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The most common health problems in Old English Sheepdogs:
Hip dysplasia is the most serious orthopedic disease in the Old English Sheepdog. The Orthopedic Foundation of America evaluated the hip X-rays of over 9600 Old English Sheepdogs and found 19% dysplastic, which is bad, and the true rate is even higher because most of the obviously bad X-rays were not sent in for official evaluation.Elbow dysplasia also occurs in Old English Sheepdogs, and occasionally wobbler’s syndrome.
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The most serious eye diseases in the Old English Sheepdog are cataracts (appearing any time from birth to 6 years old and often leading to blindness), and progressive retinal atrophy (PRA). Also reported are entropion and retinal dysplasia.Allergies cause itchy skin and can lead to bacterial skin infections (pyoderma). A more serious skin disease, sebaceous adenitis, can occur in Old English Sheepdogs. Ear infections are common due to the profuse hair in the ear canals.
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According to the Michigan State University Thyroid Database, Old English Sheepdogs have the 3rd highest rate of hypothyroidism of 140 breeds (up to 28% affected).Autoimmune hemolytic anemia is a growing concern. A serious neurological disease called cerebellar ataxia can occur in the OES at 2-4 years old.
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As with all deep-chested breeds, Old English Sheepdogs are at higher-than-normal risk for the emergency gastrointestinal syndrome called bloat.Old English Sheepdog puppies with a lot of white on their head are susceptible to inherited deafness.
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Chronic diarrhea can be caused by colitis (intestinal malabsorption).Blood-clotting diseases include hemophilia B, von Willebrand’s, and thrombocytopenia. Other health issues in Old English Sheepdogs include heart disease (septal defect and tricuspid valve disease), liver shunt, diabetes, and degenerative spinal myelopathy.
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Old English Sheepdogs and other collie-type breeds often react adversely to certain drugs such as ivermectin (in heartworm prevention products such as Heartguard), Imodium A-D, flagyl, and certain anesthetics. If your dog has a mutant gene called mdr1, he cannot pump these drugs out of his brain, which results in neurological toxicity. Don’t give any of these drugs to your Old English Sheepdog unless he has been tested for this mutant gene. It’s a simple DNA test offered by the Washington State University Veterinary School.