The German Pinscher Club of America

     A Member Club of the American Kennel Club

links Genetic Links Genetic Health News Spay/Neuter? Additional Breeding Info Breeding Expenses General and Genetic Problems

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EAR CROPPING - click here for ear cropping information.

To see information on whelping, raising puppies, care of the dam, temperament testing, health concerns with whelping, and more, visit the Breeders HELP Page.

WISE BREEDING PRACTICES include screening for hereditary problems before breeding. There is no guarantee that genetic screening will prevent health problems in German Pinschers or any dogs, but we can certainly improve our odds by making informed choices. Genetic health problems documented in German Pinschers follow.

Click the red buttons at the top of this page to see more information.


Hip dysplasia (HD) is an inherited bone disease that affects hip joints. A dysplastic dog should not be used for breeding but with proper care it can still lead a good life. Surgery is an option. Dogs can be certified free of hip dysplasia at two years old with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). PennHIP (University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program) is an alternative to the OFA. To increase the likelihood of producing puppies free of hip problems, both parents should be certified prior to breeding. The incidence of hip dysplasia in German Pinschers is very low but is not unknown.

NOTE: Please make sure that dogs you intend to breed have an OFA number.

Development, clinical signs and treatment of HD
a HD link in plain terms and pics

All dogs chosen for breeding should have a current CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) examination, and be certified by CERF as to not being affected with inherent eye disease. The bluish eye tints of some elderly German Pinschers are not cataracts; it is normal aging of the eye lenses. Cataracts can cause blindness quickly, can cause blindness slowly, or not cause it at all. Some cataracts do not significantly impair vision nor ever progress. Cataracts can appear in different locations on one or both eyes. Surgical correction of cataracts is best done before cataracts become mature. This makes annual CERF exams especially important.
NOTE: Please make sure that dogs you intend to breed are tested.

ALERT: If your dog has been tested for CERF, do not forget to send in your completed form (directions are on it). Your dog will not be certified if you do not do this. The form allows you to designate whether you wish to make the results public knowledge or not. Given an OK for results to be made public, certified dogs will be automatically posted to OFA (no extra charge). Also, Dr Leos Kral is no longer involved with cataract research and has informed us that his research is no longer current.

How to read an Eye Exam Report
Excellent Havanese link explaining in plain language types of cataracts
Cataract description, treatments and photos
Lens Anatomy and Types of Cataracts
CERF or Canine Eye Registration Foundation
OptiGen info & research
CERF Report for 1998-2004
CERF Results for 2005

Von Willebrand's disease (vWD) is the most common inherited bleeding disorder of animals and man. At least two German Pinschers have been found with vWD. The most frequent symptom of vWD is prolonged bleeding from surgery or trauma. Dogs may require expensive transfusions. Many dogs, however, never develop severe problems, even fewer die-- but some do!

There is no documentation that indicates that any German Pinschers have died from vWD. The disease should not be taken lightly. Testing may be done with blood tests (ELISA) or DNA swabs (VetGen). Under very rigid controls, blood tests are quite accurate, but things can interfere with them, causing flawed results. DNA testing is less intrusive, more exact and done only once with any age dog.

The Health Committee recommendation for the best way to decrease the incidence of vWD in the German Pinscher follows. Below are the best breeding strategies for removing or reducing the incidence of vWD type 1: 1). Breed only dogs DNA tested as clear. All resulting puppies will be free of the defective gene. 2). Only partner dogs DNA tested as carriers, to dogs DNA tested as clears. Resulting puppies are redacted to be 50% carriers and 50% clear. All resulting puppies should be DNA tested. Those puppies carrying the gene should be spayed/neutered. This will eliminate the gene in that line.

*NOTE: We urge all German Pinscher breeders to get their breeding stock tested to help control the spread of this disease. We have the opportunity to eliminate vWD (in German Pinschers).

Call VetGen’s toll free number 1 (800) 483-8436 to find out how to take advantage of this month’s reduced fee health clinic. The folks at VetGen are friendly, helpful, and easy to contact.

VETGEN - click on German Pinscher after accessing this link
Easy to understand link about vWD
Manchester Terrier link about vWD
Easy to understand Italian Greyhound link about vWD
Death due to vWD In memory of my Beloved Doberman
About vWD
More involved info about vWD

Jean Dodds, DVM says, “Hypothyroid is the most common disorder in dogs.” Recognizing the signs early and beginning treatment right away can make a real difference in a dog’s future quality of life. Symptoms include but are not limited to unprovoked aggression, disorientation, moodiness, hypo-attentiveness, depression, fearfulness, chronic infections, anemia, ”dry eye," knuckling or dragging feet, scaly skin, skin infections, slow heart rate, absence of heat cycles.

All dogs chosen for breeding should have your veterinarian do a full thyroid panel, including testing for thyroglobulin autoantibodies (TgAA), and be certified clear of thyroid problems. *NOTE: testing will enable you to treat afflicted dogs early to avoid progression of the disease. Left untreated, thyroid problems can worsen irrevocably.

Thyroid dysfunction
More on thyroid dysfunction

*ALERT: Due to the increase in heart problems among dog breeds in general, we further recommend annual heart exams to be performed by a canine cardiologist. There is at least one documented case of a German Pinscher dying of heart failure before 2 years old. It is a good idea to test for this before breeding any dogs.

Subaortic stenosis a heart disease
Heart murmurs

Hernias are bulges or tears in the body wall. Umbilical hernias can be repaired when a pet is spayed or neutered or during any other time when they are under anesthesia. Hernias are usually heriditary. Small closed hernias usually pose no health problem. Some breeders routinely repair even small closed hernias. Dogs who have had UMBILICAL hernias repaired are still eligible for participation in AKC events. On the other hand, dogs that have had more severe INGUINAL(open) type hernias are not eligible for participation in AKC conformation events.

Hernias - Ron Hines DVM PhD

One or both testicles failing to descend into the scrotum can be a problem in dogs. It is known to run in families. When both testicles remain in the abdomen, the higher temperature there prevents the production of sperm and the pet will be sterile. If one testicle does descend into the scrotum the pet should be fertile. These dogs can not be shown in AKC conformation and should not be used in a breeding program.

Retained testicles - Ron Hines DVM PhD

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1. Veterinary care for the bitch and puppies--cropping docking, dewclaws, vaccinations and the daily maintenance.

2. Some bitches turn out to be neglectful or bad mothers, and you would end up with their job--24 hrs a day, 7 days a week.

3. A bitch can have problems and need an expensive caesarean section.

4. Puppies can get sick or die. Sometimes bitches die from breeding complications. Are you willing to risk this?

5. Be prepared to care for, and to take back, all puppies/dogs that do not sell or that are returned to you.

6. Check to see if there is a lemon law for dogs in your state.

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1. Any serious inheritable defects occurring in either parent are reasons not to breed.
2. If you are thinking of using your male at stud, you are no less responsible for the quality of the litter than the owner of the bitch.
3. A breeding pair needs to be fully mature, in the prime of health. Their inoculations should be up to date, and they should be free of both internal and external parasites.
4. Breeding pairs need to be tested for canine brucellosis.
5. Do not forget to pre-screen breeding stock for genetic disease.
About Brucellosis
A brucellosis lesson

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Spaying or neutering will not change the basic personality of your dog but should make him or her more settled and focused. Neutering alone will not make your German Pinscher fat. Caloric needs may change, so you may need to adjust food amounts.

1. Males will often become more tolerant of other males, once they are neutered, and less inclined to roam. It also greatly reduces the tendency for males to mark inside the house. Neutering eliminates worries about testicular cancer or prostate disease.

2. Uterine infections or tumors of the reproductive system cannot develop in spayed females. There is also a decreased risk of mammary cancer.

3. Reputable breeders sell "pet" quality puppies with the agreement that the animal will be neutered or spayed. AKC provides limited registration papers to support this. Some breeders may retain AKC papers until the pet puppy is neutered.

NOTE: The AKC permits spayed and neutered canines to participate in obedience, tracking, fieldwork, agility, and junior handling competition.

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CERF or Canine Eye Registration Foundation
OFA or Orthopedic Foundation for Animals, Inc
Penn HIP The University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement Program
VetGen info & research
Great link about drugs & safety--has information on Selamectin (Revolution), Fopronil (Frontline), and other common drugs
Spay USA (low cost spay site
Control of genetic disease
Developing a Healthy Gene Pool
Ensure a healthy litter
Caring for Newborn Puppies

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DISCLAIMER: The contents of this Health Page are for your information. Do not use this information to diagnose the health of your German Pinscher. ALWAYS CONSULT YOUR VETERINARIAN. These pages have links to protocols and articles that contain important information but are not endorsed by the GPCA.