Wolfdog Health Info

  Pituitary Dwarfism and the DNA test

What is pituitary dwarfism:
Dwarfism is a horrible incurable disorder which you don’t wish to any dog. A dwarf has a badly developed pituitary , which means that certain hormones (such as growth hormones) are not or less produced. Due to the shortage of the production of the thyroid stimulating hormone, they have a slow functioning thyroid. Besides the fact that these dogs stay small, they are also haunted by various horrible side effects when they are not treated with medicines on a daily basis. (e.g. baldness, itching, inflammations, malfunctioning of the liver and kidneys, development disorder of cervical vertebrae, dental problems, metabolic problems, slow behaviour, abnormal blood vessels )

Csw dwarf and normal litter mate

Recognising and existence of Pituitary Dwarfism in a litter:
Dwarfism is not always recognised by a breeder!
Many dwarfs die in the uterus or die during the birth. And moreover 90% of the living born dwarfs die in the first week. Pups behind in growth are often not recognised as dwarfs. After (4 weeks or later) people see that a pup is different in comparison with the other pups.
Dwarfism is known in the breeds German Shepherd, White Sheperd, Karelian  Beardog, Saarlooswolfhond and the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog.
And when 1% is dwarf in a population, 18 % will be carrier of this mutated gen. And the number of carriers in practice is often much higher than thought

Saarlooswolfhond dwarf and litter mates

The genetic test:
After years of research the veterinary university of Utrecht in 2008 did find the gen mutation for Pituitary Dwarfism. They did develop a genetic test that can determine based on DNA the Pituitary Dwarfism mutation. This test is validated for these breeds: German Sheperd, White Shepherd, Karelian Beardog, Saarlooswolfdog and the Czechoslovakian Wolfdog.
So there is no need that more dwarfs will be born in these breeds!

A dog can get as a test result:

  • Free (this dog has no gen mutation)
  • Carrier (this dog carries the mutation but is not ill or dwarf)
  • Affected (this dog is a dwarf)

The CsW and Pituitary Dwarfism
Unfortunately also in CsW breed are several dwarfs (from different lines)
To prevent another CsW dwarf will be ever born, you only have to test all CsW's that will be used for breeding!

Because of the DNA test can be established if a dog is carrier of this mutated gene.
The only thing is not to make any crossings between carrier x carrier!(of this mutated gen)
With carriers you can breed in combination with Free dogs!
Not any dog has to be out of breeding program when he/she is carrier!

Carriers of this mutation are not “ill” and can be still important for the gene pool of the breed!



CsW dwarf Yazhi with normal litter mate




How an owner can test his CsW for Pituitary Dwarfism:
Because not all vets will know the test, it can be useful to give them a copy of the article of dr. H. Kooistra en drs. A. Voorbij: Pituitary dwarfism in German shepherd dogs and Saarloos wolfhounds -Availability of a genetic test-
here you can download this document

  • The owner can fill in all the info about himself and the dog in the bloodsample form and sign it.

Then the owner can go to his own veterinarian with his CsW and:

  • The filled form, the pedigree and a copy of the pedigree of his dog

HERE you can download a blood sample form for Pituitary Dwarfism

  • The vet to check the chip number, fill in the info and has to sign the form.
  • Then he can collect 2ml EDTA blood sample.

The 2 ml blood sample (collected in an EDTA containing tube) can together with the signed form and the copy of the pedigree send by the veterinarian to:

Steubenstraße 4
97688 Bad Kissingen

What are the costs for the Pituitary Dwarfism test at Laboklin DE
Price Pituitary Dwarfism test € 74,80 ex VAT. The owner will receive the bill and the test result and after testing.


Situation of the CsW and Pituitary Dwarfism
In the breeding rules of the Dutch CsW club NVTW it is obligated before breeding to test both breeding dogs (male and female) for Pituitary Dwarfism. So in the past years not any CsW with Pituitary Dwarfism was born in the Netherlands! In the meantime in several countries a lot of breeders did start with testing their breeding dogs for this gene mutation. So hopefully there will not be born any Csw anymore with this kind of dwarf mutation! Because every breeder can test both parents for Pituitary Dwarfism!

Because of the possibility of testing of breeding dogs not any CsW dwarf has to be born anymore. That is why I did stop to import CsW dwarfs from other European countries for adoption.


About Pituitary Research
The Faculty of veterinary medicine in Utrecht is still doing  scientific research into Pituitary Dwarfism. That is also why they treat some dwarfs of different breeds. Just recently neurological problems were discovered in several dogs who suffered from Pituitary Dwarfism. After doing an MRI/CT/X-ray of head and neck it became clear that Pituitary Dwarfism sometimes also has an effect on the development of the vertebra of the neck. A very instable top vertebra of the neck can causes restraint of the spinal cord and could cause pressure on the little brain in severe cases. (For that reason already a young TsW of only 8 months old was euthanized)

Appeal to owners of CsW with Pituitary Dwarfism with neurological problems
When you have a dog with Pituitary Dwarfism with one or more of the following symptoms, please contact us! Contact  Name/descend are NOT important at all and will certainly not be made public. It is only about the research of these neurologic problems.
Possible Symptoms:

  • Putting the `head in the neck`
  • Lifting the front paws in an exaggerated way
  • Not being able to walk straight on
  • crossing of the front legs
  • Falling
  • Having difficulty standing up
  • clumsy behaviour
  • Insufficient recovery after a clinical test (by a neurologist)
  • non tactical reactions

The university still needs pituitary’s  of dwarfs for research
Based on pituitary’s of dogs with Pituitary Dwarfism there can be done a lot more investigation of the dwarf growth process to see what is exactly going wrong. And this research of pituitary's can be a great help for dwarfs in future. That is why the university requests all owners of dwarfs to cooperate with this research.
So when you dwarf is very ill and you have to make the sad decision to euthanatize, please contact us.
And we can also speak about the possibilities to euthanatize in the Dutch university Because then your dwarf can also be great help for other dwarfs in future!

Unfortunately in German Sheperd breed it is not yet common to test for Pituitary Dwarfism.  That is why all over the world still German Sheperds with pituitary dwarfism are born.  (See for example this fb page)
That is why we also give some info for owners and breeders of dogs with Pituitary Dwarfism



When a dwarf is born an owner/breeder can think about a few options

  • Keep it yourself without treatment
  • Keep it yourself with treatment (and you have to find a university or a well specialized vet who can measure hormone values and who has the possibility to give thyroxine and p GH)
  • Euthanize the dwarf in the country of your own when the dwarf becomes ill and suffers
  • Euthanize the dwarf in the veterinary university in Holland (for the research project)

Prognosis for dwarfs without treatment
Most of the dwarfs without treatment can become between 4 and 5 year old. But there is a huge individual difference.  Because some dwarfs still produces a bit of GH of their own. And their prognoses also depends of how their kidneys were developed because of this. The Dutch university did even know a dwarf that did become 10 years old without treatment, because his kidneys did function. But often these dogs have skin and skinproblems. But nobody can ever predict what age an individual dwarf can reach.

Medication for a Dwarf
Any defect in the devellopment of the pituitary gland can causes a lack in producing hormones like: GH, TSH, PRL, FSH, LH, ACTH.  The Dutch university knows after years of research that giving a combination of thyroid hormone in combination with porcine pGH is giving good results. With giving the pGH in the first year they stimulate the kidneys of a dwarf to develop in a normal way. Giving pGH after the first year did not have any results and influence on the kidneys anymore. So the Dutch university only starts with treating very young dwarfs with giving pGH in combination with thyorid hormone.


 When you still have questions, just contact usinfo@wolfdog-healthinfo.org