Belgian Malinois, a variety of Belgian Shepherd Dog
Belgian Shepherd Health Problems and Raising a Belgian Shepherd Puppy to be Healthy
By Michele Welton. Copyright © 2000-2014
The most common health problems in Belgian Shepherds:
There are four varieties of Belgian Shepherd: the longhaired black Groenendael (inexplicably called Belgian Sheepdog by the AKC – as though the other three varieties aren't also Sheepdogs), the shorthaired fawn Malinois, the longhaired fawn Tervuren, and the uncommon, shaggy fawn Laekenois. Since the varieties are seldom interbred, some of their health problems are a little different.
Inherited epilepsy is the most frightening health problem in Belgian Shepherds. It occurs in all four varieties, but is especially common in Belgian Tervurens, with up to 17% of the breed affected.
Compared to other large breeds, hip dysplasia is not considered a serious problem in the four Belgians.
- The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of 1680 Belgian Malinois and found 6% dysplastic, the highest rate of the four varieties. That's not bad for a large breed, though the true rate is higher because most of the obviously bad X-rays were not sent in for official evaluation.
- The rarest variety, the Belgian Laekenois, with only 56 X-rays submitted, was rated as 5% dysplastic. Good.
- The Belgian Tervuren (4400 X-rays submitted) was evaluated at less than 4% dysplastic and the Belgian Groenendael aka Belgian Sheepdog (3200 X-rays submitted) had the best rate at less than 3%. Excellent.
Elbow dysplasia is a different story for two of the four varieties. Here the Belgian Laekenois has an alarmingly high 25% rate of elbow dysplasia. The Belgian Malinois had the second-highest rate at 10%. The Groenendael /Sheepdog is at a much better 5% and the Tervuren has the lowest rate at 4%.
Other orthopedic diseases in Belgian Shepherds include osteochondritis, panosteitis, and luxating patella.
Eye diseases affect about 15% of Belgian Shepherds. Most common is cataracts, which appear in adult dogs. Persistent pupillary membranes are fairly common in the Belgian Tervuren. Progressive retinal atrophy (PRA) and retinal dysplasia have been reported in Belgian Shepherds.
Skin diseases include allergies (which cause itchy skin and can lead to pyoderma) and demodectic mange. In Tervurens, a rare skin disease called vitiligo has been reported.
Like most breeds, Belgian Shepherds are often victims of cancer. The most common cancers in Belgian Shepherds are lymphosarcoma, hemangiosarcoma, and osteosarcoma.
Other health issues of concern in the Belgians include hypothyroidism (most common in the Belgian Malinois), bloat, heart disease (cardiomyopathy), degenerative spinal myelopathy, colitis (inflammatory bowel disease), and pancreatitis.
Can you prevent health problems from happening to YOUR Belgian Shepherd?
Yes, often you can.
- Some health problems are genetic, which means inherited from parents. Genetic health issues are common in Belgian Shepherds today because of unwise breeding practices. My book, Dog Quest: Find The Dog Of Your Dreams, shows you how to find a Belgian Shepherd puppy who is genetically healthy.
- Other health problems are environmental – caused by the way you raise your dog. My best-selling dog health book, 11 Things You Must Do Right To Keep Your Dog Healthy and Happy shows you how to prevent environmental health problems by raising your Belgian Shepherd puppy (or adult dog) in all the right ways.
Here are my dog health tips for raising a healthy Belgian Shepherd puppy or adult dog:
How Long Will Your Dog Live? – Take This Quiz!
Based on your dog's breed and how you're raising him, this personalized quiz will help you understand how long your dog might live – and most importantly, how you can increase his life expectancy.
Dog Health Care – The Sensible Way
Read my advice on daily health care so your Belgian Shepherd lives a long, healthy life and seldom needs to see the vet.
The Best Dog Food For Feeding Your Belgian Shepherd
The best diet for feeding your Belgian Shepherd is real food. Real chicken, turkey, beef, bison, venison, fish....This is not "people food" and I'll tell you why.
The Second-Best Dog Food For Your Belgian Shepherd
If you can't feed homemade dog food, here are your next-best choices.
Vaccinations and Booster Shots: Needed or Not?
How many vaccinations does your Belgian Shepherd puppy really need? Does your adult Belgian Shepherd need yearly booster shots? The vaccination guidelines have changed. Find out what many vets aren't telling you.
The Type of Veterinarian I Recommend
Is your veterinarian really the best choice for your dog? Learn about the differences between vets who practice conventional, holistic, and alternative veterinary medicine.
Spaying Your Female Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of spaying your female Belgian Shepherd.
Neutering Your Male Dog: Pros and Cons
Advantages and disadvantages of neutering your male dog.
Copyright © 2000-2014 by Michele Welton. All rights reserved.
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