ISSA Required Health Testing bnner

ISSA Mandated Health Testing

The testing we require for every breeding dog.

The ISSA believes strongly that all our breeders should be on the same page about health testing their stock. To that end, our Registry has set up specific rules that must be followed for ISSA dogs to be approved for breeding.

The following health testing is mandated (NOT optional) for any breeding-quality ISSA Shiloh Shepherd pup born from March of 2016 onward. Pups who do not successfully complete this testing will not qualify for their Breeding Certificate, and may not be bred.

Older dogs who were approved for breeding prior to 2016 may have received only part of this testing, as the previous registry only mandated hips and Holter. In this, we feel we have made a significant improvement. Please contact your breeder if you have questions about what specific testing the parents of your future pup have completed.


Not strictly-speaking a health test, but all ISSA-registered breeding dogs must pass one of the following tests of good temperament in order to breed: an official ISSA Temperament Test at the age of 10 months or older; the Canine Good Citizen (CGC) test with an additional Gunsureness test to detect noise sensitivity; or, in the event there is nowhere near them to get either of the previous tests done, the owner may send video of their dog performing a specific set of tests to be scored by the ISSA Breed Wardens.


Owners may choose either OFA or PennHIP at their discretion.

For decades our Breed Founder, Tina Barber, worked to lower the incidence of hip dysplasia in the Shiloh breed through using her LMX (Litter Mate X-ray) system. In LMX, it is every bit as important to get pet dogs x-rayed as breeding animals, because it is the score over the entire litter that gives you the strongest indicator of what those dogs will produce.

For example, Tina found that a breeding dog with five litter mates who scored OFA Good is much more likely to throw good hips themselves, whereas a breeding dog with three litter mates that don’t pass their hips is more likely to throw dysplasia even if they themselves have good hips.

Because of the LMX program, ISSA breeders strongly encourage all puppy owners to x-ray their dogs; it’s the only way we can make sure that we are breeding healthier animals. If the dog is to be spayed or neutered, x-rays can often be done at the same time, so that your pet only needs to be sedated once.


Elbow problems were previously thought to be rare in the Shiloh Shepherd, as very few cases were reported. However, ISSA breeders have realized that if we want to be sure, we all need to test. Therefore, elbow x-rays are mandated by ISSA for all breeding dogs.

As with the hip LMX program, above, we hope that our pet owners will help us breed healthier Shilohs by getting their dogs’ elbows x-rayed. Many veterinarians will offer a discount if hips and elbows are done at the same time.


GSDIVA is a terrible disease, characterized by a potentially lethal heart arrhythmia that attacks young dogs and is impossible to detect by normal means. The only way to detect the arrhythmia is to have a pup wear a portable EKG monitor, called a Holter, for 24 to 48 hours.

ISSA breeders have joined together in the fight to eradicate this disease from our gene pool. We have mandated that all breeding pups must have a Holter done by the age of twelve months at the latest, with the five to eight months window being preferred. Only by detecting this disease can we find where it hides in our lines, make sure that we are not breeding affected dogs, and, eventually, eliminate it from our beloved breed.

Once again we need help from you, our puppy people. The mode of inheritance for this disease is in question, and knowing that the disease has occurred in a litter means that we can make better decisions for the future breeding pups from that litter. We can’t emphasize enough how grateful we are to the many puppy people who have assisted us by Holtering their pets.


All ISSA breeding dogs must pass an auscultation test, signed off on by their veterinarian. If the auscultation detects any murmur or possible anomaly whatsoever, the dog must then undergo an echocardiogram to make sure that their heart structure is normal before being approved to breed. ISSA breeders who wish to do the echo instead of the auscultation are encouraged to do so if they wish.

Why do both auscultation/echo and Holter testing? The disorders detected by the auscultation or echocardiogram are mechanical in nature, dealing directly with the structure of the heart. The Holter, in contrast, monitors electrical impulses, which cannot be detected by an echo.


Degenerative Myelopathy, or DM, is considered very similar to multiple sclerosis in people, and leads to similar degeneration of the spinal cord. There is a DNA test for DM, to determine if a dog is clear, a carrier, or potentially affected.

This test is not proven reliable in more than a scattering of breeds, but it does appear to be so in German Shepherd dogs. Until we are sure about whether it works for Shilohs, ISSA does mandate this test for breeding animals who are not clear by parentage. The Registry also mandates that carriers may only be bred to dogs tested clear of the disease alleles. ISSA is very pleased that the number of carriers of this disease in our gene pool is presently less than a half-dozen. If the test is accurate for Shilohs, we are on the verge of completely eliminating DM from ISSA dogs.


We ask that our breeders at the very least put their breeding dog's DNA on file with UC-Davis. However, it's far more useful to them to instead (or also) participate in our Genetic Diversity study with the university, in order to utilize our new tools for finding the most optimal mates for their dogs.

One of the most important indicators of good health in animals is genetic diversity. We are currently partnering with UC-Davis to complete genetic diversity testing on our ISSA gene pool. All breeding dogs need to submit DNA to the university so that we can obtain an initial assessment of our diversity and preserve as much as we can moving forward. Loss of diversity means more immune system issues, and more inherited disorders, so this is of huge importance to ensure a healthy future for our breed.


There are tests that some breeders may choose to perform that ISSA has not mandated. These include CERF exams and TLI testing. Should it become necessary, ISSA could mandate these tests, but for now we have left them as optional.

TLI is the test called for to verify that a dog is affected by EPI, a Pancreatic disorder that is present in the Shiloh breed. However, a dog tested for TLI can be pronounced normal and yet still develop the disease later. It can also test normal but turn out to be a carrier and produce the disease in its progeny. Testing a normal dog for TLI before breeding it thus gives nothing but a false sense of security. If, on the other hand, some symptoms are present, it is absolutely expected that an ISSA breeder will have the TLI done to rule out this disease in a potential breeding dog.

CERF exams are extremely useful in breeds with early-developing eye disorders. In Shilohs, the only eye disorder currently seen with any frequency is Pannus.

Pannus is a late-developing disease, usually showing up in our dogs around five or six years of age--after most breeding dogs have already had several litters. A Shiloh can test clear with CERF over several years, but still develop or produce Pannus later on, making the test no guarantee of a clear dog and no guarantee that the dog is not a carrier for the disease. It only guarantees that your dog is not affected by disease at the time you tested it. ISSA thus does not currently mandate CERF, though we welcome our breeders to have the testing done if they feel it is of value or if they feel there is cause.

© 2016 International Shiloh Shepherd Alliance, Inc.