As a breed, the Pyrenean Mountain Dog is relatively free of many of the health problems which affect some other breeds. But there are problems which can appear in even the most carefully bred puppies, some of which relate to the giant breed dogs, others may occur in any puppy regardless of breed or size. It is as well to be aware of them so letís take a very brief look at potential problems.
Bones, jointsThere are various orthopaedic conditions which particularly affect large and giant breeds - Hip Dysplasia, OCD, HOD, Panosteitis to name a few. These do not seem to be prevalent in our breed here in New Zealand, but signs to watch for in the growing pup are limps, a reluctance to stand or to move, difficulty in moving, hot or swollen joints. Though genetics plays a large part in orthopaedic conditions, good supervision and simple preventative measures can safeguard your puppy:
Supervise his play so he does not become over tired, - he is still a baby !
Donít let him jump down steps or out of a vehicle - this strains his shoulders and front assembly.
Keep him secured in a suitable cage while traveling.
Donít let him run and slide on a slippy indoor surface on which he can't gain traction.
No unsupervised playing with adult dogs - be sure you are right there beside him.
This also applies to puppies playing with children.
Avoid long tiring walks on a leash. A very short walk will suffice for lead training and accustom him to walking by your side and not pulling out in front.
Do prevent too rapid growth by not over feeding him. He should look slim!
If he develops a limp, confine him immediately in a crate, run, or the smallest space you have available. It may be nothing more than tiredness or a muscular sprain, but play safe ! He needs complete rest but should be able to lie down, stand and turn round, but not to run about. Take him out for toileting on a leash, walking a very short distance only. A simple sprain should resolve quite rapidly, but if he continues to limp, keep him resting and please see your vet.
EyesEntropion is a condition in which the eyelashes turn in and scratch the cornea, causing irritation and a continual weepy eye. Ectropion is a loose turned out, droopy eyelid. Either condition may require treatment in extreme cases, but as the Pyr head develops slowly, your vet may advise you to watch and wait before he performs corrective surgery. Occasionally the eye lids may tighten as the head develops.
Teeth, BiteYou may never really know when your pup goes through the process of shedding his baby teeth, but if he seems to be rather subdued and reluctant to eat, his gums may be a little sore. A softer diet will help him through this brief period and teething jelly may be soothing, or he may like a firm toy or big bone to chew on. Very occasionally a small tooth may be retained and need attention. Misaligned bites, referred to as undershot, overshot and awry, do not cause the dog too much difficulty in eating, except in severe cases, but will result in uneven and premature wearing of teeth in adults.
Genito-urinaryUrinary tract infections can be a problem in bitch puppies. If pup starts passing very small amounts frequently, or seems to be straining to pass urine, she may have an infection. Please consult your vet, who will be delighted if you arrive with a small sample which you managed to collect as she urinated ! Some bitch pups have quite a bit of creamy colored vaginal discharge, which is normal and will settle down as pup matures and seldom requires treating. Check with your breeder or vet if you think this is excessive and are concerned. Males are not usually affected by UTIís but may have a problem with undescended testicles. You may have difficulty finding them on a small pup, but as he grows they will be easy to palpate ( gently of course) Again, check with your breeder or vet if you are concerned.
BehaviorBecause of their independent nature, Pyr pups seldom seem to have Separation Anxiety symptoms, unless they leave the litter before they are ready to cope alone. Eight weeks is the minimum age for pups to leave the litter. Be sympathetic if pup takes a little time to settle in, and he will adapt to the new surroundings and routines pretty well. Some pups begin to show dominance earlier than others, perhaps anywhere between six and twelve months, while others take much longer. Be ready to firmly but kindly demonstrate that you are in charge, in fact you should be doing this routinely, even when playing with your puppy. Obedience training is a good idea and fun to do.
Double DewclawsThe double dewclaws on the rear feet are an inherent part of the breed and seldom present problems if they are kept trimmed, to prevent them growing round into the skin. It is not necessary or desirable to remove them!
For more in-depth reading on orthopaedic conditions and other dog health topics, puppy care, also training, these websites have good material or excellent links:
Great Pyrenees Club of America Breed Information
Pyrenean Mountain Dog club, U.K.
Orthopedic disorders with Dr Mike
Cindy Tittle-Moore Dog faqs
Hip and Elbow Displasia Resource
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