Yorkie Poo Health Problems

Yorkies have longevity on their sides -- a great trait to pass down.

Yorkies have longevity on their sides — a great trait to pass down.

The Yorkie Poo is not a breed of dog, but rather a hybrid of two well-known breeds, the Yorkshire terrier and the poodle. If you’re considering bringing one of these furry cuties into your life, some knowledge of health ailments that are common in them can go a long way.

Mixed Breed Dogs

Some people might erroneously believe that mixed breed dogs, due to “hybrid vigor,” are somehow exempt from illness and health problems, although that couldn’t be further from the truth. All dogs, purebred and otherwise, can experience medical issues. Just as a Yorkshire terrier can inherit a genetic condition from one of his parents, so can a Yorkie poo. Yorkie poos are often prone to the medical ailments that are prevalent in both breeds of their background. If something is common in miniature or toy poodles, then it could easily affect a Yorkie poo as well.

Although Yorkie poos and other mixed canines aren’t free from the possibilities of inherited medical conditions, they might have a little more protection against them. When you blend two distinct groups of genes, it often reduces the influence of the recessive genes that are responsible for certain medical woes.

Yorkshire Terrier

Keep your eyes open for signs of the various health ailments that are prevalent in Yorkies. Some big issues for Yorkies are the breathing condition collapsed trachea, the hip joint ailment Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, the hormonal disorder Cushing’s disease, the dislocation of the kneecaps, the inflammatory condition pancreatitis, bladder stones, low blood sugar and hypothyroidism. Yorkshire terriers are also especially vulnerable to problems with their teeth. As far as tracheal collapse goes, it’s more common in Yorkies than in any other dog breed, and by a significant margin. Older Yorkshire terriers who are at least 7 years in age also often have progressive retinal atrophy, the genetic eye ailment.

Miniature and Toy Poodles

Yorkie poos are a combination of Yorkshire terriers and miniature or toy poodles. Although toy poodles are a little smaller than their miniature counterparts, they are vulnerable to a lot of the same health ailments. These include progressive retinal atrophy, tracheal collapse, Legg-Calve-Perthes Disease, the brain disorder epilepsy, kneecap dislocation and the eyelid irregularity entropion. Toy and miniature poodles are susceptible to a handful of “tiny dog” medical problems that aren’t as common in their bigger lookalike pals, standard poodles.


Some knowledge of the average life expectancies of Yorkshire terriers, miniature poodles and toy poodles also might be helpful in predicting how long a precious Yorkie poo might live. Yorkshire terriers are often fortunate enough to live for roughly 15 years. The average miniature poodle life expectancy is anywhere between 10 and 13 years. For toy poodles, that range is 12 to 14 years. Note, however, that all of this depends on the level of loving care and attention you provide your dog. If you make sure that your Yorkie poo gets sufficient exercise, eats a complete diet and visits the veterinarian frequently, you’re on the right track for his longevity.

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The Not Small At All Yorkshire Terrier Breed FAQ Guide

  • Category: Toy (Terrier)
  • Indoor dog
  • Coat: silky, glossy, long and fine; no undercoat 
  • Colors: black when young but they attain the colors tan and blue as they mature
  • Height: between 8 and 9 inches 
  • Weight: between 3 and 7 pounds

Yorkshire Terrier: dog’s ancestry 

Scottish weavers came to England with little terriers bred to hunt rats in the 19th century. These dogs were crossed and created “broken haired” terriers. In 1870, a “broken-haired Scotch terrier” was named a Yorkshire terrier by a reporter for its namesake town. Yorkies as they are known were originally working dogs. In the latter part of the Victorian era, they became very popular lap dogs. Once they made their way over to the U.S.A. in the 1970s, they became one of the country’s most beloved little furry companions. Yorkshire terriers are playful and bright, two big personality traits that make them a beloved dog breed world-wide. 

Why are Yorkies such a Small Breed?

Why are Yorkies such a Small Breed?

Scottish laborers were not allowed to hunt. An old law dating back to the 11th century forbade laborers from owning a dog big enough to hunt. Dogs had to pass through small 7 inch hoops to be approved. Yorkshire terriers were originally bred to be a hunting dog that was small enough to bypass the 7 inch rule.

What Kind of Dog Mix Resulted in the Yorkshire Terrier?

During the Industrial Revolution, the Paisley Terrier, or Clydesdale Terrier was crossed with other types of Terriers. English black terriers, tan toy terriers and Skye terriers were brought to the mix. The Maltese breed was also crossed with these dog breeds to create smaller dog breeds with long coats. You can still see the similarity in shape between the Maltese and today’s Yorkies. However, there aren’t any records about the early pedigree to confirm these crosses.

Meet “Ben” Huddersfield: Grandad of the Yorkies

The father of the modern Yorkie is said to be a dog called Huddersfield “Ben”. Bred by Mr. Eastwood and owned by Mr. Foster; this was a very popular stud dog who had a great influence in the modern breed. He won many competitions and is believed to have set many of the standards for his breed type.

An Official Dog Breed Except for Teacup Yorkies

The British Kennel Club registered the first Yorkies in the British Kennel Club Stud Book in 1874. The American Kennel Club started recognizing Yorkshire Terriers as a breed in 1885. The breed standards for the Yorkshire Terrier have hardly changed. Some of the cross breeding which results in tiny “teacup” varieties can cause health problems for today’s Yorkshire terriers. Often their skulls are too small and this results in a range of respiratory problems. Dot buy teacup yorkies, the breeding practices to get these dogs cause a lot of health and behavioral problems.

Buying a Yorkshire Terrier Puppy

Buying a Yorkshire Terrier Puppy

Make sure you have a clear idea of exactly what you want before you start looking for a breeder. Male or female? Dominant or quiet and shy? What does your lifestyle look like? nant or quiet puppy? Your lifestyle and resources will play a large role in your choices.

Please steer clear of pet store puppies: dogs sold in pet stores are often breed in poor conditions and are not socialized well. Choosing a reputable breeder is important to avoid puppy mills. A health guarantee is needed to help prevent issues.

Common Yorkshire Terrier Health Issues

Yorkshire Terrier most commun health issues

  • Alopecia: hair loss 
  • Cataract: loss of vision 
  • Cryptorchidism: a testicular disorder
  • Dwarfism 
  • Entropion: eyelid disorder
  • Glaucoma: increase pressure within the eye
  • Hydrocephalus 
  • Keratoconjunctivitis sicca: a reduction of tear production 
  • Low blood sugar 
  • Patellar luxation a kneecap issue
  • Portosystemic shunt: accumulation of blood toxins in the liver
  • Urolithiasis: urinary tract infection causing bladder stones 

How to Care for Your Yorkshire Terrier 

  • Ears and eyes must be cleaned and checked regularly. 
  • Dental hygiene is a priority
  • They should have a regular play time
  • They would really need your attention and companionship

Temperament and Common Questions

Content to be stroked and petted, your Yorkshire Terrier will gladly take up residence on your lap. Yorkies have a keen sense of adventure. They are brave and loyal and seem to be oblivious to their diminutive size. They are great apartment dogs.  

Why Are Yorkshire Terriers So Aggressive?

These little dogs are territorial, assertive, independant and really value their privacy. These traits, coupled with their fearless nature can lead to aggressive behaviors. When properly trained, these dogs can be very affectionate and tolerant of other pets in the home. 

Why Does My Yorkshire Terrier Smell?

Why Does My Yorkshire Terrier Smell?

Your Yorkie requires daily grooming otherwise their fur will start to smell bad. Make sure you bathe your yorkie regularly to keep them from being stinky!

Why Does My Yorkshire Terrier Shake?

Yorkies are also prone to a medical condition that can cause them to shake: hypoglycemia. Hypoglycemia can be caused by stress, lack of nutrients and being the runt of the litter.

Why Do Yorkshire Terriers Bark So Much?

Yorkshire terriers have a natural tendency to bark due to their nature. They are terriers and hunters. They bark to show excitement, to communicate or when they get agitated.

Why does my Yorkie Sleep So Much?

Adult Yorkies are very active little dogs. However, just like all dogs, they require more sleep than us humans. On average, a Yorkie will sleep on average 13 to 18 hours a day. A lot of Yorkshire Terriers will snooze when their owners sleep as well so you shouldn’t miss out on your puppy playtime too much!

Why Does my Yorkie Snort?

Yorkies sometimes snort. It’s a bit weird but it’s called reverse sneezing. This is a fairly common respiratory occurrence with dogs. It is often caused by irritation or inflammation of the nasal, pharyngeal, or sinus passages. If your dog reverse sneezes when running around or being excited, please, call your vet and have them checked out. It could be something benign, an allergy or something that requires a medical intervention. You never know so please call your vet before panicking or ignoring this snorting.


10 Most Common Health Problems In Large Breed Dogs

While no breed is immune to health problems, some have more than others and, most importantly, they have different kinds. The major health problems commonly found in large breed dogs are different than those found in small breeds, so it’s important to know what you’re up against should you decide to go with with a large breed. Here we’ll discuss some of the most common problems large breeds are susceptible to.

#1 – Hip Dysplasia

shutterstock_41147368shutterstock_41147368Hip dysplasia seen in X-ray of a 14 month old Hovawart.

Hip dysplasia is an orthopedic condition in which the hip joints don’t fit correctly into or are located outside of the hip joint, depending on the severity of the condition. Although it’s unknown what exactly causes hip dysplasia, large breed dogs are at a higher risk for the disorder. While some dogs live normal, healthy lives with bad hips, others need surgery to even allow them to walk around. Fortunately, there is testing for canine hip dysplasia and breeders are working hard to eliminate the disease.

#2 – Elbow Dysplasia

shutterstock_171729416shutterstock_171729416Severe canine elbow dysplasia seen in X-ray.

Just like hip dysplasia, elbow dysplasia happens more often in large breed dogs than it does in smaller ones. Dogs can live normal lives with elbow dysplasia, or may need surgery to allow them to live without pain. Although elbow dysplasia is the result of various abnormalities in the development in the elbow joint, it’s still unknown what exactly causes the disorder. There are tests to rule out unhealthy breeding stock, however, and breeders are consciously working towards eliminating the disease. 

#3 – Panosteitis

8092361274_acda12d5b9_z8092361274_acda12d5b9_zPhoto by Jinx McCombs via Flickr.

Panosteitis, or Pano, is a type of bone inflammation often found in growing dogs in large breeds. It typically happens before the puppy is 1 year of age and appears as sudden pain and lameness in one or more legs. Interestingly, Pano can jump from leg to leg with one getting better while another gets worse. It’s unknown what causes Pano, but speculation leaves professionals to believe that it has to do with rapid growth and high-protein foods often fed to large breed puppies. 


#4 – Bloat & Torsion



Bloat happens when the stomach fills with air, while torsion is when the stomach actually flips over on itself. This condition, known as Gastic Dilatation-Volvolvus, is an emergency situation as it is very shortly life-threatening. While the causes of GDV are still unknown, the condition does arise in large, deep-chested breeds far more than smaller dogs. If you own a large breed, it is very important to recognize the signs of GDV so you can get you dog to the veterinarian as soon as possible. 

#5 – Dilated Cardiomyopathy



Dilated Cardiomyopathy is a very serious heart condition in which the heart becomes inflamed and doesn’t function properly. This diseases causes the chambers of the heart to increase in size while the walls of the heart are stretched too thin. There is no cure for Dilated Cardiomyopathy and affected dogs will need careful attention and medication their entire lives. However, there are special tests available for breeders to rule out breeding dogs with this disease so they can eliminate it in future generations of their large breed dogs. 


#6 – Aortic Stenosis

5830118982_94997b6000_z5830118982_94997b6000_zPhoto by El Coleccionista de Instant via Flickr.

Aortic Stenosis is a serious heart disease in which the area just above the aortic valve becomes narrow, obstructing blood flow. While dogs with mild Aortic Stenosis may live normal lives, dogs with severe cases are at a high risk of sudden collapse and death. The disease is hereditary, particularly in large breed dogs, and can be seen on cardiac evaluations by veterinarians, so breeders can eliminate these dogs from their breeding programs and ensure healthy animals in the future. 


#7 – Spondylolitheses



Spondylolitheses, also known as Wobblers, is a malformation of cervical vertebrae that cause weakness and unsteady gait in dogs. There are a number of different ways Wobblers can develop, but the disease is hereditary and found very often in some large breed dogs. Unfortunately, the disease is progressively and the dogs will soon lose the ability to move around normally. Treatment can be either medication to control progression or surgery to correct the spinal malformation, but in either case the prognosis is guarded. 


#8 – Cruciate Ligament Tears



Cruciate ligament tears are typically the result of trauma due to excessive activity or sudden movements. Large breed dogs are more susceptible to the injury. They have heavier bodies and sharp turns or poor lands from jumping can cause a twisting of the legs and tear the ligaments. It’s important to exercise your dogs carefully. Make sure they’re in good shape before training or competing in any dog sports. An overweight dog is more likely to be injured than one at a healthy weight. 

#9 – Cherry Eye



Cherry Eye is a condition most often found in Mastiffs, but it does occur in other large breed dogs too. It’s a condition in which the third eyelid protrudes from the eye. It forms a mass that becomes increasingly more irritated and inflamed. If left untreated, the condition can become painful and infected, causing a variety of other eye conditions. Luckily, if caught early enough, Cherry Eye can be treated without surgery.


#10 – Arthritis



While all dogs can and do develop arthritis as they age, certain diseases and injuries can increase the chances. Large breed dogs are more susceptible to hip and elbow dysplasia and cruciate ligament tears. This makes them more likely to develop painful arthritis at a younger age. Larger dogs also age faster, causing arthritis to come on sooner. 

The major health problems commonly found in large breed dogs are different than those found in small breeds. See this article on the 10 Most Common Health Concerns For Small Breed Dogs.


7 Reasons Why Dog Obesity is Dangerous

Dr. Phil Zeltzman is a traveling, board-certified surgeon in Allentown, PA. His website is www.DrPhilZeltzman.com. He is the co-author of “Walk a Hound, Lose a Pound” (www.WalkaHound.com).

Kelly Serfas, a Certified Veterinary Technician in Bethlehem, PA, contributed to this article.

Dog being weighted at the vetPet lovers often take overweight or obese dogs casually. Yet these dogs are at a greater risk for a number of serious consequences. Here are 7 examples of such consequences.

1. Arthritis
Extra weight puts extra pressure on a dog’s joints. The cartilage in the joint deteriorates, which leads to arthritis. Sure, we can give pain medications, but weight loss helps significantly.

2. ACL
Too much weight is a well-known risk factor for tearing the ACL (anterior cruciate ligament), an important ligament in the knee. A torn ACL must be repaired with surgery.

3. Heart and breathing conditions
Weight gain can cause heart disease and high blood pressure. It’s also linked to breathing problems. Overweight dogs are more prone to a collapsing trachea and laryngeal paralysis.  Untreated, these airway conditions could lead to a respiratory crisis which could be fatal if not treated.

4. Anesthesia risk
The heart and lungs of overweight and obese dogs have to work harder during anesthesia. The dog struggles to breathe because he has difficulty expanding his chest. Dogs often sleep too deeply or not deeply enough. In addition, overweight dogs may take a long time to wake up after anesthesia.

5. Tumors
Obesity may increase the risk of certain tumors such as benign fatty tumors (lipomas), as well as breast and bladder cancer (transitional cell carcinoma).

6. Skin diseases
Overweight dogs have extra skin folds, which can cause irritation and infection by bacteria. This can lead to scratching, body odor and skin redness. Overweight dogs often have an unhealthy looking coat because it’s harder, if not impossible, for them to groom effectively.

7. Quantity and quality of life
Obesity can take up to 2 years off the life of your dog! Quality of life is also lower. Carrying extra pounds around takes a toll; overweight dogs are slow to get down and up, they get winded or tired quickly and are less likely to play.

How can I keep my dog trim and healthy?
Schedule an appointment with your family vet so you can tailor a weight-loss program to your dog’s needs. There are no miracles to losing weight: eat less and exercise more. Eating less will involve sticking to a balanced weight-loss food. It’s also reasonable to cut down on treats and “people food.” However, it’s not considered ideal to cut down on the amount of food unless your veterinarian suggests it. Starving a pet is just as bad as overfeeding.

The other requirement for losing weight is more exercise. Fortunately, this is the good part! It involves more time having fun with your dog.

Overweight or obese dogs aren’t beyond saving. The situation can be corrected. Your family vet can provide you with the tools and the knowledge to help your dog live a long and happy life. You simply need to have the awareness and the motivation to act. Hopefully, having a happy and healthy dog is enough motivation.

If you have any questions or concerns, you should always visit or call your veterinarian — they are your best resource to ensure the health and well-being of your pets.


Common Health Problems in Rhodesian Ridgeback Dogs

The Rhodesian Ridgeback is a tough and loyal breed of dog that was originally developed to hunt lions. But even with this rough exterior and mighty history, this breed does have some drawbacks including disorders and diseases that may come into play during ownership. All breeds of dogs are susceptible to illness and the Rhodesian Ridgeback is no exception. If you are considering on acquiring one of these exceptional dogs, you should know about certain health conditions that this breed is prone to genetically.


Cataracts are found in the eyes. It will appear as an opaque spot on the lens and those that are quite apparent will be seen as a cloudy gray film just behind the pupil. There are many dog breeds more susceptible to acquiring cataracts including the Rhodesian Ridgeback, Cocker Spaniel, and the Boston Terrier, among others. However, cataracts can occur with any dog regardless of breed and generally appears as the dog ages.

Treatment for cataracts is usually decided on a case by case basis which can depend on the dog’s age and/or the severity of the blindness. The cataracts can be treated with surgery by removing the affected lens. When the lens is removed, vision can be blurred but objects in the dog’s environment can be seen thus allowing the dog to move about more freely.

Dermoid Sinus

Dermoid sinus is the most common genetic disorder inherited by the Rhodesian Ridgeback. These formations begin while the puppy is in the womb. Dermoid sinus is a mass-type formation that is located just below the skin along the back and can sometimes be connected to the spine. As the puppy is developing in the womb, the tube that creates the spine does not separate correctly from the skin thus leading to this disorder. This disorder can be corrected with surgery but can typically just be observed if the dog is asymptomatic (having no signs/symptoms).

Hip and Elbow Dysplasia

Rhodesian Ridgebacks can suffer from both hip and elbow dysplasia. Hip dysplasia occurs in the rear leg joints while elbow dysplasia will affect the front legs. Both disorders can be inherited but can also occur from injury and both can lead to lameness. The joints are closely made just like with humans – ball and socket. When these do not align correctly, it can cause the bone to deteriorate.

Treatment will depend upon several factors including the severity and the dog’s age. Medications can be prescribed to reduce inflammation and pain and in severe cases, surgery may be needed to correct the disorder. Breeders highly advise against breeding dogs with a history of dysplasia.


Hypothyroidism is a disease of the thyroid gland. This gland produces hormones which control the metabolism rate. Dogs with this disorder have low metabolic rates and it is one of the most common endocrine skin diseases in dogs. A common sign of hypothyroidism is inadequate hair re-growth. There are no cures for this disease but it can be treated with hormone therapy drugs.

Compared to some other breeds, the Rhodesian Ridgeback is considered a healthy breed of dog. To help prevent these problems, individuals should only purchase from a reputable breeder and preferably one that has the parents on site. At the first signs of these disorders in your dog, seek veterinary care to discuss the treatment options that are best for you and your pet.


DOG OWNER’S HOM VETERINARY HANDBOOK, Fourth Edition, copyright 2007.


The Truth About Teacup Dogs

By Helen Anne Travis

After Paris Hilton introduced the world to Tinkerbell the Chihuahua on the TV show “The Simple Life,” veterinarians say there’s been an increased interest in “teacup” dogs—animals bred to be so small they could fit in a designer purse.

But the practices used to breed these tiny dogs could lead to a host of medical problems, and owners should know what they’re getting into before plunking down big bucks for a small dog.

What Is a Teacup Dog?

Teacup dogs are animals that have been bred to be as small as humanly—or shall we say caninely—possible. Most dogs considered to be teacups weigh 5 pounds or less, says Los Angeles-based veterinarian Dr. Patrick Mahaney.

You’ll find teacup versions of many already-small dog breeds, including teacup Poodles, teacup Pugs, and teacup Yorkies. Other popular teacup breeds include Maltese, Pomeranians, and Shih Tzus.

To create teacup dogs, breeders pair the so-called “runts” of the litters to make the smallest animal possible, says Dr. Cathy Meeks, a board-certified internal medicine specialist and a group medical director at BluePearl Veterinary Partners in Tampa, Florida. But sometimes the dogs selected for breeding are small because of a birth defect or other medical condition.

“Health risks for these tiny dogs are significant,” says Dr. Judy Morgan, a holistic veterinarian and author of several books. “This is not a natural breeding situation. It is an unnatural practice by breeders looking for a marketing edge.”

The edge comes with a price. Teacup dogs can cost thousands of dollars.

Perceived Advantages of Owning a Teacup Dog

Having a dog that fits in a pocket has potential advantages. You can take them anywhere, they get lots of attention from friends and family and—when they’re healthy—their small statures mean they don’t need large quantities of food and/or preventative medications. This can keep yearly costs low.

Small dogs are also appealing to pet owners who live in facilities with pet size restrictions or can only provide short walks or other forms of exercise.

But doctors say the breeding history of teacup dogs can make these tiny canines more predisposed to certain health issues.

Health Risks for Teacup Dogs

Doctors say common health issues for teacup dogs include hypoglycemia, heart defects, collapsing trachea, seizures, respiratory problems, digestive problems, and blindness.

The breeding practices can also lead to an increased risk for liver shunts, says Meeks. Liver shunts are often congenital birth defects in dogs that affect the liver’s ability to flush out toxins. Treatment for liver shunts can cost up to $6,000, and some types of shunts don’t respond well to therapy regardless of the cost.

Many small dogs are also predisposed to developing dental and gum issues, says Mahaney. Their baby teeth don’t always fall out on their own, and it’s not uncommon for doctors to remove all the baby teeth when the animal is spayed or neutered.

Another size-related health problem is patella luxation, or sliding kneecap, which can affect a teacup dog’s ability to walk. The condition also often makes the animal more prone to arthritis.

In addition, teacup dogs may also be predisposed to developing hydrocephalus, also known as “water on the brain,” says Mahaney.

“When you breed for the way the dog looks instead of for the healthiest genetic stock, health problems emerge,” he adds.

More Potential Dangers for Tiny Teacup Dogs

Owners of these pint-sized pups have to stay vigilant.

If the dogs miss even one meal, their blood sugar levels could drop dangerously low and cause seizures and even death, says Meeks. They also have trouble keeping their bodies warm in cooler weather, which is why you see so many teacup dogs in sweaters.

The dogs’ small bones can break easily, which means owners have to be on alert not to step on them or allow them to jump from too-high surfaces.

“Traumatic events can be life-ending for these dogs,” says Morgan. “Surviving a traffic accident, a fall from the furniture or the owner’s arms, or an attack from a larger dog is less likely.”

Teacup dogs’ low blood sugar and body temperature can also lead to problems in the operating room. Doctors have to make sure the operation doesn’t outlast the animal’s blood sugar reserves or provide them with the necessary supplements. They also have to work hard to keep the animal warm as body temperature drops under anesthesia.

“They’re harder to treat,” says Meeks. “Can you imagine putting an IV in a 3 pound dog?”

Meeks says she would prefer if breeders stopped trying to create the miniature pups because of their potential health problems. But if pet owners absolutely have to have one, they need to make sure they’re working with a reputable breeder or rescue group.

You have to do your homework to find the healthiest animal possible, says Mahaney.

“Nobody likes to see a pet suffer and no one likes to see an owner struggle under the cost of medical care,” he says. “I think there are healthier options out there.”

See Also:


Dog Coat Colour Genetics

Unlike in many species, there are very few colour-associated health problems in dogs, and most are avoidable through careful breeding.

Double Merles and High Whites

A homozygous (or “double”) merle is one with two copies of the merle gene, and if the merle is a longer length (see Advanced Merle page), then this severely impairs the dog’s ability to make pigment, leaving large areas of the dog pigmentless (white). Pigment is actually necessary for certain parts of the body to function correctly, so lack of pigment can cause issues.
Dogs with large amounts of white caused by the homozygous piebald allele (sp), such as Bull Terriers, Boxers and Dalmatians, can also have some of the same health problems as double merles, particularly deafness (which is a big problem in Dalmatians).

Deafness is caused by lack of pigment in particular parts of the inner ear, and can be unilateral (just one ear) or bilateral (both ears). It is commonly claimed that dogs with white ears are always deaf, but in fact it’s been shown that whether or not pigment is visible on the outer ear does not affect whether or not the dog can hear. In other words, a dog may have coloured ears but still be deaf, and a dog with white ears will not necessarily have any problems, because the part of the ear that is affected by the lack of pigment is not externally visible. However, Dalmatians with ear or head patches do appear to have a lower rate of deafness than those with no patches at all.

The merle gene can also cause eye deformities when homozygous. This is because the location of the eye cells in an embryo happens to be the same place that pigment starts to appear. If there is a problem with the pigment, this can therefore affect the development of the eyes. Problems include irregularly-shaped pupils, subluxated pupils (not positioned in the right place), microphthalmia (abnormally small eyes, usually with impaired vision), and other, less visible abnormalities causing blindness and bad vision.

Lack of pigment anywhere on the dog can make the skin much more sensitive to the sun. This is a particular problem on the nose, as it is so exposed, but any area of pink skin is susceptible to sunburn and skin cancer. The same problem occurs with any animal that has little or no pigment. White cats are probably the most well-known example. Skin cancer rates in white cats are extremely high and a surprising proportion of cats with white ears end up having their eartips amputated to stop the spread of cancer. The main way to prevent sunburn in animals is the same as with humans – apply suncream!


There is a common misconception that dilutes are in some way naturally sickly – this is not in fact the case. As with most recessives, the dilute allele is in some way “faulty”, but it is only faulty in its ability to distribute melanin evenly along the hair shaft (the uneven distribution causes the paler appearance).
This does not affect the health of the dog at all, simply its colour.

That said, the idea of dilutes as unhealthy most likely has its foundations in Colour Dilution Alopecia. This is an apparently genetic disease causing hair loss and skin problems. A dog with this disorder will typically appear “mangy” and have partial hair loss. It is usually reported from blue dogs, particularly Dobermanns, but presumably it affects isabella dogs too (diluted livers). Any colour can carry CDA but only blues and isabellas will have symptoms.

CDA does not occur on all dilutes and its frequency varies between breeds. It is particularly common in Dobermanns, occuring in up to 80% of dilute dogs. Dilutes in other species such as mice are caused by the same gene, and yet CDA is not known in these, implying it is not an unavoidable consequence of dilution.
CDA can theoretically be bred out of most lines by careful breeding of only blues with healthy coats. Breeding blue x blue is one way to ensure CDA is eliminated.

This blue German Pinscher appears to have mild alopecia. Its coat is dull rather than having a healthy shine, and it seems thin and patchy.

The same problem can also occur (albeit more rarely) on black or liver dogs, and is known as Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia. It affects black/liver hairs only, leaving all other hairs as normal. Because this condition is so rare, it often goes undiagnosed. I used to know a Jack Russell Terrier mix who was white except for a black patch on his back, which was hairless. His condition puzzled a whole string of vets and skin specialists, who suggested various types of mange and allergies, and he was never properly diagnosed as having Black Hair Follicular Dysplasia. Unfortunately for dogs with genetic hair loss conditions, there is no cure, although these conditions do not generally cause the dog to be itchy or uncomfortable and so are mostly harmless.

Dalmatian Kidney Issues

The modifier that causes ticking to become Dalmatian spots is thought to also be responsible for the kidney issues that affect a large proportion of Dalmatians. This gene (SLC2A9) causes an abnormality in the urinary system, where affected dogs excrete uric acid instead of the substance most mammals excrete – allantoin. The high concentration of uric acid leads to the formation of kidney stones, and it is estimated that up to a third of Dalmatians die from kidney failure or infections. Interestingly, humans are one of the only other examples of mammals that excrete uric acid, and this is also the cause of many of our own kidney stones and infections.

Grey Collie Syndrome

Grey Collie Syndrome, also known as Cyclic Neutropenia, is an autoimmune disease causing an extreme drop in white blood cell levels, leading to an increased risk of infection. Affected dogs are a pale grey colour, but are not genetically dilutes. These dogs are generally smaller and weaker than littermates, and rarely live long. Cyclic Neutropenia is a recessive gene and carriers (one copy of the allele) are not affected. Only Collies are known to carry the allele, and it is most common in Rough and Smooth Collies, appearing only rarely in the other Collie breeds. Thankfully, genetic testing is available for the Cyclic Neutropenia allele.

Note that there can sometimes be confusion between Grey Collie Syndrome and atypical merles, which can also be an unusual greyish colour. Atypical merles are not associated with any health problems and have normal development, so the difference should be clear even in very young puppies.

** Please note that I am not a research scientist, and the information on this page comes from my own knowledge and observation of dogs, observational and testing data provided via e-mail by site visitors, any research papers linked on the page, and the information provided by Dr Sheila M. Schmutz on her excellent website http://homepage.usask.ca/~schmutz/dogcolors.html

For further genetics resources, see the Links page


All About Dog Poop

As a dog owner you can sometimes find yourself obsessing over dog poop. From the colour of it, to the shape and consistency, you may be wondering what’s normal. Our guide to dog poop aims to answer all of your questions and more.

dog on a walk with owner

Every dog poops, this is true. Poop can seem like an unremarkable thing; but did you know that your dog’s poop can be a great indicator of your dog’s overall health and even prevent some health issues down the road if you know what to look for? That’s why over at Purina (and at your vet’s office!) we like to get personal about the poop-scooping experience. The next time you’re out on a walk with your dog, take a good look at your dog’s poop – this way you’ll be able to get a good whiff of the important information that your dog is trying to tell you.

perfect dog poop guide

What ‘should’ dog poop look like?

 Every dog is unique, so your dog’s standard of normal, healthy poop may differ somewhat to that of another dog. Keep tabs on your dog’s usual routine and poop habits so that if something changes, you know what to tell your vet. Remember: if you discover any changes in your pup’s normal routine, talk to a veterinarian.

  • Dog poop colour

Dog poop should be chocolate brown. If your pup is eating food with added colours in it, some of these may also come through in your dog’s poop.

  • Dog poop shape

Hey, there’s a reason that turds are sometimes known as logs! Dog stools should be log-shaped and maintain their form. If droppings are round, it’s possible that your pup might be dehydrated.

  • Dog poop size

Poop size is related to the amount of fibre in your dog’s diet. Poop size increases as the fibre content in your pup’s dog food does. As a general rule, the volume of your dog’s waste should be proportionate to the amount of food that they are eating. If this doesn’t seem to be the case, consider flagging this with your dog’s vet.

What’s in my dog’s poop?

When you go to pick up your dog’s poop, eyeball what seems to be going on in there. Mucus in dog poop could indicate an inflamed colon, whereas a lot of grass could mean that they’ve been grazing on too much grass or have a gallbladder issue.

Dog poop consistency

When you bend down to scoop your dog’s poop, and feel its consistency through the plastic bag, take note! Dog poop should be compact, moist and easy to pick up – feeling a bit like Play Doh when squished. Dog diarrhoea or watery faeces, as an indicator of intestinal upset, can be a sign that something is amiss with your dog’s tummy. And if your dog’s poop is hard or dry, it could be a sign of dog constipation. If you notice that the consistency of your dog’s poop seems ‘off’, make sure to discuss this with your vet.

dog poop appearance guide

Causes of dog constipation

Dog constipation can be caused by several factors:

  • Too much or too little dietary fibre
  • Not enough exercise
  • Blocked or infected anal glands
  • Excessive self-grooming (if there is dog hair in the stools)
  • Not enough grooming (if there is matted hair around your dog’s back end)
  • Objects like gravel, bones, plants or plastic caught in the intestinal tract
  • A side effect of medication
  • Dehydration (a possible symptom of more serious diseases)

Causes of dog diarrhoea

There are also many things that can cause dog diarrhoea:

  • A stressful event like adopting a new dog, the arrival of a new family member, moving home etc
  • Quickly switching to a new dog food
  • Eating food designed for humans
  • New medication
  • Drinking water from a puddle or stagnant pond
  • It could also be an indicator of another disease or infection

If your dog has diarrhoea or constipation for a prolonged period of time, speak to your vet.

Dog poop colour chart

Take a look at our handy dog poop colour colour chart below to find out more about what the colour of your dog’s poop means.

dog poop colour wheel

Chocolate brown dog poop:

This is just the colour that your dog’s poop should be – a healthy chocolate brown. This is a good sign that your dog’s tummy is healthy and doing what it should.

Green dog poop:

Green dog poop can mean that your dog has eaten too much grass or has a gallbladder issue.

Orange or yellow dog poop:

If your dog’s poop is orange or yellow, this can point to a biliary or liver issue, and is definitely something you should raise with your vet.

Red streaks in dog poop:

Red streaks in your dog’s poop can indicate that there is blood present. If you see blood in dog stool, it’s advisable to check your dog’s anus for cuts to investigate where the blood may be coming from.

Black dog poop:

If your pup’s poop is black, this can be a sign of bleeding in the upper GI tract. Talk to your vet as soon as possible.

Greasy and grey dog poop:

Grey, greasy dog poop can indicate a biliary or pancreatic problem.

White spots in dog poop:

If your dog’s poop has white rice-like spots in it, this can point to the presence of worms in dog poop.

There is blood in my dog’s poo, what should I do?

Sometimes blood in your puppy’s poo (showing up as red streaks in dog poop, for instance) can be a sign of a slight tear or trauma around their bottom or in their rectum. This will be just a tiny trace usually. Check your dog’s bottom to see if anything is obvious. Bright red blood in dog poo indicates fresh blood and sometimes this can be due to problems in the bowel. Sometimes, but not always, the poops may be runny too. It’s best to have any blood checked out by your vet. Bring along a sample of the poo if you can.

Why does my dog eat poop?

When dogs eat poop, this is also known as coprophagia. But why do they decide to chow down on their own faeces? Well, to be honest, experts still don’t quite know. Some theorise that your dog eating poop can be a sign that they are trying to get more nutrients out of what they have already eaten, but there are currently no studies to confirm this. Maybe it just smells and tastes good to our dogs – there’s no accounting for canine taste…

How to stop your dog from eating poop? As with many things, you may need to try a little trial and error – but we recommend cleaning up dog poop immediately, teaching your dog the ‘leave it!’ command, and spraying taste deterrents on the poop. Find out more in depth about coprophagia and preventative measures. Of course, it’s always advisable to talk to your vet if you have any questions.

Why is my dog scooting on his bum?

Bum scooting can be normal for dogs, especially if they’re having trouble with loose stools. However, as we’ve said, it’s important to keep a close eye on your dog’s behaviour and their stools. This way, if your dog seems uncomfortable, and bum scooting becomes a routine behaviour beyond the initial bum wiping post-poo, you can flag this to your vet. Your dog scooting their bum can point to their suffering from impacted anal glands.

Why does my dog’s poop change after he starts a new food?

If there comes a time when you have to change your dog’s food, it may affect their poop – at least for a while. Just like we humans experience a period of adjustment when we eat a new cuisine in a foreign country, your dog experiences something similar when you start them on a new food.

To help avoid dietary upset, make a slow, measured change from his old food to his new food over a 7-10 day period.

My dog has had diarrhoea from the day I’ve got them, is this normal?

If you have a new dog, it’s important to remember that moving to a new house is a stressful time not only for us, but for your new pup. Being in a new environment can lead to stress and tummy upsets. Make any diet changes very gradually over a week to 10 days and seek your vet’s advice if things aren’t settling down.

My dog ate something on its walk, should I expect to see loose stools?

Dogs are natural scavengers and often like to explore everything! Sometimes this will mean that they eat something inappropriate out on their walk. Depending on your pup’s particular gut activity, signs might be seen soon after they’ve eaten it. Often this will take the form of runny poos. If this persists, then seek veterinary attention. Make sure there is plenty of fresh, clean water available to help them stay hydrated.

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5 Common Dachshund Health Problems

Dig In Dachshunds

As anyone who owns one knows, Dachshunds are energetic, fun-loving dogs with an independent (and sometimes stubborn) streak. Seeming to possess almost limitless supplies of energy, it can be hard to tell when your dog is feeling a bit off. So that you’ve got a better idea of what to look out for, here are five common Dachshund health problems:

1. Intervertebral Disc Disease

With their long bodies and short legs, Dachshunds are genetically prone to several musculoskeletal conditions. The most serious of these is intervertebral disc disease, which causes the vertebrae to weaken and possibly protrude into the spinal canal. You can help reduce the potential for spinal stress by:

  • Maintaining your dog at a healthy weight with a well-balanced diet;
  • Discouraging your dog from jumping off furniture or regularly travelling up and down flights of stairs; and
  • Supporting your dog when holding them to keep the spine horizontal.

Symptoms may include limping or lameness, a reluctance to play, or yelping when receiving pats. If your Dachshund shows any of these symptoms, consult your vet immediately. Mild cases may be treated with anti-inflammatories, while more severe cases may require surgery.

2. Patella Luxation

Patella Luxation (loose knees) occurs when your dog’s knee cap pops out from its groove. Dachshunds are more likely to develop this condition given their short legs (which changes the angle of their kneecap). Preventative measures to help reduce the likelihood of this disease include:

  • Maintaining your dog at a healthy weight;
  • Exercising your Dachshund regularly; and
  • Boosting your dog’s diet with high quality supplements such as Dig-In Digestive Gravy.

Dogs suffering from this condition may show signs of lameness such as limping, or favouring one leg. In cases of suspected Patella Luxation, your vet will perform a physical examination, and if confirmed, the condition is often treated surgically.

3. Hip Dysplasia

This condition is caused by a deformity of the hip joint, where the thigh bone doesn’t properly fit into the socket, and may lead to rear leg lameness.

You can help reduce the likelihood of hip dysplasia by feeding your dog a nutritious, healthy diet (supplemented with Dig-In Digestive Gravy), and discouraging your dog from jumping up and down, which increases the load on their back legs. Signs your dog may have hip dysplasia include hind leg lameness, difficulty getting up, and walking unsteadily. If your dog displays any of these symptoms, take your pooch to the vet for a thorough assessment.

4. Eye Issues

Dachshunds can suffer from congenital eye problems such as dry eye, Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), and cataracts. The most serious of these eye conditions is PRA – a degenerative eye disease which may result in blindness. There may be few symptoms of this disease, however some dogs may be reluctant to go downstairs or into dark areas, and their eye lens may look cloudy. Unfortunately, there’s no treatment; but with a little extra care, blind dogs can still live a long and happy life.

Preventative measures you can take to help reduce the incidence of a serious eye condition include keeping your dog’s eyes clean, trimming long hair away from their eyes, and treating any eye infections promptly.

5. Obesity

A well-balanced, whole food based diet combined with regular exercise, are the best ways to prevent your dog from gaining too much weight. By keeping your dog fit and healthy, you’ll help ensure that no additional strain is placed on their spine. Be mindful of any unexpected weight gain as this may indicate a more serious health concern such as hypothyroidism. If your dog starts gaining weight, seems lethargic or easily fatigued, consult with your vet as soon as possible to determine the cause.

While it’s likely your Dachshund will be in great condition their whole life, it’s useful to be able to recognise the signs of common diseases, so you can seek treatment straight away and keep your pooch in the best possible health.


Update: Under new legislation that each state government is either enacting or considering, all breeders will be strictly controlled. However, it is best to talk to one of the Dachshund Clubs to find out who are the best breeders.

For more information, the below Australian Breed Standard documents for Dachshunds are provided by the Australian National Kennel Council at and are certainly worth checking in with.


Do not rely on the information on our website as an alternative to medical advice from your veterinary doctor. If you think your pet may be suffering from a medical condition, seek immediate medical attention.



  1. Dachshund Owner Guide. Common Dachshund Health Problems, Symptoms, Preventions and Treatments. 2013. Available from: http://www.dachshund-owner-guide.com/dachshund-health-problems.html. 27 November 2016.
  1. Everything About Dachshunds. Dachshund Health Problems and Precautions. Available from: http://www.everything-about-dachshunds.com/dachshund-health-problems.html. 25 November 2016.
  2. Dachshund Health Issues. Available from: http://petcha.com/pets/dachshund-health-issues/. 25 November 2016.
  3. Your PureBred Puppy. Dachshund Health Problems and Raising a Dachshund Puppy to be Healthy. Available from: http://www.yourpurebredpuppy.com/health/dachshunds.html. 27 November 2016.

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Issues of Puppy Mill Dogs

You’re in a mall and you make the mistake of looking into a pet shop. Looking back is the saddest pair of eyes staring from a glass box that is much too small. If the dog being sold is in less than favorable conditions, more likely than not, this pooch has come from a puppy mill.

Puppy mills are sort of like dog factories, where pups are treated as profit and many never make it out alive. Your heart starts to hurt; you have to save this pathetic beast! But before you let your emotions run away with you, consider some of the common problems that come with dogs from puppy mills.

Not all puppy mill dogs are bought. Some people end up with these abused canines after rescue operations free them from their prisons. No matter how you obtained your badly-bred pooch, you’re likely eager to know about the issues that often accompany these troubled fur-babies.

Below are some of the most common problems that dogs from puppy mills face.

Genetic Issues

The goal of a puppy mill is simple: make money! Because of this, genetic screening almost never happens. This means that dogs with severe hereditary issues are allowed to sire hundreds of puppies. Some of the most common genetic health problems seen in puppy mill mutts include heart and kidney disease, hormonal disorders, blood disorders and joint deformities. While a few of these diseases may be obvious when the dog is young, many won’t show themselves until the pupper has matured.

Acquired Infections

Puppy mills are some of the filthiest places out there. It’s not unusual for dogs to live in small crates full of their own nastiness (we’re talking pee, poo, vomit, you name it). Sick dogs may be allowed to interact with the uninfected. The poor babies that succumb to their diseases may not even be removed from their littermates right away! This means it is possible and even probable that your puppy-mill-pooch could have a viral, fungal or bacterial infection. Some of the most common ones are parvovirus, kennel cough, upper respiratory infections, mange, and intestinal parasites.

Behavioral Problems

It’s no surprise that dogs who have been mistreated all of their lives would not really know how to be pets. Any interaction that they’ve ever had with humans is likely to be negative. Also, it’s pretty common for pups to be separated from their mothers way too early. This means they miss out on those vital weeks where they learn dog language and acceptable behavior from their mom, brothers, and sisters. When you bring one of these tragic canines home, remember everything is going to take time. Puppy mill dogs will probably be wary of any touching or petting. Give them time to come to you. Be ready to begin house training from square one! Puppy pads are really good to have around during this time. If you have other fur-babies, keep in mind an ex-miller will need a lengthened introduction to other dogs, in a protected space if possible.

The Vet is the First Stop

If you rescue or accidentally purchase a puppy mill dog, your first stop should be at the vet’s. Be sure to tell your veterinarian where the dog came from and request a thorough examination. This can help identify any major health problems before you bring your new addition home.

This serves as a protection to your other pets. Some diseases can jump from animal to animal and cause one really giant problem. Bacterial and fungal infections are usually treatable; however, viruses must run their course. Unfortunately, certain viral infections are not curable and may be fatal.

No matter what kind of baggage your new four-legged friend comes with, be sure to make the rest of their life filled with compassion and love. These babies have fractured souls and deserve healing hands. And remember, do your research before buying an animal, because supporting puppy mills will just spread the pain to other pooches!