Swissy Health Issues
Lethal Health Issues-
Tick Borne vs. Cervical damage (or Wobblers) - Please reference the Tab/section labeled Tick Borne illness vs Nerve Damage.
Early occuring cancers- These kinds of cancers usually show up before the age of five. They can be any kind of cancer. Ussually affects a very small percentage of Swissys. May have a genetic predisposition. It is best not to use any affected individuals in your breeding program.
Ideopathic Epilepsy- In Swissys it ussually shows up in very low percentages and affects animals less than 3 years of age. In most cases seizures can be controlled with medications. There can be many causes. Exposure to environmental toxins, over dosing with vaccines containing mercury, exposure to fertilizers and garden chemicals, radiation, anaesthesia, head trauma can be causes. It is best to NOT go on with offspring of any affected individuals that have seizures for unknown causes. IMO Swissy tend to have a lower trigger point to get seizure disorders. Best advice is to avoid exposure to environmental toxins, reduce amount of vaccines you give over lifetime of dog and avoid doing unnecessary surgeries.
Bloat/Torsion- In Swissys most cases start with enlarged spleens. Spleens can enlarge for a variety of reasons. Exposure to environmental toxins, viral or bacterial infections, trauma are just a few of the causes. If you notice your dog starting to bloat,,, give a simethicone tablet (gas X) and use a stomach tube if stomach keeps getting larger. Sometimes you will see a dog that doesn't eat, looks like it is abdominal pain... Take to vet,,, IF spleen is enlarged, REMOVE it and tack the stomach. This will reoccur and cause death if speenectomy and stomach tack are not done at the same time.
What has helped me with this condition is to reduce amount of exposure to environmental toxins , especially vaccines with mercury in it .I also feed a higher fat (14-20 % fat), wheat free diet supplemented with slightly cooked chucky veggies and raw bones/meat given several times per week.
Non Lethal Health Issues
Preventative joint protocols- I put ALL my pups on Equinyl combo until they are two years of age. Then I take them off of it until they are 7 years old. Seniors will benefit from being on Equinyl Combo as it will make them more comfortable in their twilight years. Equinyl Combo has Ester C, MSM, Condroitin, Mg, Manganese and other micro minerals found to alleviate joint pain and helpful in generating new cartilage and bone matrixes.
Hip Dysplasia- Very seldom will you see clinical hip dysplasia. Clinical issues usually associated with obesity and ofa ratings of Moderate or Severe.
OCD- Biggest clinical structural issue is OCD syndrome affecting shoulder joint. IF you have a lame pup, I take them into vet and if there is a flap present on exray then I remove it immediately,,, IF NO mouse or cartilage flap is present then I put pup on Equinyl Plus and keep them on it for first two years of life. Eventually they will get better if you take steps to stop pup from reinjuring the shoulder joint.
Elbow dysplasia- Very seldom will you see clinical elbow dysplasia. Clinical elbow dysplasia is usually associated with ofa grade 2 or 3.
In Swissys Juvenile and Old age onset Cataracs can cause blinding issues. I would NOT use a dog that has this condition in my breeding program.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy- Causes severe blinding issues ,,, do not use affected animals in breeding programs.
Non Blinding issues-
Punctate Cataracs- Thought to be embryonic blood vessels that do not get reabsorbed. Does NOT cause blindness issues.
Distichia- Extra eyelashes- IF clinical problem it can be surgically corrected.
Entropion- Inverted row of eyelashes,,, Can be surgically corrected.
Dan's opinion- If the dog has evidence of arthritis in hip joint capsule you should not breed it. IF the dog has a hip or elbow rating that is associated with clinical issues you should not breed it (Grade 2 or 3 elbows). If the dog has minor structural issues or non blinding faults, do NOT double up on them in your breeding decisions. There are NO perfect dogs out there.
If a breeder says their lines are clear of any of the above health issues they are uninformed and may not know their pedigrees as well as they should OR they have not been breeding long enough. Realistically there are no separate families or lines in this breed at the present time. American and Western European pedigrees are very related to each other. IF you decide to get a Swissy you will have to contend with the fact that your Swissy may have one of the above health issues in their lifetime. It is a chance you will have to take if you decide to get a Swissy. I will say that the majority of our Swissys are pretty healthy as a whole.
Other sources to look into are www.gsmdca.org or www.agsba.com
Try to learn as much about our breed as you can before you buy your swissy. Realize that Temperament, Structural integrity and Longevity are important things to be looking when selecting your swissy puppy and should be what an ethical breeder's goals are to produce. Good luck in your research.
Vallhund Health Issues
Vallhunds tend to be very active dogs so care must be taken to make sure joints are sound before they are bred.
As with most herding dogs, Vallhunds have genetic eye issues that must be screened for. They include blinding issues such as PRA, juvenile, and old age cataracs. They can also have distichia, entropion and punctate cataracs that do not affect sight.
SV Retinopathy- To me it is a minor issue as it predominately affects dogs older than 12 years old and usually only affects vision in dim lighting.
Currently the only Accurate eye test for this issue is the OFA eye test. It the dog comes back clear, the dog is genetically Clear or a Carrier (not Affected) up to the date of the test. Future tests are indicated. I usually test my SV before the first breedings, in mid life then in old age.
The DNA Marker test to date is inaccurate and I will not base my breeding plans on any test that has inaccurate findings.
I personally think it is a dangerous risk to any rare breed with a very small gene pool to put artificial manmade road blocks on possible breeding plans on issues that do not cause death, clinical crippling issues or complete loss of sight (especially in young or middle aged dogs).
As with any dog, care must be taken to avoid contact with environmental toxins and over vaccinosis.
For the most part Vallhunds seem to be a pretty healthy breed.