BERNESE HEALTH - COMMON DEFECTS
THE INFORMATION REPRODUCED IN THESE 'HEALTH' PAGES
SHOULD ONLY BE REGARDED AS A SIMPLIFIED GUIDE.
ANY OWNER CONCERNED ABOUT THE HEALTH OR POTENTIAL HEALTH STATUS OF THEIR DOG SHOULD CONSULT A VETERINARY SURGEON.
ENTROPION The first signs of this painful condition can appear at any time, but it most commonly
becomes evident during puppyhood or adolescence. Owners usually notice a watery discharge around the dog’s eyes and the eyes become red and sore. This is caused by the eyelids roll inwards enabling the eyelashes and sometimes the eye rim to rub against the eye. This in turn causes intense irritation and ulceration of the eye can occur in severe cases. Left untreated, Entropion can ultimately cause blindness and temperament problems may occur due to the dog being in constant discomfort or pain.
Surgery can very successfully alleviate the condition and greatly improve the comfort of the affected dog, but further surgical intervention may also be needed as ongoing changes in head and face shape as the dog matures may bring about further rolling in of the eyelids. Entropion is an hereditary condition and affected Bernese, even those successfully relieved of symptoms by surgery, should not be bred from.
ELONGATED SOFT PALATE (Prolonged Soft Palate) The soft palate in the dog is normally a short flap of mucous membrane-covered muscles which lies between the cavity of the mouth and the pharynx. Excessive panting caused by excitement, stress or hot weather can cause an elongated soft palate to restrict the airway, so causing severe breathing difficulties or even asphyxia to the unfortunate dog with this abnormality.
Bernese deaths have been caused by this condition. Surgery to correct the defect is sometimes successful but Bernese who have this abnormality should not be bred from as the condition is recognised as inherited.
MONORCHID A term commonly used by dog breeders to describe a male puppy which has only one of its two testicles descended into the scrotum.
The correct term for this condition is Unilateral Chryptorchid: the term Monorchid refers to a male with a single testicle, which is a much rarer condition. The testicles of male Bernese puppies can usually be felt in the scrotum by 5 to 6 weeks old but in some other breeds they may descend a little later. Veterinary surgeons have advised castration of a dog which is not `entire` as health problems may result if an undescended testicle is not removed.
OVERSHOT and UNDERSHOT JAW
A Scissor Bite describes the desirable teeth placement with the upper teeth set square to the jaw and slightly overlapping the lower teeth.
If the upper teeth project much farther forward than the lower, then this is called “Overshot”.
If the lower teeth are placed much farther forward than the upper teeth then that would be described as “Undershot”.
The teeth placement of Bernese puppies can alter drastically as the skull changes shape with growth and the final placement may not be known until perhaps a year old. Puppies with apparently correct teeth placement at 7 weeks old can develop an Undershot or Overshot jaw as they mature, and those puppies with incorrect teeth alignment can end up with a correct Scissor Bite.
It is not common for incorrect teeth alignment to cause any problems to the dog; some dogs with severely misaligned teeth may experience some difficulty in picking up a very flat biscuit from the floor. Sometimes a misplaced canine tooth may press into the gum or roof of the mouth in which case canine dentistry may be advised. Those who wish to show or breed from their Bernese should choose a puppy with correct teeth alignment for the best chance of correct adult dentition developing.
UMBILICAL HERNIA There is a natural opening in the abdominal wall which sometimes fails to close at birth. As the puppy grows, fatty tissue may protrude through the opening, appearing as a soft, rounded bulge under the skin. The abdominal wall will often close up by itself, usually by the time the puppy is three to four months old. Umbilical hernias are VERY common in Bernese puppies and adults, and if, at the time of sale (7 or 8 weeks old) a Bernese puppy has a hernia no larger than a walnut then it is probably unlikely to experience any complications involving the hernia. There is usually no reduction in purchase price for a Bernese puppy with an umbilical hernia.