These health conditions have been identified in the Siberian Husky. Screening tests are available for some conditions listed. It is important to know the status of your dog before breeding a dog or bitch - clinically affected dogs, dogs exhibiting symptoms for any of these conditions should NOT be bred.
The text below is intended as an aid to those seeking Siberian Husky health information and should not be used to form a diagnosis replacing regular veterinary care by one's own Veterinarian.
There are many eye defects, but those of primary concern to the Siberian Husky are hereditary juvenile cataracts, corneal dystrophy, X-linked progressive retinal atrophy and glaucoma.
Cataract: any opacity of the lens and/or its capsule, regardless of size or location within the lens. Cataracts are assumed to be hereditary unless associated with known trauma, ocular inflammation, specific metabolic diseases or nutritional deficiencies. Hereditary juvenile cataracts that affect Siberian Huskies typically occur by two years of age.
Corneal dystrophy: non-inflammatory corneal opacity (white to gray) present in one or more of the corneal layers (epithelium, stroma, endothelium). The term dystrophy implies an inherited condition. It is usually bilateral although not necessarily symmetrical and the onset in one eye may precede the other. In Siberian Huskies the corneal dystrophy, of genetic concern, is the crystalline form and is typically of late onset usually developing at four years of age or older.
X-linked progressive retinal atrophy (X-linked PRA): an umbrella term used to describe a group of inherited dysplastic, dystrophic, or degenerative disease of the retinal visual cells (photoreceptors, retinal pigment epithelium, or both).In Siberian Huskies the gene for this form of PRA is sex-linked, being carried on the X (or “female”) chromosome. The majority of Siberian Huskies affected by this condition are male because of this although female Siberian Huskies can also be affected but at a significantly lower rate. A genetic test for X-linked PRA is available through Optigen.
Glaucoma: is characterized by an elevation of intraocular pressure (IOP) which causes optic nerve and retinal degeneration and results in blindness. In Siberian Huskies glaucoma is usually due to narrow angle glaucoma in which the eye’s drainage channels do not allow the normal outflow of the eye’s fluid causing its buildup and the increased eye pressure. Diagnosis and classification of glaucoma requires tonometry, which measures IOP, and gonioscopy, which uses a special lens to allow examination of the drainage angles. Neither special test is part of a routine eye certification examination but rather must be specially requested.
OFA Eye Certification Registry (CAER) http://www.offa.org
The purpose of the OFA Eye Certification Registry (CAER) is to provide breeders with information regarding canine eye diseases so that they may make informed breeding decisions in an effort to produce healthier dogs. CAER certifications are performed by board certified (ACVO) veterinary ophthalmologists. Regardless of whether owners submit their CAER exam forms to the OFA for “certification,” all CAER exam data is collected for aggregate statistical purposes to provide information on trends in eye disease and breed susceptibility. Clinicians and students of ophthalmology as well as interested breed clubs and individual breeders and owners of specific breeds will find this useful.
Note: For many years the same type of testing and certification was available through the Canine Eye Registry Foundation – CERF. This organization is no longer in service but CERF numbers may still be found on pedigrees and the like.
Siberian Husky Ophthalmic Registry (SHOR) http://www.shca.org/shcahp7.htm
SHOR is a low-cost alternative to CERF for the registration of Siberian Huskies who have been checked clear of inheritable eye disease by an ACVO veterinary ophthalmologist. Upon receipt of a clear ACVO exam report form for a Siberian Husky, the dog will be issued a SHOR number.
Note: CAER and SHOR (as well as previous CERF) numbers may be used in advertising to indicate unaffected eyes. Certification from any of these organizations is valid for one year.
Canine hip dysplasia is a multi-factorial disease with a heritable component. It may vary from slightly poor conformation to malformation of the hip joint allowing complete luxation of the femoral head. Both parents should be certified clear of hip dysplasia.
Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) http://www.offa.org The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) certifies hips, via radiographs, as either free of hip dysplasia using the ratings of excellent, good or fair or as being dysplastic, either mild, moderate or severe. OFA is a non-profit organization that collates and disseminates information concerning orthopedic and genetic disease of animals.
PennHip PennHip is another organization certifying hips. Also using radiographs, PennHip uses a different system that determines a score for hip laxity, called the distraction index (DI). This score is then compared within the breed to help determine breeding recommendations. Increased hip laxity (larger distraction index) is associated with the future development of degenerative joint disease.
Epilepsy simply refers to repeated seizures, an uncontrolled electrical state of the brain. Seizures may occur as a one-time event in an animal from a variety of causes, but only if the seizures repeat again and again over a period of time do we call it epilepsy. A diagnosis of idiopathic (meaning cause unknown) epilepsy – which is considered to be a genetic disease – can only be made after testing rules out other causes. To learn more click here: www.canine-epilepsy.net
Cryptorchidism, or retained testicles, is one of the most common congenital developmental defects in dogs. Either one or both testicles can be retained (undescended). It causes health concerns of reduced fertility, increased risk of testicular malignancies in the retained testicle, and also risk of spermatic cord torsion of the retained testicle (a very painful condition) if it is retained in the abdomen. According to the Siberian Husky Health Foundation’s (SHHF) 2005/2006 health survey, cryptorchidism affects approximately 14% of the males in our breed. While not all cryptorchid males are infertile, affected dogs should NOT be bred.
Hypothyroidism is an endocrine (hormonal) disorder associated with low circulating thyroid hormone levels. The majority of hypothyroidism is caused by auto-immune thyroiditis (ATD), a hereditary disease that causes an immune reaction against the thyroid gland. It is common knowledge that low thyroid levels can cause reproductive failures, poor hair coats, lethargy, and weight gain in dogs. Diagnosis of hypothyroidism requires a full thyroid panel to be done (consisting of checking T4, T3, Free T4, Free T3, cTSH, and TgAA) and not just testing T4 (which can be affected by many non-thyroid illnesses). Michigan State University’s (MSU) Animal Health Diagnostics Lab released a study looking at thyroid disease in the Working Breeds of dogs. The Akita, Boxer, and Siberian Husky were over-represented for this disorder. The Siberian Husky had 13.5% of the blood samples tested positive for ATD which is higher than the all-breed average and the numbers are statistically significant. Based upon the results of this and other studies, a recommendation was made by MSU that all breeding Siberians be tested for thyroid disease. Dogs should be tested every 2 years since a normal test does not mean that hypothyroidism will not develop in the future.
Organizations Working to Identify Health Issues
Siberian Husky Club of America (SHCA) http://www.shca.org The Siberian Husky Club of America, SHCA, monitors the health of the breed via an on-line health survey available on the OFA website. The SHCA also donates money, via its donor advised fund, to canine health research studies and supports the banking of DNA banking, through CHIC, with a DNA banking fund.
Canine Health Information Center (CHIC) http://www.caninehealthinfo.org/
The Canine Health Information Center, also known as CHIC, is a centralized canine health database jointly sponsored by the AKC/Canine Health Foundation (AKC/CHF) and the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). CHIC also provides DNA banking services to facilitate the storage and dissemination of DNA samples for health research.
AKC Canine Health Foundation (CHF) http://www.akcchf.org/
The mission of the American Kennel Club Canine Health Foundation, Inc. (CHF) is to advance the health of all dogs and their owners by funding sound scientific research and supporting the dissemination of health information to prevent, treat, and cure canine disease.
Morris Animal Foundation http://www.morrisanimalfoundation.org/
Morris Animal Foundation is a nonprofit organization that invests in science to advance animal health. The Foundation is a global leader in funding scientific studies for companion animals, horses and wildlife.
The Siberian Husky Health Foundation (SHHF) http://www.siberianhuskyhealthfoundation.com
The mission of the Siberian Husky Health Foundation: To fund genetic and non-genetic research that is critical to the continued health of the Siberian Husky, to provide public education on health issues affecting the breed, and to provide information on any major health problem that is emerging in the breed.
Last update of this page: 04/02/2015.
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