Many small breed dogs have the potential for inherent health problems, especially those with flat faces. My aim as a responsible breeder is to provide you with a happy healthy puppy by screening the parents for conditions of concern and to deal with purchasers transparently. I am happy to share screening results and discuss these issues with you at length.

BREATHING - griffons are brachycephalic, which means their faces are shortened. It can affect their breathing. Some short faced dogs (of many breeds) will snort and snore, and some have little or no exercise tolerance. Their small size at birth, and their face shape makes them susceptible to respiratory tract infections when very young (under 3 weeks). As adults, if they have very small nostrils or elongated short palates, they can suffer from BOAS (Brachycephalic Obstructive Airway Syndrome) for life, making breathing a constant chore. Most breeders will not breed from BOAS sufferers, but you should check to see. Regardless of their BOAS status, they CANNOT be left outside in vey hot weather. Their short faces make it hard for them to pant sufficiently to cool them down.

EYES - although their eyes aren't quite as bulgy as pugs, they are easily damaged by twigs in the garden and particularly by cats, so you need to take care. Griffons are thankfully not one of the breeds with inherited eye disorders, but mine have all had ACES eye examinations and I know they are clear.

TEETH - again, due to their shortened face, griffons have crowded mouths. This does not usually present a problem unless you feed them soft food constantly. Mine eat dry food as a basis for their diet and enjoy bones and chews to keep their teeth clean.

HIPS - everyone has heard about hip dysplasia in large dogs like Labradors, but we have only recently discovered that many toy breeds have hips that are worse! The difference is that they cope, regardless of the bad hips, because they are so much lighter. Sadly, the hips will get worse with every generation, until it does make a difference to the dogs. Many breeders are now screening before breeding and working at reducing the hip score BEFORE the breed has irrepairable problems. My girls are all screened after the age of one, and I try to only use screened stud dogs.

KNEES - many little dogs seem to skip a step every now and then, and this is often due to luxating patellas or slipping knee caps, when the groove the knee cap sits into is either too shallow, or wrongly lined up. In its worst form, it is painful and leads to early arthritis if it is not surgically corrected. We know this is inherited, so most breeders will have adults tested and certified prior to breeding, as mine are. It's not possible to test puppies prior to leaving home as they are still growing.

SM = SYRINGOMYELIA - this is a neurological problem found in many dogs with shortened skulls, including French Bulldogs, Chihuahuas, and Pekinese, but more commonly in Cavaliers and Griffons. Basically, the crowding of the brain in the back of the skull can cause pressure bubbles anywhere along the length of the spinal chord. The placement and size of these syrinxes determines the symptoms the dog will develop. Dogs with the problem show symptoms varying from no symptoms at all, to bizarre scratching or licking at nothing, or they can suffer terribly in excruciating pain with no apparent cause. This is a recent discovery - I'd never heard of it 10 years ago. At this stage, we are still looking for genetic marker(s) in an attempt to work out how to breed this out of the breed. Sadly, the only tests are very expensive. My girls travel to Sydney to the vet neurologist there for an MRI to screen for this. Not everyone can afford the testing ($1200 per dog), and some breeders are still in denial that it will help. What we DO know is that puppies born from 2 affected parents are more likely to be affected, and that puppies born from 2 clear parents are more likely to be clear, and the more generations of clear parents, the better the odds are for dodging that awful bullet.

Griffon Club of Victoria