As it’s highly likely that a new Kooikerhondje owner’s dog will be the first individual of the breed seen by any given veterinary clinic, a few years ago I drafted a “handout” for the H&G Committee, intended to be a brief summary of Kooiker health. This is not meant as medical advice, merely a primer for veterinarians or Kooiker owners looking to fill in their vets on possible breed-specific issues. If the puppy is from a responsible breeder, they are a good source of this information as well – and similarly, any issues that arise should be reported back to the breeder so the data can be included in the breed-wide database. For further information on completing the CHIC health testing required for the breed, see Dr. Susanne Martin’s article “Health Testing Step by Step.” Another good resource is the VHNK’s genetic diseases page.
Kooikerhondje Breed Information for Veterinarians
The Kooikerhondje (coy-cur-hund-che) is a small, lively, and intelligent Dutch spaniel. While overall a healthy breed, a small number of Kooikers may be prone to a few diseases, as detailed below. The Kooikerhondje Club of the USA works closely with the breed’s Dutch parent club (the VHNK) to maintain an international database of health information on Kooikerhondjes to facilitate beneficial breeding practices. We encourage all American Kooikerhondje owners to test their dogs for the diseases below and submit the results to the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (ofa.org). Information on submission and screening test procedures can be found on our website (kooikerhondjeusa.org). For any questions, please contact the Health and Genetics Committee at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Below are the diseases that have been known to occur in the breed. If you have a Kooikerhondje patient that you suspect may be exhibiting symptoms of a hereditary disorder, please contact the KCUSA’s confidential Health & Genetics Committee of the VHNK’s Information Committee. Particularly for diseases for which screening tests are not yet available, our partner research veterinarians at Utrecht University in the Netherlands need to know about new cases, and may be available to consult on diagnosis and treatment.
Screening Tests Available (results reported to OFA – this is the required tests for fully “health testing”)
- Von Willebrand’s disease type 3 – screening still done (blood samples submitted to the Utrecht University in the Netherlands) but no longer seen in population. Autosomal recessive inheritance.
- ENM (Hereditary Necrotizing Myelopathy) – a fatal progressive paralysis affecting young dogs, beginning with loss of coordination in the pelvic limbs. Autosomal recessive inheritance. Unaffected carriers still seen in the population. Screening done by blood sample submitted to Utrecht University in the Netherlands.
- Patella Luxation – low grades relatively common in population (approximately 15% noted to have grade I PL). Screening done by any veterinarian over 1 year of age.
- Hip dysplasia – not commonly seen in the breed, however screening via OFA radiographs over age 2 recommended to avoid increased prevalence.
- Hereditary eye disorders – cataracts, retinal dysplasia, and distichiasis are occasionally seen in the breed. Screening done over 1 year of age via CERF exam by ophthalmologist. OFA recommends (for all breeds) annual screens thereafter.
Screening Tests NOT Available
- Polymyositis – a progressive autoimmune disease causing chronic muscle inflammation and weakness. Prognosis is poor and this disease affects about 1% of the population with (currently) no genetic screening test available. Two presentations seen: relatively young dogs with swallowing or eating problems, and then young to middle age dogs with more musculoskeletal problems +/- swallowing problems. Symptoms include reduced endurance/exhaustion, muscle weakness, swallowing problems, fever, lameness, stiffness, hunched posture, salivation, vomiting, and inappetence. Bloodwork will reveal high CK levels; a muscle biopsy is then required for definitive diagnosis. Myositis can be inherited or caused by infections, autoimmune diseases, and/or toxins, and may be misdiagnosed as Myasthenia Gravis. If diagnosed early, available treatments are immunosuppressants and steroids. Intensive research is currently underway in the Netherlands – please contact the VHNK‘s Information Committee or the KCUSA Health and Genetics Committee if you have a suspected sufferer.
- Epilepsy – rare in the breed with 1 – 5 dogs worldwide reporting epilepsy annually. No genetic or screening test available; cases should be reported.
- Kidney diseases – at this time poorly defined in the breed. The breed clubs are monitoring developing cases of possibly immune-mediated glomerular disease and CKD