At present, the only pre-breeding health screen required for Samoyeds by the Kennel Club (and, at that, only required of Assured breeders, not all breeders) in the UK is hip scoring. However, the Kennel Club doesn't seem to check that its Assured Breeders are only breeding from dogs with acceptably low hip scores! Moreover, the BVA eye testing scheme and gonioscopy are not currently necessary.
There are several other pre-breeding health screens, such as cardiac evaluation, elbow scoring and DNA tests, that are done in other countries but not required by the Kennel Club in the UK at this time.
Considering that eye issues such as glaucoma and cataract, heart problems such as murmurs in adults, and genetic diseases such as familial enamel hypoplasia are increasingly being identified and reported in Samoyeds, we do not feel the minimal hip scoring requirement is in any shape or form adequate for deciding whether to breed from a Samoyed.
As such we instead follow the CHIC health screening requirements of the United States, plus a few additional DNA tests and elbow scoring on top.
We take the health of our own dogs and their progeny very seriously and anyone purchasing a puppy from us can be assured that we have done everything we can to breed puppies with long, healthy lives ahead of them. Here is a list of the health tests we undertake, and an explanation of each:
The dog is sedated and X-rays of the hips are taken to evaluate the degree of hip dysplasia. A score from 0 to 106 is then given based on how "good" the hips are, with an overall score of 0 being "perfect". The breed average as of 2022 is an overall score of 12-13, and dogs with scores much higher than this should not be bred from. The minimum age at which a dog can be hip scored is 12 months under the BVA scheme. This is a one-off test.
The dog is sedated and X-rays of the elbows are taken to evaluate the degree of elbow dysplasia. A score from 0 to 3 is then given based on how "good" the elbows are, with an overall score of 0 being "perfect". The Kennel Club's advice on interpreting the results is "Ideally dogs with grade 0 elbows should be chosen for breeding and dogs with a score of 2 or 3 should not be used for breeding. It is also recommended that elbow scores of a dog’s family members should also be considered." The minimum age at which a dog can be elbow scored is 12 months under the BVA scheme. This is a one-off test.
The dog's eyes are checked by a specialist ophthalmologist, using a slit lamp, for conditions such as hereditary cataracts, distichiasis, retinal detachment, retinal atrophy, and others. The dog will be graded as Affected if it has any of the large number of ophthalmological conditions tested for, and Unaffected if it is free of them all. This test should be repeated yearly or at least prior to each breeding if more than 12 months has passed since the last examination.
Gonioscopy tests the risk of developing glaucoma. A special lens is placed into the dog's eyes and the iridocorneal drainage angles are examined to evaluate how open or closed they are. Based on the results of these eye tests, a dog will receive a gonioscopy grade of 0 to 3, with the higher the grade, the higher the risk of developing glaucoma. The BVA does not recommend breeding from grades higher than 0 and 1, unless the breed suffers from very low genetic diversity (not the case in Samoyeds). Gonioscopy should be repeated every 3 years.
Cardiac auscultation is carried out by a specialist cardiologist accredited by the Veterinary Cardiovascular Society. If any abnormality is found, further testing by echocardiograms is done.
X-linked Samoyed hereditary nephritis: This is an absolutely heart-breaking condition in which a male pup's kidneys fail and death occurs at around a year old. Females can carry the gene and pass it on to their sons, without themselves being affected. Females should be DNA tested to check if they are carriers. Males will not live past a year old if they are affected so do not need to be tested if they have survived to adulthood, unless they are being bred from below the age of two years old. There have been several reports of a second form of juvenile nephritis that also involves kidney failure and death around/below the age of a year old. There is no DNA test for this second similar condition although it does show a strong familial pattern.
Familial enamel hypoplasia: The dog's teeth begin to rot severely at a very young age, and gum disease and bad breath sets in. Males and females can both be carriers or affected, and therefore should both be DNA tested prior to breeding.
RD/OSD: In this condition, the dog's eyes show retinal folds and malformation to varying degrees, possibly with blindness and signs of skeletal defects such as dwarfism. Males and females can both be affected and should both be tested prior to breeding.
X-linked progressive retinal atrophy: The dog first loses its night vision and then its day vision begins to deteriorate, usually by the age of 3 to 5 years old. If males carry this gene they are always affected, while females can carry the disease but not be affected. Both genders should be tested prior to breeding.
Example of BVA eye testing + gonioscopy certificate (for Sonechka)
Samoyed following surgery for eye removal due to glaucoma, photo taken from https://www.reddit.com/r/samoyeds/comments/a67sa8/4mo_old_with_glaucoma_recently_had_her_left_eye/
Samoyed after total hip replacement surgery due to hip dysplasia, photo posted with permission from the owner.
Samoyed with familial enamel hypoplasia, photo from https://vgl.ucdavis.edu/test/feh-samoyed