The Keeshond –the national dog of the Netherlands– is a breed of dog known for its people-friendliness, sensitivity and empathy. Unfortunately, hip dysplasia in Keeshonds is a common occurrence.
Meet the Keeshonds
Keeshonds are easy dogs to live with which makes them great for families.
They are always happy and full of “energy”. They are naturally loving dogs, gentle and mellow, and especially friendly to children and other pets. They are easy to train and once trained, are very obedient.
They form deep bonds with their owners and develop an almost human-like understanding of emotions and moods. If you’re having a really bad day, your Kee will more than likely sense your tension and offer comfort.
If that sounds funny or odd to you, ask anyone who has a Keeshond as a pet and listen to the stories they can tell you about their dogs. It’s no surprise that Kees make excellent therapy dogs!
Keeshonds do need a lot of attention, and if they are ignored for any length of time they get very emotional and agitated.
They easily adjust to living in an apartment or small condo but still require several brisk walks every day. If you live in a house with a fenced yard, they’ll run around and around, really enjoying themselves.
Kees have thick, bushy coats which is why they like cooler climates. On hot days they need plenty of shade or be kept indoors with air-conditioning. Their thick coats need daily brushing, and they shed fairly heavily in the spring and fall.
The Keeshond comes from an Arctic dog breed with traces of Samoyed, Chow Chow and Pomeranian. They were originally bred to guard river barges along the Rhine River in Holland, and for many years they worked on Dutch riverboats where they were valued for their sturdiness, intelligence and resourcefulness.
They make excellent watchdogs because they are extremely alert, protective and cautious. It takes very little to cause them to bark. However, they are not the best option if you’re looking for a guard-dog, because they’re very friendly animals.
Kees are small dogs covered in long, thick coats with manes around their necks. In this respect they resemble one of their ancestors, the Samoyed.
Their wedge-shaped heads have medium-length muzzles and erect, triangle-shaped ears. They have dark, chestnut eyes with thin rims that give them the appearance of wearing glasses. Their long, straight coats come in mixed patterns of gray, black and white.
A healthy Keeshond can live as long as 15 years. They are considered a healthy breed, but common health problems include heart and eye disorders, and hip dysplasia.
Hip dysplasia in Keeshonds
Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease that primarily affects large and giant breeds of dogs but can also affect medium-sized breeds and occasionally small breeds. It is primarily a disease of purebreds, although it can also occur in mixed breeds.
To understand hip dysplasia in Keeshonds and the resulting arthritis, you need a basic understanding of how the dog’s hip joint is affected.
The hip joint is comprised of a ball and socket that forms the attachment of the hind leg to the body. The ball portion is the head of the femur and the socket is located on the pelvis.
In a normal hip joint the ball rotates freely within the socket. The bones are shaped to perfectly match each other with the socket surrounding the ball.
To strengthen the joint, the two bones are held together by a strong ligament. The joint capsule, a strong band of connective tissue, circles the two bones to provide added stability.
Example of a normal hip joint:
Hip dysplasia is linked to abnormal joint structure and a laxity of the muscles, connective tissue, and ligaments that would normally support the dog’s hip joints.
As the disease progresses, the articular surfaces of the two bones lose contact with each other. This separation of the two bones within the joint causes a drastic change in the size and shape of the articular surfaces.
Example of an abnormal hip joint:
Most Kees who eventually develop hip dysplasia are born with normal hips, but due to their genetic make-up the soft tissues surrounding the joint develop abnormally. This leads to the symptoms associated with hip dysplasia. The disease may affect both hips, or only the right or left hip.
The symptoms of hip dysplasia in Keeshonds cause afflicted dogs to walk or run with an altered gait, similar to a bunny-hop.
They begin to resist any movement that requires full extension or flexion of the rear legs. They will experience stiffness and pain in their rear legs after exercising and on first rising in the morning.
Climbing stairs becomes difficult if not impossible. Some dogs will limp and are less willing to participate in normal daily activities, including walks they formerly enjoyed.
It appears that the amount of calories a dog consumes, especially during its fast-growth period from three to ten months, has the biggest impact on whether or not a dog genetically prone to hip dysplasia will develop the disease.
Obesity can increase the severity of the disease in dogs that are genetically susceptible and the extra weight will intensify the degeneration of a dog’s joints and hips. Dogs who are genetically prone to hip dysplasia and also are overweight, are at a much higher risk of developing hip dysplasia and eventually osteoarthritis.
Exercise can be another risk factor. Dogs genetically susceptible to hip dysplasia may have an increased incidence of the disease if they are over-exercised at a young age. Moderate exercise like running and swimming is best for exercising young dogs.
Because hip dysplasia in Keeshonds is primarily an inherited condition, there are no products that can prevent its development.
Through proper diet, exercise, and a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, you can slow, and sometimes halt, the progression of these degenerative joint diseases while providing your dog with relief from its pain. Winston’s provides many of the raw materials essential for the synthesis of the joint-lubricating synovial fluid as well as the repair of articular cartilage and connective tissue.
You might also want to consider providing your dog with an orthopedic bed like the Canine Cooler Bed which distributes the dog’s weight evenly and reduces pressure on its joints. The Canine Cooler Bed uses revolutionary SoothSoft Technology to give your dog the very best in comfort, and the fluid-enhanced design offers a dry, cooling effect with superior cushioning and support. It’s perfect for dogs with hip dysplasia or arthritis.
If owners insisted on only purchasing an animal whose parents and grandparents were certified to have good or excellent hips, and if breeders only bred these first-rate animals, then the majority of the problems caused by hip dysplasia would be eliminated.
If you are looking to purchase a Keeshond now or in the future, the best way to lessen the possibility of getting a dog that will develop hip dysplasia is to examine the incidence of the disease in the dog’s lineage. If at all possible, try to examine the parents and grandparents as far back as three or four generations.
There are different assumptions on how to prevent the progression of hip dysplasia in Keeshonds.
Poor nutrition, inadequate or improper exercise, and increased body weight may all contribute to the severity of osteoarthritis after the hip dysplasia has developed. Watching the calories your puppy or young dog consumes and preventing obesity in your dog, allowing only non-stressful types of exercise, and a daily regimen of Winston’s Joint System, are the best things you can do for your dog.
Since 1990, Winston’s Joint System and Winston’s Pain Formula have helped heal over twenty thousand dogs from all over the world. Our staff specializes in hip dysplasia, arthritis and all joint, pain and mobility issues.
There is an excellent chance we can help your dog, so please contact us at: www.dogshealth.com or call our toll free number at 888-901-5557.