Health Testing Info

Health and Genetic Testing Information
Explanations of various Health Tests done around the world for Gordon Setters.
Internationally 4 somewhat differing scoring modes are in use: 
  • The FCI (Fédération Cynologique Internationale)
  • The OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals)
  • The BVA/KC (British Veterinary Association/The Kennel Club)
  • The SV (Germany)








0-4 (no>3/hip)

5-10 (no>6/hip)









Fast Normal

Noch Zugelassen









PENNHip is another method of diagnosing hip dyplasia.  Here is an article explaining this method.
The OFA has 4 categories of Elbow Dysplasia
  • Normal:  No sign of elbow dysplasia
  • Grade I:  Minimal bone change along anconeal process of ulna (less than 3mm).
  • Grade II: Additional bone proliferation along anconeal process (3-5 mm) and subchondral bone changes (trochlear notch sclerosis).
  • Grade III: Well developed degenerative joint disease with bone proliferation along anconeal process being greater than than 5 mm.
Article that explains elbow dysplasia.
The OFA has a Normal  rating for dogs without Shoulder OCD.

What is OCD of the shoulder?

OCD (osteochondrosis dessicans) is probably the leading cause of osteoarthritis of the shoulder joint. Shoulder OCD occurs when a piece of cartilage separates from the underlying bone. Pain is due to inflammation of the joint and exposure of nerves in the bone under the cartilage flap.  Shoulder OCD in dogs has been demonstrated to be a genetic disease and cannot be caused by diet or exercise although excessive exercise in a dog with untreated shoulder OCD may make the lameness more severe.  OCD of the shoulder is usually found in young dogs ranging from 6 months to 2 years of age.  The clinical sign of shoulder OCD is lameness of one or both forelegs. Dogs with shoulder OCD may have trouble getting up and often have some muscle loss and pain when the joint is moved. 

How is Shoulder OCD Diagnosed?

The diagnosis of shoulder OCD is usually straightforward because most lesions are easy to see on radiographs (x-rays) of the shoulder joint. The normal curve of the joint surface is interrupted by a flat area representing the abnormal cartilage.

The OFA certifies dogs with the following classifications.
  • TgAA is negative
  • cTSH within normal range
  • FT4 within normal range
Positive autoimmune thyroiditis
  •   FT4 less than normal range
  •   TgAA is positive
  •  cTSH greater than normal range

Positive compensative autoimmune thyroiditis

  •  FT4 is within normal range
  •   cTSH is greater than or equal to normal range
  • TgAA is positive

Idiopathically reduced thyroid function

  •   FT4 is less than normal range
  •   cTSH greater than normal range
  •   TgAA is negative

All other results are considered equivocal.


There are two different Eye Registries.  CERF has been phased out and now the ECR will take the place of CERF.  Before 11/2012 most eye certifications will be CERF.
  • CERF:  CERF is the Canine Eye Registration Foundation.  CERF maintains a registry of dogs that ACVO Diplomates examine and have found to be unaffected by major heritable eye disease.   As of Nov. 1, 2012 the ECR will take the place of CERF.
  • ECR:  The OFA is pleased to announce a new Eye Certification Registry (ECR). The new ECR is a joint effort between the OFA and the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists (ACVO) and has the full endorsement of the ACVO and their member Diplomates. The addition of eye examination results to the OFA database will unquestionably make the OFA the most complete resource of canine health screening results in the world and enhance this important toolset for responsible breeders to make more informed breeding decisions in an effort to reduce the incidence of inherited disease.

rcd4- PRA: 

The Rcd4 mutation responsible for late onset PRA was discovered by researchers at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) in the UK studying Gordon Setters. Their research found that dogs with 2 copies of this mutation have a high incidence of loss of vision due to this form of PRA at around 10 years of age. This has been demonstrated in Gordon & Irish Setters. The mutation was also seen in English Setters by screening random samples of DNA banked for other purposes. This mutation has not yet been seen in Irish Red & White Setters, but since they share the prcd1 form of PRA with Irish Setters, it is reasonable to suspect that they may have this form of PRA as well.    For more information  see

The OFA certifies dogs as Genetically Normal or Clear, Carrier, or Affected.

Cerebellar Degeneration:
The mutation causing cerebellar degeneration (also known as cerebellar abiotrophy, cerebellar ataxia, cerebellar cortical degeneration, CA) has been identified in the laboratory of Dr. Natasha Olby at North Carolina State University. 

Cerebellar degeneration has been documented in the Gordon Setter as an autosomal recessive inherited disorder since at least the 1960s. It causes a progressive loss of coordination resulting in the hallmark ataxic gait characterized by dramatic overstepping, particularly obvious in the forelimbs. Onset of signs ranges from six months to four years of age and disease progression tends to be slow, occurring over several years.

The OFA certifies dogs as Genetically Normal or Clear, Carrier, or Affected.
Color Testing:
Gordon Setters have several color possibilities that can be identified with DNA testing.
DNA Color Testing:
  • BBEE-  dog is pure for black (all puppies from the dog will be black)
  • BBEe-   black carrying red
  • BbEE-   black carrying liver
  • BbEe-    black carrying red and liver
  • BBee-    pure for red
  • Bbee-    red carrying black and liver
  • bbEE-   pure for liver
  • bbEe-    liver carrying red
  • bbee-    red carrying liver
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