While I am a German Shepherd Dog breeder, I have much all-breed experience in handling, judging, and consulting; as a scientist I also have been drawn to certain medical aspects of cynology (dog science). This said, we proceed to the subject; viz., the fairly common occurrence of impaired health that is traceable to, or at least suspected of coming from, a defective hormone production and regulatory system — specifically involving the thyroid gland. Incidentally, some readers may already know that Greyhounds, GSDs, Chow-Chows, and other breeds have greater incidence of low thyroid activity than the general or average dog population. Some breeds of dogs do better (have less “need” of as much of the hormones) than others, but enough breeds do not, especially in the low normal range. If your vet picks up a textbook that tells him your dog must be healthy because it is within that range of “low-normal”, sing to him or her from the Gershwin song, “It ain’t necessarily so!” Also, remember that the base ranges that are now considered the norm were established on Beagles, and that breeds do indeed differ in regard to their hormone needs. The list of “exceptions to the rule” has grown so much that any reliance on the old “normal” range must now be considered foolish for that growing number of breeds.
All endocrine glands are “connected”; i.e., they can influence each other’s action and efficiency. If any part of the endocrine system is out if kilter, so will be the rest. If the endocrine system is not running properly for any length of time, damage could become permanent (adrenal failure, pancreas failure, etc). Two of the most important glands in this discussion will be the pituitary and the thyroid. For a detailed discussion of the pituitary dwarfism in the GSD and related breeds, see www.siriusdog.com/articles/ or use a search engine [such as Google] to find my articles elsewhere on the Internet. Also, you probably should order my book on the GSD. I recommend you get the Orthopedics book at the same time. Continue reading