Canine Health

I want to give a short overview about diseases and health problems found in Spinoni. By no means this overview is meant to be complete. But in my opinion there are a couple of things one has to be aware of when planning to get a Spinone Italiano:
CA (Cerebellar Ataxia) or Canine Cerebellar Ataxia
HD (Hip Dysplasia)
Loose Eyelids
Infections of the Ear

CA (Cerebellar Ataxia) or Canine Cerebellar Ataxia

Only since a very short period of time cases of the genetic disease CA have been reported in the breed Spinone Italiano.
This neurological disease always occurs in young dogs (at about 4–6 months) and always ends with putting the pups to sleep at an age of about 11–12 months, because they can no longer control their movements. The neurological findings of a cerebellar disease are quite characteristic. However for a definitive diagnosis examination of brain tissue (in autopsy examination) is required.
CA symptoms are: exaggerated movements, a high-stepping gait, a general ataxia or wobbly gait. Other signs of brain diseases such as behavioural change, seizures, weakness or paralysis of the cranial nerves are not to be noticed.
So far 22 cases of CA have been reported in the breed. CA appears to be confined to one family line. These cases of CA have had proven carriers on both sides of the pedigree. This means, that puppies with a proven carrier in the pedigree could be CA- carriers without showing any signs of the disease. Only if both sire and dam are out of CA-family lines the disease may affect the puppies. In that case it is possible that either no pup symptoms of CA, or only some pups are affected and others are not. However all of these pups are potential CA-carriers. Because to date there is no way of testing (i. e. blood testing) whether or not a Spinone is a CA-carrier, it is of utmost importance that by careful research of pedigrees and most responsible breeding this terrible disease is eliminated or at least that no further litters affected by CA are produced.
Since most of the cases of CA have occurred in the UK, the Italian Spinone Club of Great Britain has made out a control scheme. You can find more information on CA and a list of Proven Carriers of CA on the website of the Italian Spinone Club of Great Britain: http://www.spinone.doglovers.co.uk/Health/cataxia.htm.
Anyway every Spinone breeder should be able and willing to explain the problem of CA to interested puppy buyers and comment on his/her breeding program.
Until a way of testing has been found you should be aware of the fact that there is no Spinone from 100 % CA-free lines. One can only speak of lines in which no cases of CA have been reported. Unfortunately proven CA-carriers often do not appear in the pup's official papers since they are too far back in the pedigree. Therefore everybody who intends to breed with his/her Spinone should try to get as much information as possible on CA to keep this loveable breed as healthy as possible.
For all questions regarding CA, especially pedigrees or breeding questions Mrs. Cristiana Hill, CA-Coordinator of the Italian Spinone Club of Great Britain offers her help. You can contact her via e-mail: philip.hill50@ntlworld.com
I really want to thank her very much for this kind offer!

HD (Hip Dysplasia)

Like in many other large breeds there are cases of HD in the Spinone as well. Acknowledging HD being mostly a genetic disease, you should have a close look at the HD-scores. In any case you should ask your breeder for the results of sire and dam and other ancestors.
In Germany breeding is allowed with HD-A (free), HD-B. And if sire or dam are HD-C the other parent must be HD-A.

Loose Eyelids

Frequently you can see Spinoni with loose eyelids. Maybe it is an exaggeration to speak of ectropion. Nevertheless these red eyes with hanging lower eyelid can be very unpleasant especially for a hunting dog. Soon your Spinone has pollen, grass seeds, dust or other small objects in its eyes which may well cause irritations. Loose eyelids in a puppy may disappear when the dog gets older, but could also remain. Therefore you should carefully watch the eyes when selscting a pup.

Infections of the Ear

The Spinone – like many other breeds with long hanging ears – needs regular ear care to prevent infections. It is of much help when you get your pup used to cleaning ears right from the beginning (I prefer to do it with a Baby-wipe) and to remove the soft hair from the outer ear canal.
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