DNA tests & what they tell us
All DNA tests are definitive because they tell you what actual genes a dog has, and if a gene's medical impact is certain, and the mode of inheritance is established, these tests are conclusive. Thus these tests are all useful, though some are perhaps less crucial. They don't depend on "phenotype" (the outward appearance and clinical health of the dog) to give you information you can use, and they are non invasive, requiring only a cheek swab, and no anesthesia.
vWD (von Willebrand's) Type 1 is quite rare now in standard poodles because of the use of the DNA test, and if you produce an affected dog, it may have a negative quality of life. Type 1 vWD causes variable amounts of bleeding, since this diseases limits coagulation of blood, much like hemophilia. Authors disagree as to whether this is an autosomal recessive (needing two copies to cause the disease) or an autosomal dominant with incomplete penetrance (needing only one copy to cause the disease but the degree of illness varies from dog to dog). This is worth doing if a dog is being bred and a clear status by parentage cannot be shown in recent generations. If pedigrees are accurate and grandparents are tested and cleared, this test is not crucial.
- OFA stats: In 864 total evaluations through Dec 2012 of all poodles, 96.5% were normal, and .1% were abnormal, which most likely means 3.4% were carriers.
DM (degenerative myelopathy) mutation. This is less rare than vWD, but still fairly rare in standard poodles compared to other breeds, and an affected dog (again, one with two copies of the mutation) may have a very negative quality of life after about age 7, or may be clinically normal. There are no current statistics we can find on frequency of the genetically affected becoming clinically affected but research is ongoing. It is a useful test and we can use it to lessen the frequency of the mutation in the breed, but it can be bred away from because there's a test. It is also important because age of onset of the disease is often AFTER a dog has been bred. The scientists who developed the test, however, summarize their recommendation to breeders thus: "We recommend that dog breeders take into consideration the DM test results as they plan their breeding programs; however, they should not over-emphasize this test result. Instead, the test result is one factor among many in a balanced breeding program."
- OFA stats: In 389 total evaluations through Dec 2012 of poodles, 87.7% were normal, and 0.5% were abnormal, which means 11.8% were carriers.
NE (neonatal encephalitis) is very rare, and more commonly found in particular lines, but these have been mixed throughout the gene pool. Two copies of this mutation produce puppies who die horrible deaths at a few weeks of age. There will be no affected adult dogs, so the frequency of the gene in the population will not grow rapidly, but there are carriers, and with testing the mutation should be able nearly to disappear. This is not a test that will make any difference when adopting a pet, since carrying the mutation has no affect on the health of a dog. This test only matters to breeders since they will lose about 1 in 4 puppies if both parents are carriers.
- OFA stats: In 452 evaluations through Dec 2012 of poodles, 90.7% were normal, and 0 were abnormal, which means 9.3% were carriers.