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Hereditary Health Problems in Poodles

Poodles come in three different sizes and have done so for hundreds of years.

The largest is the "Standard" which are over fifteen inches at the shoulder with many show specimens being up to 22 inches. The mid-sized Poodle is the "Miniature" which is to be between ten and fifteen inches and then there is the tiny "Toy" size, which is smaller than ten inches.

Although all three of these are shown in different classes at a dog show, they all go back to the same roots in history. There are German writings in existence, which describe a breed of dog that was called the "Pudel." Pudel in German simply means to splash in the water. The German writings speak of a black, fairly large dog that retrieved waterfowl.

Eventually the dogs migrated into France where they became exceptionally popular once again as a fowl dog. As their number grew, the French called the hardy dog "Chiencanne" or duck dog.

As far back as the 15th and 16th centuries, the smaller versions of the poodle, the miniature and the toy are seen in paintings. In England, Queen Anne supposedly saw a group of poodles that danced to music and fell in love with the breed.

The Poodle has had many duties over the centuries such as retriever, working and herding dogs as well as circus performers. They have been companions to royalty and commoner alike. Their quick wit, agility, adaptability and loyalty have made them one of the American Kennel Club's most consistently top ten breeds with the first one to be registered being Czar in 1887. Unfortunately Poodles like so many other pure bred dogs have become known for certain hereditary conditions and diseases.

Poodles have a wide variety of eye problems and a qualified veterinarian BEFORE breeding should examine all breeding stock.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). A very common eye problems in Poodles. It is an insidious disease because it worsens as the dog ages and may not even show up until the dog is between two and a half to eight years of age. PRA causes destruction of the photoreceptors in the eye that are located on the retina. As the disease progresses, the retina atrophies or "shrivels up." Eventually the dog goes totally blind. One of the most common symptoms of PRA is a dog suddenly appearing afraid of darkened areas. PRA is a recessive gene and it can lie dormant in a line of dogs for several generations before showing up. There is no cure for PRA and it can occur in all sizes of Poodles.

Iris Atrophy

Iris atrophy also occurs in Poodles and like PRA it is a progressive type of disease. As the name implies, it causes the Iris to shrivel and die. This is another condition for which there is no cure.

Distichiasis

An odd condition in Standard Poodles is when an extra row of eyelashes (distichiasis) occurs. Interestingly enough, distichiasis can occur at any age.

Entropion

Another "eyelash" problem is entropion. When a dog has entropion problems, its eyelid rolls for some reason and the eyelashes become tucked in under the eyelid and constantly irritate the eyeball. This condition is fairly common in many breeds and most veterinarians will be able to surgically "fix" the problem.

Micropthalmos

Micropthalmos is another strange condition in Standard Poodles. Micropthalmos is when a normal sized dog has eyes smaller than their size would call for.

Epiphora

All sizes of Poodles are prone to epiphora (excessive tearing). This is often obvious by the stains that are seen starting from the inside corner of the eyes and running down the face. Epiphora can happen on its own or be the result of distichiasis or entropion. If your Poodle suddenly develops this condition, it is best to have him or her checked out by your veterinarian to rule out these disorders, corneal ulcerations or some type of eye trauma. Miniature and Toy Poodles sometimes have an absence of the opening at the lacrimal canal (tear duct). This condition is called nasolacrimal puncta atresia.

Cataracts

Cataracts are also seen in all sizes of Poodles. Often considered an "old age" disease, it can show up in Poodles that are only six to eighteen months.

Hermeralopia

Miniature and Toy Poodles have had some incidences of day blindness or "hermeralopia".

 

Eyes arenít the only problems in Poodles though:

Von Willebrandís Disease

Von Willebrandís Disease is a bleeding disorder that causes problems with the proteins in platelets. These affected platelets donít have the normal adhesive qualities so they donít stick together to stop the bleeding. Instead, the blood continues to run out of the holes. Many times an owner will never know the dog has a problem until it has surgery or some traumatic injury occur.

Allergies

Allergies are common in all sizes. These can be flea, inhalant (pollens and molds) or food induced. These allergies can in turn cause seborrhea, pyoderma (moist, smelly skin) or pruritus (pustules) on the face and feet.

Achondroplasia

Miniature Poodles have been known to have abnormally short legs that are caused by the ossification (hardening) of the long bone cartilage. This condition is known as "achondroplasia."

Dysplasia

Standard Poodles can suffer from hip dysplasia (malformation and laxity of hip socket and femoral head).

Epilepsy

Epilepsy has been reported in all sizes of Poodles as well.

Bloat

Gastric torsion or "bloat" occurs in Standard Poodles. Gastric torsion is a condition that can occur in almost any large, deep chested dog. Its exact cause isnít known but the results are quickly fatal. A certain amount of gas and stomach fluids are normal but with gastric torsion the stomach fills with an excessive amount of each and literally "blows up like a balloon."

The fluids and gasses increase because the stomach itself flips over and both ends become twisted (torsion). A dog with this condition has only a few hours if that to receive surgical care from a veterinarian. With out this care, the dog will die an agonizing death. Even with surgery, there is a high chance that the dog wonít survive.

Please see our Pets First Bloat in Dogs article for more information.

Problems Specific to Miniatures

Miniature Poodles have been known to have congenital deafness and cryptorchidisn (retained testicles). They also are prone to patellar luxation (knee caps that move out of place), a condition that will often require surgery.

In Summary

By this time many non-Poodle owners will begin to wonder why anyone would want to deal with a breed that could develop so many different types of disorders. While there are dogs that have one or more of these conditions, there are many times as many of those without.

Poodles are like any other breed. When purchasing one you take a risk with your money. A wise course of action when purchasing a poodle is to get the breeder/seller to guarantee the dog for the seven to ten days after purchase against contagious diseases like parvovirus or distemper as well as against PRA and other hereditary problems that often show up later on in life.

As with any contract/agreement, handshakes and nice words are not enough. Insist the breeder/seller writes any and all promises down and signs the agreement. This covers you for future problems and a reputable, conscientious breeder will want to know of hereditary/congenital defects anyway.


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dog health hereditary problems questions issues information info poodles
 
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