This is the same discussion that comes up all over the country every time someone breeds to Sonny, because he is the #3 Golden in the country this year (and his sister, Chloe is #1), and because he is being sired prolifically. I doubt we will have anything new to say. The only science we have that I have seen suggests that the odds of ED in issue from any two parents passing elbows is 11%, and does not indicate causation of higher rates due to clearances or lack thereof in aunts and uncles. I would certainly be very interested in reading any study that concludes a heightened risk, as you say, so would you be kind enough to provide me a link or other source that I can read? I'm very interested in learning as much as possible about this so I can tell fact from conjecture. I'm trying to find every scientific study on this that I can. The problem for all of us is that there just isn't enough, at this point. But please help me learn by pointing me in the right direction. I will happily agree with you on all of this if I can "see it with my own eyes."
There is so much conflicting anecdotal evidence out there, it's head-spinning. I know of a litter of six, where three of the pups were exercised hard at a young age, and three were not. The three that were exercised all failed elbows. The three that were not all passed. What does that say? No one knows. But that doesn't stop people from coming to all sorts of conclusions. We are all looking for answers where certainty is lacking.
I'm not sure about your suggestion that it doesn't matter whether we test all pups in a litter or which ones we test. The ones who are tested tend to be the ones that seem most structurally sound at 8 weeks, and which go on to be shown. The ones with perhaps the greater potential for hip or elbow problems often don't get sent to show homes and don't get tested. At 8 weeks you can tell on some puppies that their front ends are not put together in a sound way, and I suggest that those are the most likely to fail elbows and the least likely to be tested.
As for your suggestion that popular sire syndrome might give rise to denial in breeders, that certainly can be the case. We humans have a terrific and unfortunate capacity for rationalization. But I would hesitate to label all breeders who choose to breed to a particular dog (Sonny or another) as rationalizing, just because they make a breeding that you would not.
But you talk about popular sire syndrome, it is definitely a problem. Kirby (Rush Hill's Haagen Dazs) produced more children than China does, and he didn't receive clearances until he was 10 years old. Back then, they just weren't available and people were breeding in the dark, passing on huge numbers of problems throughout the breed. Thankfully, Kirby passed and his kids did pretty well.
I think you've pretty successfully trashed Sonny pups, here. I don't think it's warranted. In a couple years we can compare notes on how all the great many Sonny pups across the country fare on OFAs.