Health Problems of the PBGV
On the whole, the Petit Basset Griffon Vendéen is a fairly healthy breed. However, just as any other breed, they are subject to a number of health problems, some of which are known to be, or strongly suspected of being inherited.
Although none of these conditions are widespread, PBGV breeders should be knowledgeable about them and prospective buyers are encouraged to discuss them before making a purchase.
PBGV Pain Syndrome
PBGV pain syndrome is a condition that affects adolescent dogs 6 to 18 months of age. It is characterized by bouts of pain, fever, and/or listlessness. The intensity of the pain varies greatly, from very mild in some dogs to quite severe in others. Some dogs suffer only a single episode but most affected dogs have several. One of the more severe forms affects the cervical area of the neck, giving the problem its common names: “the neck thing” and, more formally, “steroid-responsive meningitis.” Affected dogs eventually outgrow the problem, although a few have suffered permanent complications or have been euthanatized as a result of this condition.
Inherited epilepsy is a condition that causes dogs to experience seizures for no apparent reason. There is a great deal of variation in the number, frequency, and severity of the seizures. Some affected dogs experience only one or a few seizures during their whole life, while others have them on a regular basis. When necessary, this condition can usually be managed successfully with medication. Some dogs, however, fail to respond to medication or are so severely affected that they have to be euthanatized.
Glaucoma and Lens Luxation
Glaucoma and lens luxation are eye problems that have been identified in PBGVs only recently, and this explains why many people are still unaware of them. In glaucoma, the pressure inside the eyeball rises and eventually damages the optic nerve, causing blindness. In lens luxation, the lens tilts out if its normal position, again causing blindness. Both eyes are usually affected. These conditions affect dogs around 5 years of age and generally occur together, although it is not yet clear how they are related.
In PBGVs, allergies manifest themselves primarily as chronic inflammation of the ears or as redness of the feet or armpits. In addition to these non-specific allergies, cases of food allergy, flea-bite allergy, hay fever, vaccine reactions, and others have been recorded. These are generally no more than an annoyance, but severely affected dogs can suffer quite a bit of discomfort. Of greater concern are a few cases of anaphylactic shock caused by vaccines, although it is possible that the vaccines themselves were the culprits in these cases. Both traditional and alternative therapies are available to assist the allergic dog.
Inguinal and Umbilical Hernias
Inguinal and umbilical hernias are congenital defects of the muscles of the abdomen. A weakness in the muscles allows the internal organs to protrude and form a “bubble” under the skin on the belly (umbilical hernia) or in the groin (inguinal hernia.) The condition sometimes corrects itself as the puppy grows, but surgery can be required. Prior to corrective surgery, life-threatening complications are possible but uncommon.
Patellar Luxation and Hip Dysplasia
Patellar luxation (“trick knee”) and hip dysplasia are orthopedic problems caused by the abnormal development of the knee and hip joints, respectively. Patellar luxation is the more common of the two disorders. Both occur in relatively mild form in the PBGV, resulting in a “hopping” gait, lameness and occasionally leading to arthritis in old age. The problem generally occurs only on one side, and surgical intervention is rarely required.
Hypothyroidism is a condition in which the thyroid gland fails to produce a sufficient amount of thyroid hormones. Symptoms include obesity, lethargy, poor coat quality, dry, scaly skin, intolerance to cold, and, some suggest, irritability or aggression. This condition usually becomes noticeable in middle-aged or older dogs, but seriously affected individuals can show symptoms at any age. Hypothyroidism can be treated effectively through daily administration of inexpensive medication.
Persistent Pupillary Membranes and Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia
Persistent pupillary membranes (PPMs) and multifocal retinal dysplasia (retinal folds) are congenital eye defects that are considered by some to be cosmetic. The dog’s vision is usually unaffected and the defects often become less detectable as the dog gets older. Occasionally, however, pups are born with a more serious form of PPM in which the lens is visibly cloudy or bluish, with some loss of vision that should not affect quality of life. This condition sometimes improves with age.