At Summit Farm our focus will always be to breed Swissys that will live a long healthy life. We screen all of our Swissys prior to breeding. We will make sure they are free from hip and elbow dysplasia and eye diseases before they are bred. By screening all of the Swissys that we incorporate into our breeding program and knowing the pedigrees from both parents we hope to produce sound, healthy Swissys.
We can not guarantee that our breeding stock and their puppies will never develop hereditary health issues but we will do all in our power to give them the healthiest start we can by cautious breeding. Scientists continue to research and hopefully in the near future they will be able to locate the genes that cause health issues before they get passed along.
Swissies are for the most part a healthy breed. They do have their share of health issues as all breeds do. If you are interested in obtaining a Swissy the following is a list of some of the health issues that can be of concern in this breed. Be sure and do your research to be absolutely sure that you are willing and capable to take on one or more of the following problems should they arise. These problems can be very costly.
Be sure you know all of the health facts before bringing home your new puppy.
A "Lick Fit" is a term used by swissy owners. We use it to describe the frantic licking Swissy's can be prone to. When in the middle of a lick fit the dog will lick anything ( carpet, floors, walls etc) and try to eat anything they can find (grass, carpets etc.) they will also gulp air and swallow constantly. Their actions show they are in considerable stomach discomfort. It is not known to lead to bloat. Owners theorize the cause is from acid reflux or gas buildup in the stomach.
While everyone has their own way of dealing with this health issue, many owners agree the following way usually helps their dog stop the lick fit.
We always keep Gas-x on hand and this is usually what we do. Usually a couple of gas-x with a slice of bread will work. The bread absorbs the acid in the tummy, helping to alleviate the problem. Keeping yourself and the dog calm is very important.
Other's let their dog go out in the yard and eat grass until they vomit and then follow with tums or gas ex.
Urinary incontinence is a serious potential problem in Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs. While it is not life threatening it is one of the biggest reasons people decide to rehome their dog. It appears to be more common in females than in males but males can also be affected. The affected dog will dribble or leak urine uncontrollable through out the day. There is medication that can help to control this and many dogs need to medication throughout their lives for control. It is believed to be genetic. It is believed that the later you spay or neuter the better for your dog in helping to prevent but unfortunately some dogs will get this problem no matter the age they are spayed/neutered. Puppies can have a leaking problem as they grow because their muscles are not developed enough. These causes are usually out grown as the puppy matures.
Gastric Dilatation and Volvulus (GDV) also Splenic Torsion..Bloat:
Deep-chested dogs are susceptible to gastric torsion; called "bloat". This is a very serious condition and it needs immediate attention as it can be fatal. Researchers still do not know the exact cause of bloat. A Swissy's risk of getting bloat increases with age. Bloat can occur with or without torsion of the stomach and/or spleen, just as torsion can occur with or without bloat.
Symptoms are not always the same with every dog some of them can be; distended abdomen, excessive salivating, depression, uneasiness, lethargy, vomiting with nothing coming up, there are so many symptoms that you would just have to know your dog and know that something was not right.
When Bloat occurs it cuts off the esophagus and the blood supply to the heart is lessened causing low blood pressure as well as other cardiac problems. This causes the dog to go into shock. Organ damage can occur as well and the stomach may rupture causing peritonitis to set in. This can also affect the stomach and spleen and cause torsion. If not treated, the dog may die.
All Swissy owners need to research this condition to have knowledge about this serious condition as it is life threatening.
As with all dogs Swissy's can have cancer. It is not an affliction that they are known for.
Epilepsy is a term used to discribe repeated siezers. Seizures may occur as a one time event from many causes, but if the seizures are repeated again and again over a period of time we call it epilepsy. Seizures are a sign of brain disease. Saying an animal has epilepsy is saying it has a problem which isn't going away. Anything which damages the brain can cause epilepsy. If we can identify the reason there are seizures, like a brain tumor or a stroke, then that pet has symptomatic (or secondary) epilepsy. Meaning, the seizures are a symptom of a disease process we've been able to identify. If can't find the cause, then we call it idiopathic (or primary) epilepsy. The term idiopathic means that we don't know the cause.
If your dog has idiopathic epilepsy it is probable it has inherited epilepsy: caused by a mutation in a specific gene which was passed through their parents. Idiopathic epilepsy usually begins between one and three years of age. Some breeds, like the Swissy are predisposed to develop
epilepsy. For more reading on epilepsy go to the following site: http://www.canine-epilepsy.net/basics/basics_index.html
(extra eyelashes or row of lashes growing from the lid margins): A distichia is an eyelash that grows on the eyelid in an abnormal spot. It will usually grow at the eyelid margin. They are usually multiple and sometimes more than one arises. They can affect either the upper or lower eyelid and are usually bilateral. The lower eyelids of dogs usually have no eyelashes. Distichia usually cause no symptoms because the lashes are soft. They can irritate the eye and cause tearing or damage to the cornea. If surgery is required , this is usually done with minor surgery and is usually successful.
This as well as other eye problems can be screened for by the Canine Registration Foundation (CERF). http://www.vmdb.org/cerf.html
Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD):
Hip Dysplasia is a terrible genetic disease because of the various degrees of arthritis (also called degenerative joint disease, arthrosis, osteoarthrosis)
it can eventually produce, leading to pain and debilitation. The very first step in the development of arthritis is cartilage (the type of cartilage
lining the joint) damage due to the inherited bad biomechanics of an abnormally developed hip joint. Traumatic articular fracture through the joint surface is another way cartilage is damaged. With cartilage damage, lots of degradative enzymes are released into the joint. These enzymes degrade and decrease the synthesis of important constituent molecules that form hyaline cartilage called proteoglycans. This causes the cartilage to lose its thickness and elasticity, which are important in absorbing mechanical loads placed across the joint during movement. Eventually, more debris and enzymes spill into the joint fluid and destroy molecules called glycosaminoglycan and hyaluronate which are important precursors that form the cartilage proteoglycans. The joint's lubrication and ability to block inflammatory cells are lost and the debris-tainted joint fluid loses its ability to properly nourish the cartilage through impairment of rient-waste exchange across the joint cartilage cells. The damage then spreads to the synovial membrane lining the joint capsule and more degradative enzymes and inflammatory cells stream into the joint. Full thickness contacts nerve endings in the subchondral bone, resulting in pain. In an attempt to stabilize he joint to decrease the pain, the animal's body produces new bone at the edges of the joint surface, the loss of cartilage allows the synovial fluid to joint capsule, ligament and muscle attachments (bone spurs). The joint capsule also eventually thickens and the joint's range of motion decreases.
No one can predict when or even if a dysplastic dog will start showing clinical signs of lameness due to pain. There are multiple environmental factors such as caloric intake, level of exercise, and weather that can affect the severity of clinical signs and phenotypic expression (radiographic changes). There is no rhyme or reason to the severity of radiographic changes correlated with the clinical findings. There are a number of dysplastic dogs with severe arthritis that run, jump, and play as if nothing is wrong and some dogs with barely any arthritic radiographic changes that are severely lame.
Although OFA or PennHIP certified dogs may produce dysplastic offspring, studies have shown that breeding dogs with radiographically normal hips will significantly reduce the prevalence of hip dysplasia. Read more at the OFA site: http://www.offa.org/index.html
Elbow Dysplasia (ED):
Elbow dysplasia is a general term used to identify an inherited polygenic disease in the elbow of dogs. Three specific etiologies make up this disease and they can occur independently or in conjunction with one another. These etiologies include: Pathology involving the medial coronoid of the ulna (FCP)
Osteochondritis of the medial humeral condyle in the elbow joint (OCD) Ununited anconeal process (UAP)
Studies have shown the inherited polygenic traits causing these etiologies are independent of one another. Clinical signs involve lameness which may remain subtle for long periods of time. No one can predict at what age lameness will occur in a dog due to a large number of genetic and environmental factors such as degree of severity of changes, rate of weight gain, amount of exercise, etc. Subtle changes in gait may be
characterized by excessive inward deviation of the paw which raises the outside of the paw so that it receives less weight and distributes more mechanical weight on the outside (lateral) aspect of the elbow joint away from the lesions located on the inside of the joint. Range of motion in the elbow is also decreased.
While how this is inherited is unknown, osteochondrosis is considered to be an inherited disease. In affected individuals there is a disruption in ossification of the cartilage mold beneath the articular cartilage of the joint. This results in aseptic necrosis and when the weakened area collapses, the articular cartilage fractures resulting in lameness. OCD has been reported to occur in the shoulder, elbow, stifle, hock, and spine, and can be unilateral or bilateral. Most affected dogs that develop clinical signs are less than one year of age.
OCD is seen in many breeds but appears to be more common in the larger body type breeds. It is also seen more frequently in males than females.
There are other diseases that can occur within the breed but the above are the most common. If you have any questions on these health issues or others please feel free to contact us.
Check out our page where we have linked different health organizations for you to do further research: Health Links
Helen & Stuart Kramlich