Malamute health

Health Testing ​​
There are so many things a breeder can test for ( I have
posted some issues on this page). Lets take Hips and Elbows for
instance: Parents can be OFA good, Offspring - can still have hip
problems. Right now, testing does not guarantee and certainly does not "
cure" hip dysplasia in bloodlines. Long ago breeders didn't have the option
to test.. They bred the fur babies they had and that is what gave us our
lines and pedigrees today. Due to the past I feel that issues that may arise
will always in some way be there due to the dogs of the past.....Health
screening is only a key that the dogs being bred do not have issues, however it
does not mean they are not carriers....... ​​There is still too much 
unknown. Many factors do play a role in a puppies development, feeding,
activity , living situations, and hereditary.  I believe no
breeder can guarantee a puppy will stay free of any issues in their lives
however I feel that a good breeder should stand behind their pups 100% and be
their for their puppy buyers.   

As a puppy buyer.. you need to decide how important this is to you and what you
will want and expect if you purchase a puppy that ends up with hip problems or
any other health issues at that..  Make sure in your search in looking for
a fur baby, the breeder you go with is there for you for the life of the puppy
and will back the puppy up if something should arise.

Bloat (Gastric Torsion):

A condition where a build up of air or stomach contents that cannot be passed
through the intestines. This is LIFE THREATENING and  requires
immediate medical attention from your vet.  It may lead to
the twisting of the stomach. Bloat (Gastric torsion)  may
cause a painful death in a matter of minutes! Rapid diagnosis and treatment by
a veterinarian is essential to save the life of your dog. Dogs that have
bloated and survived are at high risk for a recurrence of this condition.

The exact cause of bloat is not known. It does seem to occur mostly within a
few hours of eating or drinking, especially if the dog has been exercised
shortly after the meal or is a rapid, gulping eater. Other causes of bloat are
(but not limited to) overeating, intestinal blockage , traumatic injury, or
physical stress (whelping, vomiting, etc). 

A current trend to elevate the food bowl can worsen bloat occurance by allowing
the dog to gulp more air as it eats.

Indications of bloat include abdominal distention (tight/bloated stomach),
restlessness, excessive drooling or panting, retching without actually
vomiting, and/or watery diarrhea.

Coat Funk:

Coat funk is a coat disorder characterized by the breaking and
eventual loss of the guard coat. The hair does not grow back and will
eventually give the affected dogs body a woolly lamb appearance. Males are
usually affected, but cases of affected females or only a loss of undercoat
have been reported.

Coat funk appears to be a problem with the hair follicle cycle where the normal
cycle of shed & regrowth halts. The hair becomes brittle with age, coat
breaks off and lost hair is not replaced. Lab tests such as thyroid level and
skin scrapings will appear normal.

Symptoms of coat funk first appear around 2-3 years of age, but may not attract
much concern by owners until the severity increases. Initial signs of the
disorder are coat  breakage around the collar, tail, and hair stress
points such as the haunches and buttocks. Eventually this pattern of broken
coat will spread to the rest of the body.

Affected dogs appear normal in all other respects, and can lead full and happy
lives. However, care must be given to protect them from weather elements
including, cold or wet weather, excessive exposure to sun or wind, etc.

Coat Odor:

Common name for a coat that has a strong chronic odor. Characterized
by a sour smell and returns within a few days of bathing. Little is known about
the cause of this condition, but may be linked in some instances to a border
line thyroid problem. Other suspected causes are vitamin or mineral
deficiencies and allergies.
Occasional (non chronic) strong coat odor can be caused by a fungal or
bacterial growth in the undercoat. In these instances, the undercoat has become
wet from bathing, swimming, etc and was either improperly or incompletely

Day Blindness:

A retinal disorder causing an inability to see objects and determine distances
during exposure to daylight. An affected dog may have partial or normal vision
under low light conditions such as night and evenings, or at dusk, when
indoors, or during overcast days. The severity of the disorder varies in each
dog affected.

Day blindness does not worsen over time and may be detected in puppies
less than two months old. There is no known effective treatment at this time.
Affected dogs should be monitored and their activities restricted during
daylight hours.


Condition where the lens of the eye
becomes clouded  impairing the vision. The degree of vision loss depends
upon the size and location of the cataract within the eye. Cataracts may also
cause a lens protein to leak into the eye, resulting in an immune reaction and
inflammation of the eye. Surgical replacement of the affected lens is the only
method to restore vision.

Cataracts can be a result of old age, disease or trauma to the eye, or be
congenital (before birth).

Progressive Retinal Atrophy: PRA & CPRA 

Is a degenerative condition of the retina which causes impaired
vision and slow or incomplete light reaction by the pupil. (Note: The retina is
the deepest of three main tissue layers which make up the inner wall at the
back of the eye.) Normally the condition appears between the ages of four and
eight years old. There are two types of progressive retinal atrophy, general
(PRA) and central (CPRA).

PRA is the more common type of retinal atrophy and affects the photoreceptor
area of the retina. CPRA is similar to PRA, but affects the retinal layer
beneath the photoreceptive area. Symptoms may be subtle at first, including a
reluctance to go outside at night, staying near lighted areas or their owner,
difficulty in tracking a moving object, reluctance to climb stairs, or
misjudging indoor jumps.

Initial onset is characterized by night blindness (poor vision in dim lighting)
and normal vision in the daylight. Progression of the disorder eventually leads
to loss of day vision and later total blindness. In the final stages the pupil
does not react to strong light and is widely dilated. Cataracts are not
uncommon. There is no known effective treatment.

Dwarfism also known as  Chondrodysplasia:

A  genetic condition involving the development of the growth plates in the
legs, resulting in stunted or deformed growth. It is most noticeable in the
forelegs which can become short, squat, and bow inward under the body. An
effected dwarf may be barely able to walk or seem almost normal, depending on
the severity of the condition.

Elbow Dysplasia:

Elbow Dysplasia is a  condition that  involves the improper
development of the small bones in the elbow, which do not grow together as they
should. This can include improper growth, exercise, feeding.  This results in lameness, poor extension of
the elbow, pain and swelling.

The cause of this abnormality is not known. Surgery may alleviate the condition
as long as arthritis has not developed in the elbow.

Hip Dysplasia 

Is a condition in where the socket of the hip joint will be
deformed or too shallow, allowing the rounded end of the thigh bone to separate
from the socket. In most cases the rounded ball end of the thigh bone will be
abnormally flattened and the neck of the bone may show signs of thickening.
This condition can also be caused from the hip ligaments or muscles not having
enough control over the hip during movement (i.e., trauma to the hip area
during development).

Most breeds are at risk and especially the larger dogs. This is probably due to
the greater weight of the body and the associated greater stress to the joints.
Dogs with hip dysplasia are born with normal hips, but the condition will
usually manifest itself within the first two years. The more severe the hip
joint abnormality... generally the sooner it will become apparent.

Hip dysplasia may vary from mildly abnormal development to complete hip
dislocation. The severity of the condition may also be influenced by too rapid
growth, overfeeding (over nutrition), or excessive exercise. It is usually
painful and interferes with proper movement and activity levels, depending upon
the severity.

Diagnosis is made by X-raying the hip joint. Treatment depends upon the
severity of hip deformity. Mild cases may require the dog to be on a life-long
prescription of pain medication. Surgery to reconstruct or replace the hip
joint may be required in more severe cases or as the hip joint wears with age.
In severely dysplastic cases the dog may require euthanasia (death).


Hypothyroidism is a disorder caused by the deficiency of a thyroid
hormone that is marked by a low metabolic rate. Usually caused by the
destruction of the thyroid gland from an immune process, atrophy or
cancer.  Hypothyroidism is the most common of hormone disorders in dogs,
and Malamutes are one of the breeds that appear to be at increased risk.

Some signs of hypothyroidism include mental dullness, avoidance/intolerance to
exercise, general lethargy, weight gain without increased food intake, slow or
poor coordination, seizures, as well as reproductive, coat (dry, dull, loss,
slow regrowth) and skin problems (dry/scaly).

Symptoms may be gradual and subtle, and usually appear between two and six
years of age. Treatment consists of hormone replacement therapy, which must
continue throughout the dog's life, and recovery to a normal lifestyleis


Inflammation of the sensory and motor nerve fibers resulting in nerve damage
and progressive muscle weakness. Characterized by gradual onset and slow
progression of symptoms. The earliest indications may be a change in voice,
difficulty in swallowing, or regurgitation of food. Further signs are
uncoordinated movement, trembling muscles, loss of balance and eventual
paralysis of the legs. 

Some known or suspected causes include physical trauma, dysfunctional immune
system, drug or chemical toxicity, heavy metal toxicity (lead, copper, zinc,
etc), metabolic diseases (hypothyroidism, diabetes, etc), and cancer.

Treatment is dependent upon the underlying cause of the condition. Recovery
will depend upon the degree of nerve damage involved. The specific cause in
many dogs may not be identifiable and no effective therapy available. In cases
suspected to be hereditary, most dogs will eventually recover on their own.
However, these dogs will not fully recover to their pre-polyneuropathic
condition and will require some form of invalid care in the meantime.

Wobbler's Syndrome 

Is a condition which is a failure of proper support to the vertebrae area and
affects the spinal cord in the hip area. Found mostly in large breeds or
sometimes in long backed breeds. This is a fatal condition which usually
progresses slowly, but in some cases can cripple a dog in less than a day. Onset
is normally between three and twelve months of age. The exact cause is not
known, however displacement of vertebrae due to a long neck, overfeeding , and
too rapid growth is suspect in influencing the condition.

Characterized by a progressive lack of coordination in the hindquarters due to
very weak & unsupportive leg muscles and a palsy-like shaking of the head.
As the condition continues, the front quarters become affected and the rear
will eventually become completely unsupportive, quadriplegic. The condition is
frequently extremely painful.

Diagnosis is by X-ray. Treatment consists of surgery to alleviate
displacement/deformity of the vertebrae. Acute cases respond best to surgery,
slowly progressive cases the least.

Neat Website with different Malamute information.