There are several health schemes relevant to the Labrador Retriever breed. You may be familiar with the hip scoring, elbow scoring and eye testing schemes, but with continuing advances in genetics new ways of screening for hereditory defects are being introduced.
Hip scoring is done to check on the degree of Hip Dysplasia (HD) present, and is a one off procedure. Ideally a dog should have a total score (i.e. both hips added together) of around the breed mean of 15 to be suitable to be bred from. Elbow scoring is increasingly common, with each elbow being graded from 0 to 3. Eyes should be tested on an annual basis to ensure that there are no hereditary defects emerging, which could be passed on to progeny.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) refers to degenerative conditions that cause impaired vision and eventually blindness. Centronuclear Myopathy (CNM) is an incurable disease that presents from 2 to 5 months and severely inhibits muscle development. Exercise Induced Collapse (EIC) can cause temporary collapse triggered by 5 to 20 minutes of strenuous exercise, with the severity varying between dogs. DNA test results for these three conditions are available from the Kennel Club, where they have been submitted. Hereditary nasal parakeratosis (HNPK) causes scales and crusts on the nose which in sever cases can cause discomfort. Narcolepsy (NARC) can cause temporary collapse lasting up to a few minutes. With the advent of relatively simple testing it is becoming more common that breeders screen for the most serious of these conditions.
The Kennel Club is working with the Animal Health Trust to develop a more sophisticated approach to analysing health data. Estimated Breeding Values (EBVs) take into account not only data from progeny, but also from ancestry and related dogs.
A danger with any scoring scheme is that prospective breeders may focus too much on the 'best' scoring dogs, risking overlooking desirable attributes such as confirmation and temperament, and of narrowing the gene pool. To help counter this the Kennel Club has developed a system called Mate Select that includes a tool for calculating the degree of inbreeding with any mating.