HEART DISEASE (SAS)
Canine subvalvular aortic stenosis (SAS) is an abnormal, congenital heart murmur caused by subaortic stenosis (SAS).
This disease has NOT been detected in any breeding dogs in our breed, but we know of certain "wolfalike" breeders (not associated with our club) who have used White Swiss Shepherd Dog bloodlines known for producing mitral valve disease and subaortic stenosis.
Responsible breeders should research bloodlines prior to purchase and make enquiries into the health of the bloodline they plan to use before putting them into any breeding program. As a club, we have an ethical responsibility not to breed lines that are affected with serious disease, as there is strong evidence that SAS is heritable.
A dog might carry the genes for SAS, yet have no actual sign of SAS. Also, a dog might have signs of SAS and yet offspring with signs of SAS may not be seen for a couple of generations.
Any animal that has SAS should not be bred, because they can definitely pass the defect on to future offspring.
Puppies and dogs diagnosed with SAS can suffer from heart failure and sudden death.
If a dog with SAS develops heart failure, medications can be prescribed to alleviate the clinical signs (sudden/strong lethargicism, continuous heavy panting, rise in temperature etc.)
In Australia, breeders can have their dogs examined by a veterinary cardiologists for heart murmurs. A dog which auscultates normally at 12 months of age is considered to be free of congenital heart disease; and a clear certificate is issued.
Once the Cardiologist has examined the dog for evidence of cardiac disease via Echocardiograph, they will supply a Cardiac Certificate of Examination. This will include the dog’s details and the Echocardiographic Examination findings.
Details to note:
Structural Changes: No structural changes are preferable
Aortic Velocity: Normal being <2m/sec
Pulmonic Velocity: Normal being <2m/sec
Vascular Changes: No vascular changes are preferable
- The Cardiologist will supply a Certification Statement being one of the following:
- The above animal has no echocardiographic evidence of cardiac disease
- The above animal has echocardiographic changes, which I consider to be of no significance with regards to breeding
- The above animal has an echocardiographic abnormality, which I consider makes it unsuitable for breeding purposes.
The Cardiologist may also supply imaging of the heart, with readings and state at the end of the assessment "fit for breeding"
Heart testing MUST be performed by a Registered Specialist in Veterinary Cardiology. There is only a handful of these Specialists in Australia. Unlike with Hip and Elbow scoring, dogs must NOT be sedated for Heart Testing as this alters the findings. None of the few specialists will sedate the dog for Heart Testing, if the dog was sedated, the test is void.