Our breeding program is based upon the careful selection of breeding animals based on test performance in our hunting dog tests, but also on health data. When a dog is evaluated at one of our tests, we also assess coat, conformation, including bite and gait; and we note temperament. We make an effort to monitor all of our dogs through our own health monitoring system in order to detect potential hereditary conditions from which to safeguard our breeding stock. In recent years, we have also been cooperating with the Cornell Medical Genetic Archive (DNA and Tissue bank). We collect blood samples on all of the dogs bred through our club for inclusion in the program. http://www.vet.cornell.edu/faculty/Todhunter/TodhunterLab.cfm
BWPGCA Canine Health Survey
A basic health data form has been used for many years to collect information on health problems such as hip dysplasia, which are known to afflict the Cesky Fousek, other griffon variations and related breeds. We are currently designing an on-line canine health survey form which will provide more complete data in a format that is readily available for analysis. This survey is generally modeled after the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC ) survey; however, it has been tailored to the griffon breeds by eliminating disorders that do not apply to large, hunting breeds such as the Cesky Fousek.
Known Breed Health Disorders
The following conditions have been observed in our BWPGCA bred dogs. The link to heredity varies among these conditions, but by evaluating all the puppies that the BWPGCA produces, we can monitor potential problems and track our success in avoiding them.
Hip Dysplasia and Elbow Dysplasia
Hip Dysplasia (HD) is a common inherited orthopedic problem of dogs and a wide number of other mammals. Abnormal development of the structures that make up the hip joint leads to subsequent joint deformity. ‘Dysplasia’ means abnormal growth. The developmental changes appear first and because they are related to growth, they are termed primary changes. Subsequently these changes may lead to excessive wear and tear. The secondary changes may be referred to as (osteo)arthritis (OA), (osteo)arthrosis or degenerative joint disease (DJD). Later one or both hip joints may become mechanically defective. At this stage the joint(s) may be painful and cause lameness. In extreme cases the dog may find movement very difficult and may suffer considerably.
Radiography is the only means of determining the presence or absence of HD. This is an X-ray examination to look at the relative shape and positions of the femoral head and acetabulum and the presence and degree of any secondary changes.
PennHip is the procedure used by the WPGCA to detect potential for hip dysplasia in our dogs. The PennHip web site explains:
Canine Hip Dysplasia afflicts millions of dogs each year and can result in debilitating orthopedic disease of the hip. Many dogs will suffer from osteoarthritis, pain, and lameness, costing owners and breeders millions of dollars in veterinary care, shortened work longevity, and reduced performance. The occurrence of CHD is well documented in the large and giant breed dogs, but there is also evidence that CHD is prevalent in many small and toy breeds as well as in cats. Hip dysplasia is a disease of complex inheritance that is it is caused by many genes.
The BWPGCA requires PennHip evaluation of every puppy as a condition of our purchase agreement. We presently only breed males in the top 90 percentile and females in the top 50%. We have had no diagnoses of dysplasia in recent years and believe that our aggressive approach is significantly reducing the potential for dysplasia in our breeding population.
Please visit http://info.antechimagingservices.com/pennhip/
for full details.
Osteochondrosis Dissecans (OCD)
This is a pathological condition that affects both humans and dogs. In dogs, the symptoms commonly appear between the ages of 4-14 months while the puppy is growing. An affected dog develops thick areas of cartilage that are more resistant to movement than bone, which is stronger yet more flexible. The disorder interrupts the normal cycle of the transformation of cartilage into bone. As a result, large flaps of cartilage accumulate at the ends of long bones and can easily detach. The animal can then develop secondary degenerative arthritis, degenerative joint disease, and other painful health issues. Veterinarians refer to the several types of osteochondrosis according to the location of the illness in the dog, its severity, and its cause. The most common areas are a dog’s shoulder, elbow, knee, and hock.
A hereditary predisposition is present in some breeds. The illness appears to strike giant breeds such as Great Danes, Rottweilers, Bernese mountain dogs, Newfoundlands, Labrador Retrievers, Old English Sheepdogs, and English Setters. We have seen OCD in WPGCA bred griffons. Environmental influences are also thought to be at least partially responsible for osteochondrosis in dogs. The main environmental causes are a diet overly rich in calcium, phosphorus, and calories and excessive exercise in puppies.
Although the genetic transmission is complex and not fully understood, the WPGCA has taken the position of not breeding any dogs that exhibit the condition or littermates of such dogs.
Entropion is a genetic condition in which a portion of the eyelid is inverted or folded inward. This can cause an eyelash or hair to irritate and scratch the surface of the eye, leading to corneal ulceration or perforation. It can also cause dark-colored scar tissue to build up over the wound (pigmentary keratitis). These factors may cause a decrease or loss of vision.
Entropion is fairly common in dogs and is seen in a wide variety of breeds, including short-nosed breeds, giant breeds, and sporting breeds. The condition is not usually apparent from birth but becomes apparent as the puppy develops. The condition is normally present by the time the dog is 6 months old; Entropion is almost always diagnosed around the time a puppy reaches its first birthday.
The condition should not be left untreated, surgical treatment should be carried out by a specialist vet who will correct the problem by removing any excessive folds of skin from around the eyelid and will tighten the eyelid. Once operated on it is not usual for the condition to ever recur in the dog.
Any griffon that has been treated for entropion should not be bred from as they can pass the condition on to their offspring. Entropion is usually carried via a recessive gene and there are currently no DNA tests for the condition. However although the condition can occur, it is not life threatening.
Alopecia is defined as a loss of hair, partial or complete, in areas where it normally grows. Shedding is a normal process in dogs where dead hair is lost so new growth can occur. Excessive shedding can occur when the seasons change or when a dog is stressed but this shedding does not normally result in bald patches. Alopecia can occur in any breed of dog and has numerous causes.
There are numerous causes for alopecia which can range from basic allergies to metabolic disorders to inherited diseases. The causes are divided into two main categories: hereditary and acquired. Some hereditary causes are black hair follicle dysplasia and color dilution alopecia. Acquired alopecia is separated into two divisions: inflammatory and non-inflammatory. The most common causes of alopecia are normally found in the acquired inflammatory category. Some examples include food allergies, flea bite allergies, folliculitis, and sarcoptic mange.
Hereditary alopecia has occassionally been observed in BWPGCA bred dogs.
Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus Syndrome (Bloat)
According to PetMD, gastric dilation and volvulus syndrome (GDV), more commonly referred to as gastric torsion or bloat, is a disease in dogs in which the animal’s stomach dilates and then rotates, or twists, around its short axis. This is a very serious condition which can result in death if not treated quickly. Symptoms of GDV include anxious behavior, depression, abdominal pain and distention, collapse, excessive drooling, and vomiting to the point of unproductive dry heaving. Further physical examination may also reveal an extremely rapid heart beat, labored breathing, a weak pulse, and pale mucus membrane (the moist tissues lining the body’s orifices, such as the nose and mouth).
The exact causes of GDV are unknown. A variety of factors, including genetics, anatomy, and environment, are most likely to blame. For example, dogs that have a first relative with a history of GDV have been shown to be at higher risk. Additionally, large and giant-breed dogs may be at higher risk, especially deep-chested breeds such as great Danes, German shepherds, and standard poodles. Although GDV has been reported in puppies, risk does increase with age. A few cases of GDV have been observed in our BWPGCA population.
Some factors that are believed to contribute to the development of GDV include ingestion of excessive amounts of food or water, delayed emptying of the gastrointestinal system, and too much activity after eating. In some cases, dogs affected by GDV have a history of gastrointestinal tract problems.