What is a Health-Certified Puppy?

Health certified means that we as breeders are taking the burden of raising the puppy until the puppy is old enough to have the pennHIP and other preliminary health testing done. In that time, we also train the puppy in good behavior and obedience to the level of our started puppies. We guarantee that the puppy will meet pennHIP's breeding standard. 

These pups are from some of the best dogs in the industry. They go to their new homes with all the proof of great health we can provide. These pups go to fanciers, working positions, and families that want to minimize health risks as much as possible. These pups are available at about 4.5 months of age.

Health certified puppies will come with:

Don't drink the kool-aid!

Here are published scientific studies. Verify with a vet that does both OFA and Pennhip testing to avoid bias.

To improve the breed we are using selection pressure. Pennhip recommends that breeders choose dogs who are in the best 40% of Goldens tested. This means that 6 out of 10 dogs fail and are not used for breeding. We are working to improve those numbers!


OFA heritability in Goldens: 22%

(less reliable)

Pennhip heritability in Goldens: 64%

(more reliable)

"CONCLUSION AND CLINICAL RELEVANCE: Dogs judged as phenotypically normal by the OFA harbored clinically important passive hip joint laxity as determined via distraction radiography. Results suggested that OFA scoring of HE radiographs underestimated susceptibility to osteoarthritis in dogs, which may impede progress in reducing or eliminating hip dysplasia through breeding."

"All EMDs in the FCI grade “A” grouping were shown to have hip laxity by PennHIP distraction index to be greater than 0·3, the biological threshold above which hips are at risk for later development of osteoarthritis (OA) of CHD. We found similar results in our study of OFA hip scoring in the USA. Of the dogs given the best hip score, “OFA Excellent”, 56 per cent were found to have hip laxity greater than 0·3 and thus at risk for OA (Fordyce and others 2000)."

"Conclusions and Clinical Relevance—Establishment of a selection index that makes use of breeding values jointly estimated from the DI, DLS score, NA, and EHR score should enhance breeding programs to reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia in dogs."

"To avoid the potential problems associated with inbreeding and extreme selection, a moderate approach has been suggested in conjunction with PennHIP® testing, particularly in breeds with few or no members having tight (degenerative joint disease–unsusceptible) hips."


What is Hip Dysplasia?


Hip Dysplasia is an arthritis-like disease which affects about half of golden retrievers. It typically develops between 2 and 5 years of age, and causes intense pain while walking. The only cure is surgically replacing the hip, which is expensive and often results in reduced mobility.

The good news is, it's mostly genetic. By carefully choosing our breedings, we can reduce the incidence of hip dysplasia dramatically, which is why we can offer hip certified dogs: guaranteed to have hips that are above the breeding threshold and unlikely to ever develop hip dysplasia.


The Two Tests for Hip Dysplasia


There are two tests (both based on X-rays of the hip) available for hip dysplasia in the US: OFA and PennHIP.

The OFA hip laxity was developed in 1966, and is a subjective test scored on a rubric. PennHIP was established more recently in 1993, and is a direct objective measurement of hip laxity (how loose the thighbone is in the socket.)

We exclusively use PennHIP on both our breeding dogs and Hip-Certified Puppies.


Why PennHIP over OFA?


OFA, in spite of being used as a breeding criterion for nearly 50 years, has repeatedly had low success in actually improving dog genetics. It's prone to false negatives in many cases, and is a worse measure of the actual genetics we need to control. That's significantly because OFA uses a single X-Ray radiograph for its analysis, while PennHIP uses three taken from different angles. PennHIP can actually give a quantitative measurement of hip laxity regardless of hip shape and is less prone to technical error.