Health: Panosteitis

By Jennifer Stoeckl, MAT - Dire Wolf Project CEO, March 8, 2019
Photo: Bambi

I want to update everyone on a health concern that has popped up in the breed recently. As you may know, Panosteitis (pano) has been reported in a few dogs within the breed. It has now come to our attention that several other dogs have shown this painful inherited growth disease.

Before I go further, a good definition is important. Pano is an inherited disease that causes pain in the legs of a growing puppy. Specifically it is when the marrow of the bone does not grow as quickly as the bone itself. The symptoms include limping and whimpering as the disease progresses. It is often compared to "growing pains" in teenagers because of the similarity to the human malady. The pain can shift from limb to limb. Generally, the earlier a dog gets the disease, the more severe the symptoms are. The pain and inflammation go away within a week to two months and completely disappear after the dog reaches full height. Although it is painful during the episode, it is not a life-threatening disease and there are no lasting effects.

We have already recorded several dogs that have been recently shown to have exhibited symptoms of the disease, but we have now identified others. Kaiju (aka:Riker, Capone/Belatrix) as well as Buck and Bambi (Boss/Belatrix) have shown varying degrees of the disease. Buck and Bambi both showed a very mild version at 10 months old on one foot only that went away within a week. Kaiju, however, shows severe symptoms at six months manifesting in at least three limbs at this time. He is on anti-inflammatory and pain meds as well as getting extra protein to help the marrow catch up to his bone growth. His exercise has been limited at this time. He is doing very well.

As usual, we will make sure to include these dogs into the health database and update the stats. We are committed to an open and honest discussion on the health of the dogs being bred within the Dire Wolf Project. We firmly believe, as we always have, that great health can and must be the first priority when breeding dogs. However, we do not conform to the prevention breeding model for maintaining superior health. We completely disagree that polygenic inherited disease can be prevented. We clearly understand that working to prevent polygenic disease only results in masking the health problems that linger within a dog breed, shifting the burden to other unsuspecting breeders. Instead, we believe in an elimination breeding model for superior health. When we work to eliminate all ill health in our dogs, we can obtain the complete and total eradication of the disease within a dog breed. If you want further clarification on this subject, please read my book, Dire Wolf Project: Creating an Extraordinary Dog Breed, on Amazon.

In light of this, Dire Wolf Project breeders have agreed to a plan to eradicate the disease from the breed. In the interest of complete transparency and dedicated commitment to only breed the healthiest domesticated dogs on the planet, we are going to enact what Lois calls, "Going through the Looking Glass," which previously has been described publicly. George Padgett, DVM, highly revered author of the acclaimed book, "Control of Canine Genetic Diseases," calls the process "test-mating." Either way, one of the elements of this process is to make sure that potential owners are fully aware of the potential manifestations of the disease in their puppy and have agreed to report back if any symptoms do appear.

So, first of all, we have now identified that the pano specifically comes from Boss/Capone and/or Belatrix. All dogs seen to show symptoms of pano have derived from either one or the other or both. No other dog from any other current line has been shown with symptoms of the disease. So, we are specifically targeting the Capone/Belatrix dogs for the purposes of this test-mating.

It is important to note that Kaiju (aka: Riker) will no longer be considered for breeding. His symptoms are severe enough that he cannot successfully be a part of the test-mating program to eradicate pano from the particular line from which it appears. He will continue his training for service dog work lessening is exercise while the symptoms appear, but not be bred into the lines. He is doing well on his medication/eating regime.

However, both Bambi and Buck (Capone/Belatrix) acquired very mild symptoms at an older age and so they are affected, but do not show severe symptoms. Both Lois and I spoke and agree that a brother/sister mating (the closest inbreeding possible) will be necessary to both show and not show the disease. Yes. Some puppies will show the disease, but others will not. All puppies will be kept in the breed for observation until they are grown and any symptoms publicly recorded and reported. Some puppies may be sold on special contracts only with the requirement that the owners must share health information with the breeder. Those puppies showing the disease will be spay/neutered and found permanent homes once the symptoms abate.

Then, the puppies from this specific inbred match showing no signs of pano will be kept for further breeding. Again, all puppies will be kept within the breed for observation. All puppies showing symptoms of the disease will be spay/neutered and found permanent homes. Puppies not showing the disease will be kept for further breeding... until all puppies within the litter show no signs of pano.

While this initially shows an increase in the disease, the test-mating process completely cleanses the line from the disease and allows the resulting healthy dogs to breed within the rest of the breed to further produce healthy specimens. This ultimately eradicates the disease completely from the breed, producing a much less overall incidence of ill-health over time. More information about this process is described in the Dire Wolf Project book.

All health information regarding this process will be open and transparent. It is only when breeders of all dog breeds are finally able to speak openly regarding the honest truth about the ill-health they are facing in their dogs that we, consumers, will have a better idea of the health issues plaguing our beloved furry pets. The Dire Wolf Project vows to be the first to brave the stark ridicule from others who want to shout us down for daring to look disease in the face, take the problem head-on, and cure an entire breed of dog from the devastating effects of the many rampant health issues accosting our tail-wagging friends. Instead of masking it by not revealing the true incidence of the disease or hiding it by outbreeding, we know that only inbreeding can result in total disease elimination.

Thank you for having the courage to stand with us as we bravely travel from purebred to strongbred on the road to healthy, long-lived dogs.

We would like to send you a free gift for spending some time with us at the Dire Wolf Project.

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Jennifer Stoeckl is the co-founder of the Dire Wolf Project, founder of the DireWolf Guardians American Dirus Dog Training Program, and owner/operator of DireWolf Dogs of Vallecito. She lives in the beautiful inland northwest among the Ponderosa pine forests with her pack of American Dirus dogs.