We take the health of our dogs very seriously at Knockout and try our very best to produce the soundest healthiest chihuahuas possible. Health is our first consideration in all breedings that we do combined with actual physical conformation and temperament. We believe that well built dogs live happier more comfortable lives making them better able to do their # 1 job...be a good companion.
We prioritize continually researching and learning about health related issues in the chihuahua breed. This requires our approach to health to remain fluid so that we can 'adjust the sails' as we learn and grow.
Below is more about our current approach to health in the chihuahua breed.
Prior to becoming part of our breeding program...Knockout Chihuahuas have the following testing done (at a minimum):
OFA Patella Exam
This exam screens for patellar luxation or 'slipping knee caps' - the most common orthopedic issue seen in toy breed dogs. You can learn more about patellar luxation HERE.
OFA Advanced Cardiac Exam
We are currently the only breeding program in the USA that is actively performing echocardiograms (heart ultrasounds) on our dogs. Chihuahuas almost all will pass auscultation young but echos give us a lot more information about the dogs we are breeding. Echos give us early insight that traditional auscultation does not, allowing us to consciously work toward longevity in our bloodlines. All of our echos and auscultations are also performed by boarded cardiologists.
OFA CAER Eye Exam
This exam screens for genetic/inherited eye diseases found in the chihuahua breed. This exam is performed by a boarded ophthalmologist.
EMBARK DNA Panel
Embark screens for over 200 various genetic diseases, 5 of which are specifically identified in the chihuahua breed. Learn more HERE. Embark DNA also allows us to know the genetic coefficient of inbreeding of our dogs (COI) as well as predicted COI between breeding pairs. It is a valuable tool in ensuring we are doing our best to preserve genetic diversity and not breed too closely as a pedigree does not 'tell all'. Finally, it allows us predict coats and colors that can result from the breedings that we do! You can read about our personal DNA testing journey HERE.
Comprehensive Blood Panel - Chemistry, CBC & Thyroid (T4)
We do comprehensive blood work on our dogs primarily to screen for liver & kidney issues that can and do occur in the chihuahua breed, as well as to ensure that they have no signs of thyroid issues. This also helps us ensure that our dogs are healthy enough to breed and that breeding is as low risk as possible for them. Our breeding dogs have 2 sets of "normal" results prior to becoming part of our breeding program.
Read more about OFA's recommendations for chihuahuas HERE.
**Additionally nearly all of our Chihuahuas are tested for:
OFA Legg Calve Perthes
This exam is done by x-ray/radio graph. At this time this test is not required for the chihuahua breed however we believe that knowing what we are breeding is very important. You can learn more about this orthopedic disease HERE. Chihuahuas are listed on OFA's website as a breed susceptible to this disease.
OFA Hips or Hip Prelims
This exam is done by x-ray/radiography and is done at the same time we do the Legg Calve Perthes Screen. Preliminary evaluations are given grades but not OFA numbers. Only a chihuahua over 2 years of age can receive an official grade and OFA number.
We believe in testing above and beyond the suggested testing for the chihuahua breed because knowing what we are breeding allows us to make the best choices possible for the future. We take a "whole body" approach and try to look at a dog both internally and externally to truly know what they are. Just because you do not "see" a problem doesn't mean one isn't there (and somethings are carried without being expressed, too). While we LOVE showing our dogs and winning in the show ring, our goals are bigger than that when it comes to the chihuahuas we are producing.
We update many of these tests throughout the lives of our dogs (some do not need to be updated past a certain point or are a 'one time test' where if they are clear, they are genetically clear). Cardiac & eye results are the most important to follow. The older a dog still is clearing these tests, the better!
Following our chihuahuas' health as they age helps us work toward longevity in our bloodlines. Simply testing at a year of age is not enough when the big picture is considered. We want to see our dogs still with "clear"/normal results at older ages, as it makes it more likely their offspring will be the same.
We submit our results to the public database so that they are readily available for anyone looking to learn more about the bloodlines we are working with.
It is important to understand health testing is about INFORMATION. Not all dogs will have PERFECT results and it doesn't necessarily mean that they should be eliminated. Knowing results allows us to make the right decisions for the future and in the pairs that we combine. Each dog has unique genetic make up and important genetic diversity.
There is a lot we currently cannot see or test for, and if we make the gene pool too small by eliminating anything that tests less than perfect, we can bottleneck into other issues we don't even know exist. Once a dog's unique genetic makeup is removed from the gene pool it is gone forever.
We factor health testing results into each breeding we do and ensure we don't double up on something we are aware is present. Eventually as dogs age their results might not be clear anymore - this is normal! But this important information factors in when we make breedings later on with their kids, grandkids, great grandkids and so-on.
Health testing doesn't guarantee our puppies won't have issues because chihuahuas are living breathing creatures and at the end of the day 'anything can happen'...but it dramatically increases the likelihood they will be happy and healthy for as long as possible and that is our #1 goal in each and every litter that we produce.
We believe we have a responsibility to do our best to preserve and protect the chihuahua breed not just in type and physical conformation but also in health and longevity.
ASK your breeder to see health clearances for dogs if they are not in the database, which is easily searchable. Breeders who care about the breed and are invested in the future of the breed WILL publish these results. We would advise not purchasing from breeders who do not health test and who do not publicly publish results. A vet "checking them out" is NOT THE SAME!
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals http://www.offa.org/
We offer a 2 year health guarantee against life threatening genetic defects for each puppy that we sell. By testing your puppy's parents for known genetic problems that occur in the chihuahua breed, we feel you have a greatly increased chance of a healthy puppy that can live a full normal life. Our puppy contract can be found here for more information on our health guarantee!
Understanding The Health Results On Our Website
**Each dog's results are listed for you on their individual box under his/her name if they are part of our breeding program. We feel it is very important for you to have access to the health testing results for your puppy's parents.
**A dog gets a CHIC number if they have completed the required health testing for their breed and the results have been made public. These tests are performed by veterinarians and veterinary specialists who scan each dog for their microchip to confirm the test is being done on the dog the paperwork states. Read more about CHIC for chihuahuas HERE.
**Clicking the link to each dog's 'CHIC' number in their information box will take you to their official OFA results.
**Each dog also has a link to their EMBARK DNA profile. Learn more about the diseases EMBARK screens for HERE.
NOTE: Some dogs may not have completed results posted yet due to age (chihuahuas must be a minimum of one year of age to have their results certified) or not being part of our breeding program yet, but any dog being used for breeding will have completed results available.