Health concerns are a very real thing in the GSMD. We take certain measures to breed health and longevity into our dogs. We want nothing more than our puppies to live long happy healthy lives. Unfortunately, dogs are living beings and no amount of careful breeding can ensure 100% perfection. Because of the nature of genetics we cannot guarantee that genetic flaws will not crop up in our puppies, we can however guarantee that we will always support and stand behind them no matter what.

Bloat/Torsion-Gastric Dilitation Vovulus
Bloat or GDV is a devastating killer of dogs and can occur in the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog. Mostly, GDV occurs in deep chested breeds, such as the GSMD and requires immediate veterinary care. Unfortunately, even with the speediest care, many dogs do not survive.
Bloat can occur with or without torsion of the stomach and/or spleen, just as torsion can occur with or without bloat. When abnormal amounts of air, food, fluids get into the stomach, you have the right conditions for bloat. It can be caused by wolfing down too much water, too much food too fast, exercise after eating, stress, or conditions too numerous to mention and some unknown as well. Symptoms can be distended abdomen, excessive salivating, depression, lethargy – there are so many symptoms that you would just have to know your dog and know that something was not right.
When Bloat occurs it cuts off the esophagus and the blood supply to the heart is lessened causing low blood pressure as well as other cardiac problems. This causes the dog to go into shock. Organ damage can occur as well and the stomach may rupture causing peritonitis to set in. This can also affect the stomach and spleen and cause torsion. If not treated, the dog may die.
All GSMD owners are advised to acquaint their veterinarians and emergency care facilities that you have a GSMD and this is a breed that can be prone to bloat and torsion.
In the Purdue Bloat Study, they state that though there are ethical issues that need to be considered by dog breeders and veterinarians, any dog that is prone to GDV should have an elective gastropexy (stomach tack). This will not prevent bloat, but will prevent the torsion that usually occurs with the bloat, and the dogs chances of survival improve greatly.
* Distended Abdomen
* Excessive Salivating
* Depression
* Lethargy
* Other symptoms occur

Splenic Torsion
While Splenic Torsion is quite rare in dogs, and many veterinarians never see a case during their career, it is NOT RARE in the Greater Swiss Mountain Dog! All GSMD owners must be familiar with the symptoms and must inform their veterinarian about the possibility of Splenic Torsion being a problem in the breed.
* May occur with or without GDV
* May be Chronic or Acute
* Not rare in the GSMD
* Most vets are not familiar
Chronic Symptoms
* Depression/Lethargy
* Intermittent nausea and vomiting
* Lick Fits
* Pale mucous membranes
* Just does not act right
* Other symptoms occur
Acute Symptoms
* Sudden onset of collapse
* Urgent incessant nausea and vomiting
* Very pale mucous membranes
* Painful or rigid abdomen
* Blood Test, PCV of less than 30
Life-Threatening Emergency Call Your Veterinarian



Epilepsy is the term most experts use to describe the condition of frequent seizures.  The intervals between recurring seizures may vary widely.  Some dogs are seizure-free for weeks or even months, while others are not.  Epilepsy can be inherited or acquired.  Genetic epilepsy is an inherited predisposition toward epilepsy that shows up in certain bloodlines within some breeds.  (Because it is difficult to trace genetic epilepsy, some people call it idiopathic epilepsy, epilepsy of unknown cause.)  Epilepsy that is not inherited (acquired epilepsy) can stem from causes such as poisoning, infectious disease, trauma and brain tumors. Idiopathic epilepsy appears to be present in all lines of Swissys.  Seizures from genetic epilepsy generally start sometime between one and three years of age.  At this point there is no test to identify carriers of this disease, but rather breeders will not breed a Swissy who has had seizures or has produced seizing offspring.

Hip Dysplasia
Canine hip dysplasia is the irregular formation of the coxofemoral joint. This is the joint that joins the femur, the longest bone in the body, to the hip socket. The hip is a ball and socket joint, and the ball (femoral head) must fit well into the socket (cup) for the joint to function properly.
The main contributors to the development of CHD are joint laxity and the depth of the acetabulum (cup). Early signs of CHD include:
Reluctance to go up and down stairs or to jump
Difficulty rising or laying down
Bunny hopping when running, i.e. both hind limbs move together.
Diagnosis is made through radiographic findings, either by the method advocated by the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) or by that of the University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program (Penn HIP) which measures joint laxity. While CHD is among the principal orthopedic diseases in the GSMD, fortunately for Swissies, it manifests itself rarely in a severe and crippling form.
Indeed, unless x-rays are taken, many Swissy owners are not even aware that they have a dysplastic dog. Quite often, mildly and even moderately affected Swissies do not show any or only very subtle clinical signs of the disease. While treatment options for severely dysplastic dogs are available, we will not discuss them here as they are so rarely applicable to Swissies. Prior to breeding, Swissies should be screened for CHD and evaluated by an established registry such as OFA or Penn HIP. It is preferable to breed only CHD free animals.
Article by Brigitte Rhinehart

Elbow Dysplasia
Manifested as: OCD, FCP(fragmented coronoid process), UAP (ununited anconeal process), DJD (degenerative joint disease, note that DJD may also occur in the cartilage of other joints). The form most often diagnosed in GSMDs appears to be DJD, a slowly progressive form of cartilage degeneration usually caused by trauma or abnormal wear on the joint. DJD is classified as primary (idiopathic or no known cause) or secondary (a known predisposing cause or injury exists). Anecdotal evidence suggests that most GSMDs diagnosed with DJD during radiographs of the elbows for OFA certification fall into the mildest form grade I. They have never displayed any clinical signs such as pain, stiffness, decreased range of motion or lameness. With DJD, genetic predisposition cannot be established as definitely as with other orthopedic conditions. Hence, there is a wide range of opinions among GSMD breeders with regard to breeding a dog affected with DJD grade I. There is, however, general consensus among breeders not to use GSMDs with DJD beyond grade I as well as with any of the other forms of ED.
Article by Brigitte Rhinehart

Osteochondrosis Dissecans
Osteochondrosis is a generalized disturbance of the normal development of cartilage. The articular cartilage becomes abnormally thickened and small fissures and cracks may develop. The “dissecans” refers to the stage when cartilage becomes dissected resulting in cartilage flaps. These flaps may remain attached or become loose and fall into the joint space. In GSMD, the vast majority of OCD cases occur in the shoulder joints and occasionally in other joints such as elbows and hocks. The onset of the disease may begin as early as at 4 months and as late as at 14 months. The most typical age of appearance, however, is between 6 and 8 months.
Except for very mild cases without flap development, the clinical signs are almost invariably persistent, and less frequently, intermittent lameness. The dog may be stiff after resting and the lameness is usually aggravated by exercise. OCD is diagnosed by radiography. However, in the early stages, radiographic findings might be inconclusive. In such situations, contrast radiography (arthrography) may be necessary for definite diagnosis.
Treatment depends on the severity of the case of the OCD lesion in the shoulder joint or lesion evident on the joint surface of the humeral head Mild cases without cartilage flaps may be treated and heal spontaneously with several weeks of rest and treatment with the drug Adequan and supplements such as Glucosamine and Chondroitin, MSM and Vitamin C. Many cases, however, will require surgery which consists of the removal of flaps and loose fragments and the scraping and smoothening of the defective surface. Surgical repair of OCD of the shoulder usually renders excellent results. Surgical results involving other sites are not as predictable.
Because mild forms of OCD can occur without presenting clinical signs, a prudent approach is to radiograph shoulders prior to breeding so that affected Swissys can be eliminated from a breeding program. In fact, Swiss health data has convincingly shown that by excluding affected dogs and bitches, incidences of OCD can be significantly reduced.

Eye Problems:

Distichiasis (extra eyelashes or row of lashes growing from the lid margins):  Nonclinical distichiasis, or a few extra eyelashes, is very common in Swissys but generally does not cause any particular problem.  However, on occasion a Swissy will have clinical symptoms, which would include excessive tearing, discharge and squinting.  If left untreated this could potentially result in damage to the cornea.  This clinical problem can generally be successfully corrected with minor surgery.

Disticiasis, as well as other infrequently occurring eye problems in Swissys, such as entropion and cataracts, can be screened for by the Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF) so as to avoid breeding those Swissys that might have clinical problems.

Comments are closed.