HWV health

In 2011 all the HWV we owned had their DNA profile submitted to the animal health trust to aid in DNA profiling the breed.

View the results of the AHT/HWVA health survey and the results of the KC pure breed survey here.

The following are our views and opinions on HWV’s health.  We are more than happy to discuss this openly with anyone – just ask!

As a relatively new breed there is limited data on health problems within the breed.  The breed as a whole is a generally healthy one however there are some issues which have been known to occur that are worth knowing about.

Urate Stone Disorder

A problem that has recently been discovered in the HWV.  Affected dogs excrete uric acid which can lead to the formation of urinary calculi (stones) which sometimes require surgery to remove.  A gene mutation has been found to cause this which has a recessive mode of inheritance.   Dogs carry two copies of the gene and can either be clear (not carry the mutated gene at all), a carrier (carry one copy of the mutated gene) or affected (carry two copies of the mutated gene).  Neither clear or carrier dogs will develop issues.  Clear dogs cannot pass on the mutated gene so none of their progeny will be affected.  Carrier dogs pass on the mutated gene in an average of 50% of cases and affected dogs will pass on the mutated gene 100% of the time.

Therefore on average the matings below will produce puppies in the proportion:
Clear x Clear = 100% Clear
Clear x Carrier = 50% Carrier, 50% Clear
Clear x Affected = 100% Carrier
Carrier x Carrier = 25% Clear, 50% Carrier, 25% Affected
Carrier x Affected = 50% Carrier, 50% Affected
Affected x Affected = 100% Affected

Whilst not all “Affected” dogs will have clinical signs or develop problems it would make sense since we can genetically test for status to avoid risky matings.  This way we could eliminate the problem entirely.  However, we understand that with such a small gene pool this may be difficult.  It is only as more HWV are tested that we will get a clearer picture of how the breed is best to move forward.  We have tested our HWV who are in our breeding program so that we can make informed decisions.  We will insist any dog who uses our stud male has been genetically profiled as well as any dog we use.


One of the problems that crops up fairly frequently is allergies.  I tend to think of wires as being red heads.  You may have heard people say how red heads are prone to allergies and it is something often echoed within other animal species eg horses.  We personally have never experienced any major problems with our own dogs.  We have been lucky that our dogs have not experienced much more than a mild irritation on the belly associated with scratching it in long grass.  However more chronic allergic issues have been reported within the breed along with autoimmune problems including Addison’s disease.


Another relatively common problem is ear infections.  This is largely due to the breed having deep ear canals.  We are careful to keep our dogs ears as clean as possible to minimise problems.  We are also particularly careful after they have been swimming.  We believe these ear problems are closely linked to allergies.


There are cases of entropian (eyelid turning in) and ectropian (eyelid sagging) within the breed.  As an Optometrist I am interested in the subject!  These things can be congenital or aquired so again is worth monitoring.  Serious cases may need operating to stop the eyelashes damaging the front surface of the eye.   There are also some cases of congenital cataract in the breed


There have been a small number of cases of epilepsy reported in the breed.  It must be stressed that this is uncommon but nevertheless worth mentioning.  We feel it is very important to be up front about this because the only way that we can iron out health issues is with careful, informed breeding.


Hip dysplasia is not common but we BVA hip score our wires as a precaution.  We use Southfield Veterinary Centre to hip score our dogs and would highly recommend them.  The procedure is carried out under sedation there which is safer for the dog and only involves a short visit to the practice to do.  Verity Griffiths from the practice has kindly allowed us to show her article about hip dysplasia which proves very interesting reading.  Click here to read the article.

It is vitally important we hear of any problems particularly within dogs we breed.  We therefore ask all our new puppy owners to keep us informed of any problems their dogs may have.

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