Health Concerns

Pembrokes are a relatively healthy breed. To keep them that way, reputable breeders test for at least 3 things prior to breeding. Eyes, Hips & vonWillebrands Disease. Breeders should be happy to provide you with copies of the health testing the parents of any puppies they might have available should you request it.


Eyes should be tested by a certified canine ophthalmologist. In Pembrokes they look for Cataracts, Persistent Pupillary Membranes (PPM), Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA), and Retinal Dysplasia. Inheritance patterns are not yet proven in this breed. Many breeders do not send reports in to CERF (Canine Eye Registry Foundation) or OFA but should be able to provide you with a copy of the original report.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia is an abnormality of the hip joint that can affect one or both sides. Severity can be from only visible on an x-ray to severe arthritis. Inheritance is complex, likely involving several genes and environmental factors such as diet and rapid growth. Breeders typically have their dogs x-rayed after 18 months of age for evaluations with OVC (Ontario Veterinary College), or 24 months for evaluation with OFA (Orthopedic Foundation for Animals).

vonWillebrands Disease

vonWillebrands Disease is a clotting factor disorder in some breeds, like hemophilia. Pembroke present with vWD type 1, this typically means that there are few clinical signs of the disorder in genetically affected dogs (they can typically undergo routine surgeries with little problem). Inheritance is a simple recessive gene, and a DNA test is available to determine if an animal is genetically clear, carrier or affected.

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Degenerative Myelopathy is a degeneration of the nervous and supportive tissue of the spinal cord in the lower back region which causes rear leg weakness and eventual paralysis. DM is usually late age in onset (9 years and older). DM has both genetic and environmental triggers. Recently a DNA test has been developed in the USA. This test is new and relatively unproven at this time, thus not all breeders have incorporated it into their routines.  The test is a great diagnostic tool and can help evaluate whether or not the issue is DM or a disk disease.


Obesity is the largest problem in seen in Pembrokes. Due to their dwarf frames, excess weight can be extremely hard on these dogs and can lead to a myriad of health problems. While their expressive eyes might tell you they are starved, don’t believe them and be sure to carefully monitor their weight. Your breeder can help with recommending proper diet and exercise to ensure your companion has a long and health life.