Genetic Diseases


Researched and Compiled by:
Debra Long-Gschwender
For the Board of Directors of the American Bouvier des Flandres Club


Atopic Dermatitis 1

Alopecic Syndromes 2

Bouvier des Flandres Myopathy 3

Cancer 4

Cataracts 5

Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate 6

Elongated Soft Palate 7

Deafness 8

Ectopic Ureters 9

Entropion and Ectropion 10

Epilepsy 11

Gastric Dilation (Bloat) 12

Glaucoma 13

Hermaphrodite 14

Hiatal Hernia 15

Hip Dysplasia 16

Hypothyroidism 17

Inflammatory Bowel Disease 18

Laryngeal Paralysis 19

Megaesophagus 20

Microphthalmia 21

Osteochondritis/Elbow Dysplasia 22

Overshot and Undershot Jaws 23

Persistant Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous 24

Persistant Pupillary Membranes 25

Portosystemic Shunt 26

Subaortic Stenosis 27

Umblical Hernia 28


This booklet is designed to be only a guide to various diseases affecting the Bouvier des Flandres. The diseases listed here are common to many breeds of dogs, however; the mode of inheritance may be different. There are surely, other diseases that affect the Bouvier, but for the majority of those listed here, a scientific paper was written on the disease, mentioning the Bouvier des Flandres, as being affected. Dr. George Padgett, in his book, Control of Canine Genetic Diseases, lists all of the known diseases that affect the Bouvier. His book was published in 1998. More information may have been discovered on the mode of inheritance, age of onset, and the disease in general. Most recent information has been added, if available, and locations to find more information on the diseases are listed following the disease. Another book that was constantly used as a reference, and which I highly recommend to everyone, is: The 5 Minute Veterinary Consult, Larry Tilley and Francis W.K. Smith Jr.

Online websites that are extremely informative are:

The Ins and Outs of Pedigree Analysis, Genetic Diversity, and Genetic Disease Control by Jerold Bell, DVM (Director of the Clinical Veterinary Genetics course for Tufts University School of Veterinary Medicine and National Project Administrator for numerous genetic disease control programs of pure-bred dogs).

Control of Genetic Disease by Dr. George A. Padgett, DVM (Veterinary Pathologist at Michigan State University with special interest in canine genetics and what role breed clubs play in the control of the genetic diseases in their particular breed).


Heritability by John Pollack (Professor of Animal Genetics at Cornell, Animal Sciences Department, working mainly with production species. He teaches both introductory and advanced undergraduate courses in animal genetics, with an emphasis on genetic evaluation and mating strategies.


Polygenic Inheritance: Genetics e-text


1. Atopic Dermatitis

Roughened, itchy, oozing skin caused by immune reactions to various allergens, such as fleas or pollen, or food.

GENETICS: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: In most cases, between one (1) and three (3) years of age. In some cases, under one year.

SYMPTOMS: Intradermal skin tests are the only true way to determine the diagnosis of dermatitis. However, a RAST (Radioallerfosorbent test) or a ELISA (Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay test are also methods of determining atopic dermatitis.Food allergy: Acute or chronic, nonseasonal, cutaneous and/or gastrointestinal disease occurring in pets of all ages. Hair loss, scaliness, hair loss, watery diarrhea with occasional vomiting.

Allergic inhalant dermatitis: Most common offending antigens in dogs are pollens, molds, and house dust. Slight increased predilection in females. This form is rarely seen in dogs less than a year of age. Initially, most dogs exhibit seasonal manifestations. Sensitivities, once developed, frequently persist for years or even life. Face rubbing, foot licking, otitis, excessive sweating,, and scaling are common symptoms.


Textbook of Veterinary internal Medicine, Volume II,

Stephen J. Ettinger, DVM; W.S. Saunders Company


2. Alopecic Syndromes

The partial or complete lack of hair in areas where it is normally present. Clinically hair tends to thin and be lost with little or no scaling or any inflammatory changes. Distribution of loss varies. Hyperpigmentation may occur. Major cause of alopecia is self-trauma associated with pruritus (the sensation that elicits the desire to scratch). The hair may be physically damaged from licking or scratching, or it may more easily be removed with trauma because of secondary infection within the hair follicle.

GENETICS: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Varies (congenital, is present at birth)

SYMPTOMS: Pattern baldness, hair follicle dysplasia. Hair loss from some anatomic areas such as the dorsal neck or tail is suggestive of hormonal imbalances.


3. Bouvier des Flandres Myopathy

Formerly known as Degenerative Primary Polymyopathy. Clinically, a paddling gait that appears to be due to an overextension of the paws.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE AND TESTING: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Two years of age or younger. It is suggested that muscle biopsies be performed on breeding stock that is closely related to clinically afflicted animals in order to identify subclinically afflicted animals and remove them from the breeding program.

SYMPTOMS. Muscle weakness and problems with regurgitation. There is muscle atrophy, weakness and exercise intolerance. High levels of serum creatinine kinase are present. Dysphagia (difficulty swallowing) is common in affected dogs. Muscle biopsies reveal multifocal necrosis, hypertrophy, atrophy, increased fibrosis and a variable increase in the number of fibers with internal nuclei and occasional whorled fibers.


*This disease is the number one killer of dogs.

Cancer occurs when cells become abnormal and keep dividing and forming more cells without control or order. All organs of the body are made up of cells, and normally cells divide to produce more cells only when the body needs them. If cells divide when new ones are not needed, they form a mass of excess tissue, called a tumor. The cells in malignant tumors can invade and damage nearby tissues and organs. Cancer cells can also break away from a malignant tumor and travel through the bloodstream or the lymphatic system to form new tumors in other parts of the body. The spread of cancer is called metastasis. Recent studies have shown that cancer is the most common cause of death in dogs.

LYMPHOMA: Is defined as cancer of the lymphocytes. A lymphocyte is a type of white blood cell that is part of the immune system. Lymphocytes originate from solid organs, such as lymph nodes, liver, and spleen.

MALIGNANT HISTIOCYTOSIS: Is a rapidly progressive fatal cancer that affects cells in many organs, such as liver, lung, lymph nodes, skin, and bone marrow.

MAST CELL TUMOR: Mast cells are located in the skin and subcutaneous tissues, where they play and integral role in allergic reactions and inflammatory processes. Mast cells can degranulate and release histamine causing itching, redness, swelling, and ulcers in the stomach. They are commonly found in the skin of the trunk and hindquarters and sometimes in the skin of the extremities.

MAMMARY TUMORS: Affects over 35% of unspayed females.



A specific cancer may be more commonly seen in certain breeds, however it is not known whether a specific cancer in dogs is hereditary.


Cancer is diagnosed by physical examination, radiographs, and tissue samples. The only sure way of confirming cancer is by taking a sample of the suspected tissue, and having it checked by a Pathologist. Samples of tissues may be obtained either by surgical removal of the complete mass or by biopsy of selected portions of tissue by needles or a small surgical incision. Early detection offers the most realistic hope for survival, particularly for those cancers which aggressively metastasize. Regularly examine your dog’s body for unexplained swelling or lumps. Early warning signs can be: Behavioral changes, loss of appetite increased water consumption, persistent wheezing or coughing, abnormal swellings that persist or continue to grow, sores that do not heal, weight loss, bleeding or discharge from any body opening, offensive odor, difficulty eating or swallowing, hesitation to exercise or loss of stamina, persistent lameness or stiffness, difficulty breathing, urinating, or defecating.


Cancer can be treated with surgery, radiation therapy, chemotherapy, hormone therapy, or biological therapy. The Veterinarian may use one method or a combination of methods. The choice of treatment depends on the type and location of the cancer, whether the disease has spread, the dog’s age and general health, and other factors.


U. of Penn. OncoLink – Vet Onco Home Pg –

The Dog Owner’s Guide – Cancer –


5. Cataracts

As a generality, any lens opacity that obscures vision and may cause blindness is considered a cataract. Traditionally, cataracts have been referred to as “immature” if only part of the lens is involved, “mature” if the entire lens is opaque, and “hypermature” if lens liquefaction has occurred. This does not mean that a cataract will progress serially from one stage to the next, and that each stage is mutually exclusive.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE AND TESTING: Mode of inheritance: Unknown. May be autosomal recessive or dominant.

Age of onset: Varies..Breeding in NOT recommended for any animal demonstrating partial or complete opacity of the lens or its capsule unless the examiner has also checked the space for “significance of above punctate cataract unknown”. The prudent approach is to assume cataracts to be hereditary except in unusual cases specifically known to be associated with trauma, other causes of ocular inflammation, specific metabolic diseases or nutritional deficiencies. An examination of the dog’s eyes can be done by an ACVO Diplomate and the results registered with CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation). This should be done yearly.

SYMPTOMS: If cataracts occupy less than 30% of the lens, or if they affect only one eye, they often go unnoticed.. Most owners detect the vision problem when the cataracts occupy more than 60% of the lens. Most owners will notice their dog having difficulty seeing in dimly lighted conditions. The procedure of choice for cataract removal is phacoemulsificaton (ultraosonic lens fragmentation). The prognosis for successful surgery should be greater than 90%, depending on the stage of the cataract and other concurrent findings.


Oculars Disorder Presumed To Be Inherited in Purebred Dogs, Genetic Committee of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. This book can be ordered from: CERF (ACVO Book), 1248 Lynn Hall, Purdue University, W. Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-8179, and website:

6. Cleft Lip/Cleft Palate

Cleft palate is due to the failure of the bony plates forming the roof of the mouth to close prior to birth. A fissure or cleft in the roof of the mouth and upper lip; may be present together or separately. This allows food and/or fluid to enter the nasal respiratory pathway.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Birth. Inbreeding on animals known to produce cleft palates might best be avoided as a safety measure. Affected stock are difficult to rear and are best eliminated.

SYMPTOMS: Difficulty in suckling, nasal regurgitation and infection and aspiration pneumonia.

7. Elongated Soft Palate

The soft palate extends into the laryngeal area, causing breathing difficulties. This problem can be accompanied by others, such as narrow nares, laryngeal collapse, tracheal narrowing, and tracheal collapse.


Mode of inheritance: Unknown Age of onset: Birth

SYMPTOMS: Often there is edema of the pharyngeal mucosa and enlarged tonsils. Clinical signs that the average owner would notice, are gagging and coughing, with rattling or snoring, especially on inspiration.

8. Deafness

Inability to hear may be unilateral or bilateral.

GENETICS: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Under six (6) months of age. Brain stem auditory evoked responses (BAER, an electrodiagnostic test) can be used to determine the presence and level of an auditory defect from either or both ears. Hereditary deafness may be eliminated from a breed by removal of identifiable carriers from the breeding program.

SYMPTOMS: The primary sign is failure to respond to an auditory stimulus. Other signs include excessive barking, unusual voice, hyperactivity, confusion when given vocal commands, and lack of reflex-alerting and attention movements of the pinnae. Unilateral deafness is difficult to detec, except by astute observation or by electrodiagnostic procedures.


Dalmation Club of America website –


9. Ectopic Ureters

The ureters do not properly attach to the bladder, causing urine dribbling, usually from birth. Congenital abnormality in which the ureter opens into urethra or vagina. One or both ureters can be affected. The ureter may enter the bladder in the normal location, tunnel through the bladder wall, and bypss the trigone. The ureter opens into the trigone and continues as a trough into the urethra.


Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Birth. Treatment can include the surgical creation of a new ureteral opening into the bladder or excision of a hydro-nephrotic or infected kidney. However, incontinence may continue if the dog also has urethral sphincter mechanism incompetence.

SYMPTOMS: Intermittent or continuous incontinence, normal voiding is seen in some animals, vaginitis from urine scalding.


10. Entropion

Turning in of the eyelids, causing the eyelashes to rub the eyeball. Frictional irritation of the cornea results because of contact by the eyelash or eyelid hair, which may result in corneal ulceration or perforation or pigmentary keratitis. Vision may be threatened.

and Ectropion Turning out of the eyelids, causing excessive exposure of the eyeball.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Under one (1) year of age for Entropion, and under six (6) months for Ectropion.

SYMPTOMS OF ECTROPION: Facial staining caused by poor tear drainage (tears spill over onto the face instead of passing from the eye to the nose via the nasolacrimal ducts) and history of mucoid to mucopurulent discharge due to conjunctival exposure, recurrent foreign body irritation, or bacterial conjunctivitis. Surgical treatment in the form of eyelid shortening or radical facelift is necessary in the more severely affected patients.


Oculars Disorder Presumed To Be Inherited in Purebred Dogs, Genetic Committee of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. This book can be ordered from: CERF (ACVO Book), 1248 Lynn Hall, Purdue University W. Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-817911.

11) Epilepsy

Primary brain disorder that is characterized by recurrent seizures occur that are commonly called fits. The brain is structurally normal but not functionally normal.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Six (6) months to one (1) year of age. If there are more than two seizures within the first week at onset, a diagnosis other than idiopathic/genetic epilepsy should be sought.

SYMPTOMS: Most seizures occur while the animal is resting or asleep. The animal becomes stiff, chomping his jaw, salivating profusely, urinating, defecating, vocalizing, and paddling with all four limbs in varying combinations. Periods of confusion and disorientation follow with the animal pacing aimlessly, compulsively, and blindly. Frequent polydipsia, and polyphagia. Recovery may be immediate or take up to 24 hours. Seizure frequency tends to increase with time if the animal is left untreated.

MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Canine Epilepsy Information Resources:

12. Gastric Dilation (Bloat)

Distension and twisting of the stomach, resulting in discomfort, vomiting and ineffectual retching. Bloat is characterized by expansion of the stomach with gas or frothy material (dilatation). The stomach will not empty normally. In the stomach of a dilated dog it is difficult for food to advance into the intestines, nor will food pass in the other direction as vomit. Dilation can be followed by a rotation of the stomach (volvulus or torsion), which effectively closes both the entry to and exit from the stomach, so that relief of the distended state is not possible. This rotation compresses one of the major veins carrying blood to the heart, severely depressing normal blood circulation. This condition can rapidly lead to shock and death.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Under seven (7) years of age. While no breed is free from risk, large, deep-chested breeds have a higher incidence of bloat.

SYMPTOMS: A sudden display of discomfort is the first warning. The dog may whine, pace, sit and get up again in an unsuccessful attempt to be comfortable. Frequent attempts to vomit produce no results. The abdominal pain and distention become more evident. The dog may not be able to get up. Signs of shock become evident: pale gums, rapid heartbeat and irregular, shallow breathing. Bloat is a life threatening and emergency treatment must be obtained immediately. Do not wait for signs to progress before seeking veterinary care.

13. Glaucoma

Primary – Increased pressure in the globe, which can be a result of various causes. The elevated intraocular pressure occurs because the fluid cannot leave through the iridocorneal angle. Without treatment, the pressure damages the eye, causing pain and often blindness.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE AND TESTING: Mode of inheritance: Polygenic

Age of onset: Varies

Boeve and Stades (1985) have indicated that the Bouvier has the greatest occurrence of glaucoma in the Netherlands. Common feature is that the left eye is generally first to be affected. At the moment, dogs with poor drainage angles are considered higher risks for glaucoma, however, dogs with normal angles still get glaucoma and dogs with terrible angles do not get glaucoma. Diagnosis and classification of glaucoma requires measurement of the IOP (tonometry) and examination of the iridocorneal angle (gonioscopy). Neither of these tests is part of a routine screening exam for certification. There is an unequivocal recommendation against breeding an animal with glaucoma.

SYMPTOMS: Don’t ignore mere behavioral signs; take any and all symptoms seriously and seek veterinary medical attention immediately.

Glassiness to eye (early stage)

Redness in white part of eye (above, not below)

Cloudiness to the eye

Excessive tearing (“weeping”)

Sensitivity to light

Green or yellow eye discharge

Bluish cast to eye

Dilated pupil

Desire for excessive sleeping


Behavior that indicates pain (hiding under the bed, acting frightened, avoiding being petted on the head)

Behavior indicating vision impairment (bumping into things)

Enlarged or bulging eyeball (late stage)

Treatment can include: laser surgery, cryosurgery, eyedrops, replacing the eye with a prosthetic (glass eye), removing the contents of the eye, removing the eye and sewing the lids shut.


Oculars Disorder Presumed To Be Inherited in Purebred Dogs, Genetic Committee of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. This book can be ordered from: CERF (ACVO Book), 1248 Lynn Hall, Purdue University, W. Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-8179

Dr. Deborah Friedman and her partners have developed a protocol to measure the drainage angles. For more information contact Dr. Friedman at: Animal Eye Care, 1618 Washington Blvd., Fremont, CA 94539, (510) 623-0444 phone or (510) 657-6855 fax


14. Hermaphrodite

True presence of gonadal tissue for both sexes, due to the presence of a full complement of both male and female chromosomes.

GENETICS: Mode of inheritance: XX-XXY

Age of onset: Under three (3) months of age.

SYMPTOMS: Failure to cycle, Infertility and sterility (male or female) Vulva or prepuce and penis of abnormal size, shape, or location, abnormal location of urine stream, Males attracted to other males, urinary incontinence, vulvar discharge.

15. Hiatal Hernia

Protrusion of abdominal contents into the thoracic cavity through the esophageal hiatus of the diaphragm: intermittent or persistent.

Three basic types:

Sliding (axial or bell) – most common, gastroesophageal junction moves cranial to the diaphragm;

Paraesophageal – rare, gastroesophageal junction remains in the normal position but the gastric fundus moves cranial to the diaphragm;

Combination of sliding and paraesophageal.

GENETICS: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Over one (1) year of age.

SYMPTOMS: Regurgitation, hypersalivation, dyspnea and vomiting soon after swallowing. Treatment may include a low-fat diet and elevated feedings, or surgery.


Abnormal formation of the hip socket, causes rear-limb lameness. Hip dysplasia is, quite simply, the failure of the head of the thighbone (femur) to fit snugly into the hipbone socket (acetabulum), with resulting degrees of lameness and/or a faulty gait. Dogs which will develop HD are structurally and functionally normal at birth. The subsequent development of hip laxity is the cause of HD.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE AND TESTING Mode of inheritance: Polygenic

Age of onset: Under two (2) years of age. Both OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) and PennHip are involved in evaluating Hip Dysplasia. Both organizations require radiographs of the animal.

DIAGNOSIS: Difficulty in rising, difficulty in going up stairs, a reluctance to play, bunny hopping instead of trotting are possible signs of HD. A physical exam and radiographs can reveal hindlimb lameness, pain on hip manipulation, hip instability, and loss of muscle bulk.

TREATMENT ; The majority of dogs with HD will never require medical or surgical treatment. For those dogs with clinical signs: a diet to maintain lean body condition, low impact exercise, and symptomatic use of non steroid anti-inflammatory agents, or disease modifying osteoarthritic agents. Surgical options depend on the severity of the disease.


17. Hypothyroidism

Destruction of the thyroid gland due to an attack from the animal’s own immune system. Hypothyroidism is a generalized disease of metabolism which results from a deficiency of two hormones from the thyroid gland, called thyroxine(T4) and triiodothyronine (T3). Primary Hypothyroidism is due to the atrophy of the thyroid gland. Secondary Hypothyroidism is a result of a deficiency of Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH). TSH deficiency may be present from birth, or may be an acquired disorder in adult dogs, where it is almost always associated with the presence of a tumor of the pituitary gland.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE AND TESTING: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Under two (2) years of age. A serum sample (blood sample) can be sent to an approved laboratory for testing. Certification can be done with OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Inc.). Thyroid abnormalities fall into several categories – Two types will be defined by the registry: Autoimmune Thyroiditis, idiopathically Reduced Thyroid Function

SYMPTOMS: Lethargy, heat seeking, causes rough, scaly skin, hair loss and weight gain. Changes in the skin of the forehead and face result in the development of prominent facial folds. This gives the face a puffy appearance which, in combination with reduced mental awareness, tend to give the face a tragic expression. The rectal temperature may be subnormal and the skin may feel cool to the touch. Body movements often appear stiff and slowed, with dragging of the front feet. Bowel functions may be altered too. Dry feces, with occasional bouts of diarrhea, is a frequent feature of this disease. Neurological signs may be present occasionally. These may be in the form of disturbed balance with a head tilt. A slight partial paralysis of some of the facial muscles may be present as well.

18. Inflammatory Bowel Disease

A group of gastrointestinal disease characterized by inflammatory cellular infiltrates in the lamina propria of the small or large intestine with associated clinical signs. This is a disease that is NOT cured, but can be controlled.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE : Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Usually animals over two years of age. Several factors may cause IBD: Giardia, Salmonella, Camphylobacter, and normal resident gastrointestinal flora have been implicated. Dietary agents that may cause IBD include: meat proteins, food additives, artificial coloring, preservatives, milk proteins, and gluten (wheat).

SYMPTOMS: Intermittent, chronic vomiting, diarrhea and weight loss are common. Poor haircoat is frequently noted. Abdominal palpation may reveal pain, thickened bowel loops and mesenteric lymphadenopathy. Dogs with IBD frequently have a mature neutophilic leukocytosis with a left shift. An intestinal biopsy is the only way to definitively diagnose IBD and eliminate other differentials.


19. Laryngeal Paralysis

Obstruction of the laryngeal airflow due to the complete or partial paralysis of particular laryngeal muscles due to denervation.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE: Mode of inheritance: Autosomal dominant in Bouviers

Age of onset: Four (4) to six (6) months of age. Three times as many males affected as females. Dogs with inheritable laryngeal paralysis should not be used for breeding.

SYMPTOMS: The most common signs reported include change in character of bark, occasional coughing, reduced activity, exercise intolerance, and abnormal breathing sounds with exertion and/or stress. Other signs occurring under exertion and/or stress or heat may include severely difficult breathing, gagging/retching, vomiting, weakness/lethargy, collapse, and even sudden death. Elevated temperature is usually noted. Visual inspection of the larynx with a laryngoscope under heavy sedation or anesthesia is required for proper evaluation of a patient.

Surgical management is the treatment of choice.


20. Megaesophagus

Regurgitation of undigested food occurs due to failure of esophageal muscles to force swallowed food through to the stomach.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Under six (6) months of age.

SYMPTOMS: Regurgitation, cachexia, bulging of the esophagus at the thoracic inlet and pain associated with palpation of the cervical esophagus. dry nasal and ocular mucous membranes, diarrhea, respiratory crackles, muscle weakness, and muscle atrophy.


An anomaly in development, causing the eyeball to be abnormally small, be nonexistent, or have a prolapse of the nictitating membrane.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Birth

SYMPTOMS: Anterior Cleavage Syndrome: At 3 weeks of age, pups have bilateral cloudy small eyes with prolapse of the nictitiating membrane. Pups demonstrate no response to a flashlight, but turn their heads in response to external stimuli. The head is held low, and movement is cautious and faltering. The pups are irreversibly blind. Owing to the genetic implications in this disorder, the parent stock and normal-eyed siblings should not be bred.

Microphthalmia with Cataract: Neonatal pups are not blind, but may be visually impaired. The major abnormality observed by the breeder/owner will be microphthalmia at the time of eyelid separation. This form of microphthalmia is inherited as an autosomal recessive trait in some breeds.


Oculars Disorder Presumed To Be Inherited in Purebred Dogs, Genetic Committee of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. This book can be ordered from: CERF (ACVO Book), 1248 Lynn Hall, Purdue University, W. Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-8179

Neonatal Ophthalmic Disorders, Current Veterinary Therapy, Kirk, 1989, WB. Saunders Company

22. Osteochondritis

Aseptic necrosis of bone under joint cartilage; causes lameness . Elbow Dysplasia – OCD of the medial humeral condyle, fractured coronoid process.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE AND TESTING: Mode of inheritance: Polygenic

Age of onset: Under two (2) years of age. Heritability range between 0.25 to 0.45. Bilateral disease is common in fifty (50) percent.

OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) registers animals for Elbow Dysplasia. In their updated pamphlet, OFA list Bouviers as primarily being seen with Grade 1 Dysplasia, the majority being female. Grade 1 – minimal bone change on the anconeal process. Grade 2 – additional subchondral bone changes and/or osteophytes. Grade 3 – well developed degenerative joint disease.

SYMPTOMS: Forelimb lameness, diminished range of motion, pain elicited on elbow hyprflexion/extension (done by a vet), dogs may hold the leg out from the body while walking, or even attempt to carry the front leg completely, putting no weight on it at all.



23. Overshot

Upper jaw extends beyond the lower jaw. and Undershot jaws – Lower jaw extends beyond upper jaw. The problem in under-and overshot dogs involves the lower jaw, which has a growth rate that is independent of the upper jaw.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE: Mode of inheritance: Overshot: Unknown Undershot: polygenic Age of onset: Under one (1) year for both. It is considered difficult to breed away from undershot bites, and they are known to occur as late as one year of age.

24. Persistant Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous

A defect in the regression of the hyaloid artery, which influences the retina and interferes with vision. In the Bouvier des Flandres, the condition is associated with retinal dysplasia and detachment, optic nerve hypoplasia, lenticonus, cataract and congenital blindness.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Under three (3) months of age. There is an unequivocal recommendation against breeding an animal with PHPV.


Oculars Disorder Presumed To Be Inherited in Purebred Dogs, Genetic Committee of the American College of Veterinary, Ophthalmologists. This book can be ordered from: CERF (ACVO Book), 1248 Lynn Hall, Purdue University, W. Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-8179

25. Persistant Pupillary Membranes

A failure of blood vessels in the anterior chamber to regress normally; there may be impaired vision or blindness. These strands may bridge from iris to iris, iris to cornea, iris to lens, or form sheets of tissue in the anterior chamber. The last three forms pose the greatest threat to vision and when severe, vision impairment or blindness may occur.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE: Mode of inheritance: Unknown

Age of onset: Under three (3) months of age. Entity is suspected to be inherited but does not represent potential compromise of vision or other ocular function. Breeding advice is a “Breeder’s Option”.

MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Oculars Disorder Presumed To Be Inherited in Purebred Dogs, Genetic Committee of the American College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. This book can be ordered from: CERF (ACVO Book), 1248 Lynn Hall, Purdue University, W. Lafayette, IN 47907, (765) 494-8179

26. Portosystemic Shunt

The animals are born with extra vessels, which allows blood to bypass the liver.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE AND TESTING: Mode of inheritance: Polygenic

Age of onset: Under one (1) year of age.

Diagnosis requires demonstration of the abnormal blood vessel going around the liver, usually by radiographs and a dye injection into the portal blood vessels. Treatment of choice is surgery to tie off the abnormal vessel or to place a metal banc around it so it is eventually occluded.

SYMPTOMS: Prolonged recovery after anesthesia, or excessive sedation after administration of tranquilizer or anticonvulsant., anorexia, lethargy, circling, pacing, behavioral changes, blindness, seizures, vomiting (intermittent), diarrhea (intermittent), stunted growth or failure to gain weight.




27. Subaortic Stenosis

A narrowing at the base of the aorta as a result of a fibrous band, causing murmurs, weakness and sudden death. There is an added tissue between the main pumping chamber of the heart (left ventricle) and the body. This abnormal tissue is located below the aortic valve (hence “subaortic”) and creates an obstruction (“stenosis” is the scientific term) that the heart has to overcome to pump blood to the body.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE AND TESTING: Mode of inheritance: Unknown – Recent studies seem to indicate that it may be autosomal recessive in Bouviers.

Age of onset: Birth It can usually be detected around 4 to 6 weeks of age with the occurrence of a new heart murmur.

OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) will certify dogs clear of SAS after the age of 12 months. Diagnosis include a physical exam, ECG (electrocardiogram) and cardiac ultrasound (echocardiography). Drug therapy is the most common means of treating dogs with severe SAS. The drug most frequently used is known as atenolol. Dogs with even mild to moderate SAS should not be used for breeding and should receive prophulaxis for heart valve infections in appropriate circumstances, but are otherwise treated normally.

SYMPTOMS: Severe SAS is characterized by progressive exercise intolerance, fainting, cough, or sudden death; whereas clinical signs are usually absent in dogs with mild to moderate subaortic obstructions. Physical examination of these dogs is characterized by a soft murmur.

MORE INFORMATION CAN BE FOUND AT: Cascade Bouvier des Flandres Club website at, Information can also be requested from Dr. Michael Litt, Professor, Molecular and Medical Genetics, Oregon Health Sciences University, 3181 SW Sam Jackson Park Road, Mail Code L103, Portland, Oregon 97201,

Both the Golden Retreiver Club of America and the Newfoundland Club of America have information about SAS on their parent club websites. But, please be aware that mode of inheritance may be different in each breed.


28. Umblical Hernia

An outpouching of the skin over the “belly button.” It may contain abdominal viscera and sometimes regresses spontaneously.

GENETIC KNOWLEDGE: Mode of inheritance: Recessive or Polygenic

Age of onset: Under six (6) months of age.

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