Entlebuchers generally have a hardy
but there are some heritable health problems that
Before you actually buy a
pup ask for proof of all
of the health certificates.
Often people get what I
call "puppy fever" and throw
common sense out
the window when someone says
"Yes, I can have a pup
shipped to you tomorrow."
Dysplasia is simply
defined as misalignment of the hip joint. There are many degrees of
dysplasia. In its mildest forms it may not show up until the animal ages
and the dysplasia becomes complicated by arthritis. In the most severe cases the animal may be crippled from puppy hood and may need major
surgery to enable the dog to live a normal, pain free life. Dysplasia
affects many breeds, mostly medium to large breeds.
is polygenic, meaning that there are probably several genes involved.
There are also theories that a genetic predisposition to dysplasia may be
exacerbated by environmental conditions. There are studies underway
designed to determine the effect of diet on dysplasia occurrence in larger
breeds. In the meantime some breeders are attempting to avoid high
calcium, high phosphorus diets that encourage very rapid growth in young puppies. This theory has
not been proven and puppy diet modification should only be undertaken with
animals should be screened for dysplasia. The presence or absence of
malformation and/or joint laxity can be determined with x-rays. Dogs can
be screened at one year by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA),
but the OFA requires that the animal be at least 24 months before they
will issue a certification. The
screening need only be performed once at any time from 24 months on. Ask
the breeder to see the certificate. Only those animals with Excellent,
Good or Fair ratings should be bred. Very few Entles with OFA
certification have "Excellent" ratings. The majority are OFA "Fair", the
rest are of course "Good"
is another method of testing for dysplasia.
It is still possible for a puppy to
be born with dysplasia even if both parents have no evidence of dysplasia,
however the odds are far more favorable than without screening. Oona is an
example of this; her parents and grand parents
were not dysplastic.
Because dysplasia is polygenic it is recommended that one examine the
incidence of dysplasia in littermates of parents and grandparents in
order to estimate the likelihood of dysplasia-free breeding animals
being carriers of some or all of the involved genes. This is very
difficult to do. This is one of the reasons that a comprehensive, open
genetic database is needed. Genetic testing for polygenic diseases may
be a way off. Developing tests for single genes causing disease is still
difficult at this time. Being able to determine which clusters of genes
are responsible for diseases is even more complex.
It is possible to directly check an
Entlebucher's OFA rating on the OFA web page. All animals that have been certified as
Fair, Good, Excellent, by OFA are listed along with their rating.
Below is the link to the OFA.
detailed information on PennHIP and access to a list of veterinarians
certified to perform PennHIP examinations use this link to the University
of Pennsylvania PennHIP page.
Cruciate Ligament Tears (ACL)
This is not an uncommon
injury in this breed. Some researchers believe there is a hereditary
component in this injury in dogs. Others believe it is related to the
athleticism, condition and the activity level of the dog or a
combination of both. Just as human "weekend warriors" often suffer from
this condition so with Entles who are only occasionally
heavily exercised. Entles who are elite athletes in agility, for
example, are warmed up, cooled down and exercised on a regular basis.
Entles will play whenever and as long and hard as someone will play with
them. It is up to their human to guide them well.
There have been isolated
cases of luxating patellas. Although considered hereditary in
most breeds, I have had two occur in my line in all my years of
breeding. I have only heard of a few others.
CERF (Canine Eye
OFA exams may only be
performed by Board Certified veterinary ophthalmologists (DACVOs). An
OFA Eye Registration certificate means that the dog was free of visible genetic
eye disease at the time of exam. This test shoud be performed
more information go to :
are the most prevalent eye problem in this breed. Cataracts are presumed
to be inherited although they may caused by other diseases and may
occasionally be caused by trauma. They sometimes lead to blindness but in
many cases they do not. A cataract is typically a partial or complete
opacity, or clouding, of the lens. Cataracts may be bilateral or
unilateral. If cataracts are complete and affect both eyes, blindness
results. In some cases, lens replacement such as that performed on humans
is believed to be an autosomal recessive trait. See PRA below.
believe animals with cataracts should never be bred. Others believe that
because of the limited Entlebucher gene pool, it is necessary to breed
Entles with posterior cataracts. My
belief is that we should concentrate our efforts on first eliminating
diseases that cause distress/pain, or impairment or possibly death for
the dog and are financially costly to treat for the owner. I don’t want to promote ignoring cataracts by any means; but
with our gene pool, cataracts that bother neither the dog nor the owner
are not of as great import as the other diseases that cause discomfort
and/or disability to the dog and distress and financial expense to the
NEMDA permits breeding with polar cataracts as long as
the bitch or dog is bred to an older cataract free animal.
There have been a few
reported cases of glaucoma in the Entlebucher. NEMDA's Genetics
Committee is monitoring this.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy
July of 2004 there are no Entlebuchers bred from properly paired parents
that should develop PRA. Dogs being diagnosed currently were typically
conceived prior to availability of the Optigen PRA-prcd gene test.
Although cataracts are more prevalent in
Entlebuchers, PRA has always been considered by most to be more problematic as
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) causes progressive vision loss, usually
first with night vision and ultimately results in blindness. There is no
treatment for PRA. PRA is common in many breeds, particularly northern
In March of 2004,
working with NEMDA, Cornell University discovered the gene for PRA-prcd in
Mountain Dogs. Many of our breeding dogs were/are carriers but now
as of July 1, 2004 no Entlebuchers with PRA should be born in. We are currently seeing dogs born before that date being
diagnosed with PRA. NEMDA has a support group for owners whose
Entlebuchers have been diagnosed with PRA. As the vision loss is gradual
the dogs do accommodate surprisingly well. It is often more difficult
for the owner to accept and adjust.
ENTLEBUCHER BREEDING PAIR
MUST INCLUDE A LEAST ONE NORMAL PARENT. In this way there will
be no afflicted pups born.
There are three testing
outcomes. Normal (A), Carrier (B), and Afflicted (C). Results of
various pairings below
A + A = 100% A
A + B = 50% A and 50% B
B + B = 25% A, 50% B
and 25% C
B + C = 50% B and 50% C
C + C = 100% C
MAKE SURE YOU OBTAIN
WRITTEN VERIFICATION OF THE OPTIGEN PRA-prcd RESULTS OF THE PARENTS OF ANY
ENTLE PUP YOU ARE CONSIDERING BUYING. AT LEAST ONE MUST BE OPTIGEN
DNA TESTED "NORMAL". (We originally called these Pattern A's)
Entlebucher kennels advertise that they are "PRA Free".
All BCOE breeders have kennels that are "PRA Free" as they will
never produce a PRA pup. They always insure that one parent in a
breeding is "Normal". If "PRA Free" means that the advertising kennel
will always only breed "Normal" to "Normal" then that is something else.
Most informed breeders know the potential danger in doing this.
Eliminating all carriers and afflicted dogs from breeding programs
at this time means eliminating over 50% of the Entlebucher breeding
gene pool from breeding consideration.
We must continue to
breed carriers for a time as the Entlebucher gene pool is so small
and more Entles
are carriers and afflicted than clear at this time. We are continuing to breed
carriers and some afflicted
dogs that carry traits desirable for the Entlebucher breed. The
reality is that there will no longer be afflicted dogs in a few years as
the existing afflicted dogs are retired. Of course, at some time in the
future, there will be a time when when only normal dogs will be bred as
gradually the gene will be eliminated. Gradual is the key here.
including Dr. George Padgett our breed club consulting geneticist until
his death, have warned our NEMDA breeders against breeding only "Normals" as that would
create a genetic bottleneck in the breed and could likely result in an
increase in other even more catastrophic diseases. Dr. Padgett saw this
happen repeatedly in other breeds when gene tests were developed.
identify the genes responsible for disease in our dogs it is critical
that the gene pool remain as open as possible. For example, when we have
to match breeding pairs by hip scores, CERF exams, Optigen and soon
hopefully a gene test for EUS it is critical that the gene pool be as
wide as possible or we will have not have enough dogs that can be
matched for breeding. Gene testing is a tool for responsible
breeding. Responsible breeders must learn how to use it wisely, not just
capitalize on it.
and Farah are both "Normal" and can be bred to any stud. Arco was a
"Carrier". Jedi is a "Carrier" and can only be
bred to "Normal" bitches.
For more information go
to the Optigen site, www.optigen.com.
Glaucoma is a disease defined by increased pressure within the eye. Dogs
with glaucoma have an abnormal filtering system in their eyes which can
obstruct the flow of intraocular fluid. This results in a buildup of
pressure within the eye. Untreated, the rising pressure will cause
irreparable damage and ultimate blindness. Diagnosed early, as with
humans, the condition can be treated with medication. There is some,
however limited, occurrence of the hereditary form of glaucoma in this
breed. The only way to determine if this predisposition exists is with a
gonioscopy examination performed by a DACVO (veterinary
ophthalmologist). If the predisposition exists, your general practice
vet can easily check eye pressure during routine visits and monitor for
any rise in pressure. If treatment begins in a timely fashion the
disease can typically be well managed.
Urinary Syndrome (EUS)
is a genetic urinary tract malformation that appears to occur in
varying degrees in the Entlebucher Mountain Dog. Most affected dogs are completely asymptomatic,
a few have minor incontinence issues and a very few develop serious kidney
disease. There have been two known Entlebucher deaths as a result of
bilateral hydrophonosis due to this syndrome, both female pups of five
and ten months of age.
appears to occur in all lines. No Entlebucher breeder can in truth
assure you that their dogs/pups do not carry the genes for EUS. However,
the incidence of symptomatic EUS is very low. Nearly all of our known
symptomatic cases in North American have occurred in females.
result of the death of her ten month old bitch puppy, Indigo, pictured
left, Janis Miller PhD, began the work with Michigan State to study the
ectopic ureter problem. NEMDA and the BCOE breeders
are working with Michigan State University on a study of this disease.
Because of the many differences in the manifestation of ectopic ureters
in the Entlebucher this form has been named Entlebucher Urinary
Syndrome. We are in the initial phase of the study which involves sophisticated
medical testing of affected and normal Entlebuchers at Michigan State.
Intensive pedigree evaluation is also being conducted along with study of the
DNA collected from normal and affected dogs.
goals of the study are :
use the information to describe how this disease in inherited in the
breed, develop means of screening for this disease, develop breeding
strategies to minimize the occurrence of this syndrome in the breed and
ultimately, identify the gene(s) responsible for the components of this
syndrome. If successful, our findings would benefit not only
Entlebucher Mountain Dogs but also many other breeds that appear to
have similar abnormalities in their urinary tract, as well as provide a
model to better understand the development of similar abnormalities in
has a brochure on the subject which you can obtain at
have been a few instances of heart problems in the Entlebucher related to Tetrology of
Fallot. Mostly stenosis.
National Entlebucher Mountain Dog Association (NEMDA) conducted a
North American Entlebucher Health Survey in 2002. Findings were reviewed by
the late Dr.
George Padgett, DVM, a leading canine geneticist and the author of
Controlling Canine Genetic Disease.
Results indicated that Entlebuchers are overall, a healthy breed. The
survey confirmed the existence of the primary problems that we already
knew occurred in the breed, PRA, cataracts and dysplasia. The following
chart, provided by Dr. Padgett, shows the estimated frequency of disease
in a sampling of breeds that have been studied.
“diseases” identified ranged from those major three already mentioned in
the main section preceding this in the above section to: cruciate ligament
ruptures, crooked tails, base narrow canines, umbilical hernias etc.
of these other health problems identified occurred with extremely low
frequency 0.3 to 1.4 per 100 dogs typically. We may find a slight increase
in the number of defective genes in our next health survey as we have
conducted more extensive testing in recent years.
second identical survey was conducted in 2012 with very similar outcomes
and incidence rates. They remain still a relatively healthy, long lived
breed; commonly 12 to 14, occasionally older. In very old age, cancer of
the spleen, hemangioma, is the typical cause of death.
Health Issues to
Get a written contract that clearly states both parties
responsibilities in the event of a health problem.
Most breeders, at most, only replace or refund for genetic disease that results in the death of the dog at a young age. A good breeder does everything within
reason to avoid genetic health problems but no breeder can afford to
refund medical expenses incurred during the life of the dog, however
unexpected they are to the buyer. Seriously consider veterinary health
Don't buy a dog of any breed if you do not have the resources to care
for it in the event of a serious medical problem. As with your children,
odd and unexpected medical problems can occur. Veterinary medicine is
very sophisticated and much of the equipment, tests and treatments are
the same as those used in human medicine and thus very expensive.
Please don't be discouraged by health information;
instead be empowered. Every breed has an equal or greater number of
genetic problems that can occur. Mixed breeds can have any of
the hundreds of genetic diseases that affect all breeds. It is a myth that
they are inherently healthier. They can
potentially carry genes for any number of the diseases carried by
the many breeds whose genes have contributed to their makeup. Many puppy buyers are not
informed, don't ask and often are not educated by breeders. Be an informed