Schipperkes are typically known as a hearty, healthy breed. However, like any breed they do have health issues that
we have to watch out for. Some of the health issues of concern to reputable breeders are MPS-IIIB, epilepsy,
hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia and cancer. We have tests for some diseases and structural issues and for others we
Epilepsy is an issue in our breed for which we have no test. We have such a small gene pool here in the United
States, relatively speaking, that it is impossible for any breeder to claim their lines are clear of it. We have to
work with what we know and make breeding choices accordingly. Don't let any breeder tell you that there is
no chance your puppy will develop epilepsy. They simply cannot truthfully make that claim. The truth is it
can happen to any of us at any time. That being said, epilepsy is NOT rampant in our breed so the cases we
see are definitely infrequent. We do see much more of it in puppy mill or back yard bred dogs so choosing a
reputable breeder is a step in the right direction. Click here for more info on Canine Epilepsy.
MPS-IIIB is an inherited genetic lysosomal storage disease found only in Schipperkes and Humans. This
disease was recently discovered and a test developed by the University of Pennsylvania. Typically symptoms of
this disease develop between 2-4 years of age. The symptoms include: tremors, difficulty balancing and
walking, many develop a reddish cast to the coat. This disease is progressive and most owners have their dog
euthanized within a year or two of the onset of symptoms. There is no cure or effective treatment at this time.
As breeders, we have tested all of our breeding animals and those of carrier parents placed in pet homes. The
three classifications from the test are Normal, Carrier, and Affected. Normal means the dog does not carry the
gene and can never produce it. Carrier means the dog carries the gene and can produce it if bred to another
carrier. However, a carrier will never develop the disease, so it is perfectly acceptable to take a carrier as a pet.
Affected dogs will develop the fatal disease and should never be bred.
Always insist on knowing the MPS-IIIB status on a breeder's dogs. If you are not convinced they are being
truthful, ask them to fax or mail you copies of the certified tests signed by Dr. Urs Giger with the University of
Pennsylvania. If you currently have a Schipperke you would like to have tested, you can order cheek swabs
from the University directly.
Hypothyroidism is a a relatively common endocrine disease in dogs in general. Schipperkes are no exception.
It results from a deficiency of the thyroid hormone in the blood. Thyroid hormone regulates metabolism so it
affects almost every system in the body. Symptoms most typically appear between 2 and 5 years of age.
Symptoms include: Dry coat, hair loss, bacterial skin infections, lethargy, excessive skin pigment (like black
spots on the skin), excessive sleeping, weight gain, and seizures to name a few. This condition is typically
managed by giving your dog soloxine, a thyroid replacement drug.
Reputable breeders test their dog's thyroid at 2 years of age and have it certified through the OFA (Orthopedic
Foundation For Animals) to determine a dog's fitness for breeding. Not all breeders report their results to OFA,
but it is a good idea so the results are public and can easily be verified by anyone interested.
Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease which causes varying degrees of arthritis in the hip joint. It can be very
painful and debilitating to a dog.
Reputable breeders have their breeding animal's hips xray'd and certified by
OFA (Orthopedic Foundation For Animals) to determine the dogs hip health. The OFA awards the following
grades based on the xray: Excellent, Good, Fair, Borderline, Dysplastic. You can visit the OFA's website to
detemine any dog's results.