All dogs are at risk of inheriting diseases, regardless of whether they are purebred or crossbred dogs. A substantial amount of research has been carried out to analyse these diseases by investigating important factors, such as what causes them, which breeds may be affected and how the disease is inherited. Funding into this type of research has enabled the development of tests and screening schemes, and resources which allow breeders to help reduce the number of affected dogs and eventually eradicate these conditions.
There are 2 main types of health conditions: simple and complex.
Simple health conditions are usually associated with genetic mutations and for which a DNA test may be available. These tests tell you whether a dog is Clear of the mutation, a Carrier, or is Affected. Only Affected dogs will develop the disease. In Dachshunds, Cord1 PRA (an eye disease) and Lafora Disease (a form of epilepsy) are examples of simple conditions where DNA tests are available. These tests can be used to avoid diseases in future generations. Responsible breeders will use these tests to ensure they do not produce affected puppies.
Complex health conditions usually cannot be screened for with a DNA test. They are the result of a mixture of genetics, conformation, and lifestyle factors (such as diet and exercise). Screening programmes for complex diseases may tell you to what extent a dog is Affected (e.g. by a grade) or is at risk of the disease. Screening for IVDD, hips, elbows and patellar luxation fall into this category. Breeders should aim to breed from dogs with the best grades in order to reduce the risk of producing affected puppies. These screening programmes are about assessing risk and are used to reduce risk in future generations.
Clinical eye screening using the KC/BVA programme is also available and is used to identify conditions of the eyeball and adnexa (eyelids, eye-lashes). This is used to identify whether a dog is Affected or Clear of a particular condition. In Dachshunds, clinical eye screening is used to identify conditions such as PRA and Distichiasis.