General Disorders
This is just a short list and description of some of the genetic disorders that have been reported in the Dogo Canario. The frequency of each disease is not known, and more research needs to be compiled, but these are some diseases that have been confirmed in the breed. This list is compiled for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your veterinarian for proper diagnosis and treatment options.

Demodectic Mange

Demodectic mange is a parasitic skin condition caused by microscopic mites (Demodex Canis). This is one of 2 forms of mange diagnosed in dogs. The demodex mites are cigar shaped mites that live on the hair follicles of affected dogs. Most dogs have small numbers of these mites on their skin. It is not a contagious disease as normal healthy dogs are able to tolerate these small numbers. The known method of transmission is not completely understood, but affected dogs generally have an immune system deficiency. The immune system is under genetic control, thus susceptibility to demodex is widely accepted to be an inherited trait. Most affected are immature dogs under 18 months of age.

Demodex can be either localized or generalized. Localized symptoms include hair loss or thinning of hair in small patches commonly on the head especially around the eyes. The dog may appear to look “moth eaten” on the coat. Localized mange is generally easily treated with topical ointments, shampoos and occasionally oral medications.

If the hair loss is found throughout the body, the disease is then termed generalized. This is a much more serious and difficult case to treat. Generalized may have begun as a localized case, or can be sudden onset. Stress induced factors and poor diet can be contributors to an outbreak in a susceptible dog, but not the cause. Treatments may include shampoos, dips and oral medications and antibiotics to combat secondary infections. The treatment can be costly and prolonged. Occasionally a dog with a very severe immunodeficiency is not able to recover from demodex.
Because tendencies to be affected with demodex are considered genetic, affected animals should be sterilized, owners of littermates notified to watch their pups, and parents that produce such animals should not be rebred.

Canine Epilepsy

Idiopathic epilepsy literally means “seizure of unknown origins”. Seizures can occur in dogs for a number of reasons for which a medical condition is known to be the cause. IF no medical reasoning can be found, the dog is then considered to be an epileptic.

A seizure has 3 distinct parts. First the aura. The dog may experience a behavioral change. Become restless, nervous, whine, salivate or many other behaviors. The next part is the Ictis, or the actual seizure. The dog may fall to his side and will have involuntary muscular movements such as kicking or paddling. He will salivate excessively and may loose bladder and bowel control. He is totally unaware of his surroundings and the owner should NEVER interfere with the dog. Only remove any items that the dog is in danger of injuring himself on. This stage generally lasts 1-3 minutes. The final phase is the postictis this is characterized by confusion, lethargy, disorientation and often unresponsiveness. Depending on the dog the postictal stage may last from an hour to many days. A seizure that lasts 5 minutes or more or the dog has two or more in a short time span or is remaining unresponsive between seizures, immediate emergency treatment is required.

Dogs that experience seizures infrequently, of very short duration and non-violent in nature can live normally without anticonvulsant medications. But those that experience them more frequently, longer in duration and of a violent nature are best controlled by medications. There are several medications to choose from. Your veterinarian will advise you best on both type and dosages as well as require frequent monitoring of the dog while on the medications.

As there are occurrences within related dogs, dogs of specific bloodlines and certain breeds, it is believed that Epilepsy is an inherited disorder. Epileptic dogs should not be bred. However at this time there is no available method to test potential carriers.


Entropion is a condition of the eye in which there is an inward rolling of the eyelids, most commonly the lowers, and usually occurs in both eyes. The diagnosis is generally very easily made, as the inward lid rolling is readily apparent.

The lids continually rub on the eyes causing increased tearing and squinting, corneal irritation and can eventually lead to visual impairment if severe enough to cause ulceration. The treatment for entropion evolves surgical correction. A dog with corrective surgery is not eligible for competition in the show ring.

Entropion is a result of breeding for exaggerated facial features and is common in breeds such as the mastiff, bullmastiff, shar pei and chow chow. Reduction of this disorder is accomplished by selective breeding for a more normal head conformation.


Hypothyroidism is a disorder of the thyroid gland. In dogs with this condition the gland secretes insufficient amounts of the thyroid hormone. This condition is not life threatening, but can diminish a dog’s quality of life.

Over 50% of dogs with hypothyroidism experience weight gain, without an increase in food intake. About 33% develop lethargy and mental dullness. Also about 33% develop hair coat and skin abnormalities including, hair thinning or loss, wrinkling of the skin and seborrhea. Behavioral problems are also believed to be symptoms of hypothyroidism. Sudden increase in aggression is most commonly reported. Also anxiety and compulsive behaviors such as chronic licking. It can also affect reproductive capabilities of the dog by reducing sperm count and interest of mating of a male and cause irregular heat cycles or anestrus. It is generally not recommended to breed a dog diagnosed with hypothyroidism due to the possibility of hereditary factors.

Hypothyroidism is diagnosed by blood tests. Simply measuring the thyroid level of the dog however is not accurate. This value can be invalid due to other factors such as Cushing’s Disease, overactive adrenal glands and cortisone medications. The most accurate test is the free thyroxine or fT4. Other tests that measure the fT4, T4 and TSH, thyroid stimulation hormone are available. A dog with a high TDH and low T4 and fT4, this dog is very likely hypothyroid.

Once hypothyroid is diagnosed it is easily controlled with daily medications. The dog will need monitoring of thyroid levels throughout its life, but the prognosis is excellent for a normal life.


A problem with male dogs that is both a breed standard disqualification and medical hazard. In newborn pups, the testes are inside the body. They descend down the inguinal canal and “relocate” to the scrotum by the time the dog is 6-8 weeks of age. Some dogs may take a bit longer, but generally if both are not present by the time the dog is 12 weeks, he is considered a cryptorchid, or said to have a “retained teste”.

A cryptorchid male can be one of 2 forms. Unilateral, in which one has descended into it’s proper place, while one stays somewhere within the inguinal canal. This male has all the normal male drives and is fertile, but most believe he shouldn’t be bred. A bilateral cryptorchid is one with neither teste descended into the scrotum. He also has the normal male drives, but is sterile and cannot be bred.

The treatment of choice for a cryptorchid is castration, as the retained testicle has a much higher risk of developing tumors, especially cancers.
This condition is known to have genetic transmission, though the exact link is unknown. Most cryptorchid are produced by “normal males” as cryptorchid generally are not bred, which would indicate this condition is also passed down on the female side. Close monitoring of male pups produced from parents who have been known to produce this condition should be done, so that the dog showing to be the link can be removed from breeding.

Skeletal Disorders

Canine Hip Dysplasia

Information on this subject in the Dogo Canario can be found at it’s own page. FAQs About Canine Hip Dysplasia.

For a listing of Dogo Canario Dogs that have been certified free of CHD by the OFA, please visit


Panosteoitis, also called “pano” is a common cause of limping in dogs. It is also commonly referred to as “growing pains” as it affects young growing large and giant dogs breeds, usually puppies from 5 to 12 months of age. Also called “wandering lameness” as its symptoms include an intermittent limping that switches from one leg to another, often accompanied by fever. Males are affected four times more often than females. Panosteoitis can be caused by a number of factors including diet, disease, genetic influence and vascular problems.

Diagnosis of pano is generally made through radiographs. Treatment includes the use of anti-inflammatory medications, pain relievers and rest. There are generally no long term affects from a diagnosis of pano during puppy hood and most dogs outgrow the condition by their 2nd birthday.

Osteochondritis Dessicans

Osteochondritis Dessicans, or OCD, is a problem with the cartilage in a young dog. Cartilage attached to the bone breaks and can become dislodged and become an irritant to the joint. This break can be caused by a number of factors including diet, genetic influence, body size and weight and trauma. OCD by definition can occur in almost any joint but is found most prevalently in the shoulder, elbow and ankle. OCD can be seen as early as 4 months or as late as 18.

When a section of cartilage has broken away from the bone it irritates the surrounding tissue causing pain and discomfort in the dog. Dogs with OCD present with limping as the main symptom. This flap can also become lodged between the bones of the joint causing chronic pain to the dog. As the body attempts to heal, extra joint fluid builds up causing swelling. Nerve endings are irritated and scar tissue and calcium deposits may build in the joint. If left untreated, permanent lameness may occur.

Veterinary examination, palpation of the joint and radiographs make diagnosis. MRI’s are also commonly used where available. Once the diagnosis is made, there are usually 2 treatment options. The first is a conservative regiment of complete rest and limited activities. No medications are advised as they will mask the pain and make the dog more active. . If after 4-6 weeks the dog is unable to heal on his own the second treatment option is surgical removal of the flap. Most OCD surgeries have excellent outcomes.

There is evidence that OCD is genetically influenced, as there are higher instances of OCD in some breeds. But because this condition is often spontaneous and unpredictable, it is not certain. Other factors such as excessive weight during growth periods, rapid growth, excessive impact on bones (aggressive exercise and being quartered on hard surfaces), over supplementation of calcium and trauma are also noted causes.

Elbow Dysplasia

Elbow dysplasia is a degenerative disease of the elbow joint. It is found to occur in medium and large breed dogs, with males seeming to be more affected than females.

The elbow joint consists of 3 bones. The distal humorous and the proximal radius and ulna. It is one of the most complex of all the body’s joints. Current theories suggest that ED is caused by asynchronized (uneven) bone growth.

There are 3 main aspects of ED, OCD (as described above), ununited anconeal process (UAP) and fragmented coronoid process (FCP). The head of the ulna has a curved notch that allows it to fit into the humorous to form the joint. The top lip of this notch is the anconeal process and the bottom is the coronoid process. This piece of bone begins as cartilage in a young dog and becomes bone when it attaches to the ulna around 4-54 months of age. In some dogs this process never unites and becomes an irritation in the joint similar to OCD. UAP was once considered to be a form of this condition. Causes and treatments to both are similar. If the coronoid process fails to unite to the bone, similar results happen causing a fragmented process and leads to degenerative disease.

Symptoms of ED are generally intermittent lameness of one or both front limbs, lameness that continues for more than a few days, soreness after rest periods but improving with exercise, but then to worsen again with over exercise, a reluctance to land hard on that limb (i.e. Jumping or trotting) and pain upon overextension to the limb. A dog with ED may have all or none of these symptoms, so lack of any does not guarantee an ED free dog. Definite diagnosis can only be made with radiographs.

Treatment options for a dog with ED can be medical or surgical. Medical treatments would depend on the condition diagnoses as causing the ED. Treatments can include moderation of exercise, dietary changes, glucosamine sulfates and sometimes anti0inflamitory medications. If medical management is not successful, surgical treatment is the next option. Surgical techniques involve removing the damaged bone fragments. Surgical techniques have been shown to show marked improvement in some dogs but only minimal relief in others. Most dogs however will generally have some degree of DJD despite treatment.

ED is known to have a genetic disposition and some veterinarians believe it is even more so than canine hip dysplasia. But to date, it is not very predictable as to which dogs will develop this condition. The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals does have an elbow registry at this time and will certify dogs free of ED after 2 years of age. Additionally they will read and report on dogs of younger ages.

Nutrition also plays a role in development of ED. Feeding high protein and fat foods to large breed dogs is not recommended. Watch excessive levels of calcium and phosphorus. Rapid growth in large breeds should be avoided. Trauma will certainly occur beyond control, but limiting the actives that cause high impact to growing bones should be avoided. As well the dog should be kept in optimal condition.

Patellar Luxation

Patellar luxation is the dislocation (or slipping) of the patella's (kneecaps. The patella of a dog is a small bone fitting into a grove in the femur and connected by tendons and ligaments. It is similar in structure to the kneecap of humans.

Luxation can be either medial (to the inside) 0r lateral (to the outside). Patellar luxation has been shown to have a genetic base but can also be trauma induced.

Medial luxation occurs most frequently in toy dogs, but occurs in large dogs as well. It can often been detected in severe cases in young pups, but most often in older and young adult dogs that are very active. Symptoms include difficult gait, straightening of the knee, stifle pain and limping. Lateral luxation is more common in larger and giant breeds and is generally found in young pups from 4-6 months. The most common symptom is a knock-kneed stance.

Conditions that predispose to patellar luxation are: a shallow groove; weak ligaments; and mal-alignment of the tendons and muscles that straighten the joint. The patella may slip inward or outward. Diagnosis is confirmed by veterinary manipulation of the kneecap and radiographs may be taken to confirm the condition.

Depending on the severity of the condition surgical correction of the luxating knee may be required. It is not uncommon for patellar luxation to be found in conjunction with other knee injures such as anterior cruciate ligament tears.

Ruptured Anterior Cruciate Ligament

Ruptured ACL’s are not necessarily genetically influenced, however they are quite common in this breed. They can occur due to other genetic knee conditions, but are commonly caused by trauma to the joint.

The patella (knee cap) fits into the joint that joins the femur to the tibia and fibula. This bone is held in place and the joint stabilized by two ligaments (the anterior and posterior) cruciate. The ligaments cross over the patella like an X. Rupture of the ACL is one of the most common causes of rear limb lameness. It is common to large breeds, especially those that are overweight. It is also common in this and other breeds of dogs that have a conformation with hyperextension of the stifle which expose the joint to more stress.

The rupture can be either partial or complete. It is important to recognize and treat the injury as soon as possible before permanent arthritic damage is done to the joint. An acute injury caused by trauma such as automobile accidents or in breeds of this weight, simply by jumping and landing very hard on the joint. Acute tears are symptomized by lack of weight bearing, pain and swelling in the knee and joint instability. Chronic causes may be more subtle. Intermittent lameness and muscular atrophy are usually present, as well as joint instability. Diagnosis should be made quickly and is done so by veterinary manipulation of the joint instability. Often a distinct clicking sound can be heard when the joint is moved. This indicates a tearing of the meniscus, the pad of cartilage that cushions the knee joint.

Surgical repair of the injured leg is necessary. Other conditions such as patellar luxation can be corrected at the same time. Post-operative recovery generally takes 3 to 6 months. Depending on other medical conditions and the amount of time between tear and surgery, ACL ruptures that have been repaired have a very good outlook for full recovery. Most dogs continue to lead normal lives.

Cervical Spondylolithesis

Also known as Wobbler’s syndrome, is a neurological disorder caused by a narrowing of the cervical (neck) vertebra. The spinal canal is the tunnel n the vertebra that the spinal cord lays. In dogs affected with spondylolithesis, this canal is much narrower than normal putting pressure on the cord. The pressure affects normal nerve impulse transmission from the brain to the rest of the body.

The cause of Wobbler’s syndrome is not clear, but a genetic link and accelerated growth are probable causes.

Wobbler’s has been reported in many breeds of dogs, but Great Danes and Doberman Pinschers make up the large majority of its victims. In Danes, the typical age for symptoms to appear is 3-12 months, while in Dobermans it seems to affect middle aged to older dogs, generally 3-9 years. The Dogos diagnosed with wobblers have been under 1 year of age, more typical to the pattern of the Danes. First symptoms usually include a mild incoordination of the rear gait, often appearing to be “clumsy” or “wobbling” and the dog often sway the rear legs. Front leg involvement is usually minimal at first, but slowly progresses to them also. Severe cases will progress to paralysis. An overly clumsy puppy should have a thorough neurological examination to rule out Wobbler’s Syndrome.

Diagnosis is made by cervical radiographs and myelogram. This is a procedure that injects a dye into the spinal cord Because this procedure is dangerous and expensive, it is not always used to detect an affected dog. Often x-rays and physical examination is enough for the veterinarian to “highly suspect” wobblers. The dog also generally has instability in the cervical vertebra and may have a reluctance to bend his neck and/or severe pain when the neck is forcefully moved.

Treatment for Wobbler’s depends on the severity of the condition and at what stage it has been diagnosed. Steroids and other anti-inflammatory medications, diet changes and changes in life style of the dog (feeding dishes raised, elimination of exercises that call for rapid head moving, etc…) can help a dog to live a more normal life. Another option is spinal surgery to stabilize the neck and relieve the pressure on the cord. Surgery is very expensive and not all dogs make a full recovery. Some dogs do not respond to treatments of any kind well, and are best euthanized.

For additional information on these health issues and others, we have provided these links to excellent websites.

This page is meant for informational purposes only. It is not meant to be an alternative for a diagnosis from your veterinarian. Always consult your veterinarian first regarding any questions about your dog's health.