TOPnl is a special club for the Polish Tatra Shepherd Dog, which is recognized by the Dutch Kennelclub, Raad van Beheer. Health and welfare is at all times to our attention. Despite its small population, the Tatra Shepherd Dog is a fairly healthy breed.

Following reports in the media about the health situation of purebred dogs, TOPnl has compiled a list of conditions or diseases that can occur in the Tatra Shepherd Dog. The aim of our breeding policy is to reduce these as far as possible and so we have taken restrictive measures to reduce some of these disorders. All others have our attention too and are closely monitored.
With this survey, we hope to inform (future) owners and fans of this breed as fully and honestly as possible. However no rights can be derived from this survey and document.

Hip dysplasia (HD)
Hip dysplasia or briefly called HD, is a developmental disorder of the hip joints which can be a genetic and thus a hereditary disease. It can also be caused by external influences (environmental).
Symptoms include stiffness, trouble getting up and lameness in the hindquarters. HD can only be determined by x-ray of the hip joints. Only a physical examination is not conclusive.
The result of the x-ray is indicated by the letters A, B, C, D and E. HD-A is the best and means free of HD. HE-E is the worst.

The breeding policy of TOPnl: HD-examination by x-ray is obliged once. Breeding is permitted with the results HD-A, B and C. With HD-D and may not be bred.

Eye diseases
All Tatra Shepherd Dogs, who live in the Netherlands and which are used for breeding should be screened according to the protocol of the ECVO. ECVO represents the European College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists. In the case of a provisional non-free result, the veterinarian may recommend to re-examine the dog again after 6-12 months.
Only results by certified panellists of the ECVO shall be recognized.

Breeding excluded eye diseases:
(Numbering according ECVO-form)
1 PPM – affected, if note is made that the lens is affected and/or condition is ‘severe’.
2 PHTVL – affected – grade 2-6
3 Cataract congenital – affected
4 Retinal Dysplasia – affected – geographical and total
5 Hypoplasia-/micropapilla – affected
6 CEA – affected
11 Entropion/Trichiasis – affected
12 Ectropion/Macroblepharon – affected
13 Distichiasis/Ectopic cilia – affected
14 Corneal dystrophy – affected
15 Cataract (non-congenital) – affected – posterior polair
16 Lens luxation (primary) – affected
17 PRA – affected
(copied from our breeding regulations)

The breeding policy of TOPnl: The ECVO eye exam is required only once. Breeding is allowed if all eyedisorders are marked ‘unaffected’ on the ECVO form. The exception is only for the eyecondition PPM (nr. 1 according the ECVO form). When the outcome is marked affected, breeding is allowed unless the result is iris-iris.

DCM stands for canine dilated cardiomyopathy, a heart disease. A condition that is more common in larger breeds. It means that the heart dilates as a result of a disease of the heart muscle. Viral infections and immune diseases for example may also cause DCM. If there is no apparent cause than the probability of a hereditary form is likely.
Symptoms are weakness, fainting spells, difficulty breathing, distension of the abdomen with fluid, and coughing they are all possible in the later stages of disease. There are signs related to what is called “congestive heart failure.” Some animals may die suddenly from an irregular heart rhythm without any previous symptoms.
The identification of DCM is initially based on physical exam findings and recognition of characteristic features (dilated, poorly contracting heart) on an echocardiogram by a specialized vet.

The breeding policy of TOPnl: Dogs who will be used for breeding must have a heart ultrasound with color Doppler every two years. If an abnormality is shown, that dog should not be used for breeding anymore.

Elbow dysplasia (ED)
Elbow dysplasia is a collective term for 3 types of developmental disabilities at the elbow joints, it is caused by genetic and environmental factors as well. Dogs suffering from ED show lameness of the frontlegs. ED can be determined by radiograph (x-rays) of the elbow joint, carriers cannot be detected.
Symptoms: The dogs walk lame and in many cases need to be operated. There is a good prognosis if action is taken in time.

The breeding policy of TOPnl: ED examination is not mandatory. It is not allowed to breed with a dog suffering from ED. If there are indications that the disorder ED increases, TOPnl will take action and obligate the examination.

Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD)
Osteochondritis Dissecans or OCD is a cartilage problem that affects young large and giant breed dogs. In a dog with OCD this cartilage is damaged or grows abnormally. Instead of being attached to the bone it covers, it separates or cracks. A loose flap of cartilage may form, or an entire piece may break loose. It can affect various joints in the body, it may affect the shoulder, elbow, knee or hock, although the shoulder is most commonly affected. The symptoms are lameness in the affected limb. Some areas of the cartilage become thickened, weak, and prone to injury. Eventually degenerative changes in the joint take place (osteoarthritis). The best treatment is surgery. The cause of OCD is considered to be multifactorial. It is thought that there are several factors that contribute to the formation of OCD lesions including trauma to the joint, genetics, rapid growth, hormone imbalances, and nutrition.
Symptoms: OCD generally occurs when the dog is between 4 and 10 months of age as a result of the rapid growth. They show lameness in the affected limb others are unable to bear any weight on the affected leg. The lameness tends to worsen after periods of exercise and improves after rest. Off course older dogs can show these symptoms too but most likely degenerative joint disease (osteoarthritis) is more common. Osteoarthritis is a result of damage at the cartilage of the upper arm.

The breeding policy of TOPnl: OCD examination is not mandatory. It is not allowed to breed with a dog suffering from OCD. If there are indications that the disorder OCD increases, TOPnlwill take action and obligate the examination.

Patellar Luxation (PL)
The patella is the bone known as the knee cap. A groove in the end of the femur allows the patella to glide up and down when the knee joint is bent back and forth. In so doing, the patella guides the action of the quadriceps muscle in the lower leg. The patella also protects the knee joint. In some dogs, because of malformation or trauma, the ridges forming the patellar groove are not prominent with, as a result, a too-shallow groove. In a dog with shallow grooves, the patella will luxate (jump out of the groove) sideways, especially towards the inside. This causes the leg to ‘lock up’ with the foot held off the ground.
When the patella luxates from the groove of the femur, it usually cannot return to its normal position until the quadriceps muscle relaxes and increases in length. This explains why the affected dog may be forced to hold his leg up for a few minutes or so after the initial incident. While the muscles are contracted and the patella is luxated from its correct position, the joint is held in the flexed or bent position. When the kneecap can be dislocated by a veterinarian, the diagnose is confirmed.
Symptoms: bowlegged stance, with the feet turned inward and with most of the weight transferred to the front legs; sometimes collapsing through a leg till a permanently different gait. Once the kneecap is back in normal position, the animal feels no discomfort and continues his activity. Depending on the degree of patellar luxating can be chosen to treat these surgically.

The breeding policy of TOPnl: PL examination is not mandatory. It is not allowed to breed with a dog suffering from PL. If there are indications that the disorder PL increases, TOPnl will take action and obligate the examination.

With epilepsy an uncoordinated firing of the neurons usually within a portion of the brain called the cerebrum occurs and causes seizures. The dog falls on his side and had uncontrollable muscle activity such as kicking his legs as if swimming or paddling. Salivation is profuse and often the dog involuntarily urinates and defecates. The dog is unaware of you, her surroundings, or her own actions. Probably certain substances called neurotransmitters are not in the proper chemical balance, so the nerves do not behave in the normal coordinated fashion. However, there are also milder forms of expression. Epilepsy can be hereditary but can also be caused by environmental factors.
Other, milder forms are also possible. Some causes of seizures in dogs are preventable, but others are genetic or related to illness.

The breeding policy of TOPnl: Preventive research to determine carriers is not possible at this moment. It’s not allowed to breed with a dog suffering from epilepsy.

Sporadically other health problems are reported which we are not always able to determine whether it is an isolated case or genetically determined. Anyway, breeding with these dogs shall not be allowed. If a breeder want’s to breed with blood lines with an identical problem on both sides, he/she will be informed about the risks.