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What About Health?

LIFE SPAN:     The Cardigan Welsh Corgi is a normally healthy dog with few hereditary diseases and an agreeably long life span.  Normal life expectancy is 14 to 15 years and these dogs usually retain their mental ability and characteristic sense of humor well into advanced age.  Many  specialty winners have been entered in or eligible for the Veteran's class, the first Best In Show winner in our breed was won by a dog almost 10 years old.  See Buster and Percy (red page), Moonshine (black page) and The Great Pond Scum for examples of the wonderful long life of these dogs.

OH MY ACHING BACK - NOT!     While the Cardigan is a long-backed breed, it normally does not suffer from back problems.  However, occasional individuals are diagnosed with disk disease.   This does not seem to be a hereditary problem but has at times been linked to excess weight and inappropriate activity.  Attention to diet and appropriate exercise, especially in older dogs, is recommended.

HIP DYSPLASIA:     This crippling disease of large breeds is relatively rare in the Cardigan Welsh Corgi.  All pure or mixed-breed dogs are susceptible to this problem that has not yet been linked to any single gene or set of genes, but its effect on the quality of life is minimized in small and medium sized dogs.  A study reported in The American Kennel Gazette found a significant correlation between overfeeding puppies and HD; one study group was allowed to free-feed as much as they wanted, another group was fed a controlled diet of 25% less.  The rate of HD in the free-feeding group was more than double that of the controlled intake group, strong evidence that promoting rapid growth in young dogs is an unhealthy practice.

OTHER STUFF:     Heart disease, seizure disorders, bleeding disorders, lymphoma and other cancer-type diseases are virtually unknown in Cardigans.

PRA - THE BIGGIE:     Progressive Retinal Atrophy is a hidden menace controlled by a recessive gene that ultimately leads to blindness.  It can be produced by two normal-appearing parents.  Thanks to devoted researchers and support from Cardigan lovers worldwide, a DNA test is now available to identify carriers of this gene so we can ensure that no two carriers are ever bred together in the future.  It must be emphasized that a dog that carries a single copy of this gene is a perfectly normal and healthy pet.   It is only when TWO copies of this gene occur in the same dog that blindness will result.  Since the opening of the test to breeders in July of 1998, most carriers of the gene will be placed in pet homes where they will be required to be spayed or neutered.  A few exceptional individuals that have strong virtues to offer may still be used for breeding, but with great care to be sure that their carrier offspring are removed from the breeding population.

Any reputable breeder will gladly discuss the above conditions with you and will be open about the PRA test results of any dog you are interested in buying, or one to which you might wish to breed.   No reputable breeders should hesitate to discuss the guarantees they offer in case some hidden problem prevents your dog from being a show or breeding prospect or from functioning as a pet and companion.

In conjunction with the PRA test process, our national club, the CWCCA, is compiling a list of all clear and carrier Cardigans submitted voluntarily.  I am adding this information as it becomes available to my automated pedigree database.  Any offspring of two cleared parents is automatically presumed clear.  In future years, when testing each individual is no longer necessary, this pedigree database will be a valuable tool in constructing planned pedigrees to be sure all lines are clear.  If this is done, a once-dreaded problem will be history.