of our adult dogs and each puppy we have whelped have been registered
with the AKC, as well as Microchipped with the AKC Home Again
in health issues and have tested each of our “live-in” dogs
with every available test for their ages. Each of our dogs has
their CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) exams yearly. Every
puppy in our last four litters was CERF’d at 5 to 6 weeks
of age to detect early eye problems. We have not had any problems
nor do we expect any, however, we will continue our program of
early CERF examinations. CERF exams primarily look for signs of
PRA, but also diagnose early eye changes that may be easily treated.
At two years of age, all of our breeding stock either has had
or will have their OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) x-rays
for hips and elbows completed. Hip Dysplasia in PWDs as well as
in other breeds is a health issue that prevents breeding of certain
stock. The Georgie Project (www.georgieproject.com) is currently
studying PWDs and hip dysplasia and is finding some interesting
Our breeding stock has had their Optigen DNA Evaluations
and have been rated as “A” or “A1”. Optigen Ratings
are “A”, “B”, or “C”. More
information on this test can be found at www.optigen.com. PRA is
a condition that causes blindness in dogs. There is no cure. PWDs
have a late onset which means that some dogs exhibit symptoms late
in life by losing their night sight. Most of the time, PWDs do
not become totally blind from PRA because they just don’t
live long enough.
Vada has been GM-1 (Ganglyosidosis or Storage Disease)
DNA tested at NYU and deemed Normal; meaning that she does not
carry the gene
and cannot pass it on. Storage Disease is a condition in which
the liver and kidneys do not filter the poisons from the system,
but send the poison to the brain, causing increasing lack of coordination
and eventually death by about 9 months of age. There is no cure
for Storage Disease, but it is a simple recessive gene and you
would not breed two Carriers. Mykie was not DNA GM-1 tested because
the test wasn’t available when she was of breeding age. At
that time we had to rely on Dr. Bell’s Pedigree Analysis.
She was originally rated as an “N-95” and after she
had hr litter was re-rated a “L”, which means that
she was litter-tested clear of the gene. Since she was no longer
of breeding age, we felt the NYU test for her was unnecessary.
Some of our dogs are enrolled in the Georgie Project.
It is a project that is doing intensive studies of many factors
We take yearly x-rays and blood drawings to detect many factors
about Portuguese and other breeds of dogs. The Georgie Project
is learning vast amounts of information regarding many facets of
canines, and we’re happy to be a part of it. The Georgie
Project is discovering more information on Addison’s Disease,
an auto-immune disease. It is now believed that every PWD in every
line in every breeding has a 2 % chance of coming down with
Addison’s Disease. There are many other factors (both environmental
and genetic) that must combine to create an Addisonian Dog. None
of our dogs, and none of our puppies, have contracted Addison’s
to this moment in time.
Cancer is the number one killer of all dogs in every breed. Mammary
cancer, such as Mykie had, is fairly easy to cure if found early
enough. Hemangiosarcoma, such as Frankie died from, is a fast growing
cancer that is almost undetectable until it is too late. A recent
article states that this type of cancer is the cause of 7% of canine
deaths. The PWDCA Cancer Committee feels that this type of cancer
is the major killer of PWDs, although autopsies are not mandatory.
There is no DNA test for canine cancer and a new study recommends
ultrasound exams every 5 months on each dog. Certain types of cancer
can be cured if caught early enough; surgery, chemo, diet, and
holistic medicines are available.
General Health Concerns For Portuguese Water Dogs
The PWDCA is making great strides to eradicate genetic conditions in our breed.
It is recommended by the PWDCGC, through its affiliation with the PWDCA, that
all potential puppy buyers ascertain the available tests (PRA, HD, and GM-1)
have been passed by both the sire and the dam of the puppy. A breeder should
willingly produce the test results of the breeding pair, although this does
not guarantee that the puppy will be clear of health problems.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is a degenerative eye disease
which results in gradual blindness in an Affected dog. A DNA test
to determine clears/carriers became available in January, 1999.
Your breeder (or www.optigen.com) will be happy to supply further
information. Prior to this new diagnostic tool, ERGs (Electroretinograms)
and Relative Risk Analyses should have been performed on all breeding
stock over two years of age. CERF-AII PWDs should be examined annually
to diagnose other eye abnormalities. The ophthalmological results
are submitted to the Canine Eye Registration Foundation to obtain
Hip Dysplasia (HD) are degenerative muscular-skeletal conditions affecting
the dog's ability to walk, run, jump, etc. The severity of which could impair
the dog's total movement as he matures. X-rays of the hips and elbows are sent
into the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals for analysis. Animals that pass
are given a number and rating of Fair, Good, or Excellent. Portuguese Water
Dogs cannot be OFA'd until they are at least 24 months of age.
Gangliosydosis or Storage Disease [GM-1] is an imbalance of the
immune system which causes neuromuscular degeneration and death
at an early age if Affected. The PWDCA worked long and hard to
devise a DNA test to determine the dog's status through NYU. All
dogs used for breeding should be individually tested for GM-1.
The certificates indicate: N -Normal, C.-Carrier, A -Affected.
The PWDCA is currently funding research to isolate and eliminate the following
health concerns: Cardiomyopathy, a genetic heart condition, can be fatal to
young puppies. This condition has been diagnosed in our breed within the last
two years. Symptoms of Addison's Disease, an autoimmune disorder which could
be hereditary, are often mis-diagnosed. Treatment of an Addisonian dog is costly.
A breeder, through his pedigree research, will be able to provide you with
necessary health history of his litter. Much thought must be given to choosing
the breeder of your puppy.