Health Problems in Belgians

Updated April 4th, 2010

Here are som health issues that you as a future or current owner of a Belgian Sheepdog might want to be aware of. The Belgians are generally healthy dogs with long and happy lives, but according to studies I've read, these breeds have a higher incidence of epilepsy than the average dog population. They should also be checked for eye diseases, hip and elbow dysplasia.

  • In collecting reports of anesthetic complications in these breeds, it has been noted that some of them are extremely sensitive to Acepromazine. Even a tiny dose added to their preanesthetic medications may leave some Belgians unable to stand 18-24 hours post op. Some require IV fl uids to fully recover. I would discourage the use of this drug in these breeds. I have had several reports of death following the use of Rompun in Belgians. They do not seem to handle it well at all. (From VETERINARY NOTES ON THE BELGIAN BREEDS by Libbye Miller DVM)
  • Belgians should be x-rayed for hip & elbow dysplasia when they are between 18 - 24 months old (Norway) and only healthy dogs from healthy lines should be used for breeding. You can read more about HD here.
  • You can read more about Elbow Dysplasia here.
  • Belgians should have their eyes checked for genetic eye diseases before being bred. You can read more about this topic here.
  • In Belgians, Idiopathic Epilepsy is a genetic disease. For more information about Epilepsy, visit the International Epilepsy Registry of Belgian Shepherds. This is a great site, and if your dog has sezuires, you can register it here. You can also read more about Epilepsy in dogs here.
  • You can read about the Dental Anatomy of Dogs here. Some lines of Belgians are predisposed to lacking teeth, especially the premolars.
  • More about Dental Anatomy and bites here.