Health testing: a guide for Norwich puppy buyers

Many breeders say that they health test their breeding stock. As a puppy buyer, you should feel free to ask about health tests performed on both parents, plus ask to see verification that the tests were performed.

Here we list the health tests routinely performed on breeding stock in (and used by) the Shaksper Norwich kennel. Other tests are also performed for research purposes.

1. CHIC number

The Norwich Terrier Club of America (NTCA) - the AKC parent club with responsibility for all things related to Norwich terriers - recommends several health tests (hips, eye exam, patellas) for Norwich used for breeding. Norwich that have had all these tests done are assigned a Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) number. The easiest way to see if a dog has a CHIC number is to go to the web site of the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA), look up the dog, and see if the initials "CHIC" appears next to the dog's name.

Even if the puppy comes from a big show-winning kennel, make sure that both parents have a CHIC number. At the 2019 Norwich national specialty, only 54 percent of the Norwich entered had parents both of whom had a CHIC number (or the dog itself had a CHIC number).

Some breeders claim that they test for hips, eyes, and patellas, but do not send in the results to be recorded. Verification that the tests were actually done on both parents becomes even more important in such situations. It is unfortunate that some breeders do not care enough about the breed to share and record such test results.

The latest statistics (as of Dec 2020) from OFA are:

2. DNA tests

There are currently six DNA health tests that are relevant for Norwich terriers. All of these tests are inexpensive and require nothing more than a swab of the inside of a dog's mouth in order to get a DNA sample to test. OFA currently records values for three of the tests (PLL, DM, D-Locus).

3. Brucellosis blood test

Brucellosis is a bacterial disease that is transmissible to humans. It should be tested for prior to every breeding.

4. Bile acid test

Liver shunts are a known problem in Norwich terriers (actually in all terriers). A bile acid test is the initial way to diagnose a liver shunt. While most liver shunt dogs are identified as puppies, some grow up and are bred. Performing the bile acid test on breeding stock eliminates the possibility that a parent has a liver shunt, thus reducing the probability that puppies will have a liver shunt.

5. von Willebrands blood test

Von Willebrand disease (vWD) is an inherited bleeding (coagulation) disorder that exists in the Norwich terrier genome. Unfortunately none of the currently available DNA tests for vWD identify the mutation that causes vWD in Norwich.

Last updated 20210115.