Updated: Nov 13, 2020
What does the above statement mean? It means different things to different breeders. To some it means nothing, they are not interested in testing to make sure that they produce the healthiest possible puppies, not only for themselves, but for the buying public. To others it is a statement that is totally unknown to them, they just wanted to have a litter of puppies so the kids could witness the miracle of life. To others it sounds good, but you don't do it, you only tell people you do and hope they don't ask for proof. All of the above scenarios are all breeders whether they realize it or not. The above statement sets them apart for a responsible breeder.
A responsible breeder is one that does everything possible to make sure when they produce a litter it is as free from hereditary health problems as possible. It means this breeder has all the main breeding tests done, having OFA done at the appropriate time, eyes checked, and DNA testing done. They will back their breeding program by providing buyers with a written health guarantee against hereditary defects, and will take the animal back if for any reason you are no longer able to take care of it.
Remember the old statement "You get what you pay for." Buying from a responsible breeder is not cheap. They have put a lot of time, studying, planning and yes money into breeding the best they can. They not only do this, but because 90% of all puppies born will eventually go as family pets and companions, they want to make sure each puppy has a temperament suitable for family living. A show dog normally has to have a very steady temperament to handle the rigors of the show ring, whether it is conformation of performance. A responsible breeder knows and understands and breeds to the breed standard. Unfortunately the Sheltie is not an easy breed, it is a fairly young breed, a little over 100 years old and due to the crosses to other breeds that were made in founding of the breed, size is a problem and is one of the main reasons a dog is place as a companion.
There are several laboratories that offer genetic health testing for pets. Some labs specialize in one test (denoted with an asterisk*), while others offer package deals. Below are some (alphabetical) links:
Animal Genetics Lab: Multiple tests, including: CEA, DM, DMS, MDR1, PRA, vWD3
Embark Vet: Multiple tests, including: CEA, DM, MDR1,PRA, vWD3
GenSol Diagnostics: Multiple tests, including: CEA, DM, MDR1, vWD3
MSU DCPAH: Multiple tests, including: MDR1, Thyroid*, vWD3
Paw Print Genetics: Multiple tests, including: CEA, DM, MDR1, PRA, vWD3
VetGen: Multiple tests, including: CEA, DM, DMS*, EIC*, Lance Canines*, MDR1, PRA, vWD3
Washington State University: MDR1*
Wisdom Panel: Multiple tests, including Cleft Palate, DM, DMS, EIC, MDR1, PRA, vWD3
Abbreviation Guide: CEA = Collie Eye Anomaly, DM = Degenerative Myelopathy, EIC = Exercise Induced Collapse, MDR1 = Multi Drug Resistance, PRA = Progressive Retinal Atrophy, DMS = Dermatomyositis, vWD = Von Willebrand's Disease
Some of the laboratories listed above will also perform coat color tests and heritage testing.
The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) is a registry that stores test results and is searchable if the owner authorizes the records to be released. It is very important to inquire for lab test results, instead of taking a breeders word that a parent was "health checked", or "healthy". Often what the later implies is that the parent has been examined by a veterinarian to be free from any obvious communicable diseases (like parvovirus), but does mean the pet is truly a healthy animal worthy of being bred.
The highest levels of testing a single dog will earn a Canine Health Information Certificate (CHIC) that denotes that particular animal is tested for the most common diseases the breed can get - it does not mean the animal has passed the tests and may be carriers or affected.