Health Concerns

Dog Health: Due to the breed's versatility, the GSD has become a very popular pet. This is a mixed blessing. While many people truly enjoy the pleasure a well-bred and well-trained GSD adds to their lives, others have been attracted to the breed primarily to make money. A well-bred GSD is a remarkable dog, but a GSD from a disreputable breeder, accidental breeding, or someone trying to recoup their initial investment, can be a nightmare. Without careful consideration of genetic, temperament, and physical characteristics, the resulting litter can be plagued with serious health and temperament problems.Health disorders (some genetic) seen in GSDs (some are explained in more detail below):

  • d = dominant

  • r = recessive

  • p = polygenic

  • % = may not always be genetic

  • ^ = suspected genetic

  • ? = unknown

  • achalasia (r)

  • dilated esophagus; vomiting begins at weaning

  • ankylosis (?)

  • fusing of vertebrae in tail (or spine) reducing range of motion

  • aubaortic stenosis (?)

  • bilateral cataract (d)

  • opague lens form in both eyes, usually after 2 years

  • calcium gout (^)

  • calcium gout, lumps in skin caused by calcium deposits

  • (calcinosis circumscripta)

  • cerebellar hypoplasia (^)

  • abnormal gait and loss of control starting at 12 weeks

  • chronic pancreatitis (^)

  • lack of enzymes that digest fat and protein;

  • chronic weight loss

  • cleft lip and palate (%)

  • nonclosure of bones of upper jaw and roof of mouth

  • corneal dermoid cyst (^)

  • congenital cyst on eye surface

  • cryptorchidism (^)

  • undescended testicle(s)

  • cystinuria (r)

  • high cystine in urine; prone to stone formation (males only)

  • degenerative myelopathy (?)

  • spinal degeneration in older dogs

  • (Chronic Degenerative Radiculomyleopathy - CDRM)

  • diabetes mellitus (r)

  • onset of insulin deficiency at 2-6 months

  • distichiasis (^)

  • extra row of eyelashes irritate eye

  • ectasia (r)

  • optic nerve/retina abnormalities (aka "Collie eye")

  • elbow dysplasia (d)

  • progressive developmental deformity of elbow joints,

  • symptomless to crippling

  • (see ununited anchoneal process)

  • may be polygenic

  • eosinophilic colitis (^)

  • chronic bouts of diarrhea

  • eosinophilic myositis (?)

  • acute, relapsing inflammation of the muscles

  • epilepsy (r)

  • recurrent seizures onset between 1-3 years old

  • hemophelia a (r)

  • (factor VIII deficiency) slowed blood clotting, hemorrhages

  • hip dysplasia (p)

  • progressive developmental deformity of hip joints,

  • symptomless to crippling

  • intervertebral disc disease (^)

  • slipped disc, pain, weakness to paralysis of limbs

  • malabsorption syndrome (^)

  • inability to absorb digested food leads to starvation

  • nictitating membrane eversion (r)

  • third eyelid rolls back; treated surgically

  • osteochondritis dessicans (^)

  • growth disorder of shoulder cartilage; pain, lameness (OCD)

  • pannus (^)

  • vessels, skin and pigment migrate over eye surface, leading to blindness

  • panosteitis (^)

  • acute shifting lameness of growing dogs,

  • deep bone pain,

  • self-limiting

  • patent ductus arteriosus (p)

  • aortal development defect in fetus,

  • loud heart murmur,

  • exercise intolerant

  • perianal fistuala (^)

  • open draining tracts around anus

  • peripheral vestibular disease (?)

  • defect of the middle ear causing puppies to circle

  • pituitary dwarfism (^)

  • normally proportioned dwarf, mentally retarded, usually fatal

  • renal cortical hypoplasia (^)

  • degeneration of both kidneys, beginning at about 1 year

  • retinal atrophy (^)

  • (generalized) PRA

  • retina degenerates causing first night blindness then total blindness

  • right aortic arch (p)

  • abnormal artery constricts esophagus, vomiting

  • soft ears (r)

  • weak ear musculature

  • spondylosis deformans (^)

  • spinal arthritis

  • ununited anchoneal process (d)

  • elbow dysplasia; pain and limp in front legs

  • von Willebrand's disease (d)

  • bleeding disorder

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