A Healthy PuppyYou have decided the Newfoundland is the dog for you - how to set about choosing the right one.
Most breeds have their own particular health problems, with Newfoundlands it's hips, hearts and cystinuria that require particular attention.
Hip Scoring - What does it mean?
A score is given to a dog’s hips by a panel of veterinary experts after studying an X-ray of its hips. The X-ray is usually taken under a general anaesthetic by the owner’s own vet and then sent to the British Veterinary Association (BVA) for scoring. Scoring involves a detailed study of 6 aspects of the formation of the hip joint.
Each hip is given a score from 0-53; zero being the best, 53 the worst. So a dog could have a total score anywhere between 0-106. A dog could be given,
for example, a score of 5/6 that would give it a total score of 11. The 5 is the score for the left hip and the 6 represents the score for the right hip.
The lower the score the better, although anything above a total score of zero is still a degree of hip dysplasia.
A certificate is sent to the owner with the score of both hips recorded on it.
Currently the average hip score is 26 total (i.e. both hips added together = 26) but remember this is based on limited data since poor hips are often not scored and a large percentage of pet dogs are not hip scored. It is recommended by The Northern Newfoundland Club that only Newfoundlands with a below average hip score are used for breeding since heredity plays a large part in this disease.
Heart Testing - What does it mean?
The main genetic heart conditions in Newfoundlands are Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS) and Dilated Cardiomyopathy (DCM).
There are two ways of heart testing:
Providing the valve measurements and speed of blood flow lie within set parameters and there are no defects apparent they are given a classification of normal. Again a certificate of this examination is produced and the breeder should be happy to show you this.
An Equivocal result is borderline and often indicates a high rate of blood flow, while an Abnormal result means the dog should never be bred from. The Northern Newfoundland Club expects that all breeding stock should be echo dopplered every Two years in line with the Club's Code of Good practice for Breeders. Only dogs and bitches free from abnormalities should be bred from.
Good breeders will have (or may have copies of) all the relevant certificates for the hips and hearts of the sire and dam of the litter and will be only too happy to show you them.
CYSTINURIA - What is it?
Cystinuria is an inherited disorder of the urinary tract, which leads to the formation of crystals or "stones". It is a painful condition that can keep recurring. A check swab is taken for DNA testing. The result can be one of 3 outcomes.
The only way to eliminate this debilitating disease is to breed a clear dog to a clear bitch. Then the puppies will be clear.
So you are armed with your first questions to ask the breeder.
Please look at Good Practice Guidelines for Breeding
Health information can be found on Newfoundland Dog Health
For further information or advice contact the Northern Newfoundland Club’s Puppy Liaison Officer,
John Austin e-mail