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

Last 13th Sept 2020




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

Hip Dysplasia (HD) - 13th Sept 2020

Canine Hip & Elbow Dysplasia Scheme

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 a
Canine Hip and Elbows Dysplasia scheme panellist or a qualified vet. 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 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


Orthopedic Foundation for Animals - Hip Dysplasia

From the OFA website - What is Canine Hip Dysplasia?

Canine Hip Dysplasia typically develops because of an abnormally developed hip joint, but can also be caused by cartilage damage from a traumatic fracture. With cartilage damage or a hip joint that isn’t formed properly, over time the existing cartilage will lose its thickness and elasticity. This breakdown of the cartilage will eventually result in pain with any joint movement.

No one can predict when or even if a dysplastic dog will start showing clinical signs of lameness due to pain. The severity of the disease can be affected by environmental factors, such as caloric intake or level of exercise. 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 x-ray evidence that are severely lame.

Hip Screening: Grade Classifications - The OFA classifies hips into seven different categories: Excellent, Good, Fair (all within Normal limits), Borderline, and then Mild, Moderate, or Severe (the last three considered Dysplastic).

Hip International Ratings Matrix OFA vs FCI/BVA/SV Ratings -– An Approximation


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

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 for 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.


13th Sept 2020
Genome-wide association analysis of idiopathic epilepsy in the Belgian shepherd No test as yet but this is exciting news!

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

The International Epilepsy Register for Belgian Shepherds

Idiopathic Epilepsy in the Belgian Tervueren (and other varieties) - By Dr Jeff Sampson, KC Genetics Co-ordinator - Belgian Shepherd Dog Association of Great Britain website


See the links below for more information on epilepsy.

Understanding Your Pet's Epilepsy - *** Highly recommended!

Epilepsy [HomeVetŠ Natural Pet Care]

Canine Epilepsy Network

Canine Epilepsy Resource Centre

Canine Epilepsy Guardian Angels If your dog should have a seizure, please make sure your veterinarian draws blood for a "thyroid test" - Excellent resource

IDIOPATHIC VESTIBULAR DISEASE not specific to Belgians, but listed here because the first signs can be confused with a seizure or a stroke in old dogs - 13th Sept 2020

Geriatric Issues in the Belgian Shepherd Dog - facebook group

Vestibular disease in dogs support group - facebook group


If your dog should have a seizure, please make sure your veterinarian draws blood for a "thyroid test"

Orthopedic Foundation for Animals - What is Hypothyroidism?

With Hypothyroidism, the thyroid gland is not making enough of a hormone called thyroxine that controls metabolism (the process of turning food into fuel). Hypothyroidism causes a wide variety of symptoms, but is often suspected in dogs that have trouble with weight gain or obesity and suffer from hair loss and skin problems. The good news is this disease isn’t life-threatening, it’s easy to diagnose with a blood test, and it’s fairly easy and inexpensive to treat. Treatment is typically a thyroid supplement taken daily.

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. Therefore, periodic retesting is recommended.

Thyroid Articles by Dr Jean Dodds DVM

Hemopet - Thyroid testing

Behavioral changes associated with thyroid dysfunction in dogs

Hypothyroidism in Dogs


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.

Australian Canine Eye Scheme The Australian Canine Eye Scheme (ACES) is a national assessment system for registered dog breeds, offering qualified certification for a range of congenital and inherited eye conditions.

OFA Companion Animal Eye Registry (CAER) USA

Animal Eye Care - the Eye Testing Clinic we use

Canine Eye Registration Foundation - USA


According to American figures, Belgian Sheepdogs (Groenendaels) are 16 times more likely to develop gastric carcinoma, compared to other breeds. Belgian Tervurens weigh in at 12 times more likely. European information tend to show more Belgian Tervueren with stomach cancer than Groenendaels. A Norwegian study on dogs with cancer indicated that Tervuerens are 56 times more likely and Groenendaels are 34 times more likely to develop stomach cancer than average breeds. Both American and European studies indicate a genetich predisposition.
Malinois and Laekenois do not appear to have this genetic predisposition at this time, but with inter variety breeding it might pop up in time.

International Register of Belgian Shepherds with Stomach Cancer


Belgian Shepherd Health Project websie - Gastric cancer in Belgian Shepherds


The Belgian Sheepdog Club of America’s Health page Excellent resource which includes the following

Cancer Information:
Gastric Cancer Research/Study

Stomach Cancer Flyer

Sample Collection Submission Forms/Instructions:
Tissue Collection
Blood Collection

Cancer Research Updates:
2013 Belgian Breeds Stomach Cancer Study Update
2016 Belgian Breeds Stomach Cancer Study Update

Dog Genome Project at National Institutes of Health 
2020 Gastric Update


About Gastric Adenocarinoma (ADC) and for some general info on Cancer in dogs


Australian Animal Poisons Helpline Australia

A FREE Poisons Information Helpline For Pet Owners 1300 869 738 (AU) - 0800 869 738 (NZ)

The Australian Animal Poisons Helpline is a non-profit charitable organisation that provides rapid, up-to-date and evidence-based poisoning advice to pet owners. The service is FREE for all pet owners in Australia and New Zealand and aims to reduce the morbidity and mortality that is associated with animal poisonings.

Bloat in dogs - Gastric Dilatation/Volvulus - Bloat is life threatening!

Bloat in Dogs: Signs, Symptoms and Treatment

MORE - 13th Sept 2020

The Belgian Sheepdog Club of America’s Health page - Excellent resource

VACCINATIONS - 13th Sept 2020

The Australian Veterinary Association Ltd (AVA)

New page for our Vaccination protocols NEW PRINCIPLES OF IMMUNOLOGY Vaccination dangers etc

Vaccination Story in the Dogs World UK March 2004 and Vets in UK Speak Out Against Vaccination

Infectious Diseases & Vaccines Dr J Dodds


OFA - What Genetic diseases and/or conditions should my breed be screened for?

OFA Genetic Databases - Cardiac

OFA Genetic Databases - DNA

OFA Patellar Luxation

Monash Vet Clinic - Aust - Our trusted & fantastic vets - Mark, Ray and the gang.

Australian Veterinary Association

Dogs Victoria - Canine Health

The Pet Health Library

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...."

Read This Before You Vaccinate For Lepto

Merck Veterinary Manual Comprehensive electronic reference for animal care information

Canine Addison’s Resources & Education (CARE)

Addison's Disease in Dogs - Overview

Addisons Dogs SYMPTOMS - Vomiting, Diarrhea, Lethargy, Depression, Lack of appetite, Tremors or shaking Muscle weakness, Pain in hind quarters

Addison’s Disease in Dogs: Detection and Treatment


EARS - 13th Sept 2020

Deafness in Dogs & Cats

Deaf Dog Education Action Fund