All in all the WCS is a rather healthy breed although its AVK (ancestor loss coefficient) is low and its COI (inbreeding coefficient) is very high on average. It is essential to have certain tests like the ECVO eye test and the cardiology checkups done on a regular basis, not only once in a lifetime.
As young dogs WCS tend to have sensitive eyes. Normally, they grow out of it within the first year but the owner should keep an eye on this (pun intended 🙂 ) since the dog could be suffering from distichiasis. If this is the case, the extra eyelashes which cause problems have to be removed.
Hip dysplasia can occur and it is too bad that only a small number of dogs are actually X-rayed. We know several cases of WCS with patella problems. PL is probably the greatest problem in the breed at the moment. Several of our imported Dogs are not 0/0. We even had such a dog in our first litter ourselves. The patellas will become one of the bigger problems of the breed in the future, we are afraid.
In Spaniels is also known a form of ED wich is called IOCH (Incomplete Ossification of the Condylus humeri). The Problem is that it’s not known how it is inherited. On the classical ED X-ray it’s also extremly hard to see so excluding affected dogs from breeding is very difficult.
When our B-litter was about 9 months old the owner of the stud informed us that he was diagnosed with epilepsy which was a shock. We all started to do research and found out later that the “fly catching” form of epilespsy the dog showed actually was no epilepsy but a digestive disorder that easily can be treated with omeprazol. It’s not nice of course but compared with the diagnosis epilepsy it was a relieve. We also heard of more WCS who had this condition so whenever a dog is showing these “fly biting” symthons always check on this first! Here and here are two articles about it.
Very rarely, heart problems are seen (we are among the few “lucky ones” with our After Eight although in her case it’s caused by a bacterial infection!) but there are no valid statistics available for any of the above-mentioned diseases. The Cocker Spaniel Database offers more information on diseases as well as pedigrees. The woman who takes care of it, Pien Bogers, does it all in her spare time on a voluntary basis. We think she is doing a great job!
Sometines we are ask about the so called “Cocker rage” as far as we know it doesn’t occur in the WCS.
Because unfortunately, there are so few dogs tested in this breed on far too few diseases we decided to have at least our own dogs tested on as many things as possible and to get them X-rayed from top to toe before breeding them. We do as much research on our dogs’ health and their pedigrees as possible but we are aware that even the most responsible breeding plan can only reduce health risks, not eliminate them completely – which is normal with living animals.
For us, testing our dogs means:
– X-rays on all joints and the back
– patella check
– regular checkups at the cardiologist
– regular ECVO eye tests
– genetic tests on AMS,AN,FN, pcrdPRA, EIC, PFK (We didn’t have all our dogs PFK tested because in fact it’s not a breed problem and we don’t know of even one dog who is a carrier, let alone affected.)