There is so much more to breeding than just having a litter of pups for sale! Your new Mastiff baby should come from a reputable breeder who has taken the time and consideration to breed this benevolent breed responsibly. The parents of your new pup should be health screened for genetic issues that plague the Mastiff breed. Please take the time to educate yourself about some of these horrible diseases, and please ask your breeder "do you fully health screen?"
EYE CONDITIONS IN THE BREED
Canine Multi-focal Retinopathy (CMR), also known as Retinal Dysplasia/Retinopathy - Abnormal development of the retina present at birth and recognized to have three forms: folds, geographic, and detachment. A Mastiff with folds will currently pass CERF and the folds may disappear over time while the geographic and detached forms may cause loss of vision or blindness. There is a DNA test available through OptiGen for CMR in Mastiffs.
Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) - Degenerative disease of the retinal visual cells which leads to blindness. In Mastiffs the age at which PRA can be detected varies from as young as 6 months to as late as 42 months. Typically Mastiffs with PRA go blind gradually, first losing their night vision and then their day vision. Many do not go completely blind until they are 8 years old or older. There is a DNA test available through OptiGenfor PRA in Mastiffs.
ORTHOPEDIC, NEUROLOGICAL, STRUCTURAL, AND JOINT CONDITIONS IN THE BREED
Elbow Dysplasia - Elbow dysplasia encompasses several different conditions, all of which are indicative of abnormally formed or fused elbow joints and all can cause lameness and pain: Fragmented Coronoid Process (FCP) - This form of elbow dysplasia is generally the most difficult to treat if the fragments are actually loose in the joint. Osteochondritis Dissecans (OCD) - A defect in the joint cartilage overlaying or attaching to the bone. OCD most commonly occurs in the elbows, shoulders, hocks, and stifles. Ununited Anconeal Process (UAP) - In giant breeds such as Mastiffs, the Anconeal Process can close later than in smaller breeds, often as late as one year of age or older.
Hip Dysplasia - Hip dysplasia is a painful condition caused by abnormally formed hips. The animal may become lame in the hindquarters due to the pain associated with the degeneration of the hips.
Cancer - Most forms of cancer have been diagnosed in some members of the breed. Cancer can be hereditary while others occur spontaneously or even due to environmental toxins. Although there are several forms of cancer found in Mastiffs, the most common types are Osteosarcoma (Bone Cancer), Lymphoma, Hemangiosarcoma, Mast Cell Tumors, Squamous Cell Tumors, & Breast Cancer. Today there are advanced medical treatment options such as radiation, chemotherapy, and medications to reduce the size of the tumors and offer pain management to help maintain a good quality of life. Please visit the National Canine Cancer Foundation for more information.
Cystinuria- An inherited metabolic disease caused by a defective kidney transporter for cystine and some other amino acids. Because cystine readily precipitates in acid urine, crystals and later calculi (stones) can form in the kidney and bladder. Cystinuria in Mastiffs primarily affects males and can result in serious illness and may be life-threatening. Cystinuria DNA screening is now available. Visit MCOA for more information.
Epilepsy – A seizure disorder which can have multiple causes. The age of onset of the inherited form is normally around 6 months to 5 years of age. Epilepsy is often difficult to treat successfully in Mastiffs and other large breeds. There is ongoing research currently with epilepsy. To learn more please visit the MCOA
DNA advancements are ongoing for the Mastiff breed. All breeders should be health testing and DNA screening. There is no valid excuse to not health test. If we use the science we can help improve the science and breed healthier Mastiffs.