Just like any breed of dog, the Newfoundland breed is prone to health issues.
Some of the health issues seen in the Newfoundland dog are common and are breed specific, others are big dog specific.
It’s a long list and may look scary at first but keep in mind that just because a health issue is listed here doesn’t mean that your Newfie will experience it.
There are also many health problems not listed here that a Newfie could have.
Many Newfie’s will live long healthy lives without any major health issues, others may experience quite a few.
This is why being cautious in your search for a Newfoundland is critical.
Steps such as genetic testing and health clearances should be mandatory in your search.
It doesn’t stop there. A healthy diet, proper weight management, and routine medical care throughout the Newfie’s life are also needed.
The more health issues that you can stay clear of the better chances you’ll have of enjoying a long healthy life with your Newfoundland.
Note- Breed risks are not scientifically based. They are based on the popularity mentioned among the Newfie community.
Common Health Problems Seen In The Newfoundland Dog
Entropion is an inversion of all or part of the lid margins that may involve one or both eyelids. The eyelids roll in causing irritation to the eye. It is the most frequent inherited eyelid defect in many dogs.
The eyelids roll in causing irritation to the eye and can be painful.
A procedure called “tacking” can be done to treat entropion in puppies.
Older dogs may need surgical correction.
Ectropian is loose, everted eyelids. It is a common defect in a number of dog breeds where the eyelids roll out.
The loose lids can lead to chronic eye infections and surgery is often needed.
Newfoundland dogs are notorious for getting skin infections due to improper grooming or allergies
These allergies can be due to food, environmental or seasonal reactions and often be severe leading to high veterinarian bills.
Hot spots are a type of skin dermatitis that can spread quickly and be difficult to care for. They can be due to allergies, parasites, bacterial infections, unkempt coat or self-inflicted due to anxiety
Risk: High. Proper diet and regular grooming may lower the risk.
Newfies have ginormous, heavy ears with narrow canals and their love for all things water are a perfect breeding ground for yeast and bacteria.
This makes them prone to ear infections which can be difficult to treat.
Main causes of ear infections in Newfoundlands are allergies, either food, seasonal or environmental and improper care of ears.
Risk: High. Proper maintenance of the ears may lower the risk
Heart Problems Seen In The Newfoundland
Dilated Cardio-Myopathy (DCM)
DCM is a disease of the heart muscle that results in weakened contractions and poor pumping ability. As the disease progresses the heart chambers become enlarged, one or more valves may leak, and signs of congestive heart failure develop.
In Newfoundlands, this may be caused by a lack of taurine in their diet or it could be genetic
Risk: High. Health checks performed by a responsible breeder may lower the risk.
Sub-Valvular Aortic Stenosis (SAS)
Subvalvular aortic stenosis also referred to as subaortic stenosis or SAS, is a common heart defect in dogs, especially Newfoundlands.
The heart is divided into 4 chambers separated by 4 valves.
The valves ensure that blood only flows in one direction through the heart. The aortic valve separates the main pumping chamber (left ventricle) from the aorta, a large blood vessel that carries blood from the heart to the body.
In dogs with SAS, there is added tissue below the aortic valve. This abnormal tissue creates an obstruction that the heart has to overcome to pump blood to the body. This stenosis makes the heart work harder than normal.
A heart murmur is created by blood being pumped across the stenosis into the aorta.
Risk: High. SAS is a hereditary condition. Heart clearances done by a responsible breeder lowers the risk.
Skeletal Issues Seen In The Newfoundland Dog
Hip dysplasia is a congenital disease that affects the hip joints. The joints become loose and begin to rub on the hip socket causing the socket to lose it’s shape. This condition leads to a form of arthritis called degenerative joint disease.
Risk: High. Proper hip evaluation of breeding stock may lower the risk
The term elbow dysplasia refers to several conditions that can affect the elbow joint.
These conditions include osteochondrosis of the medial humeral condyle, fragmented medial coronoid process, ununited anconeal process, and incongruent elbow.
More than one of these conditions may be present, and this disease often affects both front legs.
An affected dog may show forelimb lameness and elbow pain.
Risk: High. Proper elbow evaluation of breeding stock may lower the risk
Osteochondritis dissecans (OCD)
OCD is the abnormal maturation of cartilage. It can affect shoulders, elbows, and knees
While this is can be an inherited defect, environmental factors such as diet, activity, and trauma also have a role in the development and progression of the disease.
Risk: High. Proper exercise and care when the dog is young and throughout their life may lower the risk
Torn Cruciate Ligament (ACL tear)
An ACL tear is one of the most common issues seen the Newfoundland
There are two cruciate ligaments that cross inside the knee joint: the cranial cruciate and the caudal cruciate.
They connect from one side of the femur on top to the opposite side of the tibia on the bottom, the two ligaments forming an X.
The cranial cruciate attaches to the front of the tibia and the caudal cruciate attaches to the back of the tibia.
The anterior/cranial cruciate ligament prevents the tibia from slipping forward out from under the femur.
The ligament can tear while the dog is running, jumping or if they slip.
Risk: High. The jury is still out if this condition is hereditary or not. Weight maintenance and waiting until the growth plates close to alter may lower the risk.
A luxating patella is when the kneecap pops out of place. It is mostly seen in small dogs but can be seen in the giant breeds also.
The luxating patella is usually given a grade of 1-4 to determine the severity. A grade 1 is hardly noticeable while a grade 4 is when the patella is out of place all of the time and normally requires surgery.
Pano is a painful inflammatory bone disease of large breed puppies usually between the age of 6-18 months.
The inflammation can affect one or more of the dog’s limbs and makes it challenging and painful to move around.
With treatment, the inflammation can be reduced and the dog can regain full function and activity.
Risk: High. Slow and steady growth may lower the risk.
Arthritis is a common health issue seen in many Newfoundland dogs. They can experience arthritis in their joints, spine, and neck.
Arthritis is inflammation in a dog’s joints.
It gets worse over time, and symptoms may begin as simple morning stiffness and progress to lameness and swollen, painful joints.
Risk: High. Giant breed dogs are prone to arthritis. Keeping them at a healthy weight may lower the risk.
Newfie neck is a general term given to issues such as a pinched nerve, slipped disc or arthritis in the neck area.
Given the Newfies large head, the neck is often strained either to the collar being used or strenuous activities.
Risk: Moderate. Using a walking harness over a lower may put less strain on the neck and lower the risk.
Intestinal/Digestive Problems Seen In The Newfoundland
Bloat in dogs is the combination of 2 conditions-gastric dilatation where the stomach fills with gas and fluid, and volvus, which is where the gas-filled stomach twists (GDV).
Once the stomach twists, the blood supply to the stomach is cut off and the stomach begins to die which can lead to shock and death of the dog.
Megaesophagus is a disorder in which the esophagus dilates and loses the ability to move food into the stomach.
When esophageal motility is decreased or absent, food and liquid accumulate in the esophagus
There are two types of megaesophagus. Congenital megaesophagus is seen in puppies when they are beginning to eat solid food and acquired megaesophagus occurs later in the dog’s life.
Dogs with megaesophagus normally regurgitate food and water. Since their food does not make it to the stomach to be digested, these puppies do not grow well and they will lose weight if they develop acquired megaesophagus as adults.
Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD)
IBD is a condition where a dog’s stomach and/or intestine becomes home to an unusually high number of inflammatory cells.
These cells cause changes in the lining of the digestive tract, which inhibit the normal absorption and passage of food.
The cause of inflammatory bowel disease is not well understood.
Veterinarians don’t know if it’s a disease or the body’s defensive response to other conditions.
Any number of things may contribute to IBD in dogs, including genetics, food allergies, parasites, bacteria or an abnormal immune system.
Risk: Moderate. Often misdiagnosed as another, less sinister GI condition.
A disease characterized by convulsions that results in disturbances of consciousness.
Idiopathic epilepsy, the most common cause of seizures in the dog, is an inherited disorder, but the exact cause is unknown.
Some causes may include liver disease, kidney failure, brain tumors, brain trauma, or toxins.
Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)
DM is a slow-moving disease that causes progressive loss of coordination and weakness of the hind legs that eventually results in paralysis.
A dog will often start to exhibit paw knuckling due to loss of feeling in that leg and then gradually lose mobility all together.
Cancers Common In The Newfoundland Dog
Lymphoma is a type of cancer that originates in the lymphocyte cells of the immune system.
A type of white blood cell, lymphocytes play an important and integral role in the body’s defenses.
Osteosarcoma in dogs is an aggressive cancerous tumor that develops in the bone cells of a dog and rapidly spreads throughout the body.
Osteosarcoma is linked to rapid growth and it is more common in large and giant breed dogs.
There is currently no cure for this type of cancer.
Risk: High. Giant breed dogs are prone to Osteosarcoma. Early detection may prolong the dog’s life and there is the hope of a new vaccine.
Blood Disorders Seen In The Newfoundland Dog
Thrombopathia is an inherited blood clotting disorder affecting the Newfoundland dog breed.
The disorder is characterized by blood clotting malfunction, and as such causes increased bleeding.
Von Willebrand’s Disease
Von Willebrand’s disease (vWD) is an inherited bleeding disorder in dogs.
It is caused by a lack of von Willebrand factor (vWF), which plays an important role in the blood clotting process.
Normally the body responds to an injury causing bleeding through a complex defense system.
A loss in von Willebrand factor leads to abnormal platelet function and prolonged bleeding times.
Affected dogs are prone to bleeding episodes such as nose bleeds, and may experience increased bleeding with trauma or a surgical procedure.
Immune System Health Issues Seen In The Newfoundland Dog
Hypothyroidism is a common medical condition in the Newfoundland breed where the dog’s body is deficient in thyroid hormone.
This deficiency is produced by immune-mediated destruction of the thyroid gland, by natural atrophy of the gland, by dietary iodine deficiency, or as a congenital problem.
Too little hormone and the dog becomes listless, overweight, and even bald in spots.
Myasthenia Gravis is a condition where there is a lack of acetylcholine receptors that result in muscle weakness. This keeps the muscles from contracting, causing affected dogs to become weak.
This health issue in Newfoundland dogs can be congenital or acquired.
Kidney Issues Seen In The Newfoundland
Cystinuria is a genetic kidney defect.
Newfoundlands appear to be affected by a more severe form of the disease than other breeds.
Normally, cystine that is filtered in the kidney is reabsorbed within the tubules, resulting in little cystine in the urine. Dogs with cystinuria do not properly reabsorb cystine (and a few other amino acids) in the kidney tubules, causing the urine to contain abnormally high levels of cystine.
Cystine is insoluble in neutral pH or acidic urine, so excess urinary cystine results in the formation of cystine crystals, which in turn can lead to the formation of cystine calculi (stones) in the kidney and/or bladder.
Risk: High. Cystinuria is an inherited disorder. Proper screening done by a responsible breeder lowers the risk of passing this condition on.
Laryngeal Paralysis in dogs is the degeneration of nerves which control the muscles that move the laryngeal cartilages, located in the throat.
These cartilages control airflow into and out of the trachea (windpipe) during breathing.
During swallowing, normal laryngeal function protects the airway by closing the opening to the trachea and preventing aspiration of food or water. In laryngeal paralysis, respiratory obstruction occurs because the cartilages remain in a central position causing airway resistance, instead of opening up the airway during inspiration.
How To Avoid Common Health Problems In The Newfoundland Dog
At some point in time, most dogs will experience some health problems but there are things that you can do to help lessen some of the problems.
Make sure that you’re doing your homework when looking for a Newfoundland dog breeder. Ask to see health clearances such as cardiologist checks.
Make sure that the sire and dam have been cleared for Cystinuria. This is a simple DNA test that any breeder can do.
Ask to see OFA or Penn Hip Clearances.
Familiarize yourself with bloat and make sure you have a plan in place.
Be aware of environmental issues that could affect your Newfoundland such as feeding them a balanced diet keeping in mind joint and heart health.
Maintain a healthy body, provide low-impact exercises, spay or neuter them at the correct age, maintain a good grooming schedule for coat health and make sure to have annual visits with your veterinarian.
Newfies CAN live long, healthy lives.