Greater Swiss Mountain Dogs
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Healt of the Swiss mountain dog
The life expectancy of a Greater Swiss Mountain Dog is about 10-11 years.
There are several conditions within the Swissy population, where possible our dogs are tested before they are bred.
HD; hipdysplasia means that the hip joint isn´t optimal. The hip bowl may not deep anough, or the ball at the end of the upper leg isn´t nice and round causing it not to fit in the bowl properly. If these parts don´t fit well together, it can cause problems at a young age. But mostly problem arise later on in life due to wear and tear. HD is partly heriditary. As other factors also play a role, it might develop differently in different dogs. Dogs can be screened for HD by X-rays.
ED; elbowdysplasia is the name for 4 different elbow malformities. Swissies tend to have LCP. LCP (loose coronoid process) is a piece of bone of the ulna that comes off. If the radius and ulna grow with different speed, a lot of pressure comes on the elbow. This can cause the breakage of the coronoid process. This is very painfull, think of a little stone in your shoe. Like HD, ED is partially heriditary. Again different factors are important, like good food and dosed physical activity. Dogs can be screened for ED by X-rays.
OCD; osteochondrosis dissecans is a disturbance of the cartilage of the joint. Cartilage fragments can come off and cause irritation in the joint. Swissies should be screened for OCD in the shoulder joint by X-ray.
Eye abnormalities, several eye abnormalities can occur within the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog.
The eyelids curl towards the eye. The eyelashes touch the eye, causing
irritation and evently damage the eye if not surgically corrected.
this is an
extra row of
eyelashes. Mostly they do not cause problems. Sometimes they do touch
the eye. In that case the lashes need to be burned away.
- PPSC; Posterior polair subcapsulair cataract is a specific sort of cataract. Mostly it causes small turbidities in the eye, but doesn´t lead to blindness.
If a dog will be used for breeding, they should undergo the ECVO eye exam. This exam should not be more than 1 year old at time of breeding. If the dog is 5 years or older and clear of everthing, the ECVO eye exam doesn´t need to be repeated.
Epilepsy; unfortunately the breed suffers from epilepsy. Mostly the first seizures occur when the dog is 1-3 years old. Swissies do not react well to medication. Only the combination of phenobarbital and KBR seems to work. It is very important to put a dog with epilepsy on drugs asap. Every seizure lowers the threshold for another seizure.
Not a lot is know about the genetic background of epilepsy within Swissies. That makes it very hard to prevent the disease. We do try to collect as much information as possible to decrease the rsik of epilepsy.
Incontinence after spay; more than half the Swissy bitches becomes incontinent after spaying. The female hormones play an important role in the strenght of the bladder sphincter. Take away the hormones and the sphincter doens´t work properly, causing leaking of urine. This can vary from little drops to complete puddles. If your dog becomes incontinent she will need hormone pills the rest of her life. The method of spaying has no influence on the incontinence. As there are several other negative effects of spaying/neutering, we recommend not to do it unless medically necessary (voor en nadelen castratie)
Bloat; like all other dogs with a deep chest, Swissies are at risk of bloating. Bloat studies do not seem to agree on the cause, but there seems to be a genetic component. The risk of bloating increases with age. Bloat is a life threatning disease, so please know th symptoms and go to your vet immediately. The most important symptoms are hard/inflated belly, trying to vomit within success, becoming lethargic very fast.
Splenic torsion (Milttorsie); often when a dog bloats the spleen will also rotate. But with Swissies the spleen can also rotate on it´s own. This can be chronic or acute. A dog with a chronic splenic torsion is just not his normal self, if it´s acute they can collaps. Luckily we don´t see this often in the Netherlands. But if your dog is just off, without any reason, let your vet check the spleen with ultrasound.
Lick fits; some Swissies have lick fits. They starting licking all surfaces. The dog is restless and wants to go outside to eat grass. If he cannot go outside he will eat anything, which can cause severe problems. No research has been done to the cause of the lick fits, but it seems to be an irritation of the stomach. Feeding dry cookies, eating grass will help. Feeding multiple smaller amounts a day seems to be better for the stomach.