age requirement for official results.
2018 OFA Study on Hip Dysplasia Statistics of Offspring based on Parent Scores
WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME AS A BREEDER?
Huge step closer to becoming a Responsible Breeder
Bragging rights! Or in professional terms…an improved marketing strategy!
Increased Value in your Puppies, Studs & Program
Getting ahead of health problems before it starts to dramatically impact your dogs’ quality of life
Peace of mind knowing exactly what is going on “under the hood” of your dogs
Being at the forefront of the Health Testing wave that is gearing up in the breed
Pride in knowing that you are doing everything you can to minimize health issues in your puppies
WHAT'S IN IT FOR ME AS A BUYER?
Feel good about supporting a Responsible Breeder that is genuinely doing their best to stack the odds in their pups' favors & make a positive impact in their breed
Know that the parents and relatives of your puppy were healthy and did not suffer from debilitating genetic health conditions that were swept under the rug
Have a health guarantee that actually has some substance to it
Understanding what conditions to watch out for that are prevalent in the breed and your pup's family history of health conditions
Peace of mind knowing that your puppy has a lower risk of hereditary genetic issues
HOW DO I GET STARTED?
Most regular vet clinics can do it for you! Call the vets in your local area to see which ones are familiar with it. Often times the front desk associates will not know what it is, but the main vet will. Don’t get discouraged and call around. I have never found a reproductive vet that didn’t do health testing, so if all else fails...go to them.
Once you find a clinic nearby that you can get your dogs into, book your appointment for Hips, Elbows and Cardiac. They may ask you to fill out the OFA submission forms before your appointment, those can be found at ofa.org > Applications.
Whether you are in Canada or USA, check out ofa.org for health clinics! Make sure to check back often as they update regularly. Clinics are often a much cheaper option for health testing so it’s worth it to pay attention to these.
If you are a prospective puppy buyer, you should care very deeply about who you are supporting and getting your next family member from - after all, this is no small chunk of change and this pup will be in your home for the next 10+ years! Make an effort to only give your money to someone who you feel genuinely deserves it by working hard to stack the deck in your puppy's favor. It's absolutely heartbreaking loving a broken dog - do yourself the courtesy of doing your research on breeders before taking the plunge.
As a Breeder, it is important to understand that buyers everywhere are getting more educated with every passing day, and it is becoming quite common for them to ask prospective breeders what health testing the parents have had done. Health testing is an integral part of being a responsible, ethical breeder and it is well known that the American Bully struggles with various different genetic health conditions, so testing is even more important than in other, healthier breeds. Other breeders also see a value in using studs or purchasing puppies from health tested lines to minimize the likelihood of congenital issues. Beyond that, you as a breeder should care about this the most – after all, these are your dogs and your program that we are talking about!
WHO IS ALREADY DOING IT?
As of the October 2022, there are 692 American Bullies in the OFA database. There have been 451 dogs tested for hips, 413 tested for elbows, and 404 tested for cardiac. We don’t have statistics for Genetic Disease, but it is safe to say that number is in the thousands.
There is a Facebook Group called “Health Tested American Bullies” that has over 7,000 members as well, and I highly recommend that all Bully breeders join that group if they are interested in learning more about health testing.
At Border City Bullies, our dogs are technically the most health tested dogs for our breed (so far). I have done almost every test available for them because I want to leave no stone unturned when it comes to the health of my dogs and puppies. I am still working on building a solid foundation for my program and I want to make sure that 10 years from now, I don’t find out about a health condition none of us knew about and were unknowingly breeding (and cementing) into our dogs for generations. This level of testing is absolutely NOT necessary – I do it because this is something that is very important to me, and once I learn about something I can’t not do it. It’s not an option for me. I could also probably thank my crippling anxiety for this, but let’s just pretend it’s because I’m really passionate and responsible and blah blah blah.
WHAT HAPPENS IF THEY FAIL?
American Bullies are well known for having high pain tolerances, which means that sometimes we are quite surprised come testing time, even if your dog has never shown symptoms before. If your dog fails something, try not to panic! Nothing about breeding is black and white, and that goes for health testing as well.
Many failing American Bullies are being bred right now, but their owners now have that information to choose compatible mates. Knowledge is power! Knowing where the weak points are that need work is much better than burying your head in the sand for generations and unintentionally cementing these issues into your program because you are scared of getting a not-great result. If your dog fails Hips, just make sure that the mate you pick for them has passing Hips. If your dog comes back as a carrier of a disease, make sure that their future mate doesn't carry the same thing. Now that you have a baseline for where you are starting with your program, and it’s only up from here!
Side note: If your dog fails a test whether it be hips or a genetic disease, it is extremely important that you research that disease as much as possible. Learn it. Talk to specialists. Talk to well respected breeders in other communities. Talk to pet owners who have dogs that suffer from this disease. Join groups that will teach you more about it. It is your responsibility as a breeder to understand what you are working with - your future puppies and puppy owners are depending on you.
HOW COMMON IS IT FOR BULLIES TO FAIL?
I’m going to be real with you. Our breed kind of sucks health-wise right now. We don’t test our dogs because we think they won’t fail – we test because we want to know what we are working with so we can try to make more informed choices moving forward.
Out of all American Bullies tested with OFA, only 55.7% are passing Hips and only 59.8% are passing Elbows. Out of all breeds in the OFA database, American Bullies are actually #2 Worst Elbow Score Statistics (pass/fail ratio), #10 Worst Hip Scores Statistics and #1 Worst Basic Cardiac Scores Statistics.
WILL THIS IMPACT MY BREEDING PLANS?
To put it as simply as possible, you can still ethically and responsibly breed your dog even if they fail a test. Genetic diseases for example, are simple and very easy to breed out. Hips, elbows and cardiac are more complicated and require extra brainstorming.
That being said, I heavily encourage you to do your own extensive research regarding health testing - what results mean for the dog and what that could mean for future generations if they are bred. Pay to talk with specialists, brainstorm with other breeders, join Facebook groups dedicated to bringing together groups of people who are battling this issue with their pets, and keep digging. Learn as much as you possibly can about it before making any breeding choices regardless of the path. Whatever you do - please don't bury your head in the sand hoping for best case scenarios without doing the hard work to understand the disease(s) better.
Your breeding strategy should include you figuring out where your hard lines are regarding health BEFORE you health test your potential breeding candidates – what are willing to breed carefully, and what are not willing to continue on with? This will vary with each individual and there are no right or wrong answers - just what is right for you.
DOES IT REALLY MAKE A DIFFERENCE?
Short answer - yes it does. I have a lot to say on this topic, but I want to make sure that I get it right, so I'm going to take a few days to think on it before posting it here. In the meantime, check out this table from OFA.org with their parent & offspring Hip Scores!
I'm cooking up some more of these!