Posts Tagged ‘Portuguese Water Dog’

Breed Profiling

March 13, 2010

Racial profiling is considered taboo, and for good reason.  Breed profiling, however, is fair game for those of us in the veterinary profession! We breed profile on a daily basis particularly pertaining to health issues.  Name just about any breed of dog or cat and I can provide you with a laundry list of potentially inherited diseases.  Patty Khuly, VMD (the “VMD” means her veterinary degree is from the University of Pennsylvania) has created a wonderfully comprehensive list of canine breed related diseases (the feline list is in the works).  I encourage you to check it out at Not only does she list the most common maladies for each dog breed, she rates the risk for disease inheritance (low, medium, or high), describes each disease, and provides the approximate (emphasis on approximate) cost to diagnose and treat each disease. Hats off to Dr. Khuly for creating such a useful tool!  And if all of this weren’t enough, Dr. Khuly also manages to find the time to pen a witty and informative daily blog (    

So how might Dr. Khuly’s information about breed-specific diseases be useful for you?  Certainly, if you are thinking about adopting a purebred pup, what you learn might sway your opinion about a particular breed.  If you already have your heart set on a specific breed, the disease-specific information will empower you to ask the right questions of the breeder to learn if the litter’s dam, sire, grandparents, and aunts and uncles have been affected.  A word of warning: don’t dare rely on the proverbial, “None of my dogs have ever had that problem.”  A conscientious breeder will offer forth official paperwork rather than verbal reassurances. Finally, if you already share your heart and home with a particular breed or think you know what breeds have gone into the “making of your mutt” being informed about the diseases that may arise will allow you to better be on the lookout for early symptoms. Timely detection and intervention can favorably affect the long-term outcome.     

Official White House Photo

Now, just for kicks, let’s check Dr. Khuly’s list of inherited diseases pertaining to Bobama (the name I’ve affectionately bestowed upon the newest dog in the White House).  According to the list, Portuguese Water Dogs are at medium risk for hip dysplasia (instability of the hip joints that results in arthritis), and at high risk for Addison’s disease (a hormonal imbalance) and follicular dysplasia (a hair follicle issue resulting in abnormal hair growth).  President Obama might be interested to know that one of his predecessors in the White House had Addison’s disease- none other than the late John F. Kennedy!  I wish Bobama a lifetime of good health, not only for the sake of the first family, but for the sake of the White House veterinarian as well!   

Best wishes to you and your four-legged family members for abundant good health,   

Nancy Kay, DVM
Diplomate, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine
Recipient, American Animal Hospital Association 2009 Animal Welfare and Humane Ethics Award
Recipient, 2009 Dog Writers Association of America Award for Best Blog
Recipient, 2009 Eukanuba Canine Health Award
Author of Speaking for Spot: Be the Advocate Your Dog Needs to Live a Happy, Healthy, Longer Life

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Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. Speaking for Spot is available at, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.


April 15, 2009

It’s official! The Obama family has adopted a pup named Bo. Every journalist, commentator, and blogger will be looking for a unique angle on this fabulous story. Some will extol the virtues of Portugese Water Dogs compared to other breeds. Others will write about reputable breeders versus puppy mills, mutts versus purebreds, positive versus negative reinforcement training techniques, and even which pair of White House slippers will be the first to fall prey to puppy shenanigans.

Here’s what’s important to me about the “BObama story.” Although they may not know it yet, by saying, “yes” to a family dog, Michelle and Barack Obama will be providing their daughters with a gift of a lifetime! As the mother of three children who grew up with dogs, and as a veterinarian who has enjoyed countless wonderful stories of kids and their dogs, I predict the following for the First Family:

-Bo will be a “keeper of secrets” for Malia and Sasha when they are not sure anyone else can be trusted.

-The girls will turn to Bo for unconditional approval when they are feeling judged by the world around them.

-Bo will be allowed in the girls’ bedrooms when their need for privacy precludes all others from entering.

-During the “turbulent teens,” Bo will be the soft fluffy shoulder of choice for Malia and Sasha to cry on.

-When Mom and Dad are deemed to be utterly embarrassing, Bo will remain in Malia’s and Sasha’s good graces.

-When the girls leave home for college they will miss their mom and dad, but they will pine for Bo.

The President and First Lady are bound to be in store for some “Bo headaches” such as accidental puddles, over exuberance with White House visitors, and the creation of fringe on unfringed area rugs. Such nuisances will pale in comparison with the incredible reward of observing the giving and receiving of unconditional love in one of its purest forms- that which defines the relationship between a child and a dog.

Dr. Nancy Kay
Specialist, American College of Veterinary Internal Medicine

Please visit to read excerpts from Speaking for Spot. There you will also find “Advocacy Aids”- helpful health forms you can download and use for your own dog, and a collection of published articles on advocating for your pet’s health. SPEAKING FOR SPOT is available at, local bookstores, or your favorite online book seller.

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