Healthissues of the Australian Kelpie

Australian Kelpie in Holland

Bashyr, Indra & Numme (lying down)
Bashyr at wprk with sheep.
Bashyr, Indra & Numme.

Healthissues of the Australian Kelpie

Healthissues of the Australian Kelpie


Fortunately the Australian Kelpie is quite a healthy breed.



Nevertheless, even the Australian Kelpie is susceptible to certain disorders. On this page you can find information about the disorders that are known to sometimes occur in the Australian Kelpie.

This list is not complete. Like every other dog the Kelpie can contract diseases in his daily life. This is why we strongly advise you to vaccinate your dog each year and de-worm every 6 months. Please ask your veterinarian to inform you concerning this subject.

This pages are intended for informative and educational purposes, to those interested in our breed.


We intend to provide accurate information on these health issues. However we do not claim to be outright.

We would like to emphasize, you should contact your veterinarian regarding health issues concerning your dog.


Below you can read the information about these disorders:


* Cryptorchysm

* HD (Hip Dysplasia)

* Cerebellar Abiotrophy

* Patella luxation

* Epilepsy

* Heart disease (source: Breed club of Australian Cattle Dog and Kelpie in The Netherlands)





Retained Testicle or Cryptorchidism in Dogs cryptorchid sertoli



Ron Hines DVM PhD 7/22/2004

Cryptorchid testicles in dogs are a relatively common occurance. Retained testicles or cryptorchidism in dogs is ofen discovered on the dog's first veterinary visit. Retained testicle or cryptorchidism in dogs is an inherited trait. If only one testicle is retained in a cryptorchid dog the pet is still fertile. Retained testicle or cryptorchidism in dogs is not a painful condition. We suggest that retained testicles or cryptorchid dogs have the retained testicle removed surgically. This is because retained testicles in dogs often become cancerous. Most retained testicles in cryptorchid dogs can be removed through an incision near the scrotum. Some retained testicles in dogs must be removed by entering the abdomen.


Sertoli Cell Tumors:

Cryptorchid dogs have a higher rate of developing a certain cancer call a Sertoli cell tumor. The Sertoli cells, which are located in the testicles, provide nourishment to the sperm cells. They also produce feminizing hormones (estrogens). These tumors often cause thin skin, sparse hair coat, aplastic anemia, enlarged breasts and attractiveness to other male dogs. The hair loss in these cases is very specific in that it is identical on both sides of the trunk (bilaterally symmetrical). We diagnose this tumor by this distinctive pattern of hair loss that occurs in a cryptorchid dog. Occasionally we may need to do ultrasound examination of the retained testicle as well as a plasma estrogen level to confirm the diagnosis. Ten to twenty percent of these tumors are malignant and can metastasize (move) to other parts of the body.. If the tumor has spread it can be treated successfully with chemotherapy consisting of vinblastine, cyclophosphamide, and methotrexate. To avoid this debilitating treatment, we veterinarians suggest that the cryptorchid testicle be located and removed before it has the opportunity to becoming cancerous. Another problem that occurs in rare instances in cryptorchid pets is torsion of the spermatic cord , the sperm duct attached to the testicle.


Diagnosis And Therapy:

Cryptorchidism in dogs over twelve weeks of age is self-evident on physical examination. One only needs to pass the scrotum through pinched fingers to notice that only one or none of the testicles are present. In more than half of the cases I can palpate the missing testicle in the fat located in the animals groin. In these case I have read that the testicle can be relocated into the scrotum. I have also read that testosterone therapy sometimes allows the retained testicle to descend into the scrotum. I have never performed either of these procedures because I do not wish to play a part in perpetuating the disease to future generations of dogs. Instead, I remove the retained testicle along with the normal one when I neuter the pet.


Dogs that are cryptorchid have a higher incidence of other genetic defects such as inguinal and umbilical hernias, abnormally formed penis and sheath, as well as patellar luxations.


Some authorities suggest waiting up to six months before deciding that the testicle(s) are not going to descend. I have never seen a case where the testicle(s) were not descended at twelve weeks of age but descended later. Surgery is always easier on a pet when it is young so don’t put off the surgery too long.




Hip Dysplasia


Understanding the condition and its treatment...


By Dr. Race Foster & Dr. Marty Smith

From Pet Pause, a Drs. Foster & Smith Inc. Publication, 2253 Air Park Road, Rhinelander, WI 54501, Spring 1996, Vol. 2 No. 2


Canine Hip Dysplasia is a relatively common disorder in veterinary medicine. The highest incidence occurs in larger, rapidly growing dogs. We find many people have misconceptions about dysplasia, considering it to be a form of arthritis affecting the hip joints. It is true that we see severe arthritis in dogs with this condition but this is the secondary result of dysplasia, not the primary problem. Once you understand the disease. you can easily understand its treatment. This article will explain what Hip Dysplasia is, its progression over the life of a dog, and the treatment of an affected pet. We will also consider its significance in breeding programs.


To better understand the condition, let's look first at the hip joint of the dog. It forms the attachment of the hind leg to the body with a "ball and socket" joint. The ball portion is the head of the femur, the long bone between hip and knee. The socket, called the acetabulum, is located on the pelvic bone. These two form the joint of a normal dog where the ball rotates freely within the socket. To facilitate movement, 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 ligament going directly from the femoral head into and attaching to—the acetabulum. Also attaching to both bones and completely encircling the joint is the joint capsule. This thick band of connective tissue additionally acts to hold the bones together. The area where the bones actually touch each other is called the articular surface. It is perfectly smooth and cushioned with a layer of spongy cartilage. In the normal dog, all of these factors work together for smooth and stable joint function.


Hip Dysplasia is a disease that affects development of the hip joint in a young dog. It may or may not be bilateral (affecting both the right and left hip joints) . It is brought about by a laxity of the muscles, connective tissue, and ligaments that should support the joint. Even dysplastic dogs are born with normal hips but the soft tissues that surround the joint start to develop abnormally as the puppy grows. This is because of genetic factors in the individual dog. The most important result of the change is that the two bones are not held in place but actuallymoveapart. The joint capsule and the ligament between the two bones also stretch, adding further instability to the joint. As this happens, the articular surfaces of the two bones lose contact with each other. The slight separation ofthe two bones of the joint is called subluxation; this—and this alone— causes all of the resulting problems we associate with this disease.


It is important to remember that if two bones within any joint lose their normal position in relationship to each other, their articular surfaces no longer correctly contact each other. The surrounding muscles of the dog's joint work to force the bones back together but they are never totally successful. Because of the dog's weight, the femoral head often rides up onto or over the rim of the socket. With every movement of the leg, there are now two abnormal areas of bone grinding against each other insteadof contacting on a smooth articular surface. A disaster is about to occur.


Wherever these bones come in contact, new abnormally-shaped bone will grow. It is a vicious cycle; new bone growth causes further irritation which causes more abnormal bone growth. This is what we refer to as arthritis and it is usually a very painful condition. The femoral head that once looked like a smooth billiard ball now looks more like a head of cauliflower. The acetabulum (socket) that was once deep enough to enclose the femoral head is now shallow due to the grinding away of the rim. The edge is covered with bone spurs. As the condition progresses, more new abnormal bone forms and along with it comes further pain and distortion of the bone.


The puppy with Hip Dysplasia usually starts to show signs between five and 13 months of age. These range from mild discomfort to extreme pain when using the hind limbs. This will occasionally be seen following prolonged activity or when the dog gets up or lies down. Later in life the signs become more consistent, noted daily regardless of activity levels. Adult dogs that are in severe pain will usually decrease their activity. They are unwilling to run or climb stairs and, with decreased use, the muscles of their rear legs atrophy and become weakened. A few will learn to alter their gate and posture, often showing little or no signs of discomfort even though the bone changes are severe.


Signs of Hip Dysplasia in young dogs are generally thought to be from small irritations or even minor fractures occurring in the bone spurs that form around the socket. Fractures may be caused by the pup's increasing weight or exercise. Sudden periods of discomfort usually follow prolonged activity. In the adult, the discomfort is simply from arthritis of the deformed joints and chronic irritation.



How can Hip Dysplasia be diagnosed? The answer to that question also provides the hope for elimination of this debilitating disease. Only with x-rays can we truly diagnose dysplasia and hope to eliminate it. Regardless of what you have been told, you can never be positive that a dog showing rear leg lameness has dysplasia unless it is x-rayed. And you can never be sure that a dog showing no signs is disease-free without an x-ray You can be fooled either way.


The good news about Canine Hip Dysplasia is that most cases can be treated to help eliminate or decrease pain, allowing fairly normal levels of activity. Very few dogs today have to be put to sleep to alleviate suffering. There are always choices to be made, but the vast majority of affected animals can live quite comfortable lives.



Treatment is always directed at the stage of the disease. In the young suddenly showing discomfort, treatment is usually combined with rest. Bufferin combined with cage rest for five to seven days is usually adequate to "put out the fire" until the next flare-up. As the dog matures, surgery is the solution of outward signs of discomfort are consistent. Although a few patients can be maintained for long periods, even years, with pain medication and anti-inflammatory drugs, this is usually not the answer. There are three basic surgeries, all of which attempt to eliminate or reduce the pressure between the two arthritic surfaces.


The first surgery involves the cutting of the pectinious, which is one of the muscles that try to add stability to the joint by forcing the two bones back together. When it is cut or has a portion removed, the two bones move apart. We have had varied success with this procedure in our practice. It sometimes eliminates all pain and further surgery is not required.


The second type of surgery is the removal of the femoral head. No bony attachment between the leg and the rest of the body sounds radical, but the dog's body will compensate as the outer muscles in the area become stronger and hold the leg in place. This allows near-normal motion and use. Remember that the front leg of the dog is held to the body by muscles only; there is no bone-to-bone connection between the front legs and the rest of the skeleton. By removing the femoral head we eliminate the pain of the two bones coming in contact with each other. We have many active dogs in our practice that were able to continue their active lifestyles because of this surgery.


The final surgical technique available to a patient with dysplasia is total replacement with an artificial joint made of steel and high-impact plastic. This is very expensive and rarely necessary.


Throughout all of this, please remember that the individual dog affected with dysplasia can usually be helped to live a life that is generally free of pain. We would like to stress that fact. However, we cannot forget that some dogs do not respond well to medication or surgery.


Finally remember Hip Dysplasia is genetically spread from one generation of dog to the next. A veterinarian can certify that a dog is not dysplastic by having it x-rayed after 24 months of age. The x-rays are sent to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) for grading and certification. By breeding only those dogs certified as free of dysplasia, we continue our efforts to eliminate the disease. We want to point out that the system is working. It has been shown that in those breeds actively using OFA certification, the incidence of the disease is decreasing. If you are not x-raying your breeding animals, then you may contribute to the problem rather than the solution.



Cerebellar abiotrophy


What is cerebellar abiotrophy?

The cerebellum is the part of the brain that regulates the control and coordination of movement. In this condition, cells in the cerebellum mature normally before birth, but then deteriorate prematurely causing clinical signs associated with poor coordination and lack of balance. The Purkinje cells in the cerebellum are primarily involved; cells in other areas of the brain may also be affected.


How is cerebellar abiotrophy inherited?

An autosomal recessive mode of inheritance has been confirmed or is strongly suspected for the abiotrophies listed below, with the exception of x-linked cerebellar ataxia in the English pointer, which has an x-linked mode of inheritance.


What breeds are affected by cerebellar abiotrophy?

Neonatal cerebellar abiotrophy (very rare) - Affected cells start to degenerate before birth, so that signs of cerebellar dysfunction are present at birth or when the pup first walks.

Beagle, Samoyed


Postnatal cerebellar abiotrophy - Cells in the cerebellum are normal at birth and begin to degenerate at variable times thereafter.

Australian Kelpie, Border Collie, Labrador Retriever - Clinical signs are first seen at 6 to 12 weeks, and the condition worsens quickly (over a few weeks).

Cerebellar and extrapyramidal nuclear abiotrophy - Cells in other regions of the brain deteriorate as well.

For many breeds and many disorders, the studies to determine the mode of inheritance or the frequency in the breed have not been carried out, or are inconclusive. We have listed breeds for which there is a consensus among those investigating in this field and among veterinary practitioners, that the condition is significant in this breed.



What does cerebellar abiotrophy mean to your dog & you?

The cerebellum is the part of the brain that regulates the control and coordination of voluntary movement. The clinical signs of cerebellar dysfunction in affected dogs may include poor balance, a wide-based stance (feet planted far apart), stiff or high-stepping gait, apparent lack of awareness of where the feet are (standing or walking with a foot knuckled over), and head or body tremors. These signs worsen either quickly or slowly (see breed list above). Affected dogs may become unable to climb stairs or stand without support. They have normal mental alertness.

Where other regions of the brain are also affected, you may see signs such as behaviour change (loss of house training, aggression), confusion, blindness, and seizures.


How is cerebellar abiotrophy diagnosed?

This is a rare disorder. The clinical signs are suggestive of cerebellar disease, particularly if they are seen in a breed in which abiotrophy is known to occur. Your veterinarian will do tests to rule out other conditions that can cause similar signs.


How is cerebellar abiotrophy treated?

There is no treatment for this condition. Dogs do not recover from this disorder and usually at some point (depending on the rate of the progressive deterioration that occurs), euthanasia becomes the best option.


Breeding advice

Affected dogs, their parents (carriers of the trait), and their siblings (suspect carriers) should not be bred. With x-linked cerebellar ataxia, only male pups are affected, and the mother is the carrier of the trait.




Patella Luxation


Patella Luxation is not common in Australian Kelpies, but there have been a few dogs who have been diagnosed with it. It is therefore advisable that breeders have their dogs and puppies tested by a vet.


What is it?

Luxating means out of place, or dislocated. The patella is the equivalent to the human kneecap and part of the stifle structure, and therefore a luxating patella is a kneecap that moves out of its normal location. The patella normally moves up and down in a groove in the lower femur bone called the trochlear groove. In patella luxation the groove is often shallow and this shallow groove prevents the patella from sitting deeply, predisposing it to dislocation. A patella that is not stable but does not slip out of joint is said to be subluxating, while one that comes out of joint on its own is said to luxate.


There are two types of luxation, medial and lateral. Medial luxation is the most common and is where the patella dislocates to the inside of the knee. One knee can be more severely affected than the other. This type of luxation is mainly congenital (present at birth) and trauma is not usually associated with it.


With lateral luxation the patella dislocates to the outside of the knee. Lateral patellar luxation can be congenital or the result of trauma to the knee. In some cases the patella can luxate both medially and laterally. Again, this disorder can affect one or both knees and to varying degrees.


What are the Symptoms?

Signs of luxation may appear as early as weaning or may go undetected until later in life. Signs include intermittent rear leg lameness, often shifting from one leg to the other, and an inability to fully extend the stifle. The dog may frequently stop to stretch his rear leg behind him to allow the patella to pop back into its normal groove. Mildly affected animals can have a hopping or skipping action. This is due to the patella luxating while the dog is moving and by giving an extra hop or skip the dog extends its stifle and is often able to replace the patella until the next luxation, when the cycle repeats.



A veterinarian can usually confirm diagnosis by manipulating the stifle joint and pushing the patella in and out of position. This can be done as early as 8 weeks of age to ensure that congenital patella luxation is not present before the puppy leaves for his new home. This type of examination is best left to the veterinarian, as an overzealous examination can stretch the ligaments.


The degree of patella luxation is graded from 1 to 4 depending on the relative ease with which the patella luxates. Grade 1 is the mildest and grade 4 the most severe. With grades 1 and 2 patella luxation the dog may not show any symptoms and can be incidental findings in mature dogs who have never been lame. Grade 3 and 4 dogs are usually lame. Severe cases may develop abnormal growth of the long bones of the leg or a non-functional knee.


Grade 1: Occasional carrying of the leg is seen, often described as skipping or hopping, which may be transient, often returning to normal by itself. Your veterinarian may easily luxate the patella manually and return it to its normal position. Pain may be evident only when the knee cap is luxated.

Grade 2: The frequency of luxation increases, becoming more or less permanent. The dog will usually carry its leg, but will occasionally bear weight on it. When palpated by the veterinarian, a dry, crackling sensation (crepitation) may occur in the joint. A grade 2 luxation can increase in severity, and if not surgically treated, can develop into degenerative joint changes.

Grade 3: Permanent dislocation that occurs though weight bearing may still be possible, however the stance will appear somewhat crouching or bowlegged. Surgical intervention should not be delayed, especially if this is found in a young, growing dog. Rapid growth of abnormalities results in progressive deformities.

Grade 4: Permanent luxation, with the affected limb always being carried, creates a bowlegged / crouching stance. Early surgery is strongly recommended at this stage for bone deformities of the femur and tibia may occur.

What Causes It?

Patella luxation is strongly suspected of being inherited, but it can also be caused by trauma.


When the luxation is from trauma, something has occurred that has caused the knee to be forced out of normal alignment. Usually the traumatic injury occurs when the dog's leg gets caught somehow and he struggles to pull free. Or during an overly enthusiastic playtime when the playmate grabs the foot and holds tight while the excited puppy tries to get away. Any other similar accident can permanently injure this small joint.


If the luxation is believed to be of a genetic nature, it is due to an abnormal development of the leg. The possible mode of inheritance is at present undetermined, but it is believed that it may be polygenic. This means that any number of genes may be involved, and that dogs are not "carriers" as such but it is merely an unfortunate specific combination of certain genes from the parents that produce patella luxation.


As with all polygenic traits, affected dogs should not be bred from as the risk of producing puppies with patella luxation would then be increased.


How is it treated?

Treatment is based on the severity of signs as well as the dog's age and weight, and ranges from rest (decreasing your pet's activity for 1-2 weeks) to surgical reconstruction of the knee joint.


Grade 1 luxations may respond well to anti-inflammatory therapy and restricted exercise. These may or may not progress to worsening grades.


Grades 2 through 4 luxations tend to require surgical corrections. The worse the luxations the more reconstructive surgery required to provide a functional joint.






Epilepsy in dogs (by T. J. Dunn, Jr. DVM )

Epilepsy in dogs, including grande mal seizures, are one of the most terrifying scenes a pet owner can witness. Once seen, it will never be forgotten. Epileptic episodes are quite common in dogs and actually show up more often in certain breeds of dogs than in others.

Let’s explore this disorder a bit and we will gain a better understanding of just what is going on during an epileptic episode.


First we need to know the terms…


EPILEPSY is defined as a neurological disorder characterized by sudden, recurring attacks of muscular, sensory, or psychic malfunction with or without loss of consciousness or convulsive seizures.


A SEIZURE refers to the involuntary contraction of muscles. Seizures can result from abnormal electrical activity in the brain brought on by tumors, blood clots or scar tissue, or from chemical imbalances such as low blood sugar or nerve stimulating drugs. Tetanus toxin poisoning can stimulate muscles to contract resulting in a seizure. A seizure may involve all the skeletal muscles or be localized to spasms in a single bundle of muscles. When we see an athlete fall down, stretch and massage the calf muscle during a muscle cramp… those calf muscles are in a state of seizure due to lactic acid buildup from changes in oxygen availability within the muscle.


A GRAND MAL SEIZURE refers to severe, widespread cramping of the body’s skeletal muscles. Skeletal muscles in general are those that attach to bones and allow for body movement; there are special smooth muscles that don’t attach to bone that usually are unaffected during a seizure. These smooth muscles reside mainly in the intestinal tract, blood vessels and specialized organ tissues. The heart muscle is actually different from either skeletal muscle or smooth muscle. Grand mal seizures are rather shocking to see.


A PETIT MAL SEIZURE is a less severe form of seizure where the patient still has some voluntary control of movement and coordination but where certain muscle groups are “doing their own thing” and brain electrical activity is mildly disrupted. Staggering, momentary “staring into space” and other forms of incoordination may be visible to an observer.


CONVULSION usually refers to a grand mal seizure. Sometimes these terms are loosely applied to an epileptic episode. We might say a patient is having an “epileptic attack”, or “is having a seizure” or maybe even a “fit”. However we describe it, the occasion will be uncomfortable for the observer and the victim.


STATUS EPILEPTICUS refers to a very dangerous situation where a rapid successions of grand mal seizures occur without periods of rest or muscle relaxation between epileptic episodes. Status epilepticus requires prompt medical intervention.



True epileptic episodes where the triggering mechanism is not due to poison, low blood sugar or other chemical stimulants have their origins within the brain tissue. Researchers believe that there is a locus (an actual spot or area in the brain) of abnormal or damaged brain nerve tissue. This tiny area may be of no consequence 99.9 percent of the time. But for various reasons such as dietary, chemical, or even psychological, this tiny locus of abnormal nerve tissue decides to start firing off signals. The nearby normal nerve cells are affected by these wayward nerve impulses and respond to them. This response then triggers other nearby nerve cells to fire and the outcome of this electrical chain reaction is a total loss of coordination!


The nerves from the brain that stimulate the voluntary muscles of the body (called motor nerves) are telling the muscles to get to work, but without proper supervision and control the different muscle groups are contracting without integrated coordination. Think of this as an orchestra where all the musicians are playing the same song except that the conductor isn’t present. Each musician starts and stops the melody at their own discretion without regard to what any other musician is doing. Surely not a pleasant thought… harmony, coordination and melody no longer integrate the music. And so it is with EPILEPSY. The harmonious and finely tuned integration of nerve transmission directing coordinated muscle movement is lost. The result is a seizure.


If this occurs in your pet, your first reaction is to race to the phone and call your veterinarian for help. Fortunately almost all epileptic episodes are of short duration… one to three minutes is most common. Five to ten minute episodes are getting into the more serious range of duration; and any seizure lasting longer than fifteen minutes generally requires medical attention.


A typical Grand Mal seizure may look like this: The dog will seem perfectly normal when, without warning, it begins to stagger just a bit when walking. Then it may appear to be backing up, will sit down on the hind legs and the facial muscles and eyelids will begin to spasm. (This is termed “muscle fasciculation”). Often the jaw muscles will spasm and the dog will appear to be “chattering his teeth” and will begin to salivate. Breathing will become forced and if the jaw is set in a closed position the forced breathing will stimulate the saliva to foam up. Now the dog appears to be “foaming at the mouth.”


Thorough information gathering aids diagnosing EPILEPSY.On other occasions the jaw will be held involuntarily in an open position and appears as if the dog is trying to yawn… or even as if to scream out and no voice is heard. This truly can be an unpleasant and scary experience for the dog and the owner! As the event continues the dog may fall over on its side, and stretch out with legs and neck extended, eyes rolled back, mouth foaming and the entire body going into a rigid state. Now it appears that the dog cannot breathe because of the intense muscle contractions and stiff posture.


After a few seconds (surely seems like minutes!) the dog begins to relax, the breathing returns to normal and voluntary movement becomes more evident. Here’s an interesting phenomenon: If the breathing is so interrupted that the dog begins to lose consciousness, the oxygen deprivation to the brain shuts off the seizure! So just when you think your dog is dying the seizure stops! Anyone watching the event returns to more normal breathing, too! After a few moments the dog will sit up, begin to “shake it off” and go back to normal activities as if to say “What was the deal with THAT?”


From start to finish the entire event may last from one to five minutes… just enough time to get the veterinarian on the phone to tell the veterinarian you think your dog is dying. Commonly, the dog will act placid and quiet for an hour or so after a seizure. By the time you describe over the phone what has transpired, the dog is often up and aware and looking for that rawhide chew toy it was working on just before he was interrupted. The veterinarian will ask you to describe what you saw and will then give you advice about what to do next.


And that is to have the dog examined… maybe not necessarily immediately as long as you can stay in touch with the veterinarian in the event that other seizures follow. But surely any dog that has experienced a seizure should be examined and some blood tests should be run to gain some knowledge of the dog’s physical and biochemical status.


More information about epilepsy



Heart disease


Report appointment cardiologist:

12/07/2012 12:15uur – 14:40uur

Stavelot, Belgium, with drs. Nicole van Israel, DVM, CESOpht, CertSAM, CertVC, MSc, Diplomate ECVIM-CA (Cardiology), European specialist™ in Veterinary Cardiology, MRCVS.

Present: Drs. Nicole van Israel (cardiologist), Cyrilla Pulmans (CGG member breed club / kennel Glaginye), Angelique Jongbloets (veterinarian), Bianca van der Post (kennel Dinky-Di-Dutch)


In response to the posts about various Kelpies with heart problems, there has a relevant research taken place in cooperation with the breed club about to the heart problem and the frequency in which it occurs, especially in a certain bloodline. Multiple Kelpies have been echography tested incl. color doppler screened through this research. Below is the result of the research discussed.


The dogs that gave rise to the research were Kalan Watta Dandy and his son Piet Kelpiebrink (deceased now), in a message which came via Facebook that they suffered from a heart defect, and in short time after that the death of 2 Kelpies from the same blood line. As a result, there are 29 Australian Kelpies (except 1 all partly in the same blood line) tested by echography incl. color doppler and we have submitted, in our opinion, the heart problems of the Australian Kelpie to drs. N. van Israel.


Bianca took all by her received heart results of echography incl. color doppler tested dogs and other heart results of Kelpies with her, and has submitted them to drs. N. van Israel.

Of all these (29) through echography incl. color doppler tested dogs there is so far only 1 dog that has actually physical complaints by a heart defect.


The so far tested Kelpies exhibit a free image, or a minimal insufficiency which is due to a 'sport heart' (demonstrably by echography incl. color doppler), or the disorder Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease with / without endocardia’s (nodules / intergrowth on the valves due to the degeneration).


Information about DMVD:








This defect is found in 70 – 80% of all older dogs (breed or none breed) and belongs to an old-age condition. Inquiry of several Australian Kelpie owners from various blood lines has shown that the old-age murmur (mitral valve insufficiency) indeed occurs regularly in older Kelpies.

In some dog breeds this defect comes at a very young age (before the age of 5 years) than it is a problem within the breed.


Littermates, and also the father of Ginny, Kalan Watta Dandy, that have died due to a heart defect are discussed. The father and one sister could be attributed to old age Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease. About the other littermate there is no data available.


Drs. N. van Israel reported us that given the aforementioned symptoms, from which both dogs were totally different, the sudden deaths of Dakota (Manual Included Dinky-Di-Dutch) and Ivar (Ivar DinkyDi-Dutch) are certainly not the result of Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease, and self-contained. In

addition, dogs that lead to Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease almost never suddenly drop dead.

Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease is a disease of the wear of the heart, and there is a decent time in advance with accompanying noticeable symptoms such as fatigue, poor endurance, many sleep, coughing, chest tightness, falling down due to excitement, before the heart will eventually fail, and the dog will die.

A dog with this defect has just as much risk of a suddenly death as any other (healthy) dog.


Drs. N. van Israel reported us that in the breed Australian Kelpie there is a defect called PDAB (Persistent Ductus Arteriosus Botallis) known to the cardiology. This can be a cause of some early deaths within the Kelpies with noticeable symptoms. There is a heart murmur already present directly after birth and is then established by the litter checkup or at the first vaccination check. This is actually not a heart defect, but the problem of a blood vessel that is supposed to close after the birth, but this so does not (yet). This causes a portion of the blood not going to the lungs, causing insufficient lack of oxygen in the blood, and the heart has to work harder in order to get enough oxygen in the tissues. The heart will get exhausted with mortality result (defect is operable). By incorrect screening this is often diagnosed as cardiomyopathy or Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease.


Information PDAB:





A Kelpie bitch, Inoeh Kelpiebrink (Almdalens Majsan x Free Uluru) from another bloodline, which was diagnosed with Cardiomyopathy and deceased at the age of 4 probably had a PDAB (Persistent Ductus Arteriosus Botallis), so another problem.

In addition, the bitch Bluey Jillaroo Uluru was 12 years ago suspected of cardiomyopathy after being tested by echography (without color doppler), however this is not sure to say. The dog is still alive without any heart medication (13.5 yrs old now), so probably this dog has no heart defect.


In the meantime, we also got in contact with owners of Working Kelpies with various heart problems. The heart diseases are therefore not limited to the FCI Australian Kelpie, or to 1 certain blood line. The seemingly minor heart problem within our breed, is according to drs. N. van Israel found within

the normal range as in other breeds or none breed dog populations.


Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease is in addition Polygenetic (the genetic defect is on multiple spots in the DNA) which leads that makes screening through breeding policy not easy. So there is no test now or in the near future in order to determine whether a dog is affected or carrier. And the disorder

is Multifactorial (multiple conditions; training, nutrition, parasitic infections, smoking in the vicinity of the dog, poor physical condition, circumstances in which the dog is kept (trip, moisture, hygiene)). At the moment a dog is genetically affected the multifactorial conditions will determine whether the

dog actually develops the disease (expression of the disorder). This does not prevent that the dog under optimal conditions can still develop this disease. Not all factors that bring this condition to an expression are known yet.


So we must absolutely make no panic, but stay realistic. In any case, we now have a good idea what heart defects some Kelpies are suffering from, and this is thanks to all the people who have let their dogs recently tested (our thanks to you all!).


The advice of drs. N. van Israel is to definitely not by definition exclude bloodlines or dogs for breeding but breed in a wise manor.

For all breeding dogs it would be better that dogs would be used only if they are at least 5 years old and have no heart murmur (yet), to ensure that it remains an old age disease. Of course it's not realistic to wait until the age of 5 years, certainly not for bitches. (rule of the Dutch Kennelclub, bitches first litter must be born before their 6th year of life!)


Drs. N. van Israel her advice is to ensure that every Kelpie annually (or interim when visiting a veterinarian) is checked through by stethoscope by a very skilled veterinarian to listen for a heart murmur. Should your Kelpie suffer from Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease, then it is advisable to take this dog in consultation and follow ups by a cardiologist, to get the right medication in a timely manner, so the dog will live as long as possible.


Once there is a murmur heard, it would be good if the owner passes this info to the breeder and the breed club, where they can put all info in a database to keep track at what age the heart murmurs are found within this breed. The owner of the dog basically don't have to do echography incl. color doppler test, because 90% of all heart murmurs found at an older age (over 5 years) have been incurred due to Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease.


At first the dog has no expense of this murmur. Usually the heart can compensate this little leak well for years. At the moment the heart murmur decreases again (because the heart, how contradictory it sounds, starts to wear out) or if the dog gets clinical complaints (e.g. less stamina, breathe faster, falling at rest with excitement, cough) it is wise to make an x-ray of the chest cavity, to see how the quality of the heart muscle or breast engorgement occurs in the lungs because of less functioning of the heart. With this than can be decided whether and what medications the dog needs. The owner does absolutely not have to be afraid that the dog will suddenly drop dead.


If it is it a breeding bitch or male younger than 5 years, it is wise to make an echography incl. color doppler test by a cardiologist to find out whether it is indeed Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease or 'sport heart' or another defect, and to ensure that you know what is present within the blood line.

An echography incl. color doppler test can best be judged by a cardiologist because the radiologist in training learned nothing in his training package about heart research.


This allows a dog with a sporting heart to be wrongly sentenced to sufferer from Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease! In the past there have already been made big mistakes which had a major impact within a dog breed.


This heart screening should according to drs. N. van Israel be carried out on 3 places on the body:

1 right side chest, at the height of heart,

2 left side chest, at the height of heart,

3 ln the middle under the diaphragm, in direction to the heart (for PDAB and aorta).


If this test is not carried out on these 3 places, then there is an incomplete imaging and the screening is not executed correctly, and is the outcome of this test not complete and may even be incorrect.


If there is a breed dog dying at a young age, then it is recommended to carry out both macroscopic as histological section on the dog, and provide this result to the breed club and to the breeder, so there are certainties about the cause of death and we get more insight in the prevention of any (heart) problems in young dogs, and we within the breed stay on top of the physical disorders.

Note that if breeders are doing their best to breed pedigree dogs as healthy as possible, they dependent on the information and feedback that puppy buyers submit about their dogs.

Thus the responsibility of the health of a breed is located at both the breeder and the owner of a (breed) dog.


If indeed there must be done an echography incl. color doppler test, as a breeding bitch/male has a heart murmur, then one can go to drs. N. van Israel ( in Stavelot or in Ridderkerk (NL) where she takes consults every 1 x per month, or to Mr. H. Gerritsen in Ommen (NL)

(, or in Utrecht (NL) at the Faculty at Mr. V. Szatmari (he currently has only 1 day in the week access to the ultrasound doppler equipment). These are locations for dog owners in The Netherlands, for people living in other countries we advise you to make an appointment to have the test done by a cardiologist.


On the website of drs. N. van Israel are several publications, this is a direct link to the publication



After consultation, we as breed Club recommend the following to the breeders:


Only use dogs that does not have a heart murmur at the age of 5 years or younger.


Bitches younger than 5 years will only be mated by males (who are) older than 5 years. (with a signed and dated statement, that there is no heart murmur detected in the physical examination of the dog with an indication of the test date)

Only use males younger than 5 years on bitches older than 5 years. (with a signed and dated statement, that there is no heart murmur detected in the physical examination of the dog with an indication of the test date)

If one wants to use an older dog with heart murmur it must be known when the heart murmur started and there must be a declaration of a cardiologist that it's going to be a murmur that it is Degenerative Mitral Valve Disease related to old age and not the aforementioned variant that is found in younger dogs.

The breed club will organize a consultation in which this item will be discussed with their breeders, to then submit the results to the yearly club meeting.


Australian Cattle Dog & Kelpie Vereniging (ACD&K Breeding Club) icw Australian Kelpie breeders

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