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Safari Schipperkes

Schipperke Health Issues

Schipperkes are typically known as a hearty, healthy breed.  However, like any breed they do have health issues that we have to watch out for.  Some of the health issues of concern to reputable breeders are MPS-IIIB, epilepsy, hypothyroidism, hip dysplasia and cancer.  We have tests for some diseases and structural issues and for others we don't.


Epilepsy is an issue in our breed for which we have no test.  We have such a small gene pool here in the United States, relatively speaking, that it is impossible for any breeder to claim their lines are clear of it.  We have to work with what we know and make breeding choices accordingly.  Don't let any breeder tell you that there is no chance your puppy will develop epilepsy.  They simply cannot truthfully make that claim.  The truth is it can happen to any of us at any time.  That being said, epilepsy is NOT rampant in our breed so the cases we see are definitely infrequent.  We do see much more of it in puppy mill or back yard bred dogs so choosing a reputable breeder is a step in the right direction.      Click here for more info on Canine Epilepsy.


MPS-IIIB is an inherited genetic lysosomal storage disease found only in Schipperkes and Humans.  This disease was recently discovered and a test developed by the University of Pennsylvania. Typically symptoms of this disease develop between 2-4 years of age.  The symptoms include: tremors, difficulty balancing and walking, many develop a reddish cast to the coat.  This disease is progressive and most owners have their dog euthanized within a year or two of the onset of symptoms.  There is no cure or effective treatment at this time.  As breeders, we have tested all of our breeding animals and those of carrier parents placed in pet homes.  The three classifications from the test are Normal, Carrier, and Affected.  Normal means the dog does not carry the gene and can never produce it.  Carrier means the dog carries the gene and can produce it if bred to another carrier.  However, a carrier will never develop the disease, so it is perfectly acceptable to take a carrier as a pet.  Affected dogs will develop the fatal disease and should never be bred.Always insist on knowing the MPS-IIIB status on a breeder's dogs.  If you are not convinced they are being truthful, ask them to fax or mail you copies of the certified tests signed by Dr. Urs Giger with the University of Pennsylvania.  If you currently have a Schipperke you would like to have tested, you can order cheek swabs from the University directly.  Click here for the online submission.Click here for more info on the disease from UPENN.  If you wish to submit a test, then create an account and go from there.

Additional Information From UPENN

Please follow these instructions to obtain a sample for DNA testing. You need to send either a blood sample or cheek swabs but not both, and we prefer a blood sample. To receive swab kits, please e-mail with the number of animals to be tested, your name and address. If you have further questions, please contact us via the e-mail address above or call (215)-898-3375.  We are not accepting the manually filled submission forms anymore, so please make sure that you create an account for yourself, login into your account, fill in the animal details, select the appropriate test to obtain a Submission ID for each animal and then print it out and mail it along with the sample.   

​Blood Sample Collection
(performed by a veterinary clinician or nurse)  Label one EDTA (purple top) tube with animal’s name and owner’s last name. Take a 1-2ml blood sample. Blood sample must be kept cold (but not frozen) until shipping Complete the submission form and mail it with the sample by 2-day delivery or regular service. Your veterinarian may have special Styrofoam containers or cardboard mailers to send blood tubes. Please place the tube in a Ziploc® bag or in a bubble wrap for protection. For international shipments, a customs declaration and proforma invoice must be filled out (see under shipping section).  

Cheek Swab Sample Collection  To avoid contamination with food, do not feed the animal at least three hours before you collect the sample. Wash your hands before you collect the sample. Label the packages that contain the cheek swab brushes with the animal’s name and the owner’s last name. Open the end of the swab package that shows the word “peel” printed on it. Be careful not to touch the brush end as you remove the swab. You may also wish to ask a second person to gently restrain the animal’s head while you collect the DNA sample. Insert brush end between the animal’s gums and inside of the cheek. Roll the brush on the surface of the inside of the cheek for 15-20 seconds. Make sure that the brush is in contact with the cheek and not just with the saliva. Return brush to its original package, allow it to dry, and then tape the opened end shut. Repeat steps 3-7 for the second brush using opposite side of the mouth. Two to three swab brushes are needed for each animal tested. If you plan to test another animal, remember to wash your hands before you start with the next dog. Secure brushes from each animal in a separate Ziploc® bag. The samples along with the submission forms can be mailed by regular or express mail.


Hypothyroidism is a a relatively common endocrine disease in dogs in general.  Schipperkes are no exception.  It results from a deficiency of the thyroid hormone in the blood.  Thyroid hormone regulates metabolism so it affects almost every system in the body.  Symptoms most typically appear between 2 and 5 years of age.  Symptoms include: Dry coat, hair loss, bacterial skin infections, lethargy, excessive skin pigment (like black spots on the skin), excessive sleeping, weight gain, and seizures to name a few.  This condition is typically managed by giving your dog soloxine, a thyroid replacement drug.Reputable breeders test their dog's thyroid once the dog has reached at least 2 years of age and have it certified through the OFA (Orthopedic Foundation For Animals) to determine a dog's fitness for breeding.  Not all breeders report their results to OFA, but it is a good idea so the results are public and can easily be verified by anyone interested.

​Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a genetic disease which causes varying degrees of arthritis in the hip joint.  It can be very painful and debilitating to a dog. Reputable breeders have their breeding animal's hips x-ray'd and certified by OFA (Orthopedic Foundation For Animals) to determine the dogs hip health.  The OFA awards the following grades based on the xray:  Excellent, Good, Fair, Borderline, Dysplastic.  You can visit the OFA's website to determine any dog's results.   We at Safari Schipperkes advocate testing Schipperkes for most everything you can.  We test and/or certify our dogs in the following areas once it is age-appropriate to do so.

  • OFA Hips
  • OFA Patellas
  • ​OFA Dentition
  • OFA Thyroid
  • OFA Cardiac
  • OFA or CERF Eyes
  • OFA MPS-IIIB or Clear by Pedigree
  • Embark Genetic Testing for 172 Conditions
  • CHIC DNA Repository for future health screens