of Greater Denver

 Central Rockies Schipperke Club
   of Greater Denver
  CRSC Home
  What is a Schipperke?
  Our Club
  Specialty Dog Shows
  Pedigree Yearbooks
  Related links
  Member Login
Schipperke Health
Schipperkes are a fairly healthy long lived breed. That being said there are occasionally problems that show up.

The answer to "What problems are most prevalent in Schipperkes?" will depend on whom you talk to and their individual experiences. Many of these diseases are genetic and reputable breeders try their best to avoid them but there are not tests for many of them. There are tests for MPS IIIB, Thryoid problems and Eyes. X-rays can be done to check for skeletal health.

It is important for an owner to share back to the breeder the status of your dog's health, good and bad! Pet shop breeders get NO feedback hence buying a puppy from a pet shop is a bad idea.

Disclaimer: Information provided on this site is not meant to be construed as a diagnosis for your dog. This is simply a list of ailments seen occasionally in Schipperkes. If your dog has a problem take him/her to the Vet. Central Rockies Schipperke Club will not be held responsible for any injury or expense as a result of the information provided here as it may be incomplete or inaccurate. Every effort was made to provide accurate information.
Tracheal Collapse:

Tracheal collapse is a condition in which the trachea partially collapses as a dog breathes, leading to tracheal irritation, coughing and sometimes secondary changes in the lungs or upper airways. It is most common in toy breed dogs but can occur in larger breeds at times.

Uneven bite
Malocclusion refers to abnormal tooth alignment. Overbite (overshot, class two, overjet, mandibular brachygnathism) occurs when the lower jaw is shorter that the upper. There is a gap between the upper and lower incisors when the mouth is closed. The upper premolars are displaced at least twenty-five percent toward the front, when compared to the lower premolars. An underbite (undershot, reverse scissor bite, prognathism, class 3) occurs when the lower teeth protrude in front of the upper jaw teeth. When the upper and lower incisors do not overlap or even meet each other when the mouth is closed, the pet has an open bite. A wry mouth or bite occurs when one side of the jaw grows longer than the other. It is considered hereditary and difficult to correct. If the upper and lower incisor teeth meet each other edge to edge, the occlusion is an even or level bite. Scissors bite occurs when the lower teeth tuck cleanly and closely behind the plane of the upper teeth. Level and Scissor are correct in the Schipperke.

Cataract (juvenille or adult onset)
A cataract is defined as any opacity of the crystalline lens or its capsules. The opacities can range from minute areas that are barely detectable to complete cataracts in which the lens suffers a total loss of light transmission, resulting in blindness. If cataracts are extensive and bilateral, total blindness results. Cataracts in dogs can arise from a variety of causes such as inherited defects in lens metabolism, trauma, nutritional deficiencies, diabetes mellitus, retinal degeneration, or spontaneous developmental abnormalities. They may be acquired or congenital.

Eyelids of dogs can grow abnormal hairs. These hairs grow from the oil glands (Meibomian glands) of the lids and are called distichia if the hair protrudes from the oil gland opening onto the edge of the eyelid. Distichia are often irritating, especially if the hairs are long and stiff.

Entropion is a rolling-in of the eyelid. This causes the hair on the surface of the eyelid to rub on the eyeball, which is both painful and often causes corneal ulcers or erosions. The corneal damage can also result in corneal scarring, which can interfere with vision. Usually the dog will squint and tear excessively.

Narrow palpebral fissure
an abnormally small opening between the upper and lower eyelids

Persistent pupillary membrane
Persistent pupillary membranes are strands of tissue in the eye. They are remnants of blood vessels which supplied nutrients to the developing lens of the eye before birth. Normally these strands are gone by 4 or 5 weeks of age. In Schipperkes where it is not known to be genetic, parents and siblings of affected dogs should be examined ophthalmoscopically. If close relatives are affected, breeding is discouraged. Where PPM appears to be an isolated incident, breeders may use their discretion.

Progressive retinal atrophy
The term progressive retinal atrophy covers several types of inherited degeneration (deterioration) of the retina. Sub-classifications of PRA are based on the age at which dogs show signs of the disease and the type of retinal cell which is affected.

Cryptorchidism: Greek derivation; Hidden testicle. Cryptorchidism is a condition affecting the dog in which one or both testicles do not fully descend into the scrotum. The condition may be presented in two forms:
1.) Unilateral cryptorchidism refers to the normal descent of a singular testis.
2.) Bilateral cryptorchidism results in the retention of both testes.
Bilateral cryptorchids are sterile. Unilateral cryptorchids can produce get. Current research provides that it is probable that multiple genes are responsible for the condition of cryptorchidism.

Lack of Mammary tissue in bitches (insufficient milk production)
While it is thought that insufficient prolactin secretion may be involved in cases of insufficient mammary development and/or agalactia due to mammary underdevelopment, studies have not yet been done to determine this.

MPS IIIB (genetic, lethal)
Please read about this very important lethal disease in Schipperkes.

Cancers (some may be genetic)
Schipperkes are experiencing varying types of Cancers some of which have family incidence.
For example, Muco Epidermoid Carcinoma (rare) was seen in two half brothers' nasal passages, who's sire died of cancer in the jaw. (Incidently, one brother and the sire both had hypothyroidism too.)

Allergies (also see Atopic Dermatitis below)
About 20 percent of the dogs in the United States suffers from some type of allergy, whether it be atopic dermatitis, flea allergy, food allergy, inhalant allergy, contact allergy, or bacterial allergy.

Hypothyroidism (genetic)
Please read this important article by Dr. W. Jean Dodds DVM on Hypothyroidism.

Idiopathic Epilepsy (genetic)
An early study done at the University of CA, Davis showed that seizure incidence was genetic in Schipperkes. Research into Epilepsy is currently being dong a the Univ. of Missouri and Univ. of Minnesota to find the gene(s) responsible for the predisposition to seizure. For more information see http://www.canine-epilepsy.net/cerc.html.

Diabetes mellitus
Diabetes Mellitus is a group of conditions in which there is a deficiency of the hormone insulin or an insensitivity to it.

Heart murmur (shown to be genetic)
In aortic stenosis (heart murmur), there is a partial obstruction to the flow of blood as it leaves the left side of the heart (the left ventricle) through the main blood vessel (the aorta) that carries blood to the rest of the body. The obstruction ranges from small nodules to a fibrous band, most commonly just below the aortic valve ("subvalvular aortic stenosis"). Due to the obstruction, the heart must work harder to pump out an adequate blood volume. Clinical signs and long-term outcome depend on the degree of narrowing, or stenosis. Affected individuals should not be used for breeding, and littermates should be carefully screened.

Hemorrhagic Gastro Enteritis - HGE (cause unknown)
usually causes a very sudden onset of vomiting, bloody diarrhea, dehydration and depression. Dogs affected by this condition get very sick, very fast. To the best of the Vet's knowledge, the exact cause of this disease is unknown. It appears that Clostridium species bacteria may be part of the cause. The disease is more frequent in small breed dogs but can occur in any dog. Dogs that have this problem seem to have a high risk of getting it again.

Patellar Luxation (slipping knee caps)
This condition, commonly called slipped stifles, results from several abnormalities of the bones of the hind legs. These include a shallow trochlear groove and twisting and bending of the femur and tibia.

Legg-Calve-Perthes disease (femur degeneration in young dogs)
occurs when the bone that makes up the ball portion of the hip is damaged from lack of blood supply. The reasons this occurs are not clear. Since a higher incidence of this disorder is noted in several dog breeds, including terrier breeds, miniature pinscher, poodles and possibly Schipperkes, it is assumed that there may be a genetic component to the problem. In Manchester terriers, the genetic component appears to be a strong influence and heritability is pretty high for this problem. Most of the time the clinical signs of this disease occur in 4 to 11 month old dogs and usually consist of lameness of one leg only. Pain may be mild to very severe.

Slipped Hocks (over extension of hock joint due to weak ligament)
Slipped or double-jointed hocks are very faulty. When evaluating the hocks, gently push against the back of the hock joint (do not push past the point of resistance and the dog must be standing on the leg firmly). If the hock collapses forward, the puppy has a slipped hock. This potentially serious problem is far too commonly seen in the Schipperke world. A slipped hock is when the joint itself bends the wrong direction; it hyper-extends or collapses forward. The weakness is in the tissue, not the bone. Slipped hocks can cause serious problems for a dog and should never be overlooked or dismissed.

Hip Dysplasia (hip socket insufficient for femur head)
Hip Dysplasia is a terrible genetic disease because of the various degrees of arthritis (also called degenerative joint disease, arthrosis, osteoarthrosis) it can eventually produce, leading to pain and debilitation.

Atopic Dermatitis
Canine atopic dermatitis (allergic dermatitis, canine atopy) is an inherited predisposition to develop allergic symptoms following repeated exposure to some otherwise harmless substance, an "allergen," such as dust mites or pollen. Most dogs begin to show their allergic signs between 1 and 3 years of age. The incidence is increasing both in man and animals.

Atopic animals will usually rub, lick, chew, bite or scratch at their feet, muzzle, ears, armpits or groin, causing hair loss, and reddening and thickening of the skin. In some cases several skin problems can "add" together to cause an animal to itch where just the allergy alone would not be enough to cause itching. These problems include air borne-allergens (pollens, etc.), allergens in food, and allergens from parasites (fleas, etc.) and also bacterial or yeast infections of the skin. Eliminating some but not all of the problems may allow a patient's itchiness to go away. Therefore it is important to treat any other problems that could be making your pet itch while dealing with allergy.

Pemphigus (Autoimmune disorder)
There are several related immune mediated skin disorders action of which the body produces antibodies against the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis).

- Demodex (if generalized infestation can be from immune system problem)
- Sarcoptes (infectious pest, not immune system problem)

Color Dilution Alopecia (genetic)
This condition develops in some, but not all dogs that have been bred for unusual coat colour, especially "blue" (a dilution of the normal black coat color). Alopecia means hairlessness - affected dogs have a poor, patchy haircoat progressing to widespread permanent hair loss. At the cellular level, there are abnormalities of the hair follicles and uneven clumping of pigment (melanin) granules in the hair shafts in affected areas. This condition is found occastionally in the genetically undesirable 'blue' coat color in Schipperkes.

Send correspondence to:
Sue Geiger
Central Rockies Schipperke Club of Greater Denver
3228 S. Garrison St. Apt.299
Lakewood, Colorado 80227
Email: CRSCSecretary@schipperke.com