From the Genetics Committee of the Pembroke Welsh Corgi Club of America, Inc.The Pembroke Welsh Corgi is a true dwarf (achondroplastic) breed. Therefore, despite the Pembroke's smaller size, Pems are proportionally built just like the larger, "normal sized" dogs. Fortunately, in the United States the genetic pool is quite large, giving breeders options to avoid known genetic problems such as long coats (fluffies), mismarks (whitelies or bluies), monorchidism, hip dysplasia and inherited eye problems such as progressive retinal atrophy.
Members of the PWCCA are bound by the club's Code of Ethics, which calls for breeding only animals of sound temperament and structure, with clear/normal hips and eyes, and clear of other known inherited problems. When evaluating a breeder and considering the purchase of a puppy, do not hesitate to ask questions such as:
- Are the sire and dam screened clear of hip dysplasia via an OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals) evaluation?
- Are the eyes certified clear of inherited conditions by a veterinary opthamologist?
- Describe the temperament of both the sire and dam. Any noise sensitivity or other observed fears? How do they react to new situations?
- What other inherited conditions are found in Pembrokes? (Hint: if the answer is "none"-that's not the right answer!) Does the breeder openly talk about reproductive issues, cancer and autoimmune diseases, hips and eyes?
A survey of PWCCA members produced the following list of top genetic issues in the breed:
- Hip dysplasia
- Eye problems: progressive retinal atrophy, retinal folds, persistent pupilarily membranes, cataracts
- Cancer and autoimmune system problems (including underactive and overactive immune systems)
- Reproductive problems: uterine inertia during whelping, sterility in males (related to autoimmune problems?)
What should a prospective buyer or breeder do to increase their odds of avoiding genetic problems?
Be realistic. There are more unknowns in canine genetic research than hard facts. It is a buyer/breeder beware world. Look around and ask questions. Pembrokes typically live 12-15 years. Healthy, active, alert Pembrokes are a positive indication of a solid genetic background. Only by asking questions, observing firsthand, and being realistic will you gain insight into the genetics of the line of Pembrokes you are considering. There are no easy answers, and no substitute for observation, questions, and above all else, realism.
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