Health problems can be passed down to dogs from their parents just like human children can inherit health problems from their parents. For the Kooikerhondje breed this is a real concern because they have a small gene pool. This makes them an easy target for such genetic conditions. Breeders try very hard to reduce or eliminate diseases and problems such as cataracts, epilepsy, patella luxation, and Von Willebrand's disease through tests and selective breeding. Breeders are taking these steps to ensure the health of the Kooikerhondje breed. Let's look at why this is so important.
Kooikerhondjes are susceptible to cataracts. Cataracts, of course, can impair vision or even cause blindness. They try to avoid breeding Kooikerhondjes with cataracts because the spread of impaired vision or even blindness would rob the noble canine of many of its natural skills. With the limited gene pool, a condition such as this could spread like wildfire, and this is just the beginning.
Epilepsy can be found in Kooikerhondjes as well. Epilepsy causes seizures, once again limiting the dog's capacity to be of help to its owners and possibly endangering its own health as well. For these reasons, even though they are unsure if it is caused by genetic factors, some other cause, or possibly a combination of factors perhaps beginning with a genetic predisposition, breeders often insist that Kooikerhondjes with epilepsy not be bred.
Patella luxation, another condition that afflicts Kooikerhondjes, is simply an abnormal movement of the knee. It can be caused by genetics or by an injury. Those with patella luxation should not be bred. Breeding dogs with this genetic condition would pass it on and possibly start to spread it throughout more of the population. With the small gene pool this is a serious concern. It is this very selective breeding that keeps the Kooikerhondje breed so healthy despite its small gene pool.
Von Willebrand's Disease
Von Willebrand's disease is a bleeding disorder that is commonly found in dogs. It is hereditary and, consequently, is next on our list to demarcate those Kooikerhondjes who should not be bred. This condition is actually comparable to the human condition known as hemophilia. It is yet another condition that could spread through this dog population if left unchecked by closely monitored breeding practices.
Genetic defects can be passed down from parent to child. This is just as true for the Kooikerhondje population as it is for the human population. This particular dog breed, however, has a small gene pool and is especially susceptible to such genetic problems. This is why such selective breeding practices are in place. This health issue is very real, and these steps help to ensure the health of future generations of Kooikerhondjes.