Nobody wants an unhealthy dog and no responsible ethical breeder will ever knowingly take a chance on health. We can't control for everything that nature throws at us, but science has afforded us the ability to at least control for issues we know we can take out of the equation.
While the Black Russian Terrier is generally a healthy breed there are four main serious health problems associated with the breed that we can aim to control for:
- Hip Dysplasia - HD
- Elbow Dysplasia - ED
- HUU (Hyperuricosuria) urate stones
There are tests available for these health problems and it is the responsibility
of every dedicated caring breeder to ensure they only produce puppies from
dogs tested to ensure they do not produce puppies destined to suffer from
these painful hereditary disorders.
While Elbow and Hip scoring can be expensive it is a small price to pay for the
healthy future of a breed.
HUU & JLPP testing costs less and entails no more than a simple cheek swab
and DNA analysis
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
(HD and ED) are painful and debilitating conditions that sadly are all too
common in most large breeds.
Sadly the prognosis for many of the worst affected dogs is not good.
Surgery is complicated and very expensive, and even if successful in very young dogs can only alleviate the problem temporarily.
The arthritis that ensues all too often results in the dog having a
short life, being euthanised as a last kindness to stop the poor animal's
HD and ED are caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.
Even if parents have good hips and elbows there is still no guarantee that the puppies will be the same as environmental factors, nutrition and raising do come in to play. However even if the environment, feeding and exercise are controlled to reduce the risk of ED and HD, there is very little an owner can do if the dog is born with the genetic predisposition to these diseases.
To control these problems all potential breeding dogs should be tested to great reduce the predisposition of the puppies to the problem.
This involves having x-rays taken by a certified orthopedic vet and these (in Ireland) being sent to the UK to be "scored" under the BVA Hip and Elbow scoring scheme.
HUU or Hyperuricosuria
HUU is a genetic disorder that affects the body's mechanism of eliminating waste bodily protein which results in high levels of uric acid in the urine.
This dysfunction causes the formation of urate stones that block the dogs urinary system causing extreme pain, suffering and ultimately death.
The gene that causes HUU has been identified in the Black Russian Terrier and the disease is passed from parents to puppies as a simple recessive hereditary disorder.
As such any given Black Russian terrier can carry 2 copies of the faulty gene (affected), one copy (not being affected but carrying the disorder) or clear (having none of the faulty genes).
Thankfully DNA tests are available so we can identify if any dog is affected, carrier or clear.
With these tests being available there is no reason to ever produce a Black Russian Terrier puppy that is affected.
To do so a responsible breeder will never breed an affected dog to an affected dog or a carrier, or a carrier to carrier as all these combinations can result in HUU affected offspring.
Juvenile Laryngeal Paralysis & Polyneuropathy (JLPP)
Juvenile laryngeal paralysis & polyneuropathy (JLPP) is an autosomal recessive hereditary disease that presents in genetically Affected BRT puppies.
Thankfully a DNA test is available and allows breeders to eliminate the possibility of producing JLPP-affected puppies.
The mortality rate in affected puppies (i.e. carrying 2 copies of the gene) is 100 percent. As puppies do not survive long enough to reach breeding age there are no affected adults in the gene pool, HOWEVER mating two carriers can produce affected offspring.
As long as both parents in a breeding program are tested and one parent is clear of the mutation, no affected pups will be born.
JLPP usually presents itself shortly after weaning. JLPP-affected puppies have difficulty breathing as they lose the ability to control the larynx properly and causes them to aspirate food.
If the puppy lives long enough, the neuropathy will progress to the rear legs, puppies will show weakness in the rear end and may stumble and appear uncoordinated.
Front legs eventually become affected and the disease ultimately leads to complete paralysis.
The puppy will contract aspiration pneumonia and die.
As JLPP is passed on from the parents to the puppies as an autosomal recessive trait, the parent dogs of a JLPP-affected puppy are both carriers of the disease (similar to carriers of HU).
ETHICAL breeders test breeding dogs and avoid breeding carriers to carriers to ensure that no JLPP-affected puppies are born.
Breeding a JLPP carrier to a JLPP Clear dog will not produce a JLPP-affected puppy.