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Health


Kennel Balihara Ranch´s mission and vision is to breed loving, typical Swiss Mountain Dog puppies according to the FCI Standard which have a good potential of living long lives without handicapping illnesses.

At Balihara Ranch Kennel, we take the health of our Swissys seriously. We screen all our breeding Swissys for hereditary diseases such as HD, ED, OCD, patella luxation and ocular defects.
Because: 
a) a dog is a living creature and not a piece of machinery that can be guaranteed to be free of defects,
b) many of the diseases are genetically recessive and polygenic making predictability of occurrence an educated guess at best, we are no table to guarantee the health of our puppies. Nobody can guarantee it. Only one thing I can can do as breeder, is to make the BEST choice and selection of the healthy parents. And we do that. Our breeding dogs passed SKJ – FCI breeding and character tests – koerung, including all asked health tests. Remember, while breeding phenotypically sound animals will increase the odds for healthy progeny, it is not a foolproof guarantee that every single offspring will be healthy as well. This is due primarily to the recessive mode of inheritance and the polygenic nature of most genetic diseases affecting Swissys.

Compared with other pure breeds, the GSMD is still a relatively healthy breed. However, there are some health concerns that prospective Swissy owners should be aware of as they may affect the quality and length of the dog's life. Some of these conditions may also require lengthy, involved and often quite expensive medical treatment.

Life expectancy:
The realistic life expectancy for a Swissy is about 8-10 years. And while there are some healthy seniors above 10 around, Swissy owners should be prepared for the occasional untimely death of a young animal. Potentially lethal conditions such as epilepsy or splenic torsion can strike at any age. We do not have any reliable data regarding the causes of death in the breed, but it can be quite safely assumed that epilepsy and splenic torsion rank at the top of the list of diseases leading to premature death in Swissys.

Heredity:
Some of the diseases are hereditary, i.e. the dog must have the genetic predisposition for a particular affliction to surface. Many are passed on recessively, i.e. a particular condition can lay dormant for several generations until the right genetic combination brings it up again. The mode of inheritance is often quite complicated and cannot be attributed to clearly defined factors.

Following are the most commonly encountered health problems in Swissys. With diseases such as OCD, hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia, idiopathic epilepsy and some ocular abnormalities, heredity is definitely a factor while with conditions such as GDV (bloat and gastric torsion), splenic torsion and panosteitis, inheritance has not been clearly established.

The major health concerns in Swissys are:

Orthopedics:
OCD in the shoulders
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Hip dysplasia
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Elbow dysplasia
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Panosteitis, physitis
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Neurological:
Idiopathic Epilepsy
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Gastrointestinal tract:
GDV
Splenic Torsion
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Eyes
Entropium, Ectropium
Distichiasis
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Patella Luxation:
Also called slipping kneecap or popping knee, this condition is mostly inherited but may in rare cases be caused by trauma. Conditions that predispose to dislocation of the patella are a shallow groove, weak ligaments and malalignement of the tendons and muscles that straighten the joint. The patella slips in- or outward. The signs may include difficulty straightening the knee, pain in the stifle (knee joint) and lameness. The diagnosis is confirmed by manipulating the stifle joint and pushing the kneecap in and out of position. Treatment involves surgery to deepen the groove and/or re-align the tendon. Like with other orthopedic conditions presumed to be hereditary, Swissys with non-traumatic patella luxation should not be bred. More

Cataract:
This is the loss of normal transparency of the eye's lens. The opacity is usually white but may also give a bluish white cast to the lens behind the pupil. A cataract can be singular or multiple, of any size or shape and may affect the entire lens. The degree of vision impairment is determinded by the size and location of the cataract within the lens. While most cataracts are considered to be inherited, some may result from trauma to the eye or from metabolic disorders such as diabetes. Congenital cataracts may or may not be inherited and generally do not progress to blindness. Most hereditary forms of cataract occur in dogs under the age of 5 years. Senile cataracts in older dogs are quite common and are considered to be the result of the aging process. Like any other ocular abnormality, cataracts can be confirmed by an ophthalmologic exam. In general, Swissy breeders will not breed a dog with cataracts unless trauma has been clearly established as the cause of the condition or a punctate or capsular type cataract is determined by CERF to be of "unknown significance". More

Allergies:
An allergic reaction is an unwanted side effect caused by an inappropriate response of the immune system to various substances such as pollens, mold, dust or insect bites, certain foods, drugs and chemicals. Exposure to them triggers a reaction, usually through itching, sneezing, coughing, tearing, vomiting or diarrhea. The most frequently encountered allergies in Swissys are reaction to certain types of food, flea bites and pollen. Food allergies occurring at a young age sometimes disappear, i.e. the dog outgrows the allergic reaction eventually. Because the cause of an allergy is often difficult and sometimes impossible to determine, allergies can be very frustrating for the owner, and patience is often the only recourse! More

Cancer:
Age is the most important risk factor for the development of cancer in dogs, for it is the aging that permits the long-term events leading to tumor development and progression to occur. For most tumor types, the risk for cancer increases with increased age. There are many types of cancer occurring in dogs such as: various types of skin tumors or carcinomas - tumors of the bone such as osteosarcoma -tumors of the lymphoid tissues such as lymphosarcoma - tumors derived from blood vessel such as hemangiosarcoma. To date, Swissys do not appear to be predisposed to a certain form of cancer. And although a few cases of cancer in young dogs have been reported, so far it is clearly the older population that is subject to the various forms of cancer. More