White Swiss Shepherds can be affected by a variety of different health issues. The bare minimum any breeder should be completing prior to breeding White Swiss Shepherd Dogs is hip & elbow x-rays and DNA testing for;

  • Multiple Drug Resistance (MDR1)
  • Degenerative Myleopathy (DM)
  • von Willebrand Disease (vWD)

Hips and Elbows should be x-rayed and those x-rays sent off to a specialist radiologist who can assess the xrays and “score” them. Ideally you want an overall hip score under 10, with the left and right hip scores as even as possible, and ideally an elbow score of 0. This scoring will be presented on the form Canine Hip & Elbow Dysplasia Scheme (CHEDS), however older reports may be missing this term.

Additional conditions have been discovered in the breed in recent years, and we encourage all breeders to also test;

  • Optic Nerve Hypoplasia (ONH)
  • Pituitary Dwarfism (PD)
  • Cerebellar Hypoplasia (CH)

These health issues have been produced once by Australian or New Zealand breeders, and proactive breeders are ensuring this doesn’t happen again.

Optic Nerve Hypoplasia is caused by an under-developed optic nerve, resulting in congenital blindness. This condition is not believed to be progressive. This condition can be tested for by specialist ophthalmologists via the Australian Canine Eye Scheme (ACES), and cannot be done by an average vet. Dogs with OHN can live normal, fulfilled lives despite their vision impairments.

Pituitary Dwarfism is an autosomal disorder that causes stunted growth, though it can also be due to masses on the pituitary gland. Initially puppies will appear normal, but they fail to keep up with their litter mates. By 4-6 weeks of age, the size difference is fairly obvious. PD generally causes a shortened lifespan due to associated comorbidities. The puppies remain the size of a 3-4 month old puppy, and oftenhave coat issues resulting in patchy or balding coats.

Pituitary Dwarfism is easily avoided using DNA testing. Orivet now offers PD testing in its Full Breed Profile for White Swiss Shepherds, as well as other laboratories such as InfogeneNZ and Laboklin (UK).

Cerebellar Hypoplasia is a newly discovered issue in White Swiss Shepherds which unfortunately, many breeders are not taking seriously. Cerebellar Hypoplasia is caused by an under-developed Cerebellum. Resulting affected puppies have issues with mobility and weight gain. They struggle with standing, walking straight and latching onto their mothers breast.

Cerebellar Hypoplasia is tested via DNA. Embark tests for a separate strand of CH, therefore carriers will come up as “Clear” with Embark. Currently only InfogeneNZ and Laboklin (UK) has the markers for testing our breed correctly.

A breeder should be able to provide proof of these results when inquiring about purchasing from them. If they cannot provide official reports and rather simply say the dog is fine or clear, I would question as to why they cannot provide proof.

Examples of official reports