Here at Accalia, we are happy to discuss health issues. Dogs are prone to many diseases and health issues based on their age, surroundings and breed. Dog breeding is not an easy game and can be heart breaking at times. Dogs have a multiple pregnancy and sometimes things happen. Its the nature of the beast. Dogs have a multiple pregnancy, like their ancestor's did in the wild, as not all pups would survive and with there being multiple pups, the chances are that some would survive and continue the line.
HIP DYSPLASIA (HD)
Simply speaking, Hip Dysplasia means that the bones of the hip joint are not aligned correctly. Like most large breed dogs, NI's can suffer from HD. The breed average for the NI is 15, so when looking to buy a puppy, you should be looking for its parents to have scores lower than this average. Since 2009, NI's born from then, have also had to have their elbows scored.
CRYPTORCHIDISM (RETAINED TESTICLES)
Cryptorchidism, sometimes called retained or undescended testes, is the absence of one or both testicles in the scrotum of a male puppy by the time it reaches 6 months of age. Testes normally descend within 6 to 8 weeks. However, they can remain in the abdomen or may never develop at all. Cryptorchid dogs can still be fertile, depending on the number and location of their retained testicle(s). Breeders should check puppies for this disorder before placing them in their new homes. Most cryptorchids show no signs of discomfort or pain. In fact, many owners don’t know that their puppies have this disorder until they are checked by a veterinarian or develop aggressive or otherwise unpleasant intact male tendencies. Dogs with retained testicles have a greatly increased risk of developing testicular infection, torsion and cancer. The condition is also hereditary. Affected dogs should be neutered.
Cryptorchidism is not uncommon in male NI's. This is definitely something to be aware of, if you are looking for a future stud dog. Remember also, that most NI breeders have breed restrictions placed on their puppies, in regards to breeding, which can only be lifted by them. All our puppies are sold as pets only, although we may consider removing the restriction if deemed appropriate.
A few cases of epilepsy have come to light within the breed. It is not know whether it is hereditary or not at this stage.
Certain breeds are predisposed to getting glaucoma. Primary glaucoma most commonly afflicts dogs at 3–7 years of age but can occur at any age. The disease is most frequently seen in cocker spaniels, many of the terrier breeds, Northern breeds such as the Siberian Husky, chow-chows and dalmations. However, primary glaucoma has been identified in almost every breed of dog. Glaucoma has recently shown itself in the NI breed.
DEGENERATIVE MYELOPATHY (DM)
Degenerative myelopathy is a progressive disease of the spinal cord in older dogs. The disease has an insidious onset typically between 8 and 14 years of age. It begins with a loss of coordination (ataxia) in the hind limbs. The affected dog will wobble when walking, knuckle over or drag the feet. This can first occur in one hind limb and then affect the other. As the disease progresses, the limbs become weak and the dog begins to buckle and has difficulty standing. The weakness gets progressively worse until the dog is unable to walk. The clinical course can range from 6 months to 1 year before dogs become paraplegic. If signs progress for a longer period of time, loss of urinary and fecal continence may occur and eventually weakness will develop in the front limbs. Another key feature of DM is that it is not a painful disease.
It has come light that some lines in the NI, have the DM gene. This is not a problem, as long as breeding dogs are tested and carrier to carrier dogs are not bred together. If a carrier dog is bred to a clear dog, then it will not produce affected puppies.
Chondrodysplasia is a genetically based syndrome leading to abnormal bone and cartilage development. Dogs that have this syndrome usually have long backs and front legs that are shortened and curved. This disease can lead to joint problems which can be painful and cause limping. Afflicted dogs also have a high predisposition to developing invertebral disc disease. It has become apparent that this is now showing itself within the NI lines. 4 puppies so far are know to be affected. Like the DM, breeding carrier dogs, to carrier dogs would produce and has produced affected pups. Both parents must be carriers for this to happen. There is no genetic test for this at present.