Entlebucher Health Issues

What are common health concerns of Entlebuchers?


Health Concerns

Like any breed (or mix/designer breed), Entles can have some health issues. Visit the NEMDA "Breed Health" pages for the most accurate, up-to-date and complete health information.

Data after his 1st bathAdvice for anyone interested in getting an Entle puppy: Ask for copies of the parent's health clearances. It's not enough for a breeder to tell you their dogs have had all the proper testing. Some "breeders" sell Entles at “bargain” prices..., they cut corners somewhere. If you are dealing with a responsible, quality breeder they will give you copies of test results and tell you how they give back to the breed by supporting education, rescue and above all health research. High standards and ethics are included in the purchase price of a puppy from a reputable breeder.

Health Concern Links

EUS- Entlebucher Urinary Syndrome    |    Cancer   |    Auto Immune Diseases
Hip Dysplasia    |     OFA- Orthopedic Foundation for Animals
PRA/Cataracts/Glaucoma    |   ECR- OFA Eye Certification Registry
CCL / ACL tears    |  Patellar Luxation (about 3/4 down on page, great info)   

Bayla was diagnosed with Idiopathic Immune Mediated Thrombocytopenia (ITP) at age 4. She survived and thrived in spite of it. AutoImmune Hemolytic Anemia (AIHA) has also shown up in Entles, on occasion. The causes of immune diseases are largely unknown, though sometimes on an individual basis, a cause can be found. Causes can vary greatly from an infection to lepto or a tick borne disease, over vaccination and there are even breeds that seem more predisposed due to possible genetics. We were never able to establish a cause but we were able to move forward and successfully treat it! Immune diseases can affect all breeds or mixes of any age or sex. It's not considered a major problem in the Entlebucher breed. I mention this with the hope that awareness and knowledge may help someone, someday.

About the PRA Genetic Test

Don’t be fooled by a breeder that brags having "a PRA free kennel." A genetic marker test was developed in 2004. ALL Entle breeders have “PRA free kennels” with PRA free puppies! Some breeders only breed genetically typed "clear" dogs due to their own ignorance of genetics or lack of knowledge and understanding in the correct ways to utilize genetic tests for health.

Kai just chillin' out relaxing Educate yourself; learn the truth! A “clear" Entle does not have any advantage and is not superior to a "carrier" Entle. In fact, neither type will ever develop or go blind from PRA. The facts are available on the NEMDA site, the Optigen or Paw Print Genetics site and through many other reputable resources on and offline.

Ideally, breeders use genetic tests as just one of many considerations in choosing breeding pairs. Being a 'carrier', does NOT affect the dog’s vision or quality of life, it only affects pairings for a potential breeding match. Quality breeders plan their litters with the intention to make conscientious decisions for improving the health, structure, vigor, temperament and/or overall betterment of the breed. In some cases breeding 'clear to clear' may be the best plan, IF the other considerations also complement both dogs. But breeders who keep only 'clear' Entlebuchers to breed 'clear/clear' exclusively, are most likely doing damage to the breed through their short sightedness and narrow focus!

When a breeder boasts they only breed 'clear to clear'- that is a RED FLAG. Ask more questions! If the breeder canot grasp the simple concept of how to utilize genetic tests, they are not truly a dedicated, educated or quality breeder! The best kind of breeder does what is right by the breed; not what is easy, lazy or short sighted ...to make money. Other breeds have "been there, done that" to prove exclusively breeding 'clear to clear' unnecessarily eliminates dogs from the gene pool and the loss of genetic diversity will result in other health issues that will reveal themselves in the future (both short and long term).

Responsible, quality breeders do not usually make money on litters, especially with a rare breed like Entlebuchers! The reality is that breeding is a true passion and calling; not an economic venture. Breeding decisions that do not take into account the bigger picture (longevity and health of the breed), will result in problems that will be far greater than PRA ever was for Entlebuchers! There is much supporting evidence to confirm these facts. I challenge, encourage and will applaud you for doing more of your own research... knowledge is power- please empower yourself! There are no perfect or 100% clean, healthy pedigree lines of dogs. Just like people, we all have varying degrees of conditions that are specific to our families. All breeders have had health issues pop up and that does not make them a good or bad breeder; it is what they choose to do with the information that defines the breeder!

Graphic image of a StarWeight Concerns

The best thing you can do for an Entlebucher is to keep them on the leaner end of the weight spectrum! Entles are longer backed dogs with dense, more substantial bone structure and they love food! Extra weight is an added stress burden which contributes to or can cause many health problems ranging from back, joint and muscular skeletal issues to heart, liver and other internal organ problems- even increased risks of some cancers. The increased risk of disease has been studied and shown to affect dogs carrying as little as 5 extra pounds. Overweight Entles are more prone to injury, especially ACL tears and debilitating early arthritis. Obese Entles are at far greater risk for other breed related health issues and can have a decreased life expectancy by up to 2-1/2 yrs or more.Easy Visual guide to dog weight

If you come across listed weights, please remember those are just someone's guidelines. There are no weights listed in the Entlebucher breed standard. Individual Entles will vary in height, bone density, back length and proportions from "the ideal" of the breed standard. Do your Entle a favor and treat them as as an individual. Be observant and in tune to your Entle. Monitor their weight and modify their food intake by their metabolism, age, training requirements (so you can use food rewards), and exercise needs.

Studies have shown that dogs kept lean, live longer and have fewer health concerns. Unfortunately there are so many overweight dogs (Entles more so) that many owners are not good at judging what a dog should look like. Use the body condition guide shown to the right as a good way to determine what to look and feel for on your Entle. And click on the link to watch a short, informative video that demonstrates if your Entle (or dog) is a healthy weight.

We strongly believe in the benefits of our dogs being kept at healthy weights all their lives. We have seen firsthand the effect a couple extra pounds has on an Entle. Personally we have felt prejudice and admit we have given in to certain pressures to put additional weight on each of our Entles at one time or another. Every time it has proven to be bad, especially since our Entles participate in dog sports and get lots of exercise. Lucky for us (and our Entle kids), the consequences were only short term: soft tissue injuries, rehab and vet bills- it could have been much worse. Those lessons have taught us to do what is best for our dogs as individuals, not necessarily what may be generally accepted, trendy, or popular.

Following are a few links containing enlightening information and research:
"Developmental Orthopedic Disease"- How rapid growth leads to skeletal abnomalities by Ed Kane, PhD
"Slow Growth Plan For Optimal Development of Large and Medium Breeds" by Rhonda Hovan
"Unilateral Hip Dysplasia"- article cited by Breeder Vet on the Show Dog Super Site
"Corpulent Canines?" - Excellent article by Chris Zink, DVM, PhD
Association for Pet Obesity Prevention- Website dedicated to articles, facts and resources for a healthy pet
Your Dog Doesn't Want To Be Fat - Martial ARFS Blog



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