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American Molossus Health

There are some health issues that can affect large breeds including the American Molossus, and some are listed below:

  • Hip Dysplasia

  • Elbow Dysplasia

  • Entropion

  • Ectropion

  • Cardio myopathy

  • Hip Dysplasia

  • Demodectic Mange

  • Hip Dysplasia

  • Hip Dysplasia is the most common inherited orthopaedic disease in large and giant breed dogs, and occurs in many medium-sized breeds as well. The hip joint is a “ball and socket” joint; the “ball” (the top part of the thigh bone or femur) fits into a “socket” (acetabulum) formed by the pelvis. If there is a loose fit between these bones, and the ligaments which help to hold them together are loose, the ball may slide part way out of the socket (subluxate). The mode of inheritance is polygenic (caused by many different genes). Scientists do not yet know which genes are involved, or how many genes. Factors that can make the disease worse includes excess weight, a fast growth rate, and high-calorie or supplemented diets.

    X-rays are taken when the dog is over one year old, then the x-rays are sent to the BVA for scoring.  The hip-scoring system warrants explanation as it is quite confusing for the uninitiated. The score is determined by allocating points to each imperfection on the ball and socket of each hip joint. The minimum (best) score for each hip is 0, while the maximum (worst) is 53, making a total of 106 when multiplied by two for both hips.  Basically: the higher the score, the more likelihood of Hip Dysplasia developing.

  • The hip scores should be well within the average (mean) score for the breed, which, currently, is 13 for the Rottweiler.  The BVA advise that breeders wishing to try to control HD should breed only from animals with hip scores below the breed mean score.  So, if the parents of your puppy have scores below 13, then that would be an indication that your puppy should have sound hips. If the parents had a score of 0:0 then that would be perfect scores! You should look for scores as even as possible e.g. you don’t want an uneven number such as 1:12, as this could indicate a problem in one hip. If possible, try to ascertain the scores of the ancestors of the puppy’s parents. Some breeders note these on the animal’s pedigree.

    ​The recommendation is to breed from the lowest hip scores. The lower the score the better.


  • Elbow Dysplasia

  • Elbow dysplasia has been identified as a significant problem in many breeds. Importantly, the condition appears to be increasing worldwide. It begins in puppy-hood, and can affect the dog for the rest of its life.

    Since the late 1960s, veterinary surgeons routinely dealing with lame dogs have been aware of an increasing number of problems which arise during puppyhood. Hip dysplasia was the first disease to be widely recognised, and a scheme to assess and control it is well established. More recently, elbow dysplasia (ED) has been identified as a significant problem in many breeds. Importantly the condition appears to be increasing worldwide and, although the disease begins in puppyhood, it can affect the dog for the rest of its life.

    The term elbow dysplasia refers to several conditions that affect the elbow joint; osteochondrosis of the medial humeral condyle, fragmented medial coronoid process, ununited anconeal process and incongruent elbow. More than one of these conditions may be present, and this disease often affects both front legs.  This is a polygenic condition, although it is not currently known how many or which genes are responsible. Environmental factors such as over-feeding, which causes fast weight gain and growth can also affect the development of this condition in dogs that are genetically predisposed to it.

    The scoring system is totally different from the hip scoring system, and can be quite baffling. The grades for each elbow are not added together as they are for the two hips in the hip dysplasia scheme.  Two x-rays are taken of each elbow and the grading system is simple:

    Grade                  Description
    0                           Normal
    1                            Mild ED
    2                           Moderate ED or a primary lesion
    3                           Severe ED

    The overall grade given for both elbows is the grade that was given to the elbow with the highest score. The lower the grade the less the degree of elbow dysplasia evident on the x-ray.  It is recommended by the BVA [British Veterinary Association] that those who score 2 and over are not used for breeding. Another source advises that dogs who produce the condition should not be used for breeding again.


    Dogs which have clinical ED often become lame between six and 12 months of age. Initially the lameness may be difficult to ascribe to a particular joint. However, at this age a persistent forelimb lameness should be investigated by a veterinary surgeon. There are other conditions leading to signs similar to those of ED so the veterinary surgeon needs to consider these as well. Diagnosis of ED is normally based on a forelimb lameness with pain on flexion or extension of the elbow. The animal may have a short or stilted forelimb gait as both elbows are often affected. Confirmation of the diagnosis is made by finding primary or secondary lesions on radiographs of the elbow.

    Treatment methods vary depending on the nature and severity of the problem. Conservative treatment involving weight restriction and control of exercise is always important. Drugs may be used to relieve the pain and inflammation associated with the condition and to promote repair processes within the joint. In some dogs, surgery is required to remove fragments of cartilage and bone from the joint to relieve pain, but this is not always appropriate. In nearly all the cases there are some secondary changes which lead to some problems with the joint throughout life, possibly restricting the dog's ability to exercise. However, most dogs will be comfortable with a fair level of exercise if treated carefully between the ages of six and 18 months.

    ​For a more detailed look into Elbow Dysplasia, please download the PDF.

    For further information about the Elbow Dysplasia Scheme for dogs from the BVA (British Veterinary Association) please follow the link: BVA Elbow


  • Entropion

  • Entropion is a genetic condition in which a portion of the eyelid is inverted or folded inward. This can cause an eyelash or hair to irritate and scratch the surface of the eye, leading to corneal ulceration or perforation. It can also cause dark-colored scar tissue to build up over the wound (pigmentary keratitis). These factors may cause a decrease or loss of vision.

  • Ectropion

  • is a rolling outwards of the eyelids which usually resolves as the dog grows and matures.  It may predispose to conjunctivitis but is usually cosmetic and rarely requires corrective surgery. Ectropion in dogs is the term used for droopy eyelids, or eyelids that roll out or evert, and extreme cases may require treatment. The classic picture that comes to mind is the droopy eyes associated with breeds such as Bloodhounds, Basset Hounds, Mastiff breeds and the American Molossus. In certain breeds, a degree of ectropion is considered normal.

  • Dilated Cardio Myopathy

Dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM) is a disease of the heart muscle that is characterized by an enlarged heart that does not function properly. Here’s what you need to know about cardiomyopathy in dogs, from the symptoms and how it affects their bodies to diagnosis and treatment.


What DCM Does to a Dog’s Heart and Lungs?


In most cases of DCM in dogs, the ventricles (lower chambers of the heart) become enlarged, though some cases also involve enlargement of the atria (upper heart chambers).


With DCM, the muscle wall of the heart becomes thinner, causing it to lose the ability to pump blood to the rest of the body.


As a result, fluid can accumulate in certain tissues, including the lungs.


If left untreated, the compromised heart muscle eventually becomes overwhelmed by the increased fluid volume, resulting in congestive heart failure (CHF).


Symptoms of Dilated Cardiomyopathy in Dogs


The major symptoms of DCM include:


  • Lethargy

  • Anorexia

  • Labored breathing

  • Panting

  • Coughing

  • Abdominal distension

  • Sudden collapse


In some cases, dogs with preclinical DCM (prior to the appearance of symptoms) may be given a questionable diagnosis if they appear to be in fine health.


On the other hand, a thorough physical exam can reveal some of the subtle symptoms of DCM, such as:


  • Pulse deficits

  • Premature heart contractions that originate in or above the ventricles

  • Slow capillary refill time in the mucous membrane tissues (e.g., gums are slow to turn pink again after pressing on them gently), indicating poor circulation

  • Breathing sounds muffled or crackly due to the presence of fluid in the lungs


Causes of DCM in Dogs


The incidence of DCM in dogs increases with age and usually affects dogs that are 4-10 years old.


Although the definitive cause of DCM in dogs is unknown, the disease is believed to have several factors, including nutrition, infectious disease and genetics.


Nutritional deficiencies related to taurine and carnitine have been found to contribute to the formation of DCM in certain breeds, such as Boxers and Cocker Spaniels.


Evidence also suggests that some breeds have a genetic susceptibility to DCM, such as the Doberman Pinscher, Boxer, Newfoundland, Scottish Deerhound, Irish Wolfhound, Great Dane and Cocker Spaniel. In some breeds, especially the Great Dane, males appear more susceptible to DCM than females.




In addition to a thorough physical examination, certain medical tests are needed to confirm a diagnosis of DCM in dogs and rule out other diseases.


Radiographic (X-ray) imaging may reveal that the dog has an enlarged heart as well as fluid in or surrounding the lungs.


An electrocardiogram (EKG) may reveal an arrhythmia (or irregular heartbeat) or ventricular tachycardia (abnormally rapid heartbeat). In some cases, a 24-hour EKG (Holter monitor) may be required to fully characterize abnormal heart activity.


An ultrasound of the heart, known as an echocardiogram, is required to definitively diagnose DCM. This test examines the thickness of the heart muscle and each chamber’s ability to pump blood.


In the case of DCM, an echocardiogram will reveal enlargement of one or more heart chambers, along with decreased contractile ability of the heart muscle.




Treatment for DCM is multifaceted and typically includes several medications used to increase the heart’s pumping ability and manage any arrhythmias.


A diuretic may also be administered to decrease fluid accumulation in various tissues, and a vasodilator may be given to dilate the blood vessels and improve circulation.


Except in cases where a dog is severely affected by the disease, long-term hospitalization should not be necessary.


Living and Management


Depending on the underlying cause of disease, DCM in dogs may be progressive and have no cure. Therefore, long-term prognosis is relatively poor for dogs that have clinical signs of heart failure.


Frequent follow-up examinations are typically recommended to assess progress of the disease. Assessment may include thoracic radiographs, blood pressure measurement, EKG and blood work.


You will also need to monitor your dog’s overall attitude and stay alert for any outward signs of disease progression, such as labored breathing, coughing, fainting, lethargy or a distended abdomen.


Despite therapy and conscientious care, most dogs with DCM eventually succumb to the disease.


Your veterinarian will counsel you on your pet's prognosis based on the progression of the disease at the time of diagnosis. In general, dogs with this condition are given 6-24 months to live.


Doberman Pinschers tend to be more severely affected by this disease and will generally not survive longer than six months after the diagnosis is made. In this case, your veterinarian can advise you on treatment options in order to keep your dog as comfortable as possible.


Demodectic Mange

  • Mange (demodicosis) is an inflammatory disease in dogs caused by the Demodex mite. When the number of mites inhabiting the hair follicles and skin of a dog rapidly increase, it can lead to skin lesions, skin infections and hair loss (alopecia). The severity of symptoms depends upon the type of mite inhabiting the dog.


·Symptoms and Types of Demodectic Mange in Dogs


  • Demodectic mange in dogs may either be localized, meaning that it affects only specific areas of the body, or generalized, where it affects the entire body.


  • If localized, symptoms are usually mild, with lesions occurring in patches, especially on the face, torso or legs. If generalized, symptoms will be more widespread and appear across the body. These symptoms include alopecia, a redness of the skin (erythema) and the appearance of scales and lesions.




  • The demodex mite is a normal inhabitant of your dog’s skin. In low numbers, these mites cause no symptoms and may serve an important role as part of your dog’s normal skin microfauna (similar to the way healthy bacteria is important in digestive health).


  • Three species of mites have been identified to cause mange in dogs. The species of mite most commonly associated with demodicosis is the Demodex canis, which inhabits the skin and hair follicles and may transfer from mother to newborn during nursing. This means that nearly all dogs carry these mites, and very few suffer symptoms.


  • However, when dogs have a compromised immune system, the mites can start to multiply unchecked, which leads to demodectic mange and itchy skin.




  • Skin scrapings are used to find and diagnose demodicosis in dogs. Plucking hairs may also help identify the mite responsible for the condition.


  • Alternative diagnoses may include bacterial infection in the hair follicle, other types of mange, autoimmune disease of the skin or other metabolic diseases that can affect the skin.


·Treatment of Demodectic Mange in Dogs


  • If localized, the problem is likely to resolve itself and disappear spontaneously, which happens in approximately 90 percent of cases. For severe generalized cases, long-term dog medications may be necessary to control the condition. Females should be spayed, as fluctuations in hormones can exacerbate the disease. High-quality dog food and a low-stress home environment may also help reduce future flare-ups.


  • There are now several treatments available for dog demodectic mange. The easiest are the isoxazoline flea and tick medicine for dogs.


  • The frequency of dosing will depend on which brand is chosen, but it’s typically one chewable tablet every 2-6 weeks for mange. An older type of medication, ivermectin, is very effective but requires daily dosing until the infection is controlled.


  • While these medications are labeled for use against mites in other countries, the FDA considers this use “off-label” and therefore carries warnings, so you should discuss treatment with your veterinarian.


  • WARNING: Though you may read about the use of motor oil in treating mange, it is HIGHLY TOXIC to dogs and should never be applied to their skin or fed to them.


·Living and Management of Demodectic Mange


  • Follow-up care should include skin scrapings to continually monitor the presence of mites and check the treatment’s progress. With chronic long-term cases, regular medication may be necessary.


  • Your veterinarian will continue treatment for several weeks after there is no longer evidence of mites. Year-round dog flea and tick treatments with a product that is effective against mites is highly recommended for dogs with a history of mange.


  • Most dogs recover completely, especially if they are under 18 months, when they are diagnosed with demodectic mange.


  • The mites are not contagious to humans or cats. There is controversy about whether mites may transfer between dogs after the first few weeks of life. However, evidence supporting such transmission is rare.


·Prevention of Demodex in Dogs


  • General good health may help prevent some cases.


  • Dogs with generalized chronic mange should not be bred, as the condition is likely to be passed to offspring.

  • -Petmd

Health screening by Optimal Selection is highly recommended and a great way to take the step to superior and healthy dogs

Optimal Selection

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