Genetic Resources

Many genetic resources are available for the breeder of Portuguese Water Dogs. Our breed is fortunate to have several gene tests at our disposal for diseases that would otherwise be devastating to our breed. By utilizing these genotypic and phenotypic testing options, breeders can make breeding choices that limit the occurrence of certain diseases in our dogs. Here are some resources offering testing for the most common diseases found in the Portuguese Water Dog as well as information of other more obscure health issues.


PennGen is a genetic testing facility operated through the Section of Medical Genetics at the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Veterinary Medicine. It is a collection of laboratories that coordinate as a not-for-profit unit, offering routine testing for a variety of genetic diseases, metabolic screening for inborn errors of metabolism, and a number of other diagnostic genetic services. PennGenn also engages in research to uncover the genetic basis of a wide range of disease in domestic animals. PennGenn offers gene test for the JDCM found in the Portuguese Water Dog.

PennGen & Diagnostic Services

Optimal Selection

Is a division of Mars/Wisdom Health to provide DNA based diagnoses and information about inherited diseases of dogs. In 2019 Mars partnered with Optigen to add Optigen’s DNA tests to their extensive array of DNA testing. Optigen’s founding members collaborated for decades on projects in the fields of veterinary ophthalmology, molecular diagnostics, and genetics. Mars/Wisdon Health retains the Optigen archival of DNA samples for future tests that may come available. Mars/Wsidon Heatlh through their Optimal Selection product, provides testing for prcd-PRA, EOPRA, GM-1 and Furnishings (formerly known as IC-13) in the Portuguese Water Dog. Consult their website to order the Optimal Selection Canine Breeding Analysis DNA test kit.

Optimal Selection Canine Breeding Analysis

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals

Founded and originally incorporated as a private not-for-profit foundation in 1966, the OFA originally focused on a means of limiting hip dysplasia in dogs. Since that time, the OFA has expanded to operate an extensive database of genetic disease in all-breeds and they continue to interpret canine hip radiographs. In addition, they offer a number of genetic screenings, manage the Clear by Parentage program, and maintain a DNA bank for future canine health research in conjunction with the University of Missouri.


Canine Health Information Center

The CHIC database is a tool that collects health information on individual animals from multiple sources. This centralized pool of data is maintained to assist breeders in making more informed breeding choices and for scientists in conducting research. In order for data to be included in CHIC, test results must be based on scientifically valid diagnostic criteria.

Core to the CHIC philosophy is the realization that each breed has different health concerns. Not all diseases have known modes of inheritance, nor do all diseases have screening tests. Some screening tests are based on phenotypic evaluation, others on genetic testing. With all these variables, a key element of CHIC is to customize or tailor the CHIC requirements to the needs of each breed. These unique requirements are established through input from the parent club prior to the breed’s entry into the CHIC program. Breed specific requirements typically consist of the inherited diseases that are of the greatest concern and for which some screening test is available. Each parent club also drives specific screening protocols.


American Veterinary Medical Association Health Studies Database (AAHSD)

The American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA) maintains a database of ongoing veterinary clinical studies conducted to investigate novel therapies or to collect samples or information to gain further understanding of a disease provide the best scientific evidence to guide the clinical care of animals, and oftentimes, people too. With the application of genomics to canine research and the world wide collaboration, clinical trials provide the fuel to move things forward.

Veterinarians and animal owners may search the site to find studies that might be relevant to their patient or pet, either for a particular condition or even to provide health data or a sample from a normal animal. Animal owners interested in participating in such studies are encouraged to discuss their eligibility for any relevant study with their veterinarian.

AVMA Animal Health Studies Database (AAHSD)

American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation Clinical Trials Database

American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation (AKC CHF) maintains a database of clinical trials underway that are funded by AKC CHF. The requirements to participate in clinical trials vary greatly. Some offer financial compensation and others will require the dog owner to pay for the medical treatment. You and your dog will likely have to travel to the trial site multiple times, so look for trials in your geographic region.

AKC CHF Clinical Trials Database