The Best and the Worst of Pure-Bred Siberian Huskies
Siberian huskies are a breed that is predisposed to a variety of disease, particularly neoplastic, ocular and dermatologic. Some of these diseases have known genetic factors, while others are anecdotal. To maintain particular traits, pure breed dogs are usually closely related to relatives. Due to this breeding process, offspring can have a combination of the best and worst traits. While puppies can be conformationally superior, the less desirable inherited traits can be worse due to “line breeding.” If a puppy is born with a condition, this is called congenital. If diseases develop over time due to being inherited, this is called acquired; however, both disease states can be inherited traits.
Orthopedic: (Diseases of bones and joints)
- Malformation and degeneration of the coxofemoral joints (hip joints), leading to osteoarthritis over time.
Anal sac adenocarcinoma
- A malignant form of cancer involving the anal sac that occurs in older dogs. Clinical signs may include difficulty defecating, constipation or blood present within the stool.
Basal cell tumor
- A benign neoplasm, originating from the deep layers of the epidermis, commonly found on the head and neck.
Perianal gland adenomas
- A benign neoplasm, most commonly occurring around the perianal region. There can be multiple intradermal nodules present, which can ulcerate. Occurs more commonly in males.
Sebaceous gland tumors
- A common, benign tumor that can be located anywhere on the body. These arise from the sebaceous glands in the epidermis.
- A benign neoplasm, originating from the hair follicle within the epidermis.
Dermatologic: (Skin disease)
- A loss of primary hairs, starting at 3-4 months, followed by an undercoat that becomes reddish in color and crimped.
- A loss of pigmentation of the nose – can be caused by a multitude of immune mediated or other diseases.
- A disease that can affect multiple digits on multiple feet; usually manifests as deformed nails that occasionally fall off. Occurs in dogs 1-5 years in age.
- After being clipped, such as for surgery, the hair does not grow back immediately, but potentially over 6 – 24 months. The hair that does grow back is potentially darker.
Discoid (cutaneous) lupus erythematosus
- A condition where the body has an inappropriate immune reaction, potentially causing kidney and skin disease, anemia or arthritis. This is a more mild form of systemic lupus erythematosus.
Zinc responsive dermatosis
- Crusting and scaling of the skin that responds to zinc supplementation.
Cardiovascular: (Heart and blood vessels)
Ventricular septal defect
- A hole in the wall of muscle that separates the two ventricles (pumping chambers) of the heart, causing abnormal blood flow. This occurs before birth.
Essential (Idiopathic) hypertension
- A condition where there is no underlying cause for an increase in systemic blood pressure. Clinical signs vary, from none noted to multi-organ failure.
Ocular: (Eye diseases)
- Opacification of the lens of the eye which can lead to eventual blindness.
Chronic superficial keratitis (pannus)
- Chronic inflammation of the cornea, resulting in gradual neovascularization (new blood vessels) and pigmentation of the cornea, with resulting vision loss. Can be exacerbated at high altitudes.
Generalized progressive retinal atrophy
- Generalized degeneration of the retina (cells that line the back of the eye), eventually leading to blindness.
- An increase in the pressure within the eye which can lead to eventual blindness.
Uveodermatoligical syndrome (Vogt-Koyanagi-Harada-Like Syndrome)
- An immune mediated process that attacks the body’s melanocytes (pigmented cells). Signs include uveitis, which leads to blindness, whitening of the hair coat, and depigmentation of the skin.
- A condition where the eyelids are malformed and roll inwards onto the cornea, causing irritation and potential vision loss.
- An abnormality of one or several layers of the cornea, potentially resulting in recurrent corneal ulcers.
Respiratory: (Lungs and associated structures)
- A dysfunction of the muscles that control the cartilage at the opening of the trachea – can cause loud airway noises and eventually lead to death due to obstruction of the trachea.
- An accumulation of air within the pleural space, most commonly caused by rupture of pulmonary blebs or bullae. No identifiable cause is also a possibility.
Immune Mediated / Hematological Diseases: (Diseases of the immune system and diseases of the blood and blood forming organs)
- A decrease in blood clotting factor VIII, which leads to increased potential for bleeding
Von Willebrand’s disease
- A bleeding disorder, caused by a lack of Von Willebrand factor, resulting in abnormal platelet function and increased bleeding potential.
Gastrointestinal: (Diseases of the Stomach and Intestines)
Oral eosinophilic granuloma
- A yellow to pink raised, well circumscribed lesion found in the oral cavity (also anywhere on the body). Histologically, this lesion contains eosinophilic and granulomatous infiltrates, and is surrounded by degenerative collagen.
Neurological: (Diseases of the brain, spinal cord and peripheral nerves)
- Seizures, generally in younger animals, where a cause cannot be found.
- Degeneration of either one or both sensory components of the inner ears, usually within several weeks of birth.
- Increasing weakness and progressive loss of coordination of the hind limbs, caused by degeneration of the nerves and associated structures within the spinal cord.
Renal / urinary tract: (Kidneys and urinary structures)
- A condition where the end of the ureter (urinary duct from the kidney) ends in a location other than the bladder, such as the urethra, vagina or uterus. This causes a constant dribbling of urine.
An excellent and throughout resource of all congenital and inherited diseases in dogs can also be found at the following link: