See below the breede specific section for a collection of useful links......



BREED HEALTH Last updated November 2013 Gastric Cancer Study UpdateJuly 2013

No matter what breed you research, you will find that each one has its own list of health problems. Whilst Belgians are overall a fairly healthy breed, there are some breed health issues of which the new owner or potential owner should be aware. The following information is not meant to frighten or deter anyone from considering a Belgian, it is simply to educate those interested on the issues present in our breed.

Breed Predisposition to Disease and Congenital Conditions: Some of the conditions known to occur in the Belgian Shepherd; are Epilepsy, Hip Dysplasia (HD), Elbow OCD, Eyes - Cataracts & PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy), Neoplasia, Vitiligo, Gastric carcinoma, Anaesthesia Sensitivity.


Although not a disease, something that must also be considered in this breed is that many Belgians have been found to be highly sensitive to anaesthesia. Owners and vets should be aware that Belgians have died under anaesthesia and that careful monitoring during and in the immediate recovery period after general anaesthesia is important. It is recommended that Vets follow the same anaesthesia protocol as for sighthound breeds.

These MUST READ pages should be printed out and given to every Belgian owners veterinarian
(Please don't disregard as BSD's stilll needlessly die under anesthetic when undergoing the simplest procdeures).

Belgians and Anesthetic by Libbye Miller DVM and Basic facts of Anesthesia by Michael J Kibelbek ready to print

Veterinary Notes on the Belgian Breeds flyer to print and hand out


Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is the most common, heritable orthopaedic problem seen in dogs. It affects virtually all breeds of dogs but is especially problematic in large and giant breeds. Clinically, the disease manifests itself in one of two ways:

A severe form that typically afflicts the younger animal and is usually characterized by marked pain and lameness, or:
A more chronic form with more gradual onset of clinical signs such as mild intermittent pain, stiffness and restricted range of motion in the hips as the dog ages.

In Australia, Hip scores and Elbow scores are usually obtained after a dog is 12 months of age, the dog is x.rayed by a vet and the x.rays are then scored by the AVA or your vet if they are qualified. The x.ray is a once off procedure and requires the dog to be fully anaesthetised when being x.rayed. For more info on how Hips are scored and a comparrison chart of scores in different countries please visit
OFA Hip Grade

PennHIP - A New Scientific Method for Early Screening of Canine Hip Dysplasia - dogs can be scored earlier than 12 months. More info can be found on PennHIP on our vet's website here
Monash Vet


Hip Dysplasia - from the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA) website, “Hip Dysplasia is a terrible genetic disease because of the various degrees of arthritis (also called degenerative joint disease, arthrosis, osteoarthrosis) it can eventually produce, leading to pain and debilitation…No one can predict when or even if a dysplastic dog will start showing clinical signs of lameness due to pain. There are multiple environmental factors such as caloric intake, level of exercise, and weather that can affect the severity of clinical signs and phenotypic expression (radiographic changes). There is no rhyme or reason to the severity of radiographic changes correlated with the clinical findings. There are a number of dysplastic dogs with severe arthritis that run, jump, and play as if nothing is wrong and some dogs with barely any arthritic radiographic changes that are severely lame.”  OFA hip dysplasia info


23rd March 2012
A new epilepsy gene for idiopathic epilepsy in Belgian Shepherds has been found in the canine chromosome 37

Epilepsy simply refers to repeated seizures - Seizures may occur as a one time event in an animal from a variety of causes, but only if the seizures repeat again and again over a period of time do we call it epilepsy.
There is an estimated 17% affected rate in Belgian Tervuren, I don't have the Statistics dor the other varieties.
Whilst we can X-ray Hips and test eyes, unfortunately there is not yet a test available for epilepsy, so the best that a responsible breeder can do is to breed only non-seizing dogs. However, just because a dog shows no symptoms does not mean he/she is not a carrier, and therefore, no breeder can guarantee that the dogs they produce will never have a seizure.

In the BSD (Belgian Shepherd Dog) it appears to be an inherited disease, although the mode of inheritance is not well understood and so far difficult to eliminate by selective breeding, as often it may not appear until the dog is 5 years of age and at this age many dogs have already been bred from. There is currently an epilepsy study being conducted in the USA, using DNA from samples sent in from breeders around the world, with the hope that a suitable screening program can be developed for the future.

Idiopathic Epilepsy in the Belgian Tervueren (and other varieties
As with humans, in many instances, depending on frequency and severity of the seizures, the condition can be largely controlled by careful management and medication.


Understanding Your Pet's Epilepsy - by Dennis O'Brien, DVM, PhD, Diplomate, ACVIM, Specialty of Neurology, University of Missouri, College of Veterinary Medicine. For full article please refer to
"Epilepsy simply refers to repeated seizures. Seizures may occur as a one time event in an animal from a variety of causes, but only if the seizures repeat again and again over a period of time do we call it epilepsy. Seizures are a sign of brain disease the same way a cough is a sign of lung disease. Saying an animal has epilepsy is like saying it has a chronic cough; it is a sign of a problem which isn't going away. Anything which damages the brain in the right area can cause epilepsy. If we can identify the cause of the seizures, say a brain tumor or a stroke, then we say the pet has symptomatic (or secondary) epilepsy. That is, the seizures are a symptom of a disease process we've been able to identify. If we've looked and can't find the cause, then we call it idiopathic (or primary) epilepsy. The term idiopathic simply means that we don't know the cause. It may be that the cause has escaped our attention; for example, a stroke that is too small to detect with routine brain scans or damage that occurred during whelping.

Many of the idiopathic epileptics have inherited epilepsy: epilepsy caused by a mutation in a specific gene which they inherited from their parents. Dogs with idiopathic epilepsy frequently begin seizing at between one and three years of age, and certain breeds are predisposed to develop epilepsy. A few breeds have proven hereditary epilepsy, while in most it is just a strong suspicion. One of the goals of the Canine Epilepsy Project is to identify genes responsible for epilepsy in dogs. This will allow us to positively diagnose the hereditary form and take steps to decrease the incidence of epilepsy in dogs."


Please Note: There are multiple causes/triggers for seizures, so if a dog (of any breed) has a seizure(s) it does not mean it suffers from epilepsy - some causes include, thyroid problems, an accident, or even a reaction to vaccines or poisons etc
Always consult your veterinarian

See the links below for more information on epilepsy.

* A new epilepsy gene for idiopathic epilepsy in Belgian Shepherds has been found in the canine chromosome 37
* Idiopathic Epilepsy in the Belgian Tervueren (and other varieties) - By Dr Jeff Sampson, KC Genetics Co-ordinator
Ideopathic Epilepsy (ABTC)
Developing a Genetic Marker (ABTC)
Clinical and Genetic Advances - Canine Epilepsy by George J Brewer Md (ABTC)
AKC Grant Information (ABTC)
Analogy for a Polygenic Trait (ABTC)
Be Part of the Solution (ABTC)
* UC Davis Epilepsy Study
Glossary of Terms (ABTC)
Canine Epilepsy Resource Center
Understanding Your Pet's Epilepsy
Epilepsy By Alicia Aylward Marcinczyk "It happened without warning. One moment my young male Belgian Tervueren was snuggling against me as I sat on the couch; the next moment he lost control of his hindquarters and fell onto his side, unconscious......"
Understanding Your Pet's Epilepsy - *** Highly recommended!
Epilepsy [HomeVet© Natural Pet Care]
Canine Epilepsy and diseases that cause seizures in dogs
Canine Epilepsy Network
Canine Epilepsy Resource Centre
Facial Mal Seizures in Dogs
Canine Epilepsy
Seizure Disorders - The Pet Health Library
Table of Contents - Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels If your dog should have a seizure, please make sure your veterinarian draws blood for a "thyroid test"

IDIOPATHIC VESTIBULAR DISEASE not specific to Belgians, but listed here because first signs can be confused with a seizure or particularly can be confused with a stroke in old dogs.


Thyroid and the Tervuren (relates to all varieties of BSD) as mentioned above seizures can also be caused by Thyroid problems.
"Changes in behavior including hyperactivity and aggressive behaviors may be connected to low thyroid levels. Or, lethargy and mental dullness may be noted. For a breeder, infertility is a sad side effect. Both male and female dogs are affected with bitches having short heats and males exhibiting testicular atrophy" ~ please rad full article.

"Autoimmune thyroiditis is the most common cause of primary hypothyroidism in dogs. The disease has variable onset, but tends to clinically manifest itself at 2 to 5 years of age. Dogs may be clinically normal for years, only to become hypothyroid at a later date. The marker for autoimmune thyroiditis, thyroglobulin autoantibody formation, usually occurs prior to the occurrence of clinical signs."
OFA Genetic Databases - Thyroid Database
Canine Aitoimmune Thyroid Disease - by W Jean Dodds DVM
What's The Big Deal About the Little Thyroid
Behavioral changes associated with thyroid dysfunction in dogs
Hypothyroidism F.A.Q.

Progressive Retinal Atrophy and Cataracts are eye diseases that occur in Belgians.

Eye testing certificates are valid for 12 months, eye problems known in Belgians are often late onset issues that can occur from 2 to 4 years. Eye testing can be done as early as 7.8 weeks of age, it is recommended that breeding stock be eye tested yearly. A specialist ophthalmic vet does the eye testing, which involves putting drops into the dog's eyes to dilate the pupils, in order for the vet to perform a visual check deep into the eye. A Final Eye Certificate may be given to dogs over 8 years old, problems that occur after this age are considered to be normal old age issues and not hereditary conditions.

Lists some Inherited Cataracts in Dogs- CERF - USA
Canine Eye Registry Foundation - CERF (What is CERF?)
Cataracts - A Common Ocular Disease in Dogs
Inherited Cataracts (pg 1)
Inherited Cataracts (pg 2)
What breeds are affected by cataracts?
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA)
Genetic Testing for PRA in Dogs
Star Cataract - (Posterior, Polar Subcapsular) Cataracts
Persistent Pupillary Membranes in Dogs (PPM's) are known to occur but not considered a health issue/problem within the breed, for further info on PPM's or other eye conditions please refer to
Canine Eye Registration Foundation - USA
Animal Eye Care - our Eye Testing Clinic in Victoria, Australia
Eyevet Consulting Services - The Veterinary Ophthalmology Information Centre
Through the Eyes of Your Canine - How dogs see, can my Blind dog lead a normal life?
Owners of Blind Dogs Site - Providing love support and information for all blind and visually impaired dogs.


Belgian Sheepdogs (Groenendael) have 15 times the risk for stomach cancer compared to other dogs.

Belgian Tervurens (Tervueren) have 8 times the risk for stomach cancer.

“The Michigan State University Center for Comparative Oncology in collaboration with Dr. Elaine Ostrander at the National Human Genome Research Institute is conducting a study to determine the cause of stomach cancer in breeds that have an increased risk. Stomach cancer (gastric carcinoma) is a highly malignant cancer and it is almost always fatal. Early detection, prevention, and improved therapies depend on recognition of factors that contribute to causing stomach cancer.  In general, stomach cancer is rare in dogs. Veterinary databases indicate that about 0.1% of dogs (1 in 1000) received this diagnosis. However, certain breeds are diagnosed with stomach cancer much more frequently. Chow Chows have between 10-20 times the risk of stomach cancer compared to other breeds and we have been studying this cancer in Chows for a number of years with the goal of identifying the gene(s) that lead to stomach cancer predisposition. Now we are also investigating stomach cancer in other breeds that demonstrate an increased risk 1) based on data from the Veterinary Medicine Database or 2) in which we have identified a familial pattern of occurrence. One of these breeds is the Belgian Tervuren. Belgian Tervurens have 8 times the risk for stomach cancer compared to other dogs.”

Stomach Cancer Study in Belgian Sheepdogs this is a .pdf (if you can't open it Get adobe reader)
Gastric Cancer Study UpdateJuly 2013
Stomach Cancer Study in Tervuren American Belgian Tervuren Club)   
and there is more info/resources at
The Belgian Sheepdog of America site
Gastric Adenocarinoma (ADC)
and for some general info on
Cancer in dogs

Health Matters - go to "Breed Information" on the BSDC of Great Britain web site
Breed Health Information and Current Health Studies - American Belgian Tervuren Club
The Library - A Belgian Shepherd Resource Guide - courtesy of EPIX Belgian Sheepdogs
Vaccination Story in the Dogs World UK March 2004 and Vets in UK Speak Out Against Vaccination
New page for our Vaccination protocols NEW PRINCIPLES OF IMMUNOLOGY Vaccination dangers etc
On-line Medical Dictionary - Medical terms and their meanings.
The Pet Health Library
Monash Vet Clinic - Aust - Our trusted & fantastic vets - Mark, Ray and the gang.
Australian Veterinary Association
Animal Friends On-Line - Links to Dog Sites - Health Related
OFA Genetic Databases - Cardiac
OFA Genetic Databases - DNA
Addisondogs - Addisons disease in dogs SYMPTOMS - Vomiting, Diarrhea, Lethargy, Depression, Lack of appetite, Tremors or shaking Muscle weakness, Pain in hind quarters
Leptospirosis is a worldwide (includes Australia) problem "causing fever, anemia, septicemia, kidney and liver infections, abortion and stillbirths - the dog may die from acute septicemia, anemia, kidney failure...."
Informational Articles from Golden Retrievers in Cyberspace - This site has some fantastic articles and links, eg - Artificial Respiration, Choking, First Aid Kit, Noise Phobias - Fear of Thunder or Loud Noises, Orthopaedic Problems - Elbow Dysplasia - Hip Dysplasia - Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) - Panosteitis ("Growing Pains," "Wandering Lameness") - PennHIP Questions & Answers, Flea Allergy Dermatitis, Skin and Allergy Problems in Dogs * * * Highly recommended!
Harmony Animal Hospital Laugh, learn, share and explore the world of all kinds of pets Not just for dogs but for all pets - the dog section includes many interesting articles eg. Does Your Dog Suffer from Separation Anxiety?
Harmony Animal Hospital Pet Care Library - Dogs
Pet Many articles on the following - Feeding & Nutrition - Preventive Health Care - Grooming & Sanitation - Supplies - Diseases & Conditions - Bacterial, Viral & Fungal Diseases - Bones, Joints, Muscles & Nerves - Digestive System, Liver & Pancreas - Ear, Skin & Allergies - Endocrine (Hormonal) Conditions - Eyes - Heart & Lung Conditions - Immune, Lymphatic & Blood Conditions - Parasitic Diseases - Reproduction & Fetal Development - Teeth, Mouth & Throat - Urinary System Diseases - This site is well worth the visit!
Dog Owner's Guide - Very informative and educational, with lots of informative articles including Bloat, Thyroid etc...* * * Highly recommended!
Australian Canine Current Events - Home Page - * * * This site has some fantastic links, including - Health & Nutrition etc
A Guide to Hereditary and Congenital Diseases in Dogs, Published by The Association of Veterinarians for Animal Rights
Dog Owner's Guide: Autoimmune diseases
Canine Inherited Disorders Database
Animal Health: Adequan® Canine Home Page - Arthritis (degenerative joint disease) in dogs - six common joint conditions. This site describes the benefits that can be had by using 'Glucosamine' for arthritic dogs, which I use myself for my Hip Dysplastic girl.
All Creatures - DOGS - Diseases in Dogs
Aussie Vet - Online Vet - Vetafarm Australia
Dr Dog
Siriusdog - * * * Covers just about everything you'd want to know about anything doggy.
Merck Veterinary Manual Comprehensive electronic reference for animal care information NEW 18th April 2004
Emergency dog links - Dog Emergencies, First Aid and CPR, Poisoning, Bereavement......
What to Put In Your Canine FIRST AID KIT
The Bloat Book - Emergency procedures - Bloat is life threatening
ASPCA/NAPCC (National Animal Poison Control Centre) Information Page
Informational Articles from Return to Golden Retrievers in Cyberspace - This site has some fantastic articles and links, eg - Artificial Respiration, Choking, First Aid Kit, Noise Phobias - Fear of Thunder or Loud Noises. *** Highly recommended!
Australian Veterinary Association
Canine Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Resources - includes links to HD comparison charts (schemes in different countries)
OFA Search Online
OFA Genetic Databases - Hip Grades and different countries comparison chart
PennHIP Program- The University of Pennsylvania Hip Improvement
OFA Hip Info
PennHIP is a new system for the early detection of Hip Dysplasia. - Dr Ray Ferguson - from Monash Veterinary Clinic (our vet) s one of several Australian veterinarians trained and registered to carry out PennHIP radiographs.
Canine GENETICS Resource, Dog Genetics - Hip Dysplasia Articles
OFA Genetic Databases - Elbow Dysplasia
OFA Genetic Databases - Patellar Luxation
Informational Articles from Golden Retrievers in Cyberspace - This site has some fantastic articles and links, eg - Orthopaedic - Elbow Dysplasia - Hip Dysplasia - Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) - Panosteitis ("Growing Pains," "Wandering Lameness") - PennHIP Questions & Answers. * * * Highly recommended!
What you still don't know about the "A" Stamp can hurt you - (FCI comparison chart - revised Sept 2000)
Animal Arthritis FAQ
OFA - PenHip Update - Looking at OFA and PennHIP in 2003 and 2004 by Fred Lanting
Hip Dysplasia
Online Vets
Panosteitis This is a fairly common condition of long bones in the large breeds of young dogs - Causes Lameness


Deafness in Dogs & Cats
Deaf Dog Education Action Fund
Degenerative Myelopathy - Dr. Scanlan
Degenerative Myelopathy - Support group, includes comprehensive info on DM
Degenerative Myelopathy German Shepherd Dogs - R.M. Clemmons, DVM, PhD
Animal Cancer FAQ
Truth In Advertising: Breeder Self-Regulation New 1st May 2005
BARF!!! Bones and Raw Food - We have fed our dogs a mainly raw food and bone diet for over eight years , with impressive results - and believe it has contributed to their good health and reproduction.
Dr Ian Billinghurst - author of the book Give Your Dog a Bone” which began the worldwide BARF dietary revolution for pets, it's a great book to read on the subject of BARF.
Holistic Animal Health: Animal Diseases and their Natural Care - PART 2
Pet health care links including herbal references - Links to many other Health sites.
Holistic Health Information for Companion Animals - Also info on Chiropractic, Natural rearing, Breeding, Training, Flower Essences and more.
Herbs For Pets
Greenpet - Natural Alternative Health for your Pets and Livestock
Vets All Natural
The Use of Alternative Therapy in Dogs and Cats
International Flower Essence Centre
Out of the Earth - Natural Healing Alternatives For Pets & Their People - including some very interesting articles on raw diets and the Herbal Parasite Cleanse for Cancer
How to Take the Pulse of a Dog
Taking Your Pet's Temperature
Administering Medications to Dogs
Common Drugs & Nutraceuticals for Dogs and Cats
TRAINING & BEHAVIOUR now has it's own "BIG" page
and Breed - Info, Standard, Description, Puppy Manuals, FAQ