Breed Info


Welcome to the Health Section the TSCA website

My name is Carol Srnka. I am the TSCA Health chairman. I have been involved in dogs and dog related activities since 1960, and in Tibetan Spaniels since 1990. I am very dedicated to the future health and well being of, purebred dogs in general and, my “chosen” breed in particular! To keep me “up to speed” on canine health issues, I feel very fortunate to live not too far from Cornell University and also have the added benefit of the TSCA sponsoring my attendance at the Purina/AKC-CHF Parent Club Health conferences.

I am always willing to try to handle health related questions about Tibbies. If I don’t know the answer I will do my best to research and/or find the right source to help answer the question.

We are very fortunate that Tibetan Spaniels have not become an over popularized breed and have, therefore, not succumbed to the misfortune of being indiscriminately bred. People looking to purchase a Tibbie puppy may get the feeling that the breeders are way too over bearing and protective of the breed. But it because of these dedicated breeders that the Tibetan Spaniel has been able to maintain their status as healthy, hardy little dogs!

Although rare, some of the anomalies that may be encountered in the breed are as follows:

  1. Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA). This is a genetic eye disease that causes blindness. Although there are DNA tests available in some breeds of dogs Tibetan Spaniels are not yet included. Research is currently being conducted to find a genetic marker for this disease in Tibetan Spaniels. Breeding dogs should have annual CERF (Canine Eye Registration Foundation) exams. These “exams” can only determine the health of the eyes at the time of the exam, not guarantee future health. However, currently, this is the best that breeders can do to ensure that affected dogs are not used in a breeding program. The results can be registered with CERF.
  2. Portosystemic Shunts (PSS) or “liver shunts”. This is a genetic abnomaly that affects the blood flow around and/or through the liver. Research is underway to find a genetic marker for this disease. At the present time the only option available to breeders is to use a “screening tool” referred to as “bile acid” testing. This test can only give an “overview” of current liver health, but is not a definitive test.
  3. Tibetan Spaniels can have a variety of hernias. The most common being an Umbilical hernia. Typically these are not a cause for concern and can be easily repaired when the pet is spayed or neutered. Inguinal and Scrotal hernias can also occur. Although these may be a bit more of a concern they most probably should be surgically repaired and in many cases can be done when the pet is spayed or neutered.
  4. Cherry Eye. This is an inflammation or swelling of the “third” eyelid, an appears as a red protusion in the corner of the dog’s eye. Sometimes, these can be “reduced” by closing the dogs eye and applying light but steady pressure to the corner of the eye. Sometimes surgery is indicated.
  5. Patellar Luxation. In layman’s terms, loose knee. Obviously, nice tight knees are the preferred. But “couch potato” type pets can live long comfortable lives with other than perfect knees! A veterinarian can test for this anomaly. The results can be registered with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA). ( http://www.offa.org/ )
  6. Hip Dysplasia. This is a malformation of the ball and socket joint that makes up the hip. Diagnosis can be made by x-ray. The results can be registered with the Orthopedic Foundation for Animals (OFA).

The Tibetan Spaniel Club of America, Inc is affiliated with the Canine Health Information Center (CHIC). This is a database containing many breeds of dogs. The Parent club, in this case TSCA, determines which diseases they feel are typically the most common for that breed, and sets the parameters for health testing. At the present time the 2 tests that the TSCA requires are Patella Luxation and CERF eyes. Any Tibbie who has had these 2 exams done and has registered the results with OFA and CERF will receive a CHIC #. The CHIC number does not necessarily mean that the results are normal, only that the tests have been done and recorded.

Eye Exams

Below are the TSCA Quarterly downloadable posting of eye exams for Tibetan Spaniels. This list represents a tremendous amount of time, work and effort by some very dedicated Tibbie-folk to bring this to fruition.

NOTE: Set PDF document to print on legal size paper – 8.5″ x 14″ in Landscape Mode (see instructions below).

  • September 2004 Database: PDF
  • June 2004 Database: PDF
  • October 2003 Database: PDF

Here are the guidelines for having your dogs appear on the list:

  1. Send either a copy of a CERF exam form (very important that the form is complete with signatures and that it is readable) OR a copy of the CERF certificate.
  2. Please include names of the sire and dam of the dog. These can be printed in the bottom margin of the exam form. (which will be included in the online list only!)

Send to Carol Srnka, Health committee coordinator, 6352 Iradell Rd., Trumansburg, NY 14886.

OFA, working closely with the Genetics Committee of the ACVO, is pleased to have completed the Blue Book Sixth Edition – 2013 Ocular Disorders Assumed to be Inherited in Purebred Dogs, with data compiled through 2012


Other Points of Interest

  1. Vaccinations. From Ron Schultz, Ph.D.: PDF (pg 58).
    From Dr Jean Dodd: Link
  2. Lymes Disease: article forthcoming
  3. Heartworm: article forthcoming