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`Beauceron Health Considerations
The following information is based on personal experience and information from other sources. We are not qualified medical people and you should do your own research as well as talking with your own veterinarian. All information given is to the best of our knowledge and we are not responsible for any misinformation.
Dogs are no different than humans when it comes to getting sick and having health problems. All dogs come from a single source. That is, their heritage can be traced back to the wolf. As dogs developed they sometimes had physical variations that humans found desirable. As an example there may have been a dog with spots that were attractive. That dog was then bred with other dogs that had a similar genetic variation. As these dogs continued to be bred, the recessive gene that caused the spots was concentrated in the offspring until all of them had the same characteristics. In other words, spots. This is the way that all pure bred dogs were developed and is what gives us the individual breeds. Unfortunately, not only are the desirable genes concentrated but also some undesirable ones as well. This is why some breeds are more prone to genetic problems then others.
When a dog has a recessive gene for deafness, that doesn't mean the dog will be deaf. However, if that dog is bred to another dog that has the recessive gene for deafness, the probability of the offspring having deafness is increased. When two dogs with the same recessive gene are bred then according to averages, one half of the litter will carry the deafness gene but not become deaf. One fourth of the litter will have the deafness gene and be deaf. Another one fourth of the litter will not have the gene and will not be deaf. When responsible breeders test their dogs for genetic defects such as deafness, they do not breed dogs that display deafness and increase the chances that their offspring will not carry the gene.
This has been a very simplified explanation of how different breeds of dogs occur and how genetic defects are passed to offspring. Please note that all pure bred dogs have genetic defects that are more prone to occur in specific breeds. When you consider getting a dog you should be aware of the individual breeds propensity to produce specific genetic defects. Do not consider getting a puppy whose parents have not been screened for the common genetic defects in that breed. Beaucerons are no different than any other pure bred dog and have certain issues that should be screened for when possible.
Like many large breeds, the Beauceron is prone to hip and elbow dysplasia. This is a genetic defect that causes pain and lameness in the dog. Some dogs are only slightly dysplastic and no action is required. Others may require surgery or in the worst cases may require euthanasia. Dysplasia in the Beauceron is about 14 percent of the breed. A reliable check for dysplasia cannot be done before the age of 24 months and there should be a record of it with the Orthopedic Foundation For Animals or OFA. When buying a puppy, check to ensure the parents have been screened for hip dysplasia. This doesn't mean that your puppy will not develop dysplasia but your odds are better.
While it is not known of any significant genetic eye problems with the Beauceron, it is a good idea to make sure that the parents had a CERF exam before breeding. The Canine Eye Registration Foundation records the results of eye exams for dogs and maintains the record for one year after which time the dog should be reexamined.
Dilated Cardiomyopathy or DCM is a serious disease that causes inflammation and weakening of the heart muscle. Although there is evidence that the condition is hereditary, there are still many things unknown about the condition. DCM can occur at any age and as of yet, there is no genetic test. Some breeders have their dogs tested for heart disease but since it may not show up until late in life, testing is of limited value. It is more important to know the health history of ancestors and if any have DCM problems then a decision must be made based on prevalence and how far back it occurred. Of course this will depend on the cooperation of the breeder and if your dog develops the disease, it doesn't mean the breeder was aware of any issues.
Bloat or Gastric Torsion is commonly found in large breeds of dogs. Some breeds like the Great Dane are quite prone to develop this serious problem. It is the second highest cause of death in many breeds and would be the highest if we could eliminate cancer. Fortunately, Bloat is not highly prevalent in the Beauceron. However, to reduce the risk of Bloat, feed your dog smaller amounts at least twice a day. Keep activity levels low for a least an hour after meals. Keep a close watch for swelling in the abdomen. If Bloat does develop, medical attention is critical and should be given within the first hour. After an hour, the chance of survival is poor. There is no known genetic test for Bloat and you should consider ancestry before obtaining a puppy.
Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) is a separation of the joint cartilage from the bone, usually in the shoulder although it can happen in other joints. It is believed to be a genetic defect that causes a weakness where the cartilage attaches to the bone. It is prevalent in large fast growing dogs and occurs during the first year. Caught early enough the effected dog can be kept confined and activity limited so the cartilage may heal. However, a condition that has progressed requires surgery. It is important during the first year of life that a puppy not be allowed to jump from heights or other activities that put stress on the shoulders since this can bring on the condition in a growing puppy. Ask your breeder about history.
The Beauceron is a fairly healthy dog and you should not be discouraged by the health issues mentioned here. Beaucerons do have other issues but they are relatively minor in occurrence. It is best to ask your breeder about history and any known problems with their particular line of dogs.
Updated March 16, 2010
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