Breed/Health Info

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Below is a description of both the English Setter and Miniature Schnauzer   –   General Characteristics and Health Issues.    

1. General Health Information about Pedigree Dogs in general

2.   English Setters  (scroll down)

3.  Miniature Schnauzer (scroll down)


The Health Issues mentioned below are my personal views.  I have also written them in laymans terms rather than technical information.   So I hope you find it useful and informative.

A Breeders has to take into account when breeding all issues :- which includes Temperament, conformation and Health.    The chances are you will have a beautiful health puppy that is as fit as a fiddle for the rest of its life.    Hopefully any respectable  Breeder will also have carried out all the  Kennel club requested health tests and not knowingly bred with an unhealthy dog or bitch or one that falls below  the Kennel Club recommendations.

Unfortunately life has no guarantees and things can occasionally go pearshaped for even the best of Breeders, so please do not be too harsh when judging.

Fortunately in this day and age there is really no excuse for anyone to purchase a puppy from parents that have not fulfilled the required Health checks, or indeed buying a puppy that has not been checked for certain hEALTH problems. IF YOU GO TO A KENNEL CLUB ASSURED BREEDER THEN THIS IS A GUARANTEE THAT ALL HEALTH CHECKS HAVE BEEN CARRIED OUT.  PLUS ALL HEALTH TESTS FOR EVERY SINGLE BREED ARE PUBLISHED FOR EVERYONE TO SEE AND ARE  FREELY AVAILABLE ON THE KENNEL CLUB HEALTH CHECK WEBSITE.. bUT EVERY BREED HAS DIFFERENT HEALTH TESTS.       1. I would suggest you RESEARCH your chosen Breed, 2.  Find out What Checks should be carried out before Breeding of the Parents, along with the tests required for the litter itself.  3. Does it suit my lifestyle    4.   Why do I want a dog Agility, Show, Pet    5. Look at the list of Accredited Breeders in your Area to chat about the breed.  6. There are lists of different types of clubs you can belong to from Junior Handling, Agility, Ringcraft for showing, Obedience etc.   So with this knowledge you can ask the question of the Breeder – Have both parents had !!!!!! test and will the litter be tested for !!!!!!! and have done your homework beforehand.

There is no reason for anyone to purchase from a dog or bitch that has NOT BEEN HEALTH TESTED.   iF YOU ARE TOLD IT IS TESTED CHECK IT OUT FOR YOURSELF – nothing is hidden its all there for everyone to see.   There is a link to the Kennel Club Website from my Blog Roll

Below are plants that can cause problems – most of us will have these in our gardens, dogs wont usually munch away at them, but as a precaution you need to be aware of the symptoms if you think your dogs has eaten one of these.    The same applies to Fruit – be aware what is good and what can cause problems.


The lethal ones:   Rhubarb Leaves, Daffodil, Rhodendron, Larkspur & Yew   (can cause side effects such as sickness, diarrhea, mouth and eye irritation and skin allergies, among other symptoms.)

The other culprits are:-  Bleeding heart (can cause convulsions),

Bluebell, Buttercup, Elderberry, Foxglove, Holly (can cause wobbliness)

Hyacinth, Irish, Ivy, Laburnum, Lillies Including Lily of the Valley) can cause Liver and Kidney Failure.

Lobelia, Lupin, Poppy, Primrose, Privet, Snowdrops, Sweet Pea, Tiger Lily, Tulip & Wisteria (can cause dehydration and collapse)

Pet Safe Fruit 11193412_926217607434550_1674651015734856007_n

Useful Natural Home-Made Tick repellent I came across the other day

TICK RECIPE 1925213_10152362086046178_5042306045382753379_n



There are 3 main colours-   Blue belton – black and white flecking,  Orange Belton – orange and white flecking,   Tri-colour black, white and orange on the head and legs only flecking.  Their lifespan can be 8-14 .   Dogs max. 27″ max and bitches 25″ max. long flowing coat and generally have a lovely soft temperament.


English Setters  as adults (I count that as being well over the age of 2)  are carefree, laid back, soppy and fireside dogs, as puppies they are NOT suitable for everyone. They look like a chocolate box photo, but believe me they are not the easiest of puppies to look after.    They can be very very hyper, lively, boisterous, bite, nip and totally unruly.    They can charge round a room as if they have a cracker up their backside leaping from chair to chair, biting everyone and everything in site, grabbing at clothes, legs, arms etc. Yes it is only baby play – but it can be very very rough and I know several people who have contacted me at their witts end not knowing how or what to do to calm them down.   Yes they will grow out of it, but they do not mature until they are at least 2 years of age and even then sometimes a handful. If you have very young children they will knock them over quite easily, they will jump at them so please think very carefully as they are not suitable for everyone.  I personally would never ever sell an English puppy to anyone with children under the age of 10 unless they had owned them previously.


One thing is to ensure they do not continue eating a high protein food – as this makes them even more hyperactive.  Dont over exercise them or rough play as again they get too over excited, they dont know when to stop and then become hyper.    Try if possible to give them their play time, stimulation, chewable toys to help with their teething,  but plenty of rest and keep them calm if that is possible.


Setters should not be over exercised whilst youngsters from when you collect them at 8 weeks to 6 months old.   Dont be eager to get them out, into the park and off the lead galloping.   by all means trot them gentle round the block, go to puppy socialising, ringcraft whatever, but   they need just like a human baby to have plenty of sleep as this is when they do their growing.  If they are galloping about and running miles in open parkland their growth plates grow too fast and you end up with those horrible leggy, thin rangy setters.

Off the lead they are often a little difficult to train to return – especially when you want them to come back.  They can be very selectively deaf when they chose to do so.   I train my puppies from babies of 8 weeks – I have a Gundog whistle – an Acme (write down the number of the one you buy and if it gets lost you can replace with the identical pitch) I blow it twice when I call the puppy in to feed him, or I want him back in the house from outside.   He then gets to know the whistle, realises when he comes he will get a reward either his dinner, or a treat.    When you eventually let him off at 5 months whatever – just let him go a few yards away, call him and reward.    Dont do it too many time that he can be naughty and not return.    Each day try it again, a little further away, recall – treat – send away again.   Once they are old enough Setters must have daily free galloping.


They must be groomed on a daily basis.  They have long profuse feathering on their chest, legs, undercarriage and behind and if not combed regularly can get matted, knotted and then the knots start to tighten over time and pull the skin which can split and cause sores.So ensure you dont just brush over the top of the coat.   They are also a trimmed breed – not just for the showring.  Their ears/neck need trimming otherwise the air cannot circulate and they are prone to ear infection.  Their feet must be kept trimmed – between the toes and under the pads – again knots can form – plus its easier that having them caked in mud from the fields.   The rest of the trimming just makes them look smarter and neater and is a personal choice.     A word of warning which is also mentioned under my trimming page. Do be careful where you take your setter to be groomed as some places will clipper off the body which is a NO NO and by then its too late – it will grow back horribly curly and lose that lovely straight coat which they should have.   See separate link under Grooming chart on home page.

  HIP SCORING  – Both Parents MUST HAVE BEEN HIP SCORED.   This cannot be done until the dog is over l2 month of age.    It is only done the once for all Breeding stock and usually under anaesthetic.   The dog is laid on its back and the rear legs pulled forward to get a good view of the hips/socket.    An xray is taken and this is submitted to the BVA (British Veterinary association)  where it is SCORED by a special panel who usually sit once a month. (It is now produced on a DVD  and you are also given a copy) This means they look at each hip individually, how it sits in the socket, whether it is round, etc. etc.  GET A TOTAL FOR EACH HIP SEPARATELY AND THE BREED AVERAGE SCORE IS THE TOTAL OF THESE TWO HIPS.   At present for 2013 the Breed Average (an average of all setters scored) is l7 in total which is the Kennel club recommendation.  THE LOWER THE SCORE THE BETTER.    Each hip is given a separate score so for example the left may be 5 and the right may be 7 – so if you add the two together that gives a total score of l2.   Years ago you would be satisfied if your score was around  5 to 35 in total but of course over the years it has dropped considerably.   So from a personally opinion I would not breed with a bitch that was higher than 35. You cant change the bitch but you have the whole country to find a low score dog.   So I would be looking for a dog that was definitely around or lower than the Breed average of l7.    But this is of course up to individuals.      Once again you could breed a dog with a score of 4 to a bitch with a score of 4 and there is no guarantee that their progeny(children) if scored would be low.  All this information for every individual dog is published on the kennel club health checker, and the English Setter association Newsletter – so if you know the name of Mum or Dad of the litter you too can check it out.   All the information for Mum and Dads hips are also shown on the kennel club Registration document you will be given with your new puppy. Check it out for yourself  on the Kennel club Health checker –  click your Breed of dog say English Setter – for the purpose of trying it out type in the Kennel Club name of my William ….     Hartsett As You Like It At Ingella. (make sure you type it exactly right) it will then come up and tell you his hips are 4:4   —-  then you can even delve further and click on Parents and it will then show you the Hip score of his Sire and Dam.    If you want to then go deeper you can see if he has sired any progeny (children) amd how many, and what bitch he was mated to and the year.   So all very interesting if you really want to know about a specific dog or bitch.   If it hasnt been hip scored it will tell you

 BAER TESTING – As English Setters have the white coats they are more liable to be deaf or unilaterally deaf (one ear only) Some years ago the English Setter Association carried out Research by deaf testing a set number of  llitters.    On this occasion I was lucky enough to be able to take a litter of l3 puppies, their mum and dad but the problem was I had to go all the way to Cambridge to the animal Health Trust.   Apart from the petrol, travelling time and the fact you were there most of the day it was a nightmare going that far with puppies aged around 7 weeks old.  Of course they had to be all fed at some stage and allowed to run about in a confined sterile environment.   Each puppy just sat on my knee and tiny electrodes were popped under the skin near the ear.   The machine was turned on and sounds transmitted which showed up on a graph as to whether they were Normal, Unilateral or Deaf.   A copy of the graph was printed for each specific puppy and All mine including Mum and Dad got a Normal which was great along with individual certificates.    But very few people used to have this done as it was a long way to travel.  However, we are now in 2012 and there are a lot more Central places to have this done – Derby I believe being the latest which is a far more central venue.  So if you see written on your new puppies Pedigree the words BAER normal – that means it has been deaf tested and can hear with both ears.   Unilateral is deaf in one ear only,   and DEAF is obviously as it says.  But I believe once again it is an expensive test especially with a whole litter.     I do intend to have my next litter along with Mum BAER tested for peace of mind and i am only 15 miles from Derby.

SKIN PROBLEMS –  This can happen to the best of Breeders and any dog could get it at any time even when they get older.  It just appears to  flair up out of the blue and a setter being setter starts chewing, then licking, and licking and licking and it becomes a weeping sore and on it goes.   Some are very sad to see the state they can get into. So the first rule is never ever breed with a dog that has already got a problem.  But there are several things to do to try an eradicate it happening.   Wheat, Maize,  are all a NO NO – colourants, additives, preservatives etc.  in some dog foods, etc.   Firstly check your food is gluten free as well.    BARF (Raw diets) I believe are very good, some commercial complete foods are much better than others.   If your breeder recommends a feeding regime – dont change it because your friend knows better, your vet knows better (has he owned or bred an english setter).  Your Breeder will have gained years and years of knowledge so take this knowledge and use it wisely.    But there is light at the end of the tunnel.   Years ago the only cure appeared to be Steroids (Pred) – this did worked, but of course it damages the internal organs eventually.    There are so many Prescription veterinary  products now on the market the desensitising vaccines from Germany, the skin tests to ascertain what is causing it (often grass),  Atopica capsules, special shampoos, calming conditioners etc.  but if you are unsure then ask your vet to refer you to a SKIN SPECIALIST. The important thing is to catch it in the nick of time before it becomes a serious habit and then becomes irritated and causes sores.  It probably cannot be cured but with drugs it can be maintained and your dog live life to the full.

THYROID – This can also occur in English Setters exactly the same as it could in humans.  Lethargic, no energy, balding on the root of the tail etc. etc.   If you think your dog is ill get him checked out – you cannot diagnose this yourself. If after blod tests (which arnt cheap) its simply take a prescription tablet  Thyroxin or the one specific to your dogs type of thyroid problem..  They are then blood tested annually to ensure the level of medication is correct.

KENNEL COUGH – This is an airborne virus and is contagious. It is not specific to english setters, any dog can catch this.    It is exactly what is says – a cough, sometimes with runny nose.  Just like you and I have the winter flu.   It only lasts a week if that, but you must not let your dog out or go near other dogs for about 3 weeks.     The vulnerable ones are the very young puppy or the elderly dog which may need antibiotics.   If you go to the vet tell the receptionist you think your dog has kennel Cough and keep it in the car.  The best medicine to give them is Benalyn from the chemist for Adults.  Thats what the vet will give you.   However, if its a puppy or an elderly dog then you will need medication from the vet and perhaps an antibiotic injection.

DEAD TAIL – Vets usual say this is the name show people have given and they have never heard of it.  It tends to occur if your dog has been bathed, gone swimming, or got wet and not dried out properly.  we really arnt sure what causes it. It appears English Setters can be prone to this.  However, the tail instead of wagging, or being level off the back just hangs like a water pump handle.   The dog will keep swinging round trying to grab it and often crying as it can be very painful.   It wont last more than 2-3 days max if that, but the only way to cure this is with Anti Inflamatory tablets such as Rimadyl.   You have to keep the dog warm but you will probably end up at the vet.   One friend said that had she not told the vet what  it was, he would have xrayed and thought it had broken its tail.   So just remember its not life threatening but it is painful yes, but nothing to really worry about, just get the vet to give you the tablets.   It may never happen again,but I tend to think once it has happened it could on the odd occasion reoccur.

EAR PROBLEMS – this is the reason i always suggest you keep the ear trimmed on the outside and the rough all round the neck and ears, as this helps to ventilate the ear canal which can easily get infected, mites etc.    Check them every single day and that way they will never ever get severe.  I personally have never ever had horrendous ear problems, but I know of so many people who have. Ensure you always have some medication from the vet ready in your medical cabinet to pop in if needed.




There are 4 colours of minis –   Black,   Black/Silver,  Pepper/Salt which is the most common colour and of course the  addition of the White.   These are the only colours recognised by the UK Kennel club. You will sometimes find unscrupulous Breeders selling blue Merle or odd colours from say American lines, or Designer dogs at prices like £2000 but they will NOT BE registered with the UK Kennel club.   Minis do not moult, however, that does not mean people with allergies wont have a problem.  Often it is the saliva that causes the problem not the hair.

They are delightful little people and make ideal family pets, first time pets, pets for the elderly.  they are full of life, bouncy, intelligent, humerous, very stubborn when they want and most of all love human contact.  But dont forget puppies will be puppies and will bite, nip and chew. They make ideal family pets and enjoy such activities as walking, agility, obedience.   They must be regularly groomed and the knots kept at bay in their feathering, and trimmed regularly around their ears, beard and feet for health reasons.   the body can be clipped or hand stripped which is mainly done for the show ring.

Mycobacterium Avium Infection (MAC)

MAC – This is now the latest DNA test that is recommended for Breeding stock by the Northern Schnauzer club.   It is not compulsory and the DNA cheek swab is done at home and then air mailed to PennGen labs in American. Once they have the results you log in to their site online and to get the results pay $75 (£58.89) per dog.  There have been  quite a few cases of dogs dying, and carriers in America.  But also we now have a few in the UK.


I will therefore only ever use a STUD DOG that is also officially tested “Clear”.

MAC is a genetic immunodeficiency condition in Miniature Schnauzers that surfaced in America and Canada during the 1980’s.

The first clinical sign of MAC infection is lymph node enlargement. The bacterial infection affects the liver and spleen, resulting in liver and spleen enlargement. This presentation can easily be confused with lymphoma that also presents with generalized lymph node enlargement and may result in a misdiagnosis, unless a lymph node biopsy or aspirate is performed with an acid-fast stain to identify cellular changes characteristic of mycobacterial infection.

Comment below by PennGen Labs in USA.

We most recently characterized the molecular basis of the genetic predisposition to MAC and developed a DNA test for MAC predisposition in Miniature Schnauzers. With this genetic test which uses EDTA blood or cheek swabs, we can not only readily (1) confirm clinically diseased Miniature Schnauzers, but also (2) identify Miniature Schnauzers at risk of developing MAC before showing signs (from birth on); both of them are genetically affected, i.e. homozygous for the mutant allele/gene. Furthermore, this DNA test also (3) detects carriers (heterozygotes) which carry the mutant allele/gene but remain clinically asymptomatic, i.e. they are not genetically immunocompromised and thus not at risk of developing MAC but can pass on the mutant allele to their offspring

Comment from the American Miniature Schnauzer Club

Thank you for health testing your dog(s). We must now work together to finally rid ourselves of the genetic predisposition to avian tuberculosis also referred to as MAC, so that we can face the next challenges. The MAC DNA test will not tell if you can or cannot breed but with whom you may breed safely. Homozygous affecteds, even when not yet ill, should not be bred at all and any carrier to carrier breeding should be avoided. However, carriers CAN be safely bred to tested clear dogs and not produce any affecteds as long as the offspring are also tested before breeding them. Not removing desirable carriers from the genepool is critical to preserve the genetic diversity and good traits in the Miniature Schnauzer breed. The AMSC Health Committee recommends MAC DNA tested of both parents prior to any breeding.


EYESThis is the main criteria before purchasing a puppy.   Both parents should  hold a CURRENT –  BVA (British Veterinary association) CLEAR Unaffected Eye certificate  THIS IS ONLY FOR BREEDING STOCK and  should be carried out annually.   You cant just go to a local vet.    You have to go to a Vet who is on the BVA/KC Panel of Eye Testers and there arnt that many.     Its is performed like you and I would be eye tested (obviously they dont have to read) You are then given a CLEAR Unaffected certificate and this information is published in the Kennel Gazette and held on the Kennel club files.  You can check any dog you wish if you know its registered kennel club Name by going on the kennel club health checker website.  It also tells you the date it was tested. This is also shown on the Kennel club Registration Certificate of your new puppy.   Unlike Adults – Litters are only tested for Junior Cataracts at 6 weeks of age again with the Official BVA eye test.   When you collect your puppy You are then given a Certificate which shows the whole litter which should have a nice row of TICKS NOT CROSSES.    If any fail it is not published except on this one certificate although it recorded on the  BVA files,  but as a reputable Breeder you would hopefully inform the appropriate Miniature Schnauzer Club to assist other breeders in their future Breeding programs.  Try the Kennel Club Health Check out for yourself – First click on the Breed – Miniature Schnauzer.     The it asks for the Kennel club name :-   put in the name of one of my bitches –   Ingella Brit-Vic  (type it exactly right)   it will then tell you at what age she was Eye Tested. If she passed.  It will show if it has been done every  12-14 months.    You can then go further and check on whether any of her progeny (children) have been eye tested (sometimes not if they havent gone for breeding) .   You can check on her Parents and if will tell you all the Eye Testing information for her Dam and Sire.   So very very interesting and as I said no excuse for anyone to buy a puppy from untested stock.

UNBILICAL HERNIAS    Occasionally baby puppies between the age of 5-6 weeks may develop very tiny Umbilical Hernias – they are nothing to be unduly worried about and my vet will note this on her Health check.   I personally would not breed from a Bitch with one but everyone to their own on this question.    If you intend to have your dog neutered at a later date then if necessary a stitch can be popped into the hernia.   The chances are it wont have changed much. I always inform every new owner around this time if I find the odd hernia and give them the opportunity to have a refund if they prefer.   No one has yet done this.

   They can also get kennel cough, may be prone to mild skin problems, Thyroid which are mentioned under the English Setter section.     Minis can also suffer from   Struvite Stones, liver shunt which are all few and far between and just unfortunately bad luck if it happens. Cysts when they get older.    But  On the whole generally very hardy and live to a ripe old age of around 13-15 with very few problems.     

So far (touch wood) in l5/l6 years of owning Minis I have  only once taken a Mini to the vet that was ill, and that was my very first foundation Bitch who goes back in every pedigree of every puppy i breed, and at the ripe old age of l3 she had Struvite Stones – but at that age I did no more than keep her happy.  The only other occasions have been if I needed help during whelping..   However, you have to remember there are times when perhaps I have self diagnosed with the years of experience and treated accordingly without needing the intervention of a vet.

See separate charts under Grooming section link on the Home Page.