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Newf Health Info

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Hip dysplasia is a developmental disease of the hip joint whereas the femur head moves in the socket and wears down the bone surfaces.  Hip dysplasia can vary in severity from a mild/borderline case to a complete subluxation of the ball and socket.

If you notice on the film below, when a dog is dysplastic, the femur head doesn't fit nicely into the socket.  Now look at the opposite hip, can you how the femur head fits nice and tight into it's socket?  This is how the femur heads should appear for both hips while in the OFA required position for x-ray evaluation.

Hip Dysplasia can be either unilateral, affecting only one hip; or bilateral, affecting both hips.

Hip Dysplasia is commonly thought of to be a genetic issue, but there is an alarming amount of evidence that suggests that hip dysplasia can also be influenced by environmental and nutritional factors.

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, more commonly known as OFA, offers x-ray evaluations & registries for hips & elbows.  They also offer statistical information for the Newfoundland breed, however, most severely displastic x-rays are never submitted for evaluation so the statistics are not accurate.  Currently, based on 8,477 number of Newfoundland x-rays that were submitted for evaluation between 1974 and 1998, 5.7% obtain an "excellent" evaluation while 27.2% were dysplastic.  

Through selectively breeding, breeders have made outstanding strides toward bettering our breeds hips.  OFA documents the trends to show how x-raying hips can greatly increase our the Newfoundland's health!

Breeds with over 400 dogs evaluated in or before 1980 are compared to dogs born in 1987-88 and 1994-95.  Here are the results!!!
BreedRating19801987-881994-95Change 1980-1994-95
# of Dogs Tested1888927742

When a dogs x-rays show no signs of hip dysplasia, OFA issues a certification number.  The evaluation ratings are either, Fair, Good or Excellent.  This rating grade will also appear in the pedigree of a dog.  An example of an OFA number would be:  NF-4877E25M.  NF stands for the Newfoundland breed, the four digit number is the dog's individual number assigned by OFA, E is the grading of Excellent, the number 25 is the age of the dog in months when the x-ray was taken, and M denotes that the dog is a female.  

A word of encouragement: OFA & PennGen are currently working on trying to discover which gene(s) actually carry the DNA hip makeup.  If sucessful, a simple DNA test should become available that will conclude whether or not a specific dog is genetically more likely to pass dysplastic tendencies on to their offspring.  On behalf of future generations of Newfies, we wish OFA & PennGen the best in their discoveries and would like to encourage your support in their efforts to help breeders make better breeding choices.

The congenital heart defect known as aortic stenosis consists of a narrowed, malformed aortic valve. This is the valve that leads from the main pumping chamber of the heart (ventricle) to the main artery to the body (aorta).  In aortic stenosis, there is narrowing and partial to near-total blockage of blood flow from the heart to the body.  The blockage may involve thicked, abnormal valve flaps ("leaflets") or webs of tissue just above the valve (supravalvular aortic stenosis) or just below the valve, within the ventricle (subvalvular aortic stenosis). 

Subvalvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS) is a congenital heart problem that can occur sporadically in any breed.  SAS is a defect in the heart valve that will ultimately be fatal to the affected dog. No outward abnormalities are evident in a dog affected with SAS. Through auscultation with an extremely sensitive stethoscope and using ultrasound, a veterinarian specializing in cardiology can evaluate the heart function in dogs in dogs of any age, but it is preferred that a puppy be initially checked for severe cases around 9 weeks of age.  Because SAS is not present in puppies at birth and is a complicated defect that develops primarily during the first six months but up to a year, it is important that each Newf return to a board certified cardiologist as close to their 1st birthday as possible for a final evaluation. 

Responsible breeders should always test both the sire and dam for SAS before breeding. Again, all cardiac evaluation for SAS should be done by an American Veterinarian College of Internal Medicine (AVCIM) board certified cardiologist.  If you're not familiar with board certified cardiologist in your area, try visiting ACVIM for a complete listing of their board certified cardiologists.

Please remember that even breeding stock that has been cleared for SAS can still produce it.  Through selective breeding, we hope the chances become less likely in future generations

Cystine, an amino acid, is one of the building blocks of proteins. Amino acids are part of a normal canine diet and are absorbed through the gut. Although they are filtered in the kidney, amino acids are normally reabsorbed (nearly 100%) by special kidney transporters and are not lost in the urine. 

In dogs with cystinuria, the kidney transporter for cystine is defective. In acid urine, cystine precipitates to create crystals, which may further precipitate to form calculi (stones) in the kidney and bladder. These calculi can cause serious illness. Although cystinuria affects many dog breeds, the most severe form affects Newfoundland dogs. 

Cystinuric dogs often show signs of a recurrent urinary tract disorder. Clinical signs may start at almost any age. Affected dogs may have problems with urination. They may produce blood-tinged urine and pass calculi, or they may be unable to void urine despite numerous attempts. Because male dogs have a narrower urethra than female dogs, male dogs are more likely to become completely blocked. In this case, the bladder may distend grossly and rupture if not properly managed.  Urine may then back up into the kidneys, and the resultant pressure on the kidney may cause cell necrosis and kidney failure. Without appropriate and immediate care, such complications can lead to death.

Other health conditions to be aware of are inherited eye diseases, including cataracts and Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). While cataracts may sometimes be corrected by surgery, PRA is not treatable and may cause blindness by 4 to 5 years of age as PRA can actually disintegrate the retina.  Neither of these diseases is detectable in a young puppy. Adults may not display eye problems, but may carry the disease and produce puppies that will develop more severe problems.

Entropion, Ectropion, and Cherry Eye are conditions that also effect the over all health of a Newf's eye.  

  • Entropion is the turning in of the eyelid, allowing the eyelashes to rub on the cornea and can cause complications.  The direct cause of this is some what complicated, but is primarily due to the massive size of the Newfs head which commonly has larger eye sockets.  While the actual eye ball can often be of normal size, if the socket is too large, the eye balls seems to be small but instead is just set back into the socket.  Thus, it is common to find the lower eyelid "hitting" the lower part of the eye ball instead of gently rolling up and over to the middle of the eye to meet the upper eyelid with each blink or squint.  Not only can this cause irritation, but another concern for this condition can occur when the dog reaches an older age.  Because the eye ball has a "fat" layer behind it, as the dog progressively ages, the "fat" layer thins and can cause the eye to sink back even deeper.  When considering potential puppies, try to look at their parents eyes.  Although the standard calls for a smaller eyed Newf, it is important that the eye not be set back into a large deep socket or problems may arise as the dog ages.  A nicely rounded eye like ours is ideal.

  • Ectropion is an outward turning of the lower eyelid, which is condition that is mainly inherited due to the genetic make up of the more massive type Newfoundland heads.  Typically a dog that has a massive head, will also have extra skin that can accommodate their growing skulls.  Since the head type is genetic, these dogs will often have more elasticity also which allows their skin to stretch over the head.  The combinations of these issues can lead to ectropion, which leaves the eye exposed to irritation and/or infection.  Surgery can be performed to correct it.  Again, when considering potential puppies, try to evaluate their parents eyes yourself.  

  • Cherry Eye is a mass of red tissue at the corner of the eye of the third eyelid.  It usually occurs in younger growing puppies/dogs, affecting one eye first, but then typically the second within a few weeks.  Surgical removal of the entire gland is required, but if corrected, the dog can not be shown. 

Hypothyroidism, or low thyroid levels, is caused by an underactive thyroid gland.  Testing for hypothyroidism is available and results can be recorded with OFA's Thyroid Registry

(VWD) is an inherited deficiency of the clotting factors in the blood. VWD carriers may show no symptoms of the disease, but their offspring can have severe bleeding problems.  Dogs affected with VWD may have symptoms varying from very mild to severe; in some dogs VWD is fatal.

Bleeding problems include prolonged bleeding from toenails clipped too short, extensive hemorrhage from even mild surgical procedures, lameness, hematomas, still births or early deaths of newborn puppies,
internal bleeding, and so on.

VWD can be detected with a simple blood test, and dogs not afflicted with VWD will be issued certification stating that they are clear of the disease. Information may be obtained from Dr. W. Jean Dodds, New York State Department of Health, Division of Laboratories and Research, Albany, New York 12201.

Acute Gastric Dilation/Torsion, better known as bloat, is a condition when the stomach suddenly becomes distended with gas and/or fluids.  In severe cases, twisting may occur and cause death.  This condition occurs more commonly in larger breeds with deep bodies.  Some suggestions to help avoid this condition:

  • Raise your dogs food bows off the ground

  • Feed smaller more frequent meals

  • Never exercise your dog before or after meals

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