Samoyed Health





The Samoyed Club of Victoria have adopted a Code of Ethics for Breeders. We are working to encourage responsible and ethical breeding practices. A health sub-committee has been formed and work has commenced on this page to bring you some important health information.

The Samoyed as well as many other large breed dogs, can be subject to some hereditary problems which are inherited problems passed from a parent to a puppy. These problems include hip dysplasia and several eye diseases. Most conditions have complex causes and are the result of many different contributing factors.  Environmental factors in hip dysplasia are weight, the amount of exercise given and what type of exercise also as well as the growth rate of a puppy. 

Below we have provided links to information that we feel is of value and important to read and learn from. More information on various topics will be added to this page on a regular basis.


The Samoyed Club of Victoria Code of Ethics for Breeders adopted in 2015.


We have provided a form with questions for prospective puppy buyers to ask breeders when you make contact and also questions you may be asked by the breeder.

This is a guide only but will give you an idea of what to ask when making an enquiry about purchasing your puppy.

All breeders who are member of the Samoyed Club of Victoria follow our Code of Ethics for Breeders, you can view a copy via the link on this page.




We have provided a form which can be taken to the Breeder’s Vet for completion before a puppy goes to its’ new home indicating that the Vet has performed a general health check of the pup.



Please take the time to read the information on the following websites. Early de-sexing is no longer recommended by all breeders for some of the reasons you will read about on these sites. Talk to the breeder of your puppy about this subject.

Dogs First Website: Dog Neutering: The Unspoken Risks of Neutering Early

Dogs Naturally Website: Spay Neuter and Joint Disease by Dana Scott

Dogs Naturally Website: Early Spay Neuter: 3 Reasons To Reconsider

Dogs Naturally Website - Long-Term Health Risks and Benefits Associated with Spay / Neuter in Dogs

Angry Vet Website: Spaying and Neutering Questions & Answers

Healthy Pets Website: Why I've Had a Change of Heart About Neutering Pets by Dr Karen Becker

Truth For Dogs Website: Spaying and Neutering: New Warnings About Health Problems

Canine Sports Website: Early Spay-Neuter Considerations for the Canine Athlete: One Vet’s Opinion


“Bloat” a.k.a. Gastric Dilatation Volvulus (GDV) kills an estimated 60,000 dogs each year.  It is most prevalent among bigger breeds, with apparent correlation to deep-chested dogs, including Samoyeds.

The following Potomac Valley Samoyed Club web page provides a case study and some interesting information


Portosystemic Shunt Intrahepatic & Extrahepatic

Click here Amie's living with a liver shunt


(Liver Shunts)


Portosystemic Shunts are vascular anomalies that cause portal blood to bypass the liver.   These can be either congenital or acquired.  The congenital shunts are usually a single vessel that can be either Extrahepatic (EHPPS) outside the liver or Intrahepatic (IHPPS) inside the liver.  Acquired shunts are usually multiple and are secondary to an underlying hepatic disease process and the development of portal hypertension.

Extrahepatic shunts (EHPPS) are commonly found in small breeds of dogs.   They are considered a developmental anomaly.  Intrahepatic shunts (IHPPS) are often found in large breeds of dogs.  Intrahapetic shunts are caused by a failure of the vessel that regulates blood flow from the placenta to vital organs like lungs & heart during fetal development to close.  This would usually close within a few days of birth. (1).

Signs & Symptoms

Dogs with Congenital Shunts tend to present at a young age though asymptomatic dogs as old as 13 have been seen (2).   There is no gender predisposition.  Clinical signs may increase after eating. 

Signs of Hepatic Encephalopathy (HE)  –  Ataxia, behavioural changes, aggression, pacing, circling, head pressing, blindness, seizures, coma.  Failure to thrive or gain weight.  Often small in stature - runt of litter.   Polyuria, polydipsia, weight loss, vomiting, intermittent anorexia, diarrhoea, pica.  Often have poor anesthesia tolerance.  Ammonium biurate crystals or Stones. 

It is thought that this is a semi lethal gene and likely causes fetal death so not all affected puppies are even seen. (2)

Diagnostic Tests

Complete Blood Count (CBC) and Bile Acid Test.   Common advanced imaging diagnostic tests includes Abdominal Ultrasound, Nuclear Scintigraphy, MRI, Computed tomography (CT) are also used.


Congenital portosystemic shunts have been reported in 110 of 201 (55%) breeds of dogs.  It is more common in purebred dogs than cross bred dogs (3) (4) and has been demonstrated to be genetic in many different breeds of dogs (3) (4) (5) (6) though predisposed breeds can vary from country to country (5).    


Medical management

Medical management is used for dogs that cannot have surgery or when surgery is declined and also to stabilize dogs prior to surgery.   Medical management is titrated for each individual depending on severity of symptoms therefore it is best to work with a veterinary specialist.  Medical management can control the signs of HE but will not treat the underlying hepatic atrophy.  For dogs with intrahepatic shunts GI protectants are recommended for life usually Omeprazole .(7)

Surgical management

Considered the best long term solution for shunts, it redirects the shunting blood to the liver reversing hepatic atrophy and may resolve clinical signs.   

Extrahepatic shunts - suture ligation, cellophane banding or ameroid constriction.  

Intrahapetic shunts have been considered more challenging to fix overall often with high mortality  using the above surgical methods.  There is now a minimally invasive method – Percutaneous Transjugular Coil Embolization.   The mortality rate with this procedure is less than 5% (7).

Medical vs. Surgical management is a complex subject there have been very few studies published. (8) (9)    one other study has been presented in abstract form at the ACVIM Forum in 2012 by Cornell University this involves the largest number of dogs so far but it is yet to be published. (10)

Links to further information & research

There are many papers on liver shunts PubMed has in excess of 700.  There are also various support groups on facebook the information given in these groups range from excellent to dangerous.  Find a good internal medicine specialist to assist you in managing your dog.

·Canine congenital portosystemic shunts: Disconnections dissected L.Van den BosscheF.G.van Steenbeek


 (1 )  Doppler ultrasonographic assessment of closure of the ductus venosus in neonatal Irish wolfhounds.   Lamb CR, Burton CA  Vet Rec. 2004 Nov 27; 155(22):699-701.

(2)   Portosystemic Vascular Anomalies (PSVA) & Microvascular Dysplasia (MVD) S A Center, DVM, Dipl ACVIM Professor of Internal Medicine, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY

(3)  Association of breed with diagnosis of congenital portosystemic shunts in dogs:  2400 cases (1980-2002)  Karen M Tobias, DVM, MS DACVS, & Barton W Rohrbach, VMD, MPH, DACVPM – JAVMA , Vol 223, No 11 December 1, 2003.

(4)  Prevalence of inherited disorders among mixed-breed and purebred dogs:  27,254 cases (1995-2010)  Thomas P Bellumori, MS; Thomas R Famula PhD; Danika L Bannasch, PhD, DVM; Janelle M bellanger, MS; Anita M Oberbauer PhD.  JAVMA, Vol 242 No 11 June 1 2013.

(5)  Effect of breed on anatomy of porto-systemic shunts resulting from congenital disease in dogs and cats: a review of 242 cases.  GB Hunt Veterinary Cardiovascular Unit, University Veterinary Centre, Faculty of Veterinary Science, University of Sydney, New South Wales 2006.  Australian Veterinary Journal Volumne 82, No 12, December 2004.

(6)  Inherited liver shunts in dogs elucidate pathways regulating embryonic development and clinical disorders of the portal vein.  Frank G. van Steenbeek, Lindsay van den Bossche, Peter A. J. Leegwater, and Jan Rothuizen

(7)  Endovascular evaluation and treatment of intrahepatic portosystemic shunts in dogs:

100 cases (2001–2011) - Chick Weisse, VMD; Allyson C. Berent, DVM; Kimberly Todd; Jeffrey A. Solomon, MD; Constantin Cope, MD  JAVMA January 1, 2014, Vol. 244, No. 1, Pages 78-94

(8)  Comparison of survival after surgical or medical treatment in dogs with a congenital portosystemic shunt.  Stephen N Greenhalgh et al.  JAVMA Vol 236, No 11 June 1 2010.

(9)  Medical Management of congenital portosystemic shunts in 27 dogs:  A retrospective study. J Small anim Pract 39:62-68 1998

 (10)  Long-term survival of dogs (n=597) with congenital or acquired portosystemic shunting: 1980-2010.  Center SA, Randolph J, Warner K, et al.  J Vet Intern Med 2012:26:781A ACVIM Forum 2012, New Orleans, LA (abstract)

A portosystemic shunt (PSS) is an abnormal connection between the portal vascular system and systemic circulation. Blood from the abdominal organs which should be drained by the portal vein into the liver is instead shunted to the systemic circulation by the PSS.

American College of Veterinary Surgeons - short explanation

Listen as Dr. Karen Becker discusses the problem of liver shunts – what they are, what causes them, and what to do if you suspect your pet has the condition.

AKC - Researchers Study Ways to Diagnose Liver Disease Sooner – is about Cocker Spaniels but worth a read.


An interesting article my Melbourne Eye Vet re eye conditions found in Samoyeds by Dr. Chloe Hardman BVSc (Hons) MVS, MANZCVS (Small Animal Surgery) FANZCVS (Ophthalmology)


July 2017 to June 2018


Some information regarding this condition which can affect Samoyeds.