Scottish Deerhound Club of America
Health Problems of Scottish Deerhounds
During the 1990s, the Scottish Deerhound Club of America set about turning these general impressions into hard data. The SDCA's Health & Genetics Committee collected data on health problems in the breed via a Deerhound Health Survey. More than 80 people responded with information on over 450 hounds.
Survey results yielded a database of information that includes sex, dates of birth and death, mature height and weight, cause of death, health problems experienced, and the age of onset for each health problem. In addition, the survey gathered information on adverse experiences with vaccines, vaccine failures, anesthesia-related adverse experiences and anesthetic regimens that worked well, and drug-related adverse experiences.
What the table reveals is that if a Deerhound survives to its fourth birthday, which more than 9 out of 10 do, then it can expect to live on average to be 9 years old if it's male and 9' years old if it's a bitch. More importantly, one in five males and one in three bitches reach their 10th birthday. Incidentally, the longest lifespan reported in the Deerhound Health Survey was just over 14 years for both males and bitches.
Causes of Death for Deerhounds
Causes of Death for Deerhounds
Another way to organize the information is to separate causes of death by the age at which dogs die in order to see which health problems account for the death of young dogs, middle-aged dogs, and old dogs. Doing so yields the following information:
Looking at the information on causes of death from various angles reveals some general points:
The Deerhound Health Survey results tell a lot about the health problems experienced by Scottish Deerhounds and give a good picture of how relatively common or rare certain health problems are in the breed. More importantly for those thinking about choosing a Deerhound to share their lives, the survey gives a good idea about what sorts of health problems to expect. Discussed below are the more common health problems of Scottish Deerhounds. The incidence numbers given are calculated from Deerhound Health Survey data, and may exaggerate the true incidence because of inherent biases in the survey.
Anal Sac Infections (Incidence = 11%)
Anal sac infection is a problem of young hounds, with an average age of onset of just over 2 years old. Males are affected about twice as often as bitches.
Fractures (Broken Bones) and Lameness (Incidence = 11%)
The incidence of running injuries in Deerhounds seems high, but no data exist for other breeds to allow a comparison. Fractures occur mostly in young Deerhounds'the average age is 2 years old'and mostly involve feet, broken toes being the most commonly reported fracture. Considering that Deerhound youngsters become highly active and heavy well before they become agile, and that learning to control four long legs requires numerous spills and tumbles, these findings begin to make a lot of sense.
Bloat (Incidence = 10%)
The cause of bloat is unknown, but some risk factors have been identified. At present, the only actions that can reduce a dog's risk of bloat are to compel the dog to eat slowly (fast eaters are at greater risk) and feed several small meals a day instead of one large one (because eating a large meal increases the risk of bloat). Luckily, many Deerhounds are so-called 'self-feeders,' which means they won't overeat and become obese even if given free access to food. Thus, food can be left down and the dogs allowed to 'graze' at leisure.
Bloat is an important health problem in most large and giant breeds, so Deerhounds aren't alone. In Deerhounds, bloat is a problem of all ages, occurring in dogs as young as 1 year old and as old as 11 years old. 'Bloat is half-again as common in bitches as in males.
Heart Failure and/or Heart Arrhythmia (Cardiomyopathy) (Incidence = 5-8%)
With cardiomyopathy, the heart muscle gradually deteriorates. The underlying cause of the deterioration is unknown. Affected dogs may die suddenly, develop irregular heartbeats called arrhythmias, or go into heart failure. Arrhythmias and heart failure can be treated with medications to relieve some of the symptoms, but there is no cure for the underlying heart disease.
Cardiomyopathy primarily affects male Deerhounds'in fact, it's almost four times as common in males as bitches. Its manifestations (heart failure and arrhythmias) appear in older hounds, with an average age of 6' years old.
Inhalant Allergy (Incidence = 6%)
Inhalant allergy is more common in several other breeds than it is in Deerhounds. In all breeds, including Deerhounds, inhalant allergy begins in young dogs. The average age of onset in Deerhounds is less than one year old, and most affected hounds begin itching before their second birthday. Males are twice as likely as bitches to develop inhalant allergies.
Flea-Bite Allergy (Incidence = 6%)
Flea-bite allergy is common to all breeds, and Deerhounds seem no more or less affected than others. 'As would be expected, it is more of a problem in hounds living in warm, moist climates where fleas are more abundant. Flea-bite allergy begins when dogs are young. The average age of onset in Deerhounds is 3 years old. Males and bitches are equally likely to become allergic to flea bites.
Pyometra (Uterine Infection) (Incidence = 6%)
Pyometra can be prevented by spaying, a surgery in which the uterus is removed. Treatment consists of a course of antibiotics and one of two other options'surgical removal of the infected uterus (for dogs that won't be bred again) or a series of prostaglandin injections (for dogs that might be bred in the future).
Pyometra is a problem in all breeds, and Deerhounds are no more or less prone than others. Pyometra doesn't generally occur on the first few heat cycles; instead, it's more of a problem in middle-aged bitches of all breeds. This is true of Deerhound bitches, where the average age of onset is just over 6 years old.
False Pregnancy (Incidence = 6%)
False pregnancy is a problem of all breeds, and there is no evidence that Deerhound bitches are more or less likely to experience it. Bitches prone to false pregnancy usually experience their first episode during an early estrous cycle. Once a bitch has had a false pregnancy, she's more likely to have another one in subsequent estrous cycles. Because false pregnancy increases a bitch's chance of getting pyometra (uterine infection), affected bitches that won't be bred should be spayed.
Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer) (Incidence = 5%)
Like most cancers, osteosarcoma is a health problem of older dogs. The youngest age at which it has occurred in Deerhounds is 5 years old, and the average age of onset is 8 years old. Females are at greater risk ' osteosarcoma occurs half-again as often in bitches as in male Deerhounds.
Hypothyroidism (Incidence = 4%)
In the Deerhound Health Survey, four times as many males as females were reported as having hypothyroidism. However, these data have to be taken with a grain of salt, because some of the hounds were diagnosed as having hypothyroidism based solely on laboratory tests, even though they had no signs of illness. Such testing has become increasingly common in all breeds, although veterinarians disagree about how to interpret the results. At this time, while it is clear that hypothyroidism (and presumably the thyroid diseases that cause it) occurs in Deerhounds, it's impossible to say if the problem is common or rare.
Food Intolerance (Incidence = 4%)
There are no data to suggest that food intolerance is more or less common in Deerhounds than other breeds. 'Food intolerance usually develops in young dogs. In Deerhounds, the average age at which the problem arises is 2' years old. Males are about 3 times more likely than bitches to develop a food intolerance. Ingredients that specific Deerhounds have been unable to tolerate include corn, soybeans, tomato pummace, oatmeal, wheat, beef, horsemeat, and chicken.
Head or Neck Pain (Incidence = 4%)
In Deerhounds, neck pain episodes resemble those described in Beagles, but whether or not the underlying cause is the same (vasculitis) is unknown. Neck pain can occur in hounds of any age, having been reported in Deerhounds from one to eleven years old. It occurs more than twice as often in males as in bitches.
Adverse Reactions to Drugs
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