Portuguese Water Dogs are cute, but they often suffer from serious health problems. To avoid taking home a puppy that is going to develop serious health issues in later life, you should first carry out a few basic health checks. These involve examining the dog, as well as checking its health records and finding out as much as you can about the dog's parents.
Physical Signs of Health in Portuguese Water Dog Puppies
Look for the following signs of good health in your new puppy:
- Eyes are clear and bright, with no discharge
- Nose is cold and wet, with no discharge
- Coat is healthy, with no bald spots
- Ears are clean and don't smell bad
Genetic Diseases in Portuguese Water Dog Puppies
Where possible, buy your puppy from a breeder who is a member of the Australian Association of Pet Dog Breeders. Members of this association test their puppies for the following genetic diseases, which are all common in the Portuguese Water Dog breed.
- Hip and Elbow Dysplasia. This condition affects the development of certain joints, most often the hips and elbows, and can cause lameness in Portuguese Water Dogs.
- Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). This condition gradually attacks the sight of dogs, leading eventually to blindness.
- Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy (JDCM). This genetic condition causes sudden death in Portugese Water Dog puppies aged between five and seven months. If the parents each carry one gene for this condition, they won't show symptoms, but there could be lethal consequences for a puppy that inherits both genes. Ask to see the parents' genetic test results before buying a puppy from a breeder.
- GM1 Storage Disease. Dogs with this condition don't produce an essential enzyme, which leads to toxic waste building up in their nerve cells. GM1 is fatal, so it's essential to see genetic test results before you select your puppy.
More Questions to Ask Your Breeder
Portuguese Water Dog puppies must receive all the standard vaccinations to protect them from common canine diseases. Ask your breeder to provide vaccination records showing which shots a puppy has already had.
Have a Check Up
After you bring your puppy home from the breeder, take him or her to a vet for a check up. This is a chance for the vet to identify any health problems that your puppy may face and give any vaccinations that the puppy hasn't had yet. It's also an opportunity for you to ask the vet for advice about caring for your new pet.