The Great Pyrenees is generally a healthy breed, with a lifespan of 10-12 years. Most all dogs have genetic diseases that are specific to their breed. Though they are few (compared to other breeds); we test our breeding Great Pyrenees for ALL breed specific genetic disorders through Embark, Optimal Selection, and the University Of Minnesota. Additionally, all of our breeding dogs are x-rayed for hip dysplasia, cleared of patellar luxation, and have a cardiac screening, with results posted publicly to the OFA database.
In the numerous Great Pyrenees groups we belong to on Facebook, we have read so many heartbreaking stories of beloved family members or faithful livestock guardians being struck by these disorders. These genetic diseases are 100% PREVENTABLE with good breeding practices! Some disorders such as hip dysplasia, patellar luxation, and heart issues are not as easy to prevent because they are considered polygenetic, meaning more than one gene is responsible. Researchers have yet to find the genetic markers responsible for these disorders. Though we have no crystal ball and cannot predict or guarantee everything, we do everything in our power to ensure our puppies have the very best start, even before they are born. By only breeding parents with passing OFA scores, providing optimal nutrition, appropriate exercise, and good traction in the whelping box, we are doing our due diligence to prevent these disorders in our breeding program.
Below is a short description of the genetic diseases and a link for even more information. All of these are simple recessive diseases, meaning that both parents must carry the gene for there to be a chance that their offspring will be affected.
NDG (Neuronal Degeneration):
NDG is an inherited neurological disease that affects dogs very young, well before it's first birthday. Initial signs include slipping, sliding, difficulty maneuvering on smooth surfaces, and an abnormal gait. Over time, these problems progress and worsen, and the dog will have a generalized loss of control and coordination over body movements. There are pathological changes throughout the brain, spinal cord, and peripheral nerves. The disease will progress and the dog will not be able to support it's weight or walk on it's own.
DM (Degenerative Myelopathy):
DM is a debilitating disease that causes gradual paralysis in many different dog breeds. It is caused by the degeneration of the spinal cord resulting in the paralysis of the hind legs and loss of urinary and fecal continence.
GT (Glanzmann's Thrombasthenia):
GT is a bleeding disorder caused by a genetic defect in platelets. Platelets are the blood cells responsible for blood clotting. When there is an injury to blood vessels, platelets stick together and bind to the opening of the injury. Dogs with GT have platelets less able to adhere and results in excessive bleeding. Affected dogs are more likely to have nose bleeds, bleeding gums, and excessive bleeding caused by surgery, or even minor cuts and scrapes.
CMR1 (Canine Multifocal Retinopathy):
CMR1 is a genetic eye disorder that causes raised lesions to form on the retina. the lesions alter the appearance of the eye, but usually do not affect sight. Symptoms usually appear when a puppy is only a few months old, and generally do not worsen over time.