BARF / Vaccinations / Spaying / Pyometra /
DNA / Eye Diseases / Hip Dysplasia / Elbow Dysplasia / Gastric Carcinoma / Epilepsy

Feeding and Vaccination

We feed our girls BARF, and use minimal vaccinations.
We started feeding our first CKCS Sophie, on home made food when she became sick and found she did so much better than on the prescribed food our vet wanted her to have. After that, we were always interested in feeding a more natural diet, but were scared to take the plunge. It all seemed so complicated. So when we got Nellie and Isabella, they did start out their life on dry commercial foods until by chance Nellie won a couple of boxes of BARF patties at the Belgian open show and we have been feeding a BARF diet ever since. Satine unfortunately only started out at 12wks but, she has only eaten BARF in some form or other ever since and all her puppies were raised on BARF for the duration that they were with us.

The results speak for themselves. I regularly get comments about how glossy their coats are -and they only get washed every 4 mths, and how full of life they are. I very rarely go to the vets with them too which is an added bonus. Nellie was feed only BARF the entire time through her pregnancy, whelping and raising of her pups and I had nothing but gobsmacked comments from even vets/vet nurses as to how healthy and well she was.

Unfortunately the one thing I was a little slow on was minimal vaccinations. For many years I was all for yearly vaccinations for everything we need here in Australia, and then slowly more articles started to come out. I also stupidly got Nellie revaccinated with her “yearly” shot while she was raising her pups - because the vet and others said that it was ok. Nothing thankfully appeared to have occurred, but from everything I have now read I would never ever ever. Satine also had a reaction to either her 2nd round of vaccinations (at 12wks) and/or the heart worm tablet given on the same day - this too is a never ever ever, or she may have also had tick poisoning. So many poisons going into the system, something has to give. Thankfully she has had no reactions ever since. I now believe in following the minimal vaccination protocol - vaccinations at 9-10wks, 14-16 wks, and then 12 mths- 3yrs later titre test (dependant on vaccine and vet) to check for levels. After this there should be no need for any more vaccinations. If concerned a titre test can be performed.

For More Information On BARF or feeding more naturally....



Raw Meat Diet Article - Dr Karen Becker
Normal Blood Values and Raw Fed Dogs
Dr Jean Dodds's Raw Food Diet Study - full article.

Recommended Books

Dr Ian Billinghurst -
Grow Your Pup with Bones
Give Your Dog a Bone
The BARF Diet

W. Jean Dodds, DVM & Diana R. Laverdure -
Canine Nutrigenomics the New Science of Feeding for Optimum Health.

Monica Segal -
K9 Kitchen -Optimum Nutrition.

Steve Brown -
Unlocking The Canine Ancestral Diet - Healther Dog Food the ABC Way.

Also see links to BARF products on the Links page.

For information on knuckling over caused by rapid growth and skeletal deformities...


Information on Minimal Vaccinations...

Dr Jean Dodds' Pet Health Resource Blog
The Purdue Vaccination Studies and Auto-antibodies
Ten Vaccine Myths
Duration of immunity to vaccines - Peter Dobias
Duration of immunity for canine and feline vaccines: A review - Robert Schultz
Duration of immunity to vaccines table
Vets on Vaccines - Dogs Naturally Article
More is Not Better - Dogs Naturally Article
Avoid unnessesary vaccinations with titre tests - Jean Dodds.
Frequently Asked Questions About Titres and Vaccination Protocol By Jean Dodds. 2015
**2016 Dodds Vaccination Protocol for Dogs

World Wide Vaccination Guidelines

World Small Animal Veterinary Association - www.wsava.org

WSAVA Guideline for the vaccination of Dogs and Cats

Australian Veterinary Association - www.ava.com.au

Vaccination of Cats and Dogs- position statement
Vaccination FAQ

Desex/Not To Desex - Early/later Desexing- Alternatives to Traditional Desexing

While I am certainly an advocate of desexing if you are not looking to breed, there are many studies that point to health issues if desexing prior to growth plate closure. I strongly believe that hormones do have an effect on growth and that there are many other health benefits to desexing later once the growth plates have closed (approx 18mths for Belgians).

Below are some links in regards to desexing.

Long-Term Health Effects of Neutering Dogs:Comparison of Labrador Retrievers with Golden Retrievers - July 2014
Early Spay Considerations
Long Turn Effects Of Spay/Neuter in Dogs
Plos One article: Neutering Dogs: Effects on Joint Disorders and Cancers in Golden Retrievers
The effect of neutering on the risk of mammary tumours in dogs – a systematic review
Rotweiller Study Links Ovaries with Exceptional Longevity.pdf
Behavioral and Physical Effects of Spaying and Neutering Domestic DogsDon'tMakeThisMistakeWhenSchedulingYourDog'sNeuteringProcedure

Stan Rawlinson Neutering (Spaying & Castration) Dogs and Suprelorin.pdf
Tubal Ligation and Vasectomy - Alternative to Traditional Desexing
Zinc Neutering - Non-surgical Neutering
Ovariectomy article - The Whole Dog Journal
Risks and Benefits to Spaying and Neutering your Dog (inc uterus only removal) - The Whole Dog Journal.
A Modified Spay Procedure Preserving Female Dog Ovaries- Dr Becker Article

Ovary Spare Spay - Parsemus foundation - lots of info and video

Growth Plate Closure Times
Aching Knees - Conclusions of a Study

Dental Health



After Satine contracted open pyometra and after doing my own research, I thought I would put a few articles on the disease as well as treatment and studies here. Alizan used for pyometra treatment is currently "off label" in Australia.

Satine's treatment consisted of :- Day 1 -swab taken, IV fluids, IV antibiotics, Alizan injection and course of tablet antibiotics until end. Day 2- (24hrs after) Alizin injection. Day 7 - Alizin injection. Day 14 ultrasound and Alizin injection. Day 29 (should have been day 28 but for public holiday) ultrasound -determined as clear uterus. Day 43 ultrasound, finish of antibiotic course.
Throughout she was also on (1/2 hr after antibiotic) Vit C, Vit B, Strong Probiotic, Fish oil and colloidal silver in her water.

When Satine next came in season (* Alizan can bring them in several months early), she was swabed on day 2 to check for bacteria levels*. Receiving the all clear she was mated and then an ultrasound was done at about 3 1/2 weeks from matings to check for puppies and uterine health. A further ultrasound was done at 5 weeks which proved to be all clear (despite my panic) and then a final scan was done at 6 weeks. Satine whelped a healthy litter on the 2/11/2012

As I was not going to breed Satine again, she was desexed 5 weeks after the puppies stopped feeding at 13 weeks - i.e 18weeks after whelping. Her left horn showed fattiness and was friable which would most definately led to the pyometra returning.

*Note that had there been any bacteria present, treatment would have been a course of antibiotics.
**Please note, that advice is to desex once bitch has finished with breeding, as the chance of Pyometra reoccuring is very high
**Please note that while this was used for Satine, it may not be appropriate for another bitch.

Ingleburn Veterinary Hospital article 2004.
Pyometra - By Dr Michael Bell

Alizin Revolutionary Treatment for Pyometra - VIRBAC
Application of the antiprogestin Aglepristone for conservative treatment of pyometra in the dog

Effects of aglépristone, a progesterone receptor antagonist, administered during the early
luteal phase in non-pregnant bitches.

General Belgian Health.

Belgians are a generally healthy breed but breeders need to be vigilant. The main health problems within the breed are; hip dysplasia, gastric carcinoma and to a lesser extent star (hereditary) cataract. There has also been a new genetic health disorder identified - SDCA , although mostly seen in the Malinois, it has cropped up in another variety. But what I feel to be our worst and most devastating health condition is epilepsy.

Breeders should endeavour to do all they can to breed away from these issues.

ANKC Registration Statistics - click here.

*BSD Databases World Wide with health information go to links page.


All breeders should be encouraged to DNA their breeding stock as well as their puppies to keep ahead of any diseases that may be able to be picked up by the DNA profiling process. The more DNA profiles in the system, the quicker the companies might be able to get tests.

It is also my opinion that breeders should be parentage testing their progeny to ensure correct pedigrees.

The current DNA tests available for Belgians are for; MDR1, Degenerative Myelopothy, SDCA, Behavior Propensityin the Belgian Malinois, coat length/colour.

MDR1 - Multi Drug Resitance (Sensitivity) Gene.

Some dog breeds are more sensitive to certain drugs than other breeds. Collies and related breeds, for instance, can have adverse reactions to drugs such as Ivermectin. Drug sensitivities result from a mutation in the multi-drug resistance gene (MDR1). This gene encodes a protein, P-glycoprotein that is responsible for pumping many drugs and other toxins out of the brain. Dogs with the mutant gene cannot pump some drugs out of the brain as a normal dog would, which may result in abnormal neurologic signs. The result may be an illness requiring an extended hospital stay - or even death. This test is most commonly used for Ivermectin sensitivity but many other drugs are included.

For more information go to...

MDR1 Drug List
Orivet Labs - https://orivet.com/store/canine-disease/ivermectin-sensitivity-mdr1-multi-drug-resistance-

Spongy Degeneration with Cerebellar Ataxia (SDCA, SDCA2)

Orivet Spongy Degenerations With Cerebellar Ataxia Test

A second genetic variant for cerebellar dysfunction in the Belgian Shepherd has been identified

Cause of neurological disorder in Belgian Shepherds Discovered.


Behavior Propensity (in the Belgian Malinios)

Differences in Behavior and Activity Associated with a Poly(A) Expansion in the Dopamine Transporter in Belgian Malinois.

This is a new test, for more information click here.


For more information go to...

Dog Genetics UK - http://www.doggenetics.co.uk/index.htm
Animal Network - http://www.animalnetwork.com.au/coatcolour/ccsummary.pdf
Orivet Labs -https://orivet.com/store/canine-full-breed-profile

Also three fantastic resources on Belgian Shepherd Coats...

Jean-Marie Vanbutsele - Genetics - belgiandogs.
Lee Jiles/Libbye Miller DVM - DNA testing -Coat
Belgenbeau Belgians- - Coat inhertance page

Eye Diseases

In Australia, the ACES eye program is currently only noting Star Cataracts (PPSC). PPM's, and CISKS (Pannus) are listed as secondary and you can get a clear certificate even if you have these issues. Breeders and puppy buyers need to be aware of of Star Cataracts amd PPM's but not be alarmed by them as we have a very low incidence in our breed. However two like diseases should never be bred together. Pannus, is considered likely to be hereditary and an autoimmune disorder, and at this time, not recommended for breeding.

I believe each country have different criterias for eye diseases.

AVA/ACES Scheme - http://www.ava.com.au/aces
*ACES eye statistics pdf - click here. Updated to June 2017

Eye Disease Heriditability Websites of Interest for Information
Hereditary Cataract Known http://www.animaleyecare.com.au/aec1/starcataract.html
PRA Unknown http://www.animaleyecare.com.au/aec1/pra.html
Pannus/Keratitus Unknown Clinicians Brief CSK in Dogs article
PPM Unknown http://www.lowchensaustralia.com/health/ppm.htm

Hip Dysplasia

The AVA/ANKC Canine Hip and Elbow Dysplasia Scheme- Breed Avg Scores up until 2014 pdf.

The 10 most important things to know about canine hip dysplasia

Understanding Hip Scores rating from various countries.

Scoring radiographs for canine hip dysplasia. The big three organisations in the world

Elbow Dysplasia


Gastric Carcinoma

Compared to other breeds, Belgian Sheepdogs are 16 times more likely to develop gastric carcinoma. Belgian Tervurens weigh in at 12 times more likely. While Malinois and Laekenois do not appear on the radar for this genetic predisposition at this time, it is likely they will due to the genetic relations between the Belgian breeds.

Examiner.com article - Gastric Carcinoma Study to look at genetic predisposition in Belgians - click here for pdf.

*International Register of Belgian Shepherds with Stomach Cancer - click here.

Deafness in Belgians

There is not much information about deafness in Belgian shepherds, however below is a list helping to gather information.

Deafness in Belgians Database -click here


While unfortunately there is currently no testing for Epilepsy and there is no way of knowing entirely if you have parents or even grand and greatgrand parents and family are clear of epilepsy, breeders should do everything possible to help to reduce the risk of producing puppies with this disease.

#If you would like to be a part of the UCDAVIS epilepsy study please see here to order your kit.
This study is looking for both affected and non affected dogs.

http://www.k9web.com/dog-faqs/medical/epilepsy.html http://www.thepetcenter.com/gen/epilepsy.html http://jhered.oxfordjournals.org/cgi/content/full/94/1/57 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9500179?dopt=Abstract


Update on epilepsy drugs - http://www.examiner.com/article/update-on-epilepsy-drugs

A new epilepsy gene for idiopathic epilepsy in Belgian Shepherds has been found in the canine chromosome 37.
For articles click here for PLoS ONE article, and here for Examiner.com article.

*Major 2015 Epilepsy Consensus Report 9/1/2015 - click here.