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What Genetic Health issues are typically seen in the Wirehaired Pointing Griffon?

 
 

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Wirehaired Pointing Griffon

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WireHaired Pointing Griffons are generally a vigourous breed, with a normal lifespan of 10-12 years of age... If your Griffon reaches 12 as a healthy dog, it may even live to 14 years of age (and even 16 at times).

A few genetic problems occur in Griffons. The following is information about the various health problems and genetic issues that are known or suspected to exist in Griffons.

Please fill out the Griffon Information Survey

Information on Genetically sound Griffons is as important as that of Griffons who have Genetic Concerns.

 

 

 
 
       
 

 


Hip Dysplasia

Hip  Dysplasia has been reduced in the Wire-Haired Pointing Griffon. In 1996, the Orthopaedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) estimated the current percentage of dysplastic dogs at 7.2%. The percentage of OFA Excellent ratings was 19.6%. These figures can be somewhat misleading, as not all x-rays for Wirehaired Pointing Griffons are submitted to OFA for certification.  Another method of Hip Evaluation is with PennHip , view info at http://www.vet.upenn.edu/pennhip 

Hip Dysplasia can be caused by a number of things but most often indicates a hip joint structure that cannot withstand normal use. This could mean a shallow socket, or a ball that is not smooth and round. Hip Dysplasia is polygenic, meaning that many genes affect the hip structure and it isnot a simple Genetic problem to get rid of.

All Wire-Haired Pointing Griffons should be radiographically cleared of Hip Dysplasia at two years of age. This is a minimum requirement for breeding.

View Muse and Bonny getting their PennHip Evaluations http://www.griffonpoint.com/pennhip.htm 

Elbow Problems

Not as common as Hip Dysplasia, but Elbow Problems have occurred in Griffons.

Griffons have good bone structure and strength. This is from their long time use as a hunting dog, since Griffons who were not structurally sound did not get used for breeding.

Other Structure Problems

The only other Orthoepaedic problem that I have come across is a back problem (degenerative disk disease) in a younger Griffon. It is not clear whether this was a genetic trait or a congenital defect.

Some Griffons can be affected by Panoestitis, or Growing Pains. Pano is basically the inflamation of the long bones. This can happen any time during the growth of the dog, usually indicated by a sudden lameness. If your Griffon is affected by Pano, it is best diagnosed with an X-Ray, as most Griffons will not give the usual pain response that Veterinarians look for. On a scale from 1 - 10, Pano is expressed as an 11 for the dog that has a long bone palpatated, yet a Griffon will not show pain, instead he will normally lick the hand that hurts him. Pano is easily diagnosed with an X-Ray, with the inflamed bone showing up as a glowing white area.

Entropian Eyelids

Entropian is the curling in of the eyelids. Entropian Eyelids will cause the hair to rub against the dog's eye. Another polygenic genetic problem, with many genes contributing to the disorder, this is a more common genetic problem in Griffons.

Entropian is a very painful disorder for the dog, requiring delicate surgery to prevent eye damage. With an Entropian eye, the eyelids may roll in as early as 8 - 10 weeks or could roll in between 4 to 6 months, however this can occur even when the Griffon is a year of age or older.

The Griffon's eyes will water excessively, and you may notice that he paws at his eye to try to relieve the discomfort. Sometimes, with a younger Griffon, straightening the skin with a temporary suture will give the head a chance to grow, and this may let the puppy grow out of the disorder. Normally, the veterinarian will apply medication to the eye initially to rule out environmental causes for the entropian before suggesting surgery.

Most commonly, Entropian starts as Intermittent Entropian (with the eyelids sometimes positioned normally), advances to Entropian, and requires surgery.

Ectropian Eyelids

Seen less often in Wire-Haired Pointing Griffons. Ectropian is the drooping or curling out of the eyelids, causing dry eyes, and accumulation of foreign debris. Ectropian is also surgically correctable for the health of the dog.

This is seldom Intermittent, and may become more obvious with age.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)

PRA, a form of hereditary blindness, is relatively unknown in the Wire-Haired Pointing Griffon. PRA in Griffons is early onset, either seen in puppies (6 months) or by 5 years. To prevent PRA or any other genetic eye disease from becoming more common, annual eye examinations are recommended for breeding dogs.

ERG's are available for early diagnosis of PRA, this is a more involved Eye Examination that requires that the Griffon be sedated and the test results are in graph form, showing the levels of light that are percieved by the Griffon. In the two Griffons that we have tested with ERG's, the waves were very similar to those waves found in Pointers. If you are interested in more information on ERG's, or if you want to compare your Griffon's Graphs with ours, please contact us.

Cataracts

Cataracts are rare, but can be seen occasionally. If your Griffon is affected with hereditary Cataracts, you will find that they occur in both eyes in about the same location. Cataracts brought on by old age may occur in one eye or the other.

Cherry Eye  

Copyright 2001 Brian Bright Photo

Cherry eye (rupture of the Harderian Gland or Third Eyelid) can also occur in Griffons. Again this is a very seldom seen eye disorder.

Cherry Eye is most obvious, often happens in both eyes within a short time of each other. The gland will swell above the tear duct, and most often has a brilliant red/pink appearance.                                                                 

Surgery is most often required, involving removal of the gland, or repositioning and stitching it back into place.

Sensitivity to Anesthetic

Some Griffons are sensitive to Anesthetic, so using anesthetic to do routine procedures like trimming toenails or ear care is best avoided. This sensitivity can be observed by the Griffon taking longer to metabolize anesthetic from their system... or in extreme cases, death.

Making certain your Vet knows that some Griffons are sensitive to Anesthetic is important. Especially during surgery. Your Vet may suggest using a more expensive anesthetic, that is more easily metabolized.

Umbilical Hernia

There are two causes of Umbilical Hernias. One cause is the mother pulling on the umbilical cord too roughly when the puppies are being whelped.

The other cause is genetic, with the constricting ring at the entrance of the umbilical cord closing imcompletely. This can be easily corrected by surgery, If the hernia is so large that you can put your finger through the opening and into the body cavity, the surgery should be done sooner rather than later. The mode of inheritance is unclear, however appears that it may be a dominant trait.

Misaligned Dentition

Sometimes the teeth of a Wire-Haired Pointing Griffon do not mesh properly, resulting in a crooked bite, or an overshot bite. An ideal "bite pattern" is a scissors bite. A Griffon puppy will typically have a later maturing dentition, with adult teeth present by 6 months of age.

Included in this catagory is missing teeth, Specifially seen in some family groups of Griffons. Griffons have been known to miss incisors, canines, PreMolars 1, 2, 3 and/or 4, and even have been missing molars.

 

Griffon Coat

So important is the proper Griffon coat to the function of the dog, that the description is included in the name of the Breed in North America. Perhaps because one of Korthal's first Griffons (Janus) was a soft coated Griffon, the odd soft or wooly coated Griffon still turns up today.

For photographs and comprehensive discussion on coat types and genetics visit the WirehairedPointing Griffon Coat Page.

Pigment

Lack of correct pigment can also be a genetic problem. This can occur in the coat, the toenails, the iris (eye) or even the nose.  Below is an example of lack of correct pigment in the nose of a Griffon, along side normally pigmented nose.

nose colour nose colour

above: nose lacking pigment

above: nose with correct pigment

Many thanks to the Veterinarians who have consulted with me, and to the Griffon Breeders and Owners who have shared this information which is vital to a healthy future for our Griffons.


References and Online Genetics Resources

Online Genetics Resources -

 

Books on Canine Health and Genetics

Breeding Better Dogs, Kyle Onstatt, Howell 1983, ISBN 0-87605-400-9

Dog Owner's Home Veterinary Handbook, Carlson, DVM & Giffin MD, Howell 1992, ISBN0-87605-537-4

Genetics of the Dog, Malcolm B. Willis, Howell 1989, ISBN 0-87605-551-X

Practical Genetics for Dog Breeders, Malcolm B. Willis, Howell 1992, ISBN 0-87605-782-2

Your Dog, His Health and Happiness, Louis L. Vine, DVM, ARCO 1982 ISBN 0-668-02876-9

 

 

 
       
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For further information, contact


Griffonpoint Kennel

Katy Steuhm katy@griffonpoint.com
California - USA

Shannon Ford shannon@griffonpoint.com
Alberta/British Columbia, Canada

 
 
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All Rights Reserved. Copyright ¬© Shannon Ford 1997 - You may copy this page for personal use only, providing it is not changed, and that credit rests with the author, Shannon Ford.. ¬©Shannon Ford 1997