We have all accepted the minimum testing needed before breeding is the x-ray or penn hip for Hip Dysplasia, a Thyroid clearance by the Michigan State University Program of research, or a similar competent university testing facility. And two tests for cardiac health.
One being the echo or Doppler to clear for Sub Aortic Stenosis. Auscultation is accepted by the OFA and they will give you a number and clearance. This is acceptable if done by a Board Cardiologist in the proper setting of a room that is sound proofed to reduce the usual office noises of phones ringing, dogs barking, people communicating at various levels.
This is totally my opinion, but upon some follow up testing after the auscultation was done at a show, or by a general practitioner this has been shown to not be completely satisfactory. Another reason is that boxers pant, either from heat or nerves, but they do pant. This is the reason I would follow up with an echo or Doppler.
The other test being a 24 hour Holter monitor or ambulatory monitor, as it is called in some references. This is simply a 24 hour echocardiogram. EKG or ECG is the same, be sure and see definitions of why the 24 hour is needed. Also at the end of this article is references linked to research and knowledgeable researcher's articles dealing with both of these serious heart problems.
It is my understanding from studying the leading researchers documentation that the Echo/Doppler need not be done repeatedly if a satisfactory test is completed at 2 years of age. If the test is not in the normal range then treatment has to follow your cardiologist's recommendations. With the Holter it is necessary to do this on a regular basis to be certain your boxer has not developed this on a yearly average or at least each time you plan to breed your bitch. With a male it should be repeated on a schedule to be able to assure bitch owners and yourself that the male is staying in the range approved by the medical field at this time. Needless to say we are all aware that this is a variable at this time. With the hips one time is sufficient to satisfy the most discriminating breeders. Thyroid, again, is a disease that can come with older age and should be checked again if the need is seen, or to be fully protected with the needed screening.
Below I have taken the definitions of these diseases and tests from a 29th Edition of the "Dorland's Illustrated Medical Dictionary." Copyrighted by the W. B. Saunders and Company, A Harcourt Health Sciences Company of The Curtis Center, Independence Square West, Philadelphia, PA, 19106. 2000.
Canine Hip Dysplasia : A bone disorder seen in dogs, particularly in large breeds, in which it may be hereditary; the acetabulum is shallow, the femoral head may be deformed or small, and there is excessive movement at the hip joint, which eventually becomes inflamed and weakened.
STENOSIS: abnormal narrowing of a duct or canal; called also arctiation, coartication, and stricture.
AORTIC: narrowing of the orifice of the aortic valve or of the supravalvuar regions; see also supravalvular aortic s. and subvalular aortic s.
Subarotic s. Aortic stenosis due to an obstruction lesion in the left ventricle below the aortic valve causing a pressure gradient across the obstruction within the ventricle.
To test for these problems it is necessary to use one of the following:
ECHOCARDIOGRAM: the record produced by Echocardiograhpy.
ECHOCARDIOGRAPHY : A method of graphically recording the position and motion of the heart walls or the internal structure of the heart and neighboring tissue by the echo obtained from the beams of ultrasonic waves directed through the chest wall. Called also ultrasonic cardiography.
DOPPLER : an echocardiographic technique that records the flow of red blood cells through the cardiovascular system by means of Doppler echosonographpy. -color flow Doppler imaging. (Named for Christian Doppler, Austrian physician and mathematician-1803-1853)
The other test that needs to be done for our boxers heart evaluation is a 24 hour Holter monitor. This is a 24 hour : ELCTROCARDIOGRAM: a graphic tracing of the variations in electrical potential caused by the excitation of the heart muscle and detected at the body surface. The normal electrocardiogram is a scalar representation that shows the deflections resulting from atrial and ventricular as changes in the magnitude of voltage and polarity (positive and negative) with time. The first deflection, the P wave, is due to excitation of the ateria; the Q wave complex of deflections, is excitation, (depolarization) of the ventricles; and the T wave, of the recovery of the ventricles(depolarization). Abbreviated ECG or EKG.
ELECTROCARIOGRAPHY: the making of graphic records of the variations of the electrical potential caused by electrical activity of the heart muscle and detected at the body surface for studying the actions of the heart muscle.
VPC: Ventricular premature complex
VPB: Ventricular premature beat, see ventricular premature complex.
Holter Monitor: Named for Norman Jefferis Holter, an American biophysicist, 1914-1983. See Monitor.
MONITOR: Ambulatory ECG -a portable continuous electrocardiogrpahic recorder, typically monitoring two channels for 24 hours; it is used to detect frequency and duration of cardiac rhythm disturbances and to assess pacemaker programing. The term is sometimes used synonymously with Holter Monitor.
This definition comes from " TABER'S CYCOLPEDIC MEDICAL DICTIONARY" F. A. Davis Company, 17th Edition, copyright, 1993.
HOLTER MONITOR"A portable device small enough to be worn by a patient during normal activity. It consists of an electrocardiograph and a recording system capable of storing up to 24 hours of the individuals ECG record. It is particular useful in obtaining a record of cardiac arrhythmia that WOULD NOT BE DISCOVERED BY MEANS OF AN ECG RECORD OF ONLY A FEW MINUTES DURATION." (My emphasis, but their words on the last phrase.)
CARDIOMYOPATHY " a general diagnostic term of designating primary noninflammatory disease of he heart muscle, often of obscure or unknown etiology and not the result of ischemic, hypertensive, congenital, valvular, or pericardial disease. It is usually subdivided into dilated, hypertrophic, and restrictive.
DILATED: A syndrome of ventricular dilation, systolic contractile dysfunction, and often congestive heart failure; the course is usually progressive with a poor prognosis. It is caused by a variety of factors, such as alcohol, pregnancy, systemic hypertension, or certain infections. (Remember this is a human definition, dilated cardiomyopathy is a boxer problem which I am sure is not caused by alcohol)
There are many sub factors listed under this heading. Of course, being a human dictionary there is not one particular to boxers and their type of BCM, Boxer Cardiomyopathy or FVA, Familial Ventricular Arrhythmia as they are now beginning to call this in boxers. And it is very similar to ARVD in humans, (arrhythmogenic right ventricular dysplasia) and this is often the cause of sudden death in humans as well.
Now, to why I have gone to all this detailed descriptions of what the tests are and what they show when completed is I am hoping to encourage a "Uniform Technology; or Terminology in advertising the boxer health status.
Currently we see too many heart clear and ekg normal, which in the boxer diagnostic world means really very little to the general people reading our ads, and the ads do cost a very large part of the budget in our kennels so we should get maximum coverage and clarity from them.
I have gone through many of the available publications and very few have a clear concise statement of the boxer's health. If we are encouraging owners to breed to our valuable male then they need to know if the dog has been tested and what tests were done and a fair idea of what the reports will show. Today we all are too busy to contact anyone that is vague and possibly passing the buck here.
The Boxer Underground on the Internet has heart clear, health tested advertising and a few more boxers are added each month. But the most ads we see are in the Boxer Review. Most ads have very little info on this, and if it is there it, is not on point in my opinion.
So therefore I am suggesting that we have a standardized form that we can present to the public and then if they are interested in more information they can contact you and be sent -SENT- not promised to be sent, a copy of the report and the testing doctor's determinations.
We could all work together on the ShowBoxer List to refine this form and reach the most pleasing to breeders, purchasers and interested bitch owners all.
I would suggest something very condensed and on point such as "OFA'd hips date and number. Thyroid tested -date-by testing university-normal. Heart, echo'd or Dopplered, date-OFA number, (which will mean that the conclusion was that the heart was cleared for a murmur, or it was within the range of 1.7 or below on the echo/Doppler.) Holter -date-No. Of vpc's if you wish to include or give cardiologist doing testing.
" It could look something like this, (fictional data included below)
I am open to suggestions on this form. And I am not suggesting that other tests are not needed also, particularly pre-breeding tests for brucellosis. But this is the majority of the problems in the boxer lines, other than cancer, of course.