Health Issues in the German Shepherds dog
Over the years, indiscriminate breeding practices have lead to hereditary diseases such as hip and elbow dysplasia, blood disorders, digestive problems (probably due to nerves), epilepsy, chronic eczema, keratitis (inflammation of the cornea), dwarfism and flea allergies. In order to avoid these conditions, it is imperative that you deal with breeders of the highest standards. Breeders such as ourselves are committed to eliminating these genetic disorders, and therefore build our breeding program very conscientiously in consequence. This insures that you can enjoy peace of mind, and enjoy a full and productive life with your shepherd.
Health disorders sometimes encountered in german shepherds:
Hip Dysplasia (HD) - Hip Dysplasia is the result of the malformation of the hip joint(s). This condition is a common difficulty in most of the large dog breeds and is both genetic and environmentally influenced. Be sure that both parents of any German Shepherd Dog puppy you are considering purchasing is certified by OFA, OVC or Penn Hip to be free of Hip Dysplasia. Over-feeding, over-exercise and injury while young may also contribute to your puppy damaging his hips (leading to degeneration).
Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency (EPI)- This disorder of the digestive system is potentially life threatening (particularly in its acute form) but often responds well to treatment. It is more common in some breeds than others and is frequently seen in German Shepherd Dogs. Successful treatment of pancreatic problems requires close cooperation between owner and veterinarian, as well as a certain flexibility in working with changes in the animal's condition.
Inter vertebral Disc Disease -German Shepherd Dogs are prone to degenerative disc disease although some bloodlines appear to have a higher incidence of this problem than others. Dogs with spinal problems should never be used for breeding. Dogs producing offspring with spinal abnormalities should be spayed or neutered.
Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD) -Osteochondrosis Dissecans is a disorder of bone formation resulting from a defect in the transition of cartilage into bone during the growth process. This condition appears to be genetic in nature, being far more common in some bloodlines than others. Similar to hip dysplasia, environmental factors can be contributory.
Panosteitis - Occasionally referred to as "wandering lameness" or Pano for short, this disease presents itself as spontaneous lameness, affecting dogs between the ages of 5 to 14 months. It's also known as "long bone disease", "shifting leg lameness" and "growing pains". "Pano" can be detected and diagnosed by x-ray. Onset can be from 5-12 months (occasionally later) and last until 18 months or more. Though it is uncomfortable for the puppy, it almost always grows out of it. The lameness need not be limited to one leg. Pano is generally considered to be a polygenic trait with limited heretibility .
Elbow Dysplasia- Elbow Dysplasia is a developmental disorder of the bones associated with the elbow joint. This disease is generally accepted as genetic in nature, and can occur in multiple levels of severity. As with Hip Dysplasia, both parents should be certified as free of Elbow Dysplasia prior to breeding.
Degenerative Myelopathy - Generally appearing in middle-aged dogs degenerative myelopathy is relatively common in German Shepherd Dogs. Triggered by the body's auto-immune system, a progressive degeneration of the spinal cord occurs. Beginning with the hind limbs this disease progressively weakens the entire body.
Skin Problems- Unlike humans who react to allergens with nasal symptoms, dogs react with skin problems. These problems may range from poor coat texture or length, to itching and chewing, to hot spots and self mutilation. Allergies may also play a part in chronic ear infections. To make matters more difficult to diagnose and treat, thyroid disease may add to the problem as well.
Hemophilia A -This recessive genetic disorder is usually found in males, with females being the carriers. Commonly referred to as the "bleeders disease", hemophilia is due to insufficient levels of the factor VIII blood clotting factor. Usually accompanied by hematomas (pockets of blood under the skin), this condition is present from birth.
Pancreatitis- Pancreatitis is the inflammation of the pancreas. This condition can occur once in dogs life, or be the first of many (chronic) occurrences. One of the main contributors to pancreatic flair ups is dietary (dog fed a particularly high fat meal), which the digestive system is not accustomed to.
Diabetes Mellitus -As with diabetes in humans, diabetes mellitus in dogs is primarily attributed to insufficient insulin production by the pancreas. Diabetes impacts the entire animal. With early diagnosis, treatment, and controlled diet the animal can live a long healthy life.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) and Central Progressive Retinal Atrophy (CPRA) are among the most common eye problems in German Shepherd Dogs. These conditions usually begin to display symptoms at about 2 years of age. They are progressive in their degeneration. Both conditions are hereditary.
Sub-Aortic Stenosis (SAS) -This congenital heart condition has been found in German Shepherd Dogs, although major efforts are underway to eliminate (severely reduce) this condition. Ranging from minor heart murmurs to fatal, this condition covers a wide array of symptoms.
Epilepsy - Epilepsy is a hereditary seizure disorder. This disease cannot be cured, but it can be controlled with medication. The dog with epilepsy can live a fairly normal life, but cannot be placed in the stressful situation of showing, and certainly should not be bred.
Von Willebrand's Disease (vWD)- von Willebrand's disease is a hereditary bleeding disorder. It impacts the dog's ability to clot blood (similar to hemophilia). This disorder is found in both males and females.
Bilateral Cataracts -Cataracts in dogs can be identified as opaque spots on the lens of the eye. These spots may cause total or partial loss of vision. Some cataracts are hereditary while others are not. In some cases surgery may help the dog recover.
Cherry Eye-The tear gland that normally occupies the base of the third eyelid occasionally becomes enlarged, and will protrude beyond the leading edge of the third eyelid. This protrusion will appear as a round, red mass (cherry eye).
Cryptorchidism- Cryptorchidism is a genetic condition in which either one or both testicles do not descend into proper location within the scrotum. This is hereditary and dogs exhibiting this condition should never be used for breeding.
Bloat- Bloat is a condition where a dog's stomach produces excessive gas and enlarges severely enough to cause death without immediate treatment.