Irish Wolfhound Heart Test Certificates Explained

A strong heart is a good starting point for Irish Wolfhound health.

It is a recommendation for the Irish Wolfhound breed that you have your hound heart tested every year.  Heart Testing especially applies to anyone who is breeding. It is by no means a guarantee of heart health, but what it does mean is the breeder is being responsible and taking every precaution possible to use healthy Wolfhounds at the time of breeding. Cardiovascular disease in Wolfhounds is considered hereditary; there is a 50% chance that a puppy will be affected if the parents are diseased.  We have started to address the issue by heart testing every 6 months and by doing so minimising the risks of the disease.  

Please ask to see the heart test certificates of the parents of any puppy that you are thinking of buying.  You will see from looking at these certificates, that the hearts have been listened to and examined by a Veterinary Cardiologist, who uses three different methods of testing the Irish Wolfhounds heart during this examination.   Please read the certificates carefully and there is no reason why you should not have a copy.  

What you are looking for on the Heart Certificate are ticks in BOTH the NORMAL boxes on the lower half of the certificate.  This is the all clear of a healthy heart on the day and one which can be used for breeding for 12 months from the date of testing.   

Should an ABNORMAL box be ticked, the hound is not cleared for breeding.

Should an EQUIVOCAL box be ticked, this means that the hound has neither passed nor failed, but it does say the hound has not been cleared for breeding and requires re-testing, typically 6 months after the test date.  Until an EQUIVOCAL  hound tests NORMAL, it should not be bred with.  An EQUIVOCAL reading is neither a pass nor a fail; it means the Wolfhound needs another test.   Equivocal may or may not be seen again on the day of a re-test.  Such is nature, sometimes not black or white.  The Equivocal box allows for this and allows for a period to see if the condition changes.  The alternative would be to tick the Abnormal box, but with the Equivocal box ticked the hound is permitted a period to determine the condition.  

You may see a Heart Certificate where a MURMUR is detected and graded.  Depending on the grade of the murmur the Wolfhound can still be bred from, and the NORMAL boxes will have been ticked. The grade of these murmurs may vary from test to test, but you are still looking for the NORMAL boxes to be ticked, so the hound has been cleared for breeding. 

I hope my layperson's explanation of the Heart Certificate helps when choosing your puppy and your breeder.  I know how exciting the thought of having a puppy can be, and especially as many people have always longed for an Irish Wolfhound.  However, if you truly love this breed and care about its future please only buy from responsible breeders who heart test and those who will share their hound's heart test results with you.   

There is no excuse why a breeder should not share these certificates and the information they contain with you, or give you a copy.  You will need to see a certificate for both the Dam and the Sire.  The heart test certificates are filled out by the qualified Veterinary Cardiologist and given to the breeder/owners at the time of the examination.  Please be aware that all three methods of testing are required, and the Vet carrying out the test needs to have specialist qualifications. 

Would you like to have your Irish Wolfhound heart tested? 

The Irish Wolfhound Health Group have set up The Regional Heart Testing Scheme.  It is an initiative designed to offer all Irish Wolfhound owners, be they pet, rescue or show dogs, regular heart screening at very accessible rates and at the same time provide valuable information for ongoing research into heart disease in Irish Wolfhounds by Dr Serena Brownlie.