Health Testing

Portuguese Water Dog Health

Genetic health testing adult parents will greatly reduce the possibility of your puppy experiencing health issues in its lifetime.

People looking for a purebred dog should educate themselves about all aspects of the breed in which they are interested. The Portuguese Water Dog is overall a very healthy, robust, family companion. But as in humans, and certainly all breeds of dogs, there are health concerns. Here are a few health issues/concerns that are found in the PWD.

Eye Problems

PRA: Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a genetically transmitted eye disease found in about 80 breeds of dogs, including Poodles, Akitas Labrador Retrievers, and the Portuguese Water Dog. PRA causes the blood vessels of the retina to atrophy, or waste away. The end result of retinal atrophy is a gradual but progressive blindness. There is a simple genetic DNA blood rest to identify, normal non-carriers, carriers, and affected dogs. All of our adult dogs are tested. For breeding purposes 'Normal' and 'Carrier' and 'Affected' rated dogs can be bred to "A" rated Non-carriers. and the resulting litters will not produce affected dogs.

Hip Dysplasia

Most breeds have some dogs with hips that are called 'dysplastic' - that is the hip joint is not formed perfectly. The dysplastic dog may have no pain or problems, or it may experience mild to severe discomfort when moving. Treatment, if necessary, can consist of aspirin, anti-inflammatory medication, or surgery in the most severe cases. Approximately 13% of all dogs X-rayed and submitted to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) are found to be dysplastic. Hip testing reduces the chance of passing down hip dysplasia.

Hip dysplasia is a complicated, multifactorial disease. It's defined as a looseness in the joint, causing the junction of the femur (thigh bone) and the pelvis to wobble and be unstable. It's a ball-and-socket joint (think 8th-grade biology) with the head of the femur as the ball, and the pelvis, or acetabulum, as the socket. The socket needs to be deep enough to cover the ball without it slipping around. If the socket is shallow, we have looseness or instability. This instability leads to bone-on-bone rubbing, and that is where the pain comes in. This friction erodes the cartilage that normally stays between the two bones to provide cushioning. Damaged cartilage means more friction, and major pain The destruction of the cartilage leads to arthritis - inflammation of the joint.

One study showed that if two parents have good hips by OFA standards, 1 in 4 of the puppies may still develop hip dysplasia. Pretty awful odds. Turns out this disease involves many many factors. Genetics certainly plays a big role, but nutrition, body weight, environment, muscle mass, and even hormones all play a role as well.

So, given all the factors in addition to genetics that play a role in the development of hip dysplasia, and the low sensitivity of OFA films, how sure are you that a puppy from OFA certified parents will have good hips? We can do our best, but there are still many things beyond our control. Your best bet - keep your dog at an ideal weight, using portion control and moderate exercise, and feed a large breed puppy food to your large breed puppy.

GM-1 Storage Disease

GM-1 Storage Disease is a rare disease that is only found in humans and the Portuguese Water Dog. It is a genetically transmitted fatal neurological disorder that is apparent around 5 months of age. The ONLY way affected puppies can be produced is by breeding a Carrier to a Carrier and NO responsible breeder would do this.