Highly praised worldwide for its stunning elegance, intelligence, verstility, and working abilities, the German Shepherd Dogs have earned a great deal of popularity these days. Most of the first time dog owners, I have seen, tend to go for a German Shepherd puppies, without knowing the shady nook of tne breed - the health issue. The astounding glory of a well bred German Shepherd Dog has made many novice dog lovers make wrong decision while choosing the right breed. German Shepherd Dog is not for all... especially not for the first time dog owners and for those who simple don't take canine health issue seriously. German Shepherd dog is a very different breed altogether! He can work hard and play even through a lot of physical pain. German Shepherd Dog sometimes doesn't easily show any underlying health problems until the condition gets matured. It takes a really an observant owner to know if his or her dog is suffering from any pain or health condition. Understanding that owning a truely healthy and well bred GSD unfolds loads of pleasure to the owner, here's my honest trial to come up with a comprehensive guideline regarding health and behavioral problems in German Shepherd Dogs. These are mostly the genetic ailments that are commonly found in the breed, although many of these conditions are not very common these days due to selective breeding programs undertaken by the responsible breeders. Thanks a million to them.
- D = Dominant
- R = Recessive
- P = Polygenic
- N = Not necessarily be genetic always
- S = Suspected genetic
- U = Unknown
Achalasia (R) : Dilated esophagus. Characterized by difficulty in swallowing, Achalasia shows symptoms like chest pain and voluntary or involuntary return of partly digested food from the stomach by vomiting. This is relatively uncommon these days.
Ankylosis (U) : Also spelled as 'Anchylosis'. Inflammation of the joint-ends of the bones - especially in vertebrae in tail or spinal cord - to be fused together, which reduces movement.
Bilateral Cataract (D) : Opacification of lens form in both eyes. Bilateral cataract is usually diagnosed after 18 months to 24 months of age.
Calcium Gout (S) : Medically known as Calcinosis Circumscripta, Calcium gout are lumps in the skin caused by calcium deposits due to improper absorption of calcium.
Cerebellar hHypoplasia (S) : Cerebellum doesn't mature completely at the birth, which leads to abnormal gait and lack in control. Symptoms usually starts at two months of age or so but sometimes may take 10 to 12 weeks to become apperant. The condition doesn't get worse or better with age.
Chronic Pancreatitis (S) : Inflammation of pancreas accompanied by lack of enzymes secretion, which alters the normal functionality of the digestive system. This gradually leads to weight loss, weakness and ill health, thereby making the dog easily susceptible to diseases.
Cleft Lip and Cleft Palate (N) : Nonclosure of bones of upper jaw and roof of mouth, which is a genetic trait, but not always the fact. This usually occurs if the tissues of the lip and/or palate of a fetus do not grow together early in pregnancy. Oral clefting are not commonly found these days.
Corneal Dermoid Cyst (S) : Congenital cyst on eye surface. Corneal dermoid is a congenital Choristoma, which is characterized by heterotopic cutaneous tissue on the surface of the eye, affectting the nictitating membrane, and cornea. Besides GSD, breeds like St. Barnard, Golden Retreiver and some short-legged breeds like Dachshund, Welsh Corgis and Basset Hounds are also afflicted to Corneal dermoid cyst.
Cryptorchidism (S) : Undescended testicle(s). Common in GSD. This is a condition present at the birth. The undescended testicle doesn't developed and becomes non-functional, and sometimes turns out to be the major source of problems - especially Cancer, during the matured age.
Cystinuria (R) : It is the metabolic disorder that is characterized by the formation of cystine stones in the kidneys, ureter and bladder. This condition is seen only in males.
Degenerative Myelopathy (Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyleopathy - CDRM) (U) : It is an autoimmune disease in which the dog’s own immune system attacks its CNS, leading to loss of myelin (insulation around nerve fibers) and axons (nerve fibers). This degenerative neurologic disease is spinal degeneration or spinal ataxia in older GSDs and some other breeds.
Diabetes Mellitus (R) : Insulin deficiency... low level of blood sugar, which may be noticed at an age as early as 2-6 months. Older animals are more prone to this condition.
Distichiasis (S) : Extra row of eyelashes that grows on the eyelid of the dog and irritates the eye. These eyelashes usually come out from the duct of the meibomian gland that is located at the margin of eyelid. The eyelashes sometimes arises more than one from a duct.
Ectasia (R) : Not very much found in GSDs, the condition is called Collie Eye Anomaly or Scleral Ectasia Syndrome or Collie Ectasia Syndrome, this is an optic nerve/retina abnormality in which certain in which certain occular tissues of the fetus doesn't get properly matured. Its called Collie Eye Anomaly because it was first discovered in Collie breed. the condition also affects some other breeds like Border Collies, Australian Sheepdogs and Shetland Sheepdogs. In Shetland Sheepdogs Ectasia is called 'Sheltie Eye.'
Elbow Dysplasia (D) : Progressive developmental deformity of elbow joints, which is an inherrited disease that primarily affects the larger and medium breeds. Other than GSDs the high incedences of occurences of ED has been noticed in the Golden Retrievers, Rottweilers,
Eosinophilic Colitis (S) : Related to the probles in gastrointestinal tract, this is an inflammation of the colon, or large intestine resulting Chronic bouts of diarrhea.
Eosinophilic Myositis (Masticatory Myositis) (U) : Eosinophilic myositis is a bit too complicated ailment the dog seems to be in pain when trying to open his mouth or chew something. This may be bnoticed one day all on a sudden or occur gradually. some of the possible reason may be:
- Polymyositis (a general muscle inflammation)
- Muscular dystrophy
- Craniomandibular osteopathy (jaw bone growth abnormality)
Epilepsy (R) : Recurrent seizures. The incidence of occurrences starts between 1-3 years old.
Hemophelia A (R) : Blood Clottig disorder, when the blod doesn't clot faster. This happens due to the mutation of factor VIII gene, which leads to deficiency in Factor VIII. Hemophilia increases the risk of severe bleeding from injuries in joints, muscles, digestive tract, brain and other common injuries.
Hip Dysplasia (P) : Although selective breed programs have managed to controll the population of the dogs with displastic hip, yet it is a polygenic disease - progressive developmental deformity of the hip joints. This can slowly cause crippling and lameness.
Intervertebral Disc Disease (S) : The intervertebral discs are the cushion that presents in the space between adjacent spinal vertebrae. These discs are subject to certain degenerative conditions which predispose the vertebral column of the animal to rupture over time. Although suspected to be a genetic disorder, but excessive strain exerted against the spinal cord over time may also result to Intervertebral Disc Disease, leading to gradual worsening of neurologic function, causing pain, weakness and paralysis of limbs.
Malabsorption Syndrome (S) : Problem of absorption of one or more nutrients in the food, which causes diarrhoea, abdominal distension, leading to starvation and resulting weight loss.
Monorchism (S) : Monorchism is a condition of having only one testicle descended.
Nodular Dermatofibrosis (D) : Inherited Skin Disorder. Dogs afflicted to Nodular Dermatofibrosis will develop lumps on the skin, which can grow from 0.1 to 2 inches in the feet. In severe cases these lumps can ulcerate causing foot deformities and lameness. Nodular Dermatofibrosis is associated with underlying renal cancer or uterine cancer if the female is unspayed.
Osteochondritis Dessecans (OCD) (S) : Osteochondritis Dessecans is a disorder of immature long bones.Also spelled as "Dessicans", butI chose to spell "Dissecans" because this is it has been mentioned in Dorland's Medical Dictionary. Suspected to be a genetic ailment it is a growth disorder of long bones. Especially found in the oversized and fast growing progenitors, the growing long bones develops hairline cracks in the in the cartilage of the weight bearing surface, such as shoulder cartilage. P The condition worsens to pain and finally lameness.
Pannus (S) : This is a chronic inflammation of the cornea, characterized by the invasion of the superficial vessels and pigmented cellsinva into the transperant cornea, leading to opacity... worsening to blindness. Although most affected animals are the ones that are middle-aged, but the disease can develop in young adults too.
Panosteitis (Pano) (S) : Usually seen in oversized and fast growing progenitors,panostitis is Acute Shifting Lameness disease of growing dogs. The afflicted animal suffers from deep bone pain... the reason is unknown. Also called "long bone disease" and "wandering lameness".
Patent ductus arteriosus (P) : This is a polygenic condition, which is aortal development defect in the fetus. The heart murmur will be loud and the animal will be exercise intolerant.
Perianal Fistula (S) : Open draining tracts around or near anus
- Peri: all around, near, enclosing, surrounding
- Anal: of, relating to, or situated near the anus
- Fistula: abnormal passage that develops from an abscess or hollow organ into the body surface, or from one hollow organ to another that allows passage of secretions or fluids.
Peripheral Vestibular Disease (R) : Congenital deafness which is permanent. Defect in the inner ear causing puppies to show unusual behaviors like head tilt, circling behaviour, or a tendency to roll over or fall. The sysmptoms are noticed by 2 to 4 months of age.
Pituitary Dwarfism (R) : Pituitary Dwarfism is a condition, when the animal becomes abnormally smaller in stature. Although mostly found in almost perfectly proportioned body structure, the condition is sometimes characterized by altered body proportions. While some researchers describe PD to be an autosomal recessive trait, a few believe that it is a polygenic trait.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) (R) : Progressive Retinal atrophy retina problem causing gradual but total blindness.
Renal Cortical Hypoplasia (S) : Also called Renal Dysplasia, this is a condition when the kidnies are not properly developed (usually undersized)that are not adequately capable of filtering the blood and conserving water and doen't allow proper flashing off of body toxin.
Scleral Ectasia Syndrome (R) : Not very much found in GSDs, the condition is called Collie Eye Anomaly or Scleral Ectasia Syndrome or Collie Ectasia Syndrome, this is an optic nerve/retina abnormality in which certain in which certain occular tissues of the fetus doesn't get properly matured. It’s called Collie Eye Anomaly because it was first discovered in Collie breed. The condition also affects some other breeds like Border Collies, Australian Sheepdogs and Shetland Sheepdogs. In Shetland Sheepdogs Ectasia is called 'Sheltie Eye.'
Soft Ears (R) : The ears gets erected properly but with Weak ear musculature. This cause the ears flip as the dog trots or gallop.
Spondylosis Deformans (S) : Spondylosis Deformans is a condition in which bridges are formed along the ventral (bottom) parts of the vertebrae, leading to severe pain. American lines of GSDs have mostyl been diagnosed with the condition, however some of te German line GSDs have also found to be afflicted to the disease.
Subaortic Stenosis (U) : Narrowness in the outflow tract of the left ventricle due to an obstruction little below the aortic valve, which causes an obsturction in blood flow from the left ventricle results in left ventricular hypertrophy. This in turn breeds a good chance of developing severe arrythmia leading to sudden death.
Third Eyelid Eversion (Nictitating membrane eversion) (R) : Also called "Cherry Eye", the Third Eyelid Eversion is an opthalmic condition where an extra growth is developed in the eye lid of the dog and that rolls back to cover the eye. The uderside of the growth is a small gland. SUrgery is the only resort.
Von Willebrand's Disease (vWD) (D) : This is a blood coagulation abnormality predominantly found in GSDs and other breeds like Dobermann, Scottish Terriers etc. It is a type of canine hemophilia which may turn out to be really lethal.