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starbuck

Border Collie Health?

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I grew up with two Border Collies who lived long active lives and never needed to see the vet for anything other than a booster shot. Yhe two I have now (and dearly love) both have had serious and very expensive orthopedic problems (OCD/ACL tear). I am almost afraid to play with them, wondering if we will be facing another $$$$$ vet bill. What's going wrong with the breed?

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Starbuck,

 

I have seen a lot of these types of injuries, though they're found in all breeds--not just BCs. You might notice them more in BCs because they are found more often at the top levels of performance sports. However, my JRT had a cruciate ligament tear when he was VERY lightly bumped into by my BC in the front yard.

 

I think the difference you're seeing is not so much breed related as it is due to factors that weren't around in the past:

 

1) More slippery flooring, such as Pergo, tile, etc. I've heard of at least two dogs that have torn ACLs just walking across Pergo floors.

 

2) More "weekend warrior" lifestyles. Dogs are often left alone to snooze all day, then their owners come home and toss tennis balls with a Chuck-It for an hour or practice agility without warming up first.

 

3) All the sports that dogs participate in today: agility, disc dog, dock dog, flyball, competitive weight pull, and stockdog trials. Training for these is more competitive and dogs are being held to higher standards of performance than in the past. Even pet dogs often engage in high-impact sports like running next to a bike, long distance running on pavement with owners training for marathons, backpacking, or playing with "body slamming" dogs at the dog park or doggy daycare. For example, I know of a Greyhound puppy who had both front legs broken during his first day at doggy daycare.

 

Out of curiousity, what were your dogs doing at the time they were injured?

 

Columbia, MO

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The two you have now --- out of curiosity [yeah, me too], how old were they when they were spayed/neutered? There seems to be some evidence that early spay/neuter can result in a greater chance of ACL trouble..
Luke has the ACL tear (I don't know how it happened). He was neutered at 3 months (the vet said it was easier for the dog at that age). He is 5 years old now.

Starbuck developed her problem OCD in both shoulders (probably from chasing tennis balls) before she was spayed at about 11 months.

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This may have nothing to do with it, but...

Dogs that have been spayed or neutered well before puberty can frequently be identified by their longer limbs, lighter bone structure, narrow chests and narrow skulls. This abnormal growth frequently results in significant alterations in body proportions and particularly the lengths (and therefore weights) of certain bones relative to others. For example, if the femur has achieved its genetically determined normal length at 8 months when a dog gets spayed or neutered, but the tibia, which normally stops growing at 12 to 14 months of age continues to grow, then an abnormal angle may develop at the stifle. In addition, with the extra growth, the lower leg below the stifle likely becomes heavier (because it is longer), and may cause increased stresses on the cranial cruciate ligament. In addition, sex hormones are critical for achieving peak bone density.(4) These structural and physiological alterations may be the reason why at least one recent study showed that spayed and neutered dogs had a higher incidence of CCL rupture.
Source.

 

Dr. Zink concludes:

For canine athletes, I currently recommend that dogs and bitches be spayed or neutered after 14 months of age.
Once again, there's no way to tell whether early neutering played a role in your dog's injury. Interesting stuff, though.

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I've read this before and it always makes me giggle. Of my dogs, the only one who is tall and narrow is the one who was 2 years old before I neutered him. Tweed looks like a tank and Piper looks like a bulldog - they're both short. The big one is the only one with joint issues too.

 

RDM

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According to Jean Dodds, DVM, ruptured cruciate ligament is one of the clinical signs of canine hypothyroidism in the "Neuromuscular Problems" category, and, thyroid problems can be caused by vaccinations.

 

According to Jean Dodds, EVERYTHING is a sign of hypothyroidism.

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I never understand the whole thing where you should or shouldn't neuter/spay before this or that age. Lots of people have no choice. If you adopt a dog from somewhere, they will require it to be altered usually before you take it home. If you adopt a puppy, do rescues let you wait until they are 1 or 3 years old before you neuter or spay? I don't think any of my local shelters or rescues let dogs or cats go anywhere until they are spayed or neutered.

 

I could be wrong, of course, and perhaps some allow for extenuating circumstances, such as a working home or a well-known foster home adopting a dog. But mostly people don't have a choice like that or a way to accommodate the responsibility involved with an intact male or especially an intact female.

 

Allie + Tess & Kipp

http://weebordercollie.com

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From yet another discussion on the speuter issue:

I'd also like to throw into the mix that it is my understanding (and I don't have a study or source I can cite, this is based on conversations with individuals from the countries I'm talking about, that in Scandinavia it is considered unethical to spay / neuter without a medical reason, vets won't do it, and there is a lower incidence of homeless dogs there than here [...]

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I don't know if Luke would have torn his ACL if he had not been neutered so young but I would never consider neutering a male dog again. I think it's time for Vets to start giving their clients better advice on this issue.

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None of my neutered dogs (and by "my" I mean the hundreds of rescues I have neutered as well as my own dogs) have had ACL issues. I think "never considering neutering" another dog is an overassumption.

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Originally posted by starbuck:

I don't know if Luke would have torn his ACL if he had not been neutered so young but I would never consider neutering a male dog again. I think it's time for Vets to start giving their clients better advice on this issue.

Following the same line of thought you should never let a Border Collie chase tennis balls so that it will not develop OCD.

 

Originally posted by starbuck:

Starbuck developed her problem OCD in both shoulders (probably from chasing tennis balls) before she was spayed at about 11 months.

Mark

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To throw in another wrench...

 

My JRT that had the ACL tear was neutered at 5 years old and has OFA Excellent hips, OFA Normal patellas, OFA thyroid normal. He had his ACL tear at 9 years of age, got it repaired, and has beaten the odds by being almost 12 and not having had the other one tear.

 

My BC is 4 1/2 years old, was neutered at 3 years and has not had any ortho injuries despite competing at advanced levels a variety of sports AND playing t-ball twice a day AND being on medication for hypothyroidism!

 

BlackWatch, as you can see, I am also not a fan of early spay/neuter. I got converted while living in England and finding out that their intact dogs live healthy lives to about age 17, while our speutered dogs die around 12-13. Many of the UK rescues and shelters adopt out intact dogs because it is considered medically damaging to speuter, particularly with young dogs.

 

Columbia, MO

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But I don't think they have the same level of problem with unwanted dogs and cats in Europe that we do here. I think that's what tips the balance.

 

I am a supporter of early spay/neuter just because of the larger impact it has. And I'm talking shelters here. If it were my own dog I'd get them done at 6 months or so. So far I have not read anything to make me re-think that.

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Our lab/shepherd was spayed at 6 months and lived for 15 years. She developed arthritis, but so have I. And I wasn't neutered until God did it for me (AKA menopause). But, then again, my father had arthritis, too, and he was officially "intact" at 82.

 

And the spayed/neutered cats I've known (about a dozen or more) have averaged over 20 years each.

 

Heck, my brother, who is definitely "intact", had to have a total ACL replacement.

 

Coincidence does not equal cause.

 

PS, just about every problem can be a sign of hypothyroidism. Wish my doctor had realized that instead of believing I was just a complainer. The thyroid really does control just about everything. But one symptom does not indicate hypothyroidism. It's the collection of symptoms.

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I won't weigh in on the health side of neutering a dog, as I have not done enough research on it. However, as for spaying, my Cheyenne would not be living with cancer right now had I spayed her. I would spay any other female I got, unless it was from working lines and I planned to work her, in that case I would wait to see what she turned out like. Mediocre or less, snip, snip. But for the males, I have not had enough info to make a stand yet. I don't plan to neuter Jackson or Skip, but that can change with more info and how they end up.

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