Why Health Testing Is Necessary Before Breeding Your American Cocker Spaniel?

As a responsible dog owner, choosing the right breeding mate for your American Cocker Spaniel can be a daunting and overwhelming task. Along with considering factors like temperament, appearance, and lineage, it’s important to prioritize the health of your future puppies. This is where health testing comes in. But what is health testing? Why is it so crucial? And how do you go about performing it? In this article, we’ll explore the importance of health testing in choosing a breeding mate for your American Cocker Spaniel and provide you with a step-by-step guide on how to perform health testing accurately. So, let’s get started!

The Basics of Health Testing

The Basics Of Health Testing
When it comes to selecting a breeding mate for your American Cocker Spaniel, one of the most important things to consider is the health of the dogs. This is where the basics of health testing come in. By conducting a thorough assessment of your dog’s health, you can identify potential genetic disorders and prevent them from being passed down to future litters. In this section, we will explore what health testing entails, why it is essential, and the types of tests you should undertake to ensure your dog is fit for breeding. If you are interested in learning about other factors to consider when choosing a breeding mate for your American Cocker Spaniel, check out our guide on 5 factors to consider when picking a mate for your Cocker Spaniel.

What is Health Testing?

Health testing for American Cocker Spaniels is a comprehensive examination of a dog’s health to determine if there are any underlying health concerns or genetic disorders. It is a procedure where the dog undergoes different types of tests and examinations to determine its overall health status. Health testing can prevent genetic conditions from being passed on to future generations and ensure that breeding dogs produce healthy offspring.

There are different types of health tests, including physical examinations, blood tests, imaging tests, DNA tests, and more. A physical examination includes a thorough inspection of the dog’s body, from nose to tail. Blood tests can identify the presence of certain health conditions, such as heartworm or Lyme disease. Imaging tests, such as X-rays, can help detect any skeletal or joint issues. DNA testing is specifically designed to identify genetic diseases.

All health tests should be done by a reputable veterinarian and, in some cases, by a certified canine geneticist. These professionals are trained to administer and interpret health tests accurately. Results from health tests should be carefully studied and interpreted to ensure that all the information gathered is correctly understood.

As a breeder, it is essential to know the health status of your dog and potential breeding mate. Health testing your American Cocker Spaniel is an important step towards choosing a healthy breeding mate. This process will help identify possible genetic issues and ensure that future generations are healthy and free of any genetic disorders.

Note: To learn more about genetics and how to choose a suitable mate for your American Cocker Spaniel, please refer to our article on Genetics: Choosing a Suitable Mate for Your American Cocker Spaniel. If you’re interested in evaluating temperament for cocker breeding, please refer to our article on Evaluating Temperament for Cocker Breeding. Or, if you would like a comprehensive guide on finding the perfect mate for your Cocker Spaniel, read our article on The Perfect Mate for Your Cocker Spaniel – A Comprehensive Guide.

Why is Health Testing Important?

Health testing is a crucial step that should not be overlooked when you are choosing a breeding mate for your American Cocker Spaniel. It helps to ensure that the puppies you breed are healthy and have a better chance of a long and happy life free of hereditary diseases and conditions. Here are some reasons why health testing is so important:

Prevent Hereditary DiseasesMany breeds, including American Cocker Spaniels, are prone to certain hereditary diseases and conditions. By performing health testing, you can identify whether your dog has any of these genetic defects, and thus prevent breeding them to another dog that is also a carrier, reducing the chances of producing puppies that are affected or carriers.
Improve Puppies’ Health and LongevityIf you breed two dogs that have health issues, their puppies may also inherit these problems. By health testing your dogs before breeding them, you can reduce the risk of producing puppies that may be unhealthy and may have a shorter life expectancy.
Reduce the Risk of Expensive Vet BillsBy breeding dogs that have been health tested and are free of hereditary diseases and conditions, you can reduce the risk of producing puppies that may develop health issues that require frequent veterinary care. Preventing these health problems can save you money on expensive vet bills in the long run.
Better Confirmation of ParentageHealth testing can also provide more information about your dog’s lineage, and can give you a better idea of whether your dog is actually the parent of a puppy. This can be especially important if you are breeding your dog for show or competition purposes.
Improved Reputation and Trust as a BreederBy health testing your dogs, you show that you are committed to breeding healthy puppies and you take the responsibility of being a breeder seriously. This can improve your reputation as a breeder and increase trust in potential buyers who are looking for a healthy and well-bred American Cocker Spaniel.

Health testing is essential in ensuring that your breeding mate and their puppies are healthy and free of hereditary diseases and conditions, improving the chances for a long, healthy and happy life. Additionally, it can save breeders time, money and improve their reputation.

What Are the Different Types of Health Testing?

When it comes to health testing for American Cocker Spaniels, there are different types of tests that can be conducted to assess their overall health and wellbeing. Below are some of the most popular types of health tests:

  • Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Testing: This type of test evaluates the hip and elbow joints of the American Cocker Spaniel to determine if there are any signs of dysplasia or abnormal development. This test is crucial because dysplasia can result in arthritis, which can be painful and limit mobility.
  • Eye Examinations: Eye examinations are one of the most crucial health tests for American Cocker Spaniels because they are prone to certain eye diseases. The tests are conducted to evaluate the dog’s vision, test for glaucoma, and assess for other eye diseases that may affect their quality of life.
  • Genetic Testing: Genetic testing is a fundamental aspect of health testing as it can detect possible genetic disorders that may be present in American Cocker Spaniels. Through this type of testing, breeders can detect certain inherited diseases and make informed breeding decisions.
  • Blood Tests: Blood tests are used to evaluate the health of the dog’s internal organs, including the liver and kidneys. Blood tests are also used to detect infectious diseases that may affect the dog’s overall health.
  • Thyroid Panel: Thyroid testing is conducted to rule out thyroid diseases that may cause several health issues in American Cocker Spaniels, including hair loss, weight gain, and behavioral changes.
  • DNA Testing: DNA testing can reveal the ancestry of the American Cocker Spaniel and identify potential genetic health issues. DNA testing is also recommended to confirm parentage before breeding.

Health testing is crucial for any American Cocker Spaniel breeder who takes their craft seriously. By conducting these tests, breeders can ensure they are producing healthy puppies that have the best possible start in life.

The Benefits of Health Testing in Choosing a Breeding Mate

The Benefits Of Health Testing In Choosing A Breeding Mate
As a responsible American Cocker Spaniel breeder, it is crucial to prioritize the health of your dogs and puppies. Ensuring the genetic soundness of the breeding pair is an essential step towards this goal. By performing health testing on your breeding mate, you can prevent hereditary diseases, improve the puppies’ health and longevity, reduce the risk of expensive vet bills, achieve better parentage confirmation, and elevate your reputation as a trustworthy breeder. In this section, we will delve deeper into the benefits of health testing and how it can positively impact your breeding program.

Prevent Hereditary Diseases

It is widely known that many dog breeds, including American Cocker Spaniels, are prone to hereditary diseases. These are inherited conditions that arise due to genetic mutations passed down from one or both parents. These diseases can cause lifelong suffering for the dogs and can even be fatal in some cases. By conducting health testing on potential breeding mates, you can prevent the passing down of these diseases to their offspring.

Some examples of hereditary diseases that American Cocker Spaniels are prone to are hip dysplasia, cataracts, progressive retinal atrophy, and autoimmune diseases. These conditions can be debilitating and expensive to treat, not to mention the emotional strain on the dogs and their owners. By making sure that breeding partners are not carriers of these conditions, you can significantly decrease the likelihood of these diseases being passed on to their puppies.

It’s important to note that not all dogs that carry a hereditary condition will show symptoms. This is why it’s essential to test breeding partners before making the decision to mate them. By refusing to breed dogs that are carriers of hereditary diseases, you can help to eliminate these conditions from your breeding line and work towards producing healthier puppies.

By conducting health testing on breeding partners, you can:

  • Prevent the passing down of hereditary diseases to their offspring
  • Decrease the likelihood of expensive and debilitating medical conditions in their puppies
  • Work towards producing healthier puppies and improving the overall health of the breed

As a responsible breeder, it is important to prioritize the health and well-being of your breeding dogs and their future puppies. By preventing the passing down of hereditary diseases, you are taking an important step towards producing happy and healthy American Cocker Spaniels.

Improve Puppies’ Health and Longevity

One of the major benefits of health testing when choosing a breeding mate for your American Cocker Spaniel is that it can improve the health and longevity of the puppies. By ensuring that both the sire and dam are free from inherited diseases and conditions, you can minimize the risk of passing on any genetic defects to their offspring. This can ultimately lead to healthier and happier puppies.

When it comes to health testing for inherited diseases, certain breeds are predisposed to different conditions. For American Cocker Spaniels, some of the most common inherited health issues include hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and primary seborrhea. By testing the breeding pair for these conditions or others that may be relevant to their health, you can have more confidence in the health and long-term well-being of your future puppies.

Not only does health testing improve the physical health of the puppies, but it can also have an impact on their mental and emotional well-being. Puppies born with inherited diseases or conditions may have to endure painful surgeries, daily medications, and lifelong medical care. This can have a significant impact on their quality of life and even their overall lifespan.

To showcase just how much of a difference health testing can make, take a look at the table below. It compares the lifespan and common causes of death for American Cocker Spaniels with and without health testing for certain inherited conditions.

American Cocker Spaniels WITHOUT Health TestingAmerican Cocker Spaniels WITH Health Testing
Average Lifespan10-12 years12-15 years
Common Causes of DeathCancer, kidney disease, heart diseaseNatural causes, old age

As you can see, health testing can potentially extend the average lifespan of your American Cocker Spaniel and reduce the risk of common causes of death. This can lead to healthier and happier dogs, and ultimately, healthier and happier puppies.

By taking the time to perform health testing when choosing a breeding mate for your American Cocker Spaniel, you can help ensure that their future puppies are healthy and long-lived. This can also have a significant impact on the reputation and trust that you build as a responsible and ethical breeder.

Reduce the Risk of Expensive Vet Bills

When it comes to breeding American Cocker Spaniels, health testing your potential breeding mate can not only ensure the well-being of the puppies but also save you from costly vet bills down the line. By knowing the genetic predisposition of your dog, you can better anticipate and potentially prevent any health issues that may arise. This can significantly reduce the risk of expensive vet bills that could result from an unknown medical condition.

For instance, if your American Cocker Spaniel is found to have a high risk of developing hip dysplasia, you can seek veterinary care and develop preventative measures before the condition worsens. Another example is if a potential mate is tested for the genetic disease called progressive retinal atrophy (PRA), and the results show that the carrier frequency is high, you can avoid breeding with that dog, eliminating the risk of costly treatments that may be necessary for affected puppies.

Not only can health testing save you money on vet bills, but it can also prevent any emotional distress that can result from unexpected health issues in your puppies. Ensuring your breeding mate is free from any hereditary diseases can help prevent unwanted stress and heartbreak should any issues arise.

It is important to note that while health testing can reduce the chances of expensive vet bills, it should not be used as a guarantee that no issues will arise in the future. It is beneficial to continue to monitor the health of the puppies and adult dogs through regular check-ups, even if they have passed certain health tests.

Here’s an example of how health testing can save you money:

|Health Issue|Cost for Treatment|
|Hip Dysplasia|$5,000+|
|Eye Exam|$150+|

As you can see from these examples, prevention through health testing is much more cost-effective than treatment. By investing in health testing for potential breeding mates, breeders can avoid these costly bills and provide a healthier life for their dogs and their future puppies.

Better Confirmation of Parentage

One of the benefits of performing health testing on your American Cocker Spaniel when choosing a breeding mate is the better confirmation of parentage it provides. This is especially important if you plan on registering the litter with organizations such as the American Kennel Club.

By testing both the potential sire and dam, you can confirm their genetic compatibility and ensure the offspring belong to the correct parents. This can help prevent any future disputes or discrepancies that may arise when it comes to the identity of the puppies, and also eliminates any doubts about the genetic makeup of your breeding stock.

Here are some of the ways in which health testing can improve parentage confirmation:

  • Genetic markers: DNA profiling allows for the identification of specific genetic markers that determine the parentage of puppies, providing greater accuracy and certainty.
  • Reduced risk of mismatches: When both the dam and sire have undergone the necessary health testing, the offspring are less likely to show unexpected traits or developmental issues that could indicate a mismatched parentage.
  • Better record keeping: By maintaining thorough records of your Cocker Spaniel’s health testing results, you can ensure that all breeding stock is properly documented and tracked over time, helping you avoid any confusion or misidentification of parentage in future litters.

Better confirmation of parentage through health testing helps maintain the integrity and authenticity of your breeding program. It ensures that the puppies produced are a true representation of the genetics and traits you are striving to achieve and builds trust and confidence in your breeding program both for new owners and fellow breeders.

Improved Reputation and Trust as a Breeder

Breeding American Cocker Spaniels is not only a passion but also a business. A reputable breeder always strives to improve the breed, and health testing is a crucial aspect of this process. By conducting health tests on their breeding dogs, breeders are ensuring a healthy future for the breed and building a reputation as a responsible and trustworthy breeder.

A reputable breeder who prioritizes health testing will stand out from others who do not. This positive reputation will attract potential buyers who are looking for a healthy puppy that has the best chance of living a long and healthy life. By building such a reputation, breeders can charge a premium for their puppies, thereby increasing their revenue potential.

Investing in health testing before breeding can save breeders and new owners significant money by detecting hereditary diseases that could arise and require expensive medical procedures. Protecting the health and well-being of puppies is essential not only for their longevity but also for the long-term health of the breed.

Best Practices
Additionally, being a responsible breeder and prioritizing health testing will lay the foundation for developing strong relationships with puppy buyers. Building trust will also lead to potential customers referring new business and helping to establish a breeders’ excellent reputation within the dog breeding community.

Health testing is not only critical for the health and longevity of the breed but also for the reputation and financial well-being of the breeder. By becoming known for prioritizing health testing and responsible breeding practice, breeders can establish themselves as trusted and reputable figures in the American Cocker Spaniel community.

How to Perform Health Testing on Your American Cocker Spaniel

Ensuring the health of your American Cocker Spaniel is crucial for their overall well-being, and health testing is a significant way to achieve this. However, if you’re new to the process, it can be a bit overwhelming. In this section, we’ll help you navigate the process of health testing step-by-step, so you can understand what to do, what to watch out for, and how to ensure the health of your beloved pet. So, let’s dive in and explore the crucial steps you need to take to perform health testing on your American Cocker Spaniel.

Find a Reputable Veterinarian and Canine Geneticist

If you are planning to perform health testing on your American Cocker Spaniel, finding a reputable veterinarian and canine geneticist is crucial. Here are some useful tips to help you find a trustworthy expert:

  • Ask for recommendations: Start by asking for recommendations from other dog owners, breeders, or your local breed clubs. They may have had experience with a qualified veterinarian or geneticist who specializes in American Cocker Spaniels.
  • Check credentials: When you have a list of potential experts, do some research to verify their credentials. Check if the veterinarian is licensed and board-certified by the American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) or the American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine (ACVIM). Canine geneticists should hold a PhD in genetics with a focus on canines, and be a member of the International Partnership for Dogs (IPFD).
  • Inquire about experience: It is important that your veterinarian or geneticist have experience in performing health tests on American Cocker Spaniels. Ask how long they have been practicing and if they have performed health tests on this breed before.
  • Request references: Don’t be afraid to ask for references from previous clients. This will allow you to get a sense of their level of expertise and quality of service. Be sure to follow up with the references to ask about their experience.
  • Consider location: Finding an expert in your local area may be more convenient, but don’t sacrifice expertise for convenience. If you have to travel further to find the right professional, it may be worth it to ensure the health of your dog and future puppies.

By taking the time to find a reputable veterinarian and canine geneticist, you can rest assured that your American Cocker Spaniel is in good hands during the health testing process.

Choose the Right Tests for Your Dog

When it comes to choosing the right health tests for your American Cocker Spaniel, it can be overwhelming to navigate through the various options available. Certain tests may be more relevant for certain breeds or populations, while others may be more suited to detect specific genetic conditions. It’s important to choose the right tests for your dog to ensure that you obtain accurate information that is relevant to both you and potential breeding partners.

One consideration is a standardized panel of tests that are often recommended for American Cocker Spaniels by breed clubs and veterinary experts. Some of the most common health tests for American Cocker Spaniels include those for:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)A group of inherited degenerative eye disorders which can lead to blindness.
Hereditary Cataracts (HC)A clouding of the lens of the eye which can cause vision problems and blindness.
Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD)A genetic condition that affects the hips, causing abnormal development and joint problems which may lead to lameness.
Patellar LuxationA condition where the kneecap dislocates from its normal position, causing lameness and pain.
von Willebrand’s Disease (vWD)A bleeding disorder which can lead to excessive bleeding after injury or surgical procedures.

In addition to these standard tests, there may be other tests that are more relevant for your individual American Cocker Spaniel, based on their breeding lines or individual health concerns. Your veterinarian and canine geneticist can help guide you in choosing the appropriate tests for your dog.

It’s also worth noting that some genetic tests may not be fully conclusive, and may only indicate a susceptibility to certain conditions rather than a definite diagnosis. In these cases, it’s important to interpret the results accurately and make informed decisions about breeding based on the available information.

By choosing the right tests and interpreting results accurately, you can ensure that you are making informed decisions about breeding your American Cocker Spaniel and safeguarding their health and the health of future generations.

Interpret the Results Accurately

Interpreting the results of health testing accurately is crucial for making informed decisions about breeding. The following are some tips for interpreting the results of health testing for American Cocker Spaniels:

1. Understand what the results mean: There are different types of results, such as clear, carrier, and affected. You should understand what each means before making any breeding decisions. For example, if your dog is a carrier for a particular condition, it may be safe to breed with a mate who is clear of that issue, but not with another carrier.

2. Look at the bigger picture: Health testing is just one aspect of choosing a breeding mate. You should also consider things like temperament, conformation, and pedigree. A dog that has poor health test results but is otherwise a good match may still be a viable breeding candidate.

3. Consult with experts: Interpretation of health test results can be complex, and it is important to consult with experts. Your veterinarian or a qualified canine geneticist can help you understand the results and make informed breeding decisions based on them.

4. Consider the prevalence of the condition: When interpreting health testing results, you should also consider the prevalence of the condition in the breed. For example, if a particular condition is common in American Cocker Spaniels, it may be difficult to find a mate that is completely clear of it. In such cases, you may need to weigh the risks versus the potential benefits of breeding.

5. Keep records: Finally, it is essential to keep records of health test results for your dogs and their offspring. This will help you track the incidence of hereditary conditions in your breeding program and make informed decisions about future pairings.

Pre-Breeding Health Evaluations

Before breeding an American Cocker Spaniel, it’s essential to conduct pre-breeding health evaluations to ensure that the mating process is safe and the puppies will be healthy. Pre-breeding health evaluations involve a combination of physical examinations, genetic testing, and overall health assessments of both the male and female dogs.

Here are some of the steps involved in a pre-breeding health evaluation:

  • Thorough Physical Examination: Both the male and female American Cocker Spaniel should undergo a comprehensive physical exam by a veterinarian. The veterinarian will check for signs of abnormalities, such as hip dysplasia, heart murmurs or problems with teeth and gums.
  • Genetic Testing: Genetic testing is essential to identify any hereditary conditions that might affect the health of the offspring. There are several genetic tests available that can screen for different genetic mutations or inherited diseases.
  • Semen Evaluation: A veterinarian will examine a sample of the male’s semen to ensure that it has sufficient numbers of healthy sperm and that the sperm are free from infections or abnormalities.
  • Blood Work: A comprehensive blood test should be done to ensure that the male and female American Cocker Spaniel are healthy and free from diseases that might affect the breeding process or be passed on to the puppies.
  • Overall Health Assessment: Both the male and female dog should have a general assessment of their overall health, including vaccination records, diet, and exercise regime. Any health concerns should be addressed and treated before breeding.

Remember, pre-breeding health evaluations are a crucial step in ensuring that the breeding process is safe and the puppies will be healthy. Through proper evaluation, American Cocker Spaniel owners can reduce the risk of inherited diseases, create healthier offspring, and improve their reputation as responsible breeders.


In conclusion, health testing is an essential part of ensuring the health and well-being of American Cocker Spaniels. By performing the appropriate health tests, breeders can prevent hereditary diseases, improve the health and longevity of puppies, reduce the risk of expensive vet bills, and improve their reputation and trust as a breeder within the community.

It is important to find a reputable veterinarian and canine geneticist to perform the health testing, and to choose the right tests for your American Cocker Spaniel. Proper interpretation of the results is also critical, as this will provide valuable insights into your dog’s health status.

Performing pre-breeding health evaluations is an important step in selecting a breeding mate for your American Cocker Spaniel. By conducting these evaluations, you can ensure that you are selecting a mate that is healthy and free from hereditary diseases.

In the end, the benefits of health testing far outweigh the costs, both financially and emotionally. By prioritizing your dog’s health, you not only improve the quality of their life, but also the lives of future generations of American Cocker Spaniels. As a responsible breeder, it is your duty to prioritize the health and well-being of your beloved pets.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the average cost of health testing for an American Cocker Spaniel?

The cost of health testing can vary depending on the type of test performed and the location. Generally, prices range from $100 to $500 per test.

Is health testing necessary for all American Cocker Spaniels?

While health testing is not required by law, it is highly recommended for all breeding dogs to prevent hereditary diseases and produce healthier offspring.

Can a dog with a hereditary disease be used for breeding?

No, breeding dogs with hereditary diseases can pass down their condition to their offspring, leading to potential health problems and higher veterinary bills.

What are some common hereditary diseases in American Cocker Spaniels?

Common hereditary diseases in American Cocker Spaniels include hip dysplasia, progressive retinal atrophy, and cataracts.

Can a dog still be a good breeding mate even if it doesn’t pass all health tests?

No, it is important to choose a breeding mate that has passed all relevant health tests to ensure their offspring will be healthy and free of hereditary diseases.

Can health testing guarantee that a dog’s offspring will be free of hereditary diseases?

No, health testing can only provide an indication of a dog’s likelihood of passing hereditary diseases to their offspring, but it cannot guarantee that the offspring will be free of these conditions.

How often should an American Cocker Spaniel undergo health testing?

Health testing should be done before breeding and on a periodic basis, as recommended by your veterinarian and canine geneticist.

Can a pet American Cocker Spaniel benefit from health testing as well?

Yes, health testing can provide important information about potential health issues that may arise in your pet American Cocker Spaniel and allow for early intervention and treatment.

Do all veterinarians offer health testing services?

No, not all veterinarians offer health testing services. It is important to find a reputable veterinarian and canine geneticist with experience in health testing.

Can health testing improve a breeder’s reputation and business?

Yes, health testing can improve a breeder’s reputation by demonstrating their commitment to producing healthy puppies and responsible breeding practices, leading to increased trust and business.


Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make DogCareHacks a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

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