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The ISSA Outcrossing Plan - Informal Breed Health Survey, 2017

One of the priorities in our Outcrossing Plan was to determine the incidence rate of genetic diseases produced by or related to our initial population of breeding animals. To do this, we decided to go back five years to confirm our information on the lines for the past two to three generations. We sent all breeders a listing of their litters produced since January of 2012.

We asked our breeders to note any genetic issues that had come to light in their listed litters. Though we prioritized a specific list of disorders that our health database noted as our top ten highest risks, our breeders rose to the challenge and added information on additional issues to their reports, resulting in what we feel is a comprehensive overview of the current state of breed health in our ISSA Shilohs.

At the conclusion of the survey, results were published on our Club Facebook page for the membership, and a fully-detailed listing of all litters and disorders from 2012 onward was published for our breeders' reference in researching potential mates.

Below you'll find the results, in raw numbers and percentiles, for our health survey. We also chose to document the number of pups stillborn or that passed away soon after birth, as this is often directly linked to a lack of genetic diversity (inbreeding depression), and one of the reasons we are moving forward with outcrossing. We hope the addition of fresh genes over the coming years will make the heartbreak of losing a newborn puppy a true rarity.


Pre-Outcross, July 2017


TOTAL PUPS BORN: 567 pups from January 2012 to present (July 2017)








  • 1. Canine Hip Dysplasia : 13 dogs affected.

  • A large portion of pet pups are not tested, despite breeder contracts and requests, so a comprehensive incidence rate can't be calculated. In Europe, close to 90% of ISSA dogs were tested during this time period. Out of 76 pups produced there, the affected rate is 5.3%. OFA data analyzed for our time frame showed an affected rate of 11.2% (we compared all dogs recorded from both ISSA dogs and related lines, vs. number of fails borderline to severe). 11.2% is the exact dysplasia rate recorded in the 2001 Shiloh Shepherd Breed-Wide Health Survey. However, most breeders in the ISSA don't do OFA; we do PennHIP instead, so there's a large amount of hip data that an OFA survey doesn't account for.

  • 2. SAS : 11 dogs; 2.1%.
  • This is up slightly from the 2001 health survey, which recorded an incidence rate of 1.4%.

  • 3. EPI : 7 dogs; 1.3% (at this time; however, this disease can have a late onset.)
  • The 2001 health survey put the EPI incidence rate at 6.1%, significantly higher than it is now.

  • 4. GSDIVA : Confirmed via Holter: 17; Non-typical - ALBA felt not GSDIVA, or one very minor (27 singles) - 3.
  • The current affected rate lands between 3.8% and 5.1%. Again, a portion of pet pups are not tested, despite breeder contracts and requests, so a reliable incidence rate can't be calculated. This is complicated by a pup sometimes passing away during the appropriate time frame for this disease but no necropsy being performed, making it impossible to assign a cause of death--thus the range given above.

  • 5. Cryptorchids: 14 dogs; 2.7%. Of course, this disease can only be detected in male dogs; females can be affected and pass this on to their offspring.
  • This disease is up, over double what it was when surveyed in 2001 when it was recorded at only a 1.1% incidence rate. This may seem to be a minor disorder until one considers the potential loss of good stud pups for our gene pool.

  • 6. Bloat: 3 dogs; below 1.0%, but this disease has been demonstrated to rise in risk later in life.
  • This incidence rate has fallen since 2001, when it was reported at 3.6% of dogs affected--but again, it can occur later in life and this survey was only for the past 5.5 years.

  • 7. Pannus: 0 dogs (average onset time 5-6 years; two parents of tracked litters affected)
  • Pannus, the only eye disease that seems at all common in Shilohs, has had no new incidences in our ISSA gene pool since 2012; however, this is a disease with a later onset, so we may see it again in our next survey. Two older dogs who contributed to our gene pool did experience a late onset of this disease, so we know the potential is there. Pannus, interestingly, was not recorded at all in the 2001 health survey, but we saw a sudden rash of cases occur around 2010.

  • 8. Mega-e: 6 confirmed, 2 more suspected (infant deaths, no necropsy); 1.4 to 1.5%.
  • In the 2001 survey, Mega-e was at an incidence rate of only 0.6%; however, our Breed Founder had written that it was present in the foundation lines (Kari, Ursa) that were utilized to create the Shiloh Shepherd. The outcross Samson-Woo was introduced to deal with this issue, obviously fairly successfully; but we are seeing this disease make a slight comeback as our COI numbers rise.

  • 9. PAF: 0 (one parent of tracked litters has an affected sibling; several others have affected relatives.): 0%
  • The 2001 survey has PAF at a very low incidence rate of 0.6%. Currently we have zero dogs reported with this disorder. The onset time is variable, though, generally occurring in mature dogs between the ages of 3 and 7 in our breed.

  • 10. Allergies: 8 dogs; 1.5%
  • Allergies were not one of the disorders tracked in the 2001 survey. We have chosen to do so because they are connected to a weakened immune system, which can be a by-product of a lack of genetic diversity. Because of this, we wanted to get a baseline for allergies in our breed so that we could see if outcrossing noticeably improved things.

A few notes on other diseases.

Our breed has not seen a confirmed case of Degenerative Myelopathy for over 7 years. The DNA test for DM is mandated for our breeding animals. Currently, there are less than a handful of carriers left in our gene pool according to the DNA testing. Based on these results, we are hopeful that this terrible disease will shortly be wiped out in the ISSA Shiloh Shepherd population.

Elbow dysplasia has been rare in the Shiloh Shepherd, but a couple of recent cases have surfaced in ISSA litters and we are keeping an eye on this disorder. All breeding dogs must have their elbows x-rayed and we encourage our pet owners to x-ray as well, in order to get a more complete idea of where this disease lurks in our lines.

Panosteitis (growing pains) is seen often in large breeds and Shilohs are no exception. The disorder is self-limiting--pups will outgrow it--and the severity can be linked to environmental factors such as type and amount of food the pup is given. In frequency it seems irregular; sometimes several pups from a litter will be affected, sometimes only one.

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© 2016 International Shiloh Shepherd Alliance, Inc.