Through good breeding practices and the natural vigor of the breed,the Kuvasz has very few of the health problems associated with other breeds.
Like other large, fast-growing breeds, it is prone to hip dysplasia. Hip dysplasia, also known as CHD (Canine Hip Dysplasia) is a development malformation of the hip joints. Some of the latest research indicates that it is not entirely genetic. It could be as much as 50 to 60% genetic, with the balance being environmentally influenced.
When x-raying eight week-old puppies, it is impossible to determine CHD because all the hips in puppies appear to be normal. Something happens as the puppy continues to grow. Research has shown the parents free of CHD can still produce CHD offspring. And CHD parents can produce normal offspring.
A concerted effort to breed only CHD clear animals was supposed to result in a dramatic reduction in the incidence and severity of the disease. However, after all these years, the OFA statistics have only been marginally improved.
A conscientious breeder will not object to questions about CHD and should be willing to produce the hip status of the puppy’s parents on official OFA, GDC or OVC stationery.
When reviewing health clearances it is important to look at breadth of clearances— as well as depth of clearances. An absolute minimum requirement would be parents and grandparents free of CHD, but even better would be the majority of the parent’s siblings also free of CHD. Other important considerations are how many generations of a breeder’s kennel have been officially tested, and how freely the breeder provides the information to others.
See the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for more extensive info.
Even though conscientious breeders try to minimize CHD by only breeding animals clear of CHD, there are things that a puppy owner can do to help minimize the chances of developing CHD, too. Environmental influences such as injury; keeping a puppy on a slippery floor; over-exercising; under-exercising; improper exercising; and especially improper diet are all important contributors to the problem of bad hips.
OFA and CHIC certification are just as important for pet/non-breeding dogs as it is for the dogs being shown and bred. We could eliminate health risks MUCH faster if we know the status of ALL the littermates.
No breeder can absolutely promise that every puppy will have normal hips. But, after offering only puppies from healthy, certified breeding stock, a breeder should be also able to help you with an outline of the proper diet to feed and environmental things you can do to help minimize any potential risk your puppy may have.
At Double Ring, we believe it is important for future hip development to provide good quality footing for puppies beginning at birth. We use a sheepskin pad with rubber backing instead of newspapers to provide puppies with solid footing.
As scary as CHD is, it is also not the end of the world. Many dogs can live full and happy lives with mild to moderate CHD.
Many dogs never show any clinical symptoms of the disease until they reach old age. The sad cases are the severely dysplastic dogs that require surgery or euthanasia. This is why conscientious breeders are trying their best to eliminate CHD.
Fortunately, there have been great strides made in various types of CHD surgery to give dogs with severe dysplasia a long and pain-free life.
CHIC stands for Canine Health Information Center. There is a separate database for CHIC, but it is easier to look on the OFA website for health clearances. Each breed club decides which tests should be required for the breeding dogs of their breed. In 2003, KCA, the Kuvasz Club of America, decided to require, hips, elbows and thyroid. Eyes, Patellas, and Cardiac tests are also recommended, but are not required to get a CHIC certification number.
The purpose of CHIC is to encourage health testing prior to breeding to help ensure the future integrity of the gene pool. With enough exposure and education puppy buyers may begin to look for parents with CHIC health clearances prior to agreeing to buy a puppy out of that pair. Puppy mills and most backyard breeders do not care about the health of the gene pool. Look at some of the breeds that have been ruined by indiscriminant breeding— Rottweilers, Cocker Spaniels, etc.— the list goes on. Hopefully, someday the average puppy buyer will figure this out. Check out the searchable database at OFA. You can search or many levels, one dog or the entire breed just by making your selections, or NOT, on the initial search page.
Once you find a dog you are interested in checking out, click on that dog. Another screen will come up showing you the parents of that dog and their health clearances. It will also show offspring, siblings and half siblings. The more health data known of a family, the wiser breeding choices can be. For example, a dog with OFA Excellent hips who has all dysplastic litter-mates, is a far less desirable breeding candidate than a dog with OFA Fair hips whose litter-mates are all OFA Good and Excellent!
The CHIC website address is: http://www.akcchf.org/
Visit our KUVASZ HEALTH NEWS page for newest updates about health, vaccinations, titers, etc.