The Samoyed & Health

Samoyeds in general are a healthy breed. However, there are still health issues to be aware of when choosing one. Originally there were only a handful of dogs from Siberia brought back to England by explorers. From these, even fewer were imported to America to make up the gene pool we have today.

Like all pure bred dogs no dog or line exists that is completely free from any congenital, genetic or hereditary problem. Tendencies to develop certain health problems can also run in lines. Given our small genetic pool, it is impossible to eliminate all the dogs & lines that may carry the genes as we would be discarding dogs with much to contribute to the breed. Our responsibility as breeders is to do our homework and to the best of our ability to not double up on the genes that produce things that impact on the quality of life for our breed. All breeding stock should be tested or checked for anything that we have a means to do so before being bred.

Some of the problems but not inclusive of all are orthopedic (hip dysplasia, slipping patellas, elbow dysplasia), cardiac (various valve, electrical system, and structural problems), autoimmune (VKH), eye (Progressive Retinal Atrophy, RD/OSD, Juvenile Cataracts, various "breeder options" disorders), some forms of cancer, hepatic shunt with genetic component, cleft palates, thyroid, diabetes, bloat and kidney disease. Fortunately many of these conditions are not frequently seen. To read informative articles about health and the Samoyed you can go to this site:

 I am not a Veterinarian or have listed all the information about or for any or all conditions. Always consult your Veterinarian with any questions you may have or for further information on any or all these conditions.

Below is a partial list of the more common problems that may exist. Hopefully with time and the development of more genetic tests they can be minimized or eliminated truly
making this one of the healthiest purebred breeds.

The word "dog" is used to refer to a male or female.

Some of the ways we can breed out or away from these more serious health problems that can impact the quality of life are listed below.

Hip Dysplasia.
This is a tough one as it is a combination of several genes that cause this disorder. The way we can try and lessen the occurrence is to x-ray all breeding stock including littermates. The OFA ( evaluates hip x-rays  taken after the dog turns 2 years old as Excellent, Good & Fair. If they don't find evidence of changes suggestive of hip dysplasia they issue an "OFA" number.  This can give us an idea of what this dog will produce (also considering what kind of hip quality was produced in litter mates and offspring) but unfortunately even breeding two dogs with "excellent" hip ratings can produce offspring with hip dysplasia although it is usually a milder form and less likely. 

Dogs that have their eyes examined by a Veterinary Ophthalmologist and are not found to have a known hereditary eye disease will be issued a number if the report is sent to C.E.R.F. or O.F.A. foundation that keeps records on these results . The Samoyed breed is fortunate in that two genetic tests (XL-PRA & RD/OSD) for the two main eye problems that can lead to blindness and are hereditary have been developed. A blood sample or cheek swab can be submitted and results will indicate if the dog is clear from the disorder, is a carrier of the gene for the defect, or is affected with the disease. If two dogs are mated who are both proven to be genetically clear (and not carriers) of either, none of the offspring will have the genes for these two particular problems & will never develop these conditions. Again, a number will be issued for dogs tested clear and will appear on the OFA site. Also recommended is to have a Veterinary Ophthalmologist do a gonioscopy to screen for the potential of other eye problems including glaucoma that leads to blindness & possible removal of their eyes.

Right now we do the most basic check which consists of a Veterinary Cardiologist or even a regular Veterinary feeling pulses and listening to the heart for any sounds that shouldn't be there. It is a start, but doesn't pick up certain cardiac conditions or small defects. If a dog or bloodline has produced heart problems, more sophisticated  testing such as cardiac ultrasounds, EKG & holter monitoring can be done to see if a finding is a problem or not. Dogs over 1 year old who pass are issued a Cardiac number by OFA.

Some of the other tests and clearances you can find a clearance number given for on the OFA site are elbows, patellas, thyroid,  and a few other conditions that may or may not be specific to certain breeds.

Again, this section is not to scare you from owning a Samoyed, but to inform you on some of the things you should ask the breeder of your next puppy about. They are overall a very healthy breed and usually live long and active lives into their teens.

You deserve as healthy a puppy as possible and any reputable breeder with health as a priority will do their best to provide you with one. Both parents & if possible the grandparents, should have as many
health clearances as possible as not all conditions are due to recessive genes requiring both parents to have the "bad" gene to produce the condition.

Links to look up dogs and clearances.
Note: some tests require dogs to be a minimum age before a number will be issued (hips, 2 years old, cardiac, 1 year old, etc. Look up individual test requirements and minimum ages on each site).

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA):
Information on hip ratings and lists all other tests dogs have been cleared for and received numbers. Will not list test results if dog did not pass unless the owner approved publication of non-passing results.
If you see a "CHIC" number for a dog it means the dog has been tested for a group of conditions specified for each breed determined by the National breed club.
For the Samoyed to get a CHIC number they must have had hips, eyes, cardiac & the  XL-PRA testing done. All other tests are not required until and if the National club decides to require them.

Canine Eye Registration Foundation (CERF):
 Requires yearly recertification. Will list dogs who have no hereditary or significant eye problems with a number. Will also list "Breeder's Options" which are conditions found but not proven to be hereditary. Usually minor conditions that may or may not impact eye health and vision.


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