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Common conditions to affect Giant Breeds

Updated: Jan 14, 2023

Did you know? Common conditions that affect giant breeds and have been seen in Pyrenean Mastiffs. Please note some have been seen more commonly than others but these are just some notable conditions.

Bloat/Gastric dilatation and volvulus (GDV) Bloat is when the stomach fills with air and GDV is when the stomach twists on itself. If a dog only has bloat often times it can be remedied. Something to include in your first aid kit for your dog is Gas-x, Gas-x can help buy you time in the case of bloat to get to emergency care. GDV is an extreme emergency and can kill your dog. It hits and hits fast, surgery to correct the twisted stomach is expensive.

The Great Dane community had some major research into this and were able to identify several gene variants in the Great Dane to see if dogs are at risk due to genetic predisposition.

Prophylactic Gastropexy is a surgery that can be done on dogs to attach the stomach to the wall of the abdomen to prevent it from twisting. Dogs who get this can still bloat however it prevents the stomach from twisting which is the part of the combo condition that is emergent. Hip Dysplasia Hip Dysplasia is a complicated condition, when we tested breeding dogs we test for phenotype of the hips (what we can visually see). However, hip dysplasia is polygenetic and we currently have no means to test genetically for it. When breeders test for hips they are utilizing the phenotype to try and improve the gene pool or hope that the phenotype breeds true, once you have multiple generations with good hips you start raising the chances of good hips in future generations. However only ever breeding good hips in a rare breed such as the PM would limit the gene pool drastically so some breeders aim to "breed up" in hopes of improving offspring. This is when they may breed a Mild dog to a Good or Excellent dog for example. Most dogs with mild hip dysplasia do not have symptoms and even some moderate dogs do not exhibit symptoms until old age when arthritis kicks in. Hip dysplasia also has environmental factors that come into play such as being overweight while growing, high impact activities before growth plates close and more. Here is a great article about hip dysplasia:

Elbow Dysplasia Elbow dysplasia is very similar to hip dysplasia but affects the elbows. There are several things that can happen to elbows that are classed as dysplasia. Here is a great article on the topic.

Entropian and Ectropian eyelids These are conditions that affect the eyes, one causes the eyelid to roll inward and the other causes the eyelid to roll outward. Here is a great article on the two conditions:

Heart Disease Heart Disease is something giant breeds can be prone to so it is important to maintain regular checkups for your dog. Here are some good links on the topic:

Osteosarcoma Giant breeds in general are more prone to Osteosarcoma, this is when cancer affects the bones and if you have ever seen an x-ray of this it looks like the bone turns into a honey comb, it becomes brittle etc.

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) Degenerative Myelopathy is a condition that affects the spinal cord in middle age to older dogs. It is a autosomal recessive, if a dog has 2 copies of the gene it makes them at risk for DM. The Great Pyrenees is known to have this and as we already know the PM is a distant relative. When we began doing genetic testing in the United States we started seeing dogs popping up as carriers (not affected). To prevent producing puppies who are at risk most breeders in the US decided to begin genetic testing parents to ensure they do not raise the chances of producing at risk puppies.

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