I have just added a new page to the Bonaforte website about what to look for on a heart test certificate. On the site you will also find examples of the actual heart test certificates to help you understand more fully.
Irish Wolfhound Heart Test Certificates
It is a recommendation for the Irish Wolfhound breed that you have your hound heart tested every year. This especially applies to anyone who is breeding. It is by no means a guarantee to heart health, but what it does mean is the breeder is being responsible and taking every precaution possible to use healthy hounds at the time of breeding. If heart disease in hounds is hereditary, it is considered that there is a 50% chance that a puppy will be effected if a diseased dog is used. We have started to address the issue, by heart testing, and by doing so minimising the risks of the disease being carried.
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 hound 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 has not been cleared for breeding.
Should an EQUIVOCAL box be ticked, this means that the hound has neither passed nor failed, but it does mean the hound has not been cleared for breeding and requires re-testing, normally 6 months after the test date. Until such time as an EQUIVOCAL hound tests NORMAL it should not be used for breeding. An EQUIVOCAL reading is neither a pass nor a fail, it means the hound needs another test. Equivocal may or may not be seen again on the day of a re-test. Such is nature, sometimes not black and white, the Equivocal box allows for this.
You may see on a Heart Certificate where a MURMUR has been detected and this will be graded. Depending on the grade of the murmur the hound can still be used for breeding 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 hounds heart test results with you.