Health & Genetics
Entlebuchers are sturdy dogs, not easily injured and not often ill. They are susceptible to a few genetically based health concerns. Responsible breeders are very conscious of these health issues and intentionally breed to reduce their occurence whenever possible.
As with most mid to large sized dogs, Entlebuchers can have problems with Hip Dysplasia and later in life may suffer from Osteoarthritis. The joint disease can affect hips, elbows and patellas. Before breeding, dogs are screened for hip health and results are posted on the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) website. Animals with hips labelled normal, (fair, good, excellent) are approved for breeding. This condition is at least partly genetic, and having grandparents, parents and siblings with normal hips increases the odds of the dog having normal hips.
Entlebuchers can also have progressive rod cone degneration - Progressive Retinal Atrophy (prcd-PRA), a genetic eye disease. Genetic testing is easy and affordable. Affected dogs should not be bred, ever. Carrier dogs should only breed with normal dogs. Following these rules will eliminate this cause of blindness.
Ectopic Urinary Syndrome (EUS) is specific to Entlebuchers although still a rare abnormality of anatomy. Unfortunately, diagnosis can be difficult. Symptoms of dribbling urine are not easy to live with and treatment can be complicated. It is not known what causes this disease but heredity may be partly to blame.
NEMDA, the breed parent group keeps track of existing cases of disease within the breed and supports research to learn more about elminating disease from the breed. All dogs that acquire a chronic (permanent) condition should be identified to NEMDA to improve their database. In time, we may learn more and be able to avoid these diseases.
Similar to many breeds and even crossbred mutts, cancer is not uncommon. We just don't know enough about what goes wrong yet to be proactive, but much research is underway. Dogs offer excellent disease study candidates for human medicine and therefore will benefit from genetic study in the future. Our best action to prevent or delay cancer is excellent diet, good fitness and an enriched mental/social life - the same as with humans. So feed good quality food with lots of vegetables and take your dog for a walk. You will do yourselves both a favour!