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Eurasier Health

Eurasiers are, by and large, a healthy breed of dog. They live between 12 to 14 years on average, although dogs who live longer are not incredibly rare to hear of. Still: they are predisposed to a few health conditions, and it's important to screen not only the dogs who are to be bred for these variable conditions, but also to study the pedigrees of the dogs to minimize the risk of health conditions which could occur. 

Health testing is not a simple assessment of the dog's acute wellbeing at the time of breeding but rather an indepth assessment of genetics, orthopedic & eye health, as well as an understanding of what the dog could be predisposed to based on their relatives.

For more detail, I'd encourage you to read our indepth health information at the US Eurasier Club website as well as the health tests required for a Eurasier to earn their OFA CHIC number. 


Orthopedic Health

Hips, Elbows & Patella

Prior to being bred, Eurasiers should have the following health testing completed. Some are optional per the breed club or OFA CHIC. For example, in our breed about 5% of Eurasiers have some sort of elbow displasia, but only about 3% of dogs have an abnormal hip result. However, those results may be skewed, as elbows are not required by CHIC or the breed club and predominantly those seeking x-rays on elbows may be doing so following symptomatic changes to the dogs joints or movement. As such, I think it's important to test elbows, knees, and hips prior to moving forward and breeding a dog.

The test for patellar luxation can be conducted on any dog older than four months, for assessment, although a permanent OFA rating is given to dogs who are 12 months or older. The test for the patella is conducted by a veterinarian who physically palpitates the patella to determine if the patella is able to shift or pop out of place. The dog is awake during the exam.

OFA Hips is is a graded procedure which looks at the hip joint to determine the overall health of the joint at the time of the exam and assess, and diagnose, hip dysplasia. The x-rays are conducted on a dog who can either be restrained and awake or the dog may be sedated for the procedure. The x-rays are submitted to OFA where they are rated independently by three individual veterinarians. The important part of the hip exam is that the OFA test is a snapshot in time, an assessment of the dog's hips at the age in which the x-rays were taken. They are not entirely predictive of the future health of the joint. There is an alternative exam, called PennHIP, that uses multiple views of the hip joint which can be used to predict the future of the dog's hips. Both offer good information to the breeder, and which test is done may vary by both breed or the lines a breeder is working with in their program.

General Health

Eyes & Thyroid

Approximately 15-18% of Eurasiers will develop Autoimmune Thyroiditis: it impacts almost every line of dogs, and you'll not often see a litter that is entirely free of the disease (either directly or through an aunt or uncle). Autoimmune thyroiditis is a condition in which the immune system attacks and gradually destroys the thyroid gland, leading to hypothyroidism in most cases. It typically appears in dogs between the ages of 2 and 5, although it may also occur later in life. Even after the disease has been confirmed, it may take some time for the classic signs of hypothyroidism to become apparent. Therefore, it is crucial to periodically test seemingly healthy dogs. Autoimmune thyroiditis is thought to have a genetic basis, but some medications may also affect thyroid values.

It is my personal belief that to have a good baseline, a Eurasier should have an annual thyroid test beginning at 1 year of age, and then every year thereafter. After the age of 8 or so, testing every second year may be prudent, as a mature dog findings related to the thyroid are not likely to be the same condition as the classical Autoimmune Thyroiditis.

Dogs who are impacted by a thyroid condition should not be bred, but, dogs who have been diagnosed recieve a daily medication and go on to live long, healthy lives providing they are medicated appropriately & their thyroid levels monitored.

Eurasiers, partially due to some of their Chow Chow ancestry, are also predisposed to a few conditions of the eye: Entropion, Ectropion, and Distichiasis. As such, breeders should make sure they've conducted at least one OFA CAER certification completed for their dogs eyes. Entropion and ectropion are conditions where the eyelid rolls either inward or outward, causing various degrees of damage to the eye itself or to the surrounding tissue. Both can impact the animal's vision if left untreated and should not be present in breeding dogs. Distichiasis is a condition where there are extra eyelashes and can be assessed by a veterinary opthamologist to determine if they are detrimental to the dog's eye health. In many cases, it is a condition that is minor or not severe, but sometimes it can be seen in combination with entropion, leading to damage to the eye. As such, it is considered a breeder option by OFA as well as the US Eurasier Club insofar as breeding eligibility is concerned.

More seriously, occasionally, Eurasiers are known to develop glaucoma. Glaucoma is a medical condition characterized by elevated pressure inside the eye caused by an abnormal accumulation of fluid due to irregular production and drainage. Symptoms in affected dogs can range from subtle indications such as slight enlargement of the eye, sluggish and slightly dilated pupils, and mild redness to more severe indications such as cloudy corneas, fixed and dilated pupils, and significant redness, depending on the advancement of the disease. It is known to be heritible, and dogs who are impacted should not be bred and breeding of their decendents should be considered very carefully.

Dentition & Dandy Walker-Like Malformation

Eurasiers are a full dentition breed. This means, in effect, that the breed standard penalizes the absence of various teeth. The predisposition for dogs to be missing teeth is one which is considered heritible, and those who are missing teeth should not be bred. It is a disqualification or serious fault per the FCI breed standard, and the US Eurasier Club does require that a breeder submit their dentition exam results to OFA for recording. The dentition database is not designed to assess the general oral health, alignment of teeth, or the bite: instead it confirms that all of the teeth are all present and fully erupted. Dentition screening is a one-time requirement for breeding dogs. Any leading number (1 to 4) followed by a "-" signifies an unacceptable absence of teeth, such as missing 101, 201, 301, or 401.

Dandy Walker-Like Malformation (DWLM) is a medical condition that arises due to an underdeveloped cerebellum caused by a missing gene (VLDLR). Affected dogs have difficulty coordinating movements-- sometimes you will see them described as "wobblers" or "wobbly dogs". It is not a progessive condition but should be avoided never the less. Prior to breeding, it should known if a Eurasier is clear or a carrier for the gene. This is a DNA test, although some dogs are known to be clear through parentage (when a Clear dog is bred to another Clear dog). Breeding should only be between clear and carrier dogs to prevent affected offspring.

Other Health Conditions

Stuff in the Pedigrees

There are various health conditions that appear with a certain frequency in pedigrees. Although breeders make every effort to minimize the likelihood of these conditions, it's important to recognize that due to the lack of genetic testing for some of these diseases, individuals may still be affected. Therefore, it is crucial for breeders to educate their puppy buyers and the breed community about these conditions that are commonly seen in the breed. As Gestalt Eurasiers is affiliated with the US Eurasier Club, I have access to various databases that enable me to make informed decisions when selecting a stud to reduce the chance of these conditions occurring in future litters.

Diabetes: Dogs with diabetes have insufficient insulin production due to immune damage or severe pancreatitis. Symptoms include increased hunger, thirst, urination, and rapid weight loss. Certain breeds, like the Samoyed, are genetically predisposed to the disease.

Exocrine Pancreatic Insufficiency: EPI Eurasiers is commonly caused by pancreatic acinar atrophy (PAA), where the pancreas gradually loses acinar cells and lacks necessary digestive enzymes. Symptoms of EPI, such as hunger, weight loss, and abnormal stools, may appear after a long progression of PAA. To assess EPI in Eurasiers, specific blood serum tests are available. EPI occurrence in Eurasiers is heritable, and dogs diagnosed with EPI should be excluded from breeding programs, and careful consideration is needed for breeding their immediate offspring.

Primary Ciliary Dyskinesia: PCD is a birth defect that affects the movement ability of cilia in various parts of the body, such as the respiratory tract and, in males, the sperm. Dogs affected by PCD will have an increased risk of respiratory infections and other respiratory issues, and males can exhibit decreased fertility. PCD is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner, meaning dogs must carry two copies of the gene in order to be genetically affected, however the research is still on-going and at this time there is no genetic test available.

Stomach Cancer: Anecdotally considered to be the most common cancer in the Eurasier breed, it is not incredibly common but it is known to be both heritible and is seen across various pedigrees. There are current studies on-going at Cornell to learn more about a what genetic factors may contribute to the likelihood of a dog developing the disease. 

Bloat: The development of bloat in a dog can be influenced by genetics, particularly if their first-degree relatives have also experienced it. Moreover, certain environmental factors are thought to play a role, although there is limited empirical research on this topic. It is more common in older dogs, aswell. Regardless: Bloat is a medical emergency and a dog experiencing symptoms should be brought to an emergency vet immediately.

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