Eye Conditions
Many eye conditions affect dog breeds, including the Portuguese Water Dog. Some problems present as early as eight weeks, and others have much later onset. The PWDCA recommends that all pups have their eyes examined by an opthamologist before going to their new homes, and again annually for the duration of their lives. Early onset of the following diseases may be detected very early. entropion, ectropion, distichiasis, PPM (puppy pupillary membrane), microthalmia, cataracts, and a few others. Many of these diseases can be surgically corrected. The opthamologist will offer treatment and/or correction options when a dog is affected. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) is an eye disease that will eventually cause blindness. This disease requirese a gene to be passed from both the sire and dam to produce an 'affected' puppy. The difficulty lies in the fact that the disease cannot be diagnosed until the dog has reached adulthood. However, there is a DNA test that is available to determine if a dog is free of the PRA gene. Dogs who are not carrying the gene, receive a Normal/Clear rating. A pup that has at least one parent that is Normal/Clear will never have PRA. Breeders should always select breedings where either the sire or dam, or both, have a Normal/Clear rating. If neither the sire or the dam is Normal/Clear, all puppies in the litter should be tested and receive an Optigen rating to determine if any are affected with PRA.

Since November 2017 we are also able to DNA test for Early Onset PRA, as above at least one parent should be Normal/Clear.
click here for more info

Puppy Eye Syndrome or Microphthalmia is a syndrome presenting with multiple signs, including more body systems than the eyes, and has been reported in the Portuguese Water Dog dating back more than 20 years. The mode of inheritance is currently unknown. click here for detailed info

Juvenile Dilated Cardiomyopathy (JDCM) is an inherited fatal disease in the Portuguese Water Dog puppy. It is caused by a recessive gene that both parents must pass on to the puppy. When a puppy is affected, the puppy will die. A very rapid decline in appetite, energy level, weakness, vomiting, and difficulty breathing are the only symptoms, which may last only 12-48 hours between onset and death. Some puppies are simply found dead by a breeder or new owner, with no physical signs or symptoms. This disease takes its victims rapidly and without recourse. This usually happens between 6 weeks and 7 months of age. There is no known cure or treatment.

To prevent this disease, we must test the breeding dogs with the JDCM Linked Marker DNA test that is available since October 2007. Researchers in America have worked very hard for many years on the test and we are very happy that it's now possible to use the 1-2 (probable carrier) dogs savely, and that there is no need anymore for innocent puppies to die of this horrible disease. When a dog has the test result 1-1, both copies of the marker are allele 1, and there is a very high probability that the dog is normal/clear, meaning that both copies of the JDCM gene in that dog are normal alleles. When a dog is 1-2, that dog is likely to have one normal and one mutant allele, making it a probable carrier of the disease-causing allele (carriers show NO signs of JDCM) Dogs that have the test result 2-2 are very likely affected with JDCM. So as long as one of the parents is tested 1-1 (probable normal) none of the puppies will be affected.

Hair Loss
Some Portuguese Water Dogs are affected with patterned hair loss. The term used for this condition is follicular dysplasia. Believed to be hereditary, this condition usually shows up when a dog is between two and four years of age. The hair may fall out and grow back, however, sometimes it does not grow back. The theory exists that most dogs who have follicular dysplasia are get from curly to curly coat breedings. However, most dogs with curly coats do not have hairloss.

Addisons Disease
Addisons disease is a disorder found in both humans and animals and is caused by a malfuction of the adrenal glands. The adrenal glands stop producing the hormones that control metabolism of sugar and maintain the balance of salt and water in the body. The cause is unknown and is being researched. This disease can be difficult to diagnose, but is treatable.

Stress is thought to be a trigger for Addisons symptoms. These symptoms include weight loss, vomiting, depression, lethargy, weakness and shedding of hair. Untreated Addisons disease may lead to death.