Dwarfism in Great Pyrenees

Peggy Watson, Framboise Great Pyrenees

Vinnie and Willow Our interest in canine dwarfism was sparked by the arrival of Willow, out of our first Great Pyrenees litter. She was an unexpected arrival in a litter of 9 happy, healthy puppies. She is now over 2 years old and I have embarked on a lifelong lesson in canine genetics.

Dwarfism in Great Pyrenees has been a "taboo" subject in the breed for many years. Finally, it seems that some progress may be forthcoming, as responsible guardians of the breed are slowly coming forward to discuss this issue, gather information and get involved in a new DNA study to be conducted at UC Berkeley by Dr. Mark Neff. In order for this problem to be solved, breeders MUST be honest about litters that contain dwarfs and also litters out of a known carrier that do NOT produce dwarfs. At present, there are at least fifteen litters in the USA that have/had dwarfs and they come from "show" bloodlines in the USA, have been sold through pet shops and produced by backyard breeders.

No one intends to breed a dwarf, but once the puppy is diagnosed as a dwarf, breeders often are pressured to hide or cull the dwarf. I personally feel this is wrong, because it only contributes to the spreading of the gene. It is much easier to "hide" this problem if the dwarf is "no longer around".

There is now available a DWARF HEALTH SURVEY, currently gathering statistics as to health problems associated with the dwarfs themselves. Overall, early information indicates that they MAY be otherwise healthy, although deafness to some degree often seems to accompany dwarfism. I know of dwarfs alive at age 8, 9 or 11, so early death does not always seem to be an issue. They range in size from 13" to 18" at the shoulder and weigh from 35-50 pounds.

If you know or suspect you may have a dwarf, please e-mail me to participate in the Health Survey or the DNA study.

Willow has taught us many things, most importantly that we are dealing with mother nature when undertaking a breeding. She has taught us that we still have much to learn about being responsible breeders and how to address problems when they occur - ethically. Willow is a joy to own and study, and I cherish every day we have with her.

Please remember, there is nothing wrong in having bred a dwarf, only in hiding it and spreading the gene to others through the puppies you sell. Honesty is ALWAYS the best policy!