Hamiltonstovare have been health tested in Sweden for 40+ years now. Traditionally the hips are tested in the international standard, the closest that Americas use is PennHip. The Swedish Hamiltonstovare Club also keeps records of cryptorchids produced and how many litters a stud dog has produced. This method has worked very well in that the Hamiltonstovare continues to be one of the healthiest breeds, with an average lifespan of 14+ years.
Yearly, I talk with representatives of the AKC CHF and discuss what they would recommend for a rarer breed. Their recommendations are hips (OFA or PennHip), elbows, thyroid and OFA blood DNA. I tend to agree, however, use a vet that has done health testing on multiple breeds before.
Health testing can be a very useful tool to prevent disease, however hip dysplasia can happen from non-genetic sources. The primary non-genetic source is carrying too much weight as a developing dog. Another source is too much high impact activities on a developing dog.
Hamiltonstovare are very slow to mature with most females not having their first heat cycle until they are 15+ months of age. They are fast to grow to their adult height but getting to their adult body condition does take more time. The females have a weedy stage around 5-8 months of age and the males have a weedy stage around 8-12 months of age. The weedy stage can be helped by high quality food with a protein content of over30% and grain free.
A Hamiltonstovare should be health tested when they are physically mature, generally between 2-4 years old. Hamiltonstovare should have their hips done in a similar manner of breeds that have a lot of rear muscle structure like American Pit Bull Terriers, Foxhounds, Staffordshire Bull Terrier, Pointing breeds, etc. basically breeds that are developed to have explosive speed from a standing position and can maintain that speed for long distances. For OFA, the vet should use the least amount of sedation necessary, then extend the hips and push back into the socket. For PennHip, only use a PennHip certified vet. The standard procedure for elbows can be used. The thyroid procedure is also standard as it is a blood draw, your vet should make sure that your Hamilton is not injured in any way before thyroid testing.
A developing Hamiltonstovare should be exposed to different sorts of stimuli and situations. I generally shoot for 100 people, 7 different floor surfaces, and exposure to various loud noises all before the puppies are 8 weeks old. I never let a puppy leave for its new home until it is 10 weeks old so that it can learn more crucial levels of socialization from adult dogs. The mental development of a young Hamiltonstovare is something that should be done with patience and a sense of humor. Harsh punishment, consistent confinement and other forms of outdated “methods” should never be used on a Hamiltonstovare.
Proper muscular development is just as critical to a developing Hamiltonstovare as proper bone structure. Hamiltonstovare should never be crated together. A developing Hamilton should get at least 30 minutes twice a day of good solid exercise. Hamiltonstovare should never be crated for more than 8 hours at a time. Hamiltonstovare are not a breed that should be kenneled, the require space to run and human interaction. The consequences of that can be detrimental to your hound’s overall health.