Caring for Your Faithful Companion
Mudis: What a Unique Breed!
Your dog is special! She’s your best friend, companion, and a source of unconditional love. Chances are that you chose her because you like Mudis and you expected her to have certain traits that would fit your lifestyle:
- Bouncy, cheerful, loyal, and enthusiastic
- Loyal to those she trusts
- Playful and energetic
- Small, but sturdy
- Eager to please and responsive to training
However, no dog is perfect! You may have also noticed these characteristics:
- Standoffish toward strangers
- Sensitive, matures slowly
- Can be snappy around children if not socialized properly
- Needs early socialization to accept other pets and strangers
Is it all worth it? Of course! She’s full of personality, and you love her for it! She is highly intelligent and learns quickly. She has an enthusiastic and scrappy nature requiring a confident leader and early socialization.
The Mudi is a rare herding dog that originated in Hungary. They are closely related to the Puli and Pumi; the Hungarian herding dogs separated into distinctly different breeds in the 1930’s. The Mudi is used for general purpose farm work including sheepherding and vermin control. They are highly active, require daily exercise and thrive when given a job to do. She is a loving and gentle companion, but often prefers to bond closely with just one person in the family.
Your Mudi’s Health
We know that because you care so much about your dog, you want to take good care of her. That is why we have summarized the health concerns we will be discussing with you over the life of your Mudi. By knowing about health concerns specific to Mudis, we can tailor a preventive health plan to watch for and hopefully prevent some predictable risks.
Many diseases and health conditions are genetic, meaning they are related to your pet’s breed. There is a general consensus among canine genetic researchers and veterinary practitioners that the conditions we’ve described herein have a significant rate of incidence and/or impact in this breed. That does not mean your dog will have these problems; it just means that she is more at risk than other dogs. We will describe the most common issues seen in Mudis to give you an idea of what may come up in her future. Of course, we can’t cover every possibility here, so always check with us if you notice any unusual signs or symptoms.
This guide contains general health information important to all canines as well as the most important genetic predispositions for Mudis. This information helps you and us together plan for your pet’s unique medical needs. At the end of the booklet, we have also included a description of what you can do at home to keep your Mudi looking and feeling her best. You will know what to watch for, and we will all feel better knowing that we’re taking the best possible care of your pal.
General Health Information for your Mudi
Dental disease is the most common chronic problem in pets, affecting 80% of all dogs by age two. And unfortunately, your Mudi is more likely than other dogs to have problems with her teeth. It starts with tartar build-up on the teeth and progresses to infection of the gums and roots of the teeth. If we don’t prevent or treat dental disease, your buddy will lose her teeth and be in danger of damaging her kidneys, liver, heart, and joints. In fact, your Mudi’s life span may be cut short by one to three years! We’ll clean your dog’s teeth regularly and let you know what you can do at home to keep those pearly whites clean.
Mudis are susceptible to bacterial and viral infections — the same ones that all dogs can get — such as parvo, rabies, and distemper. Many of these infections are preventable through vaccination, which we will recommend based on the diseases we see in our area, her age, and other factors.
Obesity can be a significant health problem in Mudis. It is a serious disease that may cause or worsen joint problems, metabolic and digestive disorders, back pain and heart disease. Though it’s tempting to give your pal food when she looks at you with those soulful eyes, you can “love her to death” with leftover people food and doggie treats. Instead, give her a hug, brush her fur or teeth, play a game with her, or perhaps take her for a walk. She’ll feel better, and so will you!
All kinds of worms and bugs can invade your Mudi’s body, inside and out. Everything from fleas and ticks to ear mites can infest her skin and ears. Hookworms, roundworms, heartworms, and whipworms can get into her system in a number of ways: drinking unclean water, walking on contaminated soil, or being bitten by an infected mosquito. Some of these parasites can be transmitted to you or a family member and are a serious concern for everyone. For your canine friend, these parasites can cause pain, discomfort, and even death, so it’s important that we test for them on a regular basis. We’ll also recommend preventive medication as necessary to keep her healthy.
Spay or Neuter
One of the best things you can do for your Mudi is to have her spayed (neutered for males). In females, this means we surgically remove the ovaries and usually the uterus, and in males, it means we surgically remove the testicles. Spaying or neutering decreases the likelihood of certain types of cancers and eliminates the possibility of your pet becoming pregnant or fathering unwanted puppies. Performing this surgery also gives us a chance, while your pet is under anesthesia, to identify and address some of the diseases your dog is likely to develop. For example, if your pet needs hip X-rays or a puppy tooth extracted, this would be a good time. This is convenient for you and easy for your friend. Routine blood testing prior to surgery also helps us to identify and take precautions for common problems that increase anesthetic or surgical risk. Don’t worry; we’ll discuss the specific problems we will be looking for when the time arrives.
Genetic Predispositions for Mudis
Hip and Elbow Dysplasia
Both hips and elbows are at risk for dysplasia, an inherited disease that causes the joints to develop improperly and results in arthritis. Stiffness in your Mudi’s elbows or hips may become a problem for him, especially as he matures. You may notice that he begins to show lameness in his legs or has difficulty getting up from lying down. We can treat the arthritis—the sooner the better—to minimize discomfort and pain. We’ll take X-rays of your dog’s bones to identify issues as early as possible. Surgery is sometimes a good option in severe and life-limiting cases. Keep in mind that overweight dogs may develop arthritis years earlier than those of normal weight, causing undue pain and suffering!
There are three types of seizures in dogs: reactive, secondary, and primary. Reactive seizures are caused by the brain’s reaction to a metabolic problem like low blood sugar, organ failure, or a toxin. Secondary seizures are the result of a brain tumor, stroke, or trauma. If no other cause can be found, the disease is called primary, or idiopathic epilepsy. This problem is often an inherited condition, with Mudis commonly afflicted. If your friend is prone to seizures, they will usually begin between six months and three years of age. An initial diagnostic workup may help find the cause. Lifelong medication is usually necessary to help keep seizures under control, with periodic blood testing required to monitor side effects and effectiveness. If your dog has a seizure: Carefully prevent him from injuring himself, but don’t try to control his mouth or tongue. It won’t help him, and he may bite you accidentally! Note the length of the seizure, and call us or an emergency hospital.
Not many things have as dramatic an impact on your dog’s quality of life as the proper functioning of his eyes. Unfortunately, your Mudi can inherit or develop a number of different eye conditions, some of which may cause blindness if not treated right away, and most of which can be extremely painful! We will evaluate his eyes at every examination to look for any signs of concern.
Cataracts are a common cause of blindness in older Mudis. We’ll watch for the lenses of his eyes to become more opaque—meaning they look cloudy instead of clear—when we examine him. Many dogs adjust well to losing their vision and get along just fine. Surgery to remove cataracts and restore sight may also be an option.
Distichiasis is a condition caused by extra hairs that grow inside of the eyelid and rub on the surface of the eye. This is one of the most commonly inherited diseases in dogs, and your Mudi is more likely than other dogs to develop this painful condition. If untreated, these abnormal hairs can cause corneal ulcers and chronic eye pain. Several treatment options are available, and the prognosis is good once the hairs have been permanently removed.
Sometimes small strands of tissue that were meant to disappear soon after birth remain attached to the iris. When this happens, it’s called Persistent Pupillary Membrane, and your Mudi is more likely to have this condition than other dogs. Fortunately, these tissue bits usually don’t hurt or impede vision, but occasionally they can cause problems.
Sometimes your Mudi’s kneecap (patella) may slip out of place (called patellar luxation). You might notice that he runs along and suddenly picks up a back leg and skips or hops for a few strides. Then he kicks his leg out sideways to pop the kneecap back in place, and he’s fine again. If the problem is mild and involves only one leg, your friend may not require much treatment beyond arthritis medication. When symptoms are severe, surgery may be needed to realign the kneecap to keep it from popping out of place.
In humans, an allergy to pollen, mold, or dust makes people sneeze and their eyes itch. In dogs, rather than sneeze, allergies make their skin itchy. We call this skin allergy “atopy”, and Mudis often have it. Commonly, the feet, belly, folds of the skin, and ears are most affected. Symptoms typically start between the ages of one and three and can get worse every year. Licking the paws, rubbing the face, and frequent ear infections are the most common signs. The good news is that there are many treatment options available for this condition.
Demodex is a microscopic mite that lives in the hair follicles of dogs. All dogs have them. Normally a dog’s immune system keeps the mites in check, but some breeds, like your Mudi, develop an overabundance of these mites. In mild cases, pet owners may notice a few dry, irritated, hairless lesions. These often occur on the face or feet and may or may not be itchy. Secondary skin infections may occur. Prompt veterinary care is important to keep the disease from getting out of hand. Many pets seem to outgrow the problem, while others require lifelong management.
Teeth abnormalities are often genetically induced and are relatively common in dogs, especially in purebred dogs like your Mudi. An overbite or underbite is called a malocclusion, or a bad bite. Oligodontia is a condition where only a few teeth are present. Misaligned teeth can also occur and cause lots of problems, but can usually be corrected with braces or extractions. (Yes, dogs can get braces!) We want to keep your buddy’s teeth healthy so we will be watching his developing teeth closely.
Just as humans can have extra teeth that we call wisdom teeth, some breeds of dog can have extra chompers as well. As long as these teeth erupt through the gums properly and are not too crowded, they are not harmful and may even be considered normal in some Mudis. Extra teeth that cause problems should be removed during an anesthetic dental procedure to avoid the loss of more important teeth.
Umbilical hernias, originating from the belly button, range in size.
An umbilical hernia is a hole or defect in the body wall in the area of the umbilicus, or bellybutton. Usually it is seen as a soft bulging in the center of the belly, with abdominal fat and sometimes intestines protruding through the hole. Considered the most common type of hernia in dogs, it is usually inherited, and your Mudi is at greater than normal risk for this problem. In most cases, the bulging abdominal contents can be easily pushed back into place with gentle massage, but occasionally the intestines can become stuck in the hernia and require immediate veterinary attention. We’ll check your baby for this congenital defect at his first exam, and discuss treatment options at that time, if needed.
Some male Mudis have a condition present at birth in which one or both testicles do not descend into the scrotum (a condition called cryptorchidism). Instead, the testicle stays in the abdomen, which can cause problems later in life, including high cancer risk. We’ll check for this problem when your pet is a puppy; we recommend removal of both testicles if he has this condition.
Ear Alopecia (“Paper Ear”)
Ash or gray colored Mudis dogs can have a variety of hair patterns on their ears, from no hair to scant hair to fully-furred. Bald ear flaps can develop within a few months after birth or more slowly, and are usually apparent by 2-3 years of age. This is a cosmetic condition that does not require treatment.
Mudis come in a variety of colors. Breed standards specify exactly what color patterns are acceptable and which are considered faults. Albinism is more common in this breed and can involve the eyes, skin, coat and leathery areas such as the nose and foot pads. Other coat colors and white spots above a certain size are also non-standard for the breed. If he happens to have the “wrong” color or pattern it just means he doesn’t have a show ring career ahead, and shouldn’t be used for breeding, but nothing prevents him from being your best dog ever!
Mudis are more likely than other canines to be born with spinal deformities (a condition called hemivertebrae), which may lead to spinal cord damage, instability, or disability. We’ll take X-rays when he is young to ensure that we identify problems early because symptoms can worsen with age, weight, and sometimes activity. During his life, if he develops symptoms of any back problems, we’ll rule out any other causes, such as a slipped spinal disc or arthritis and may prescribe medication, acupuncture, or rehabilitation.
Taking Care of Your Mudi at Home
Much of what you can do to keep your dog happy and healthy is common sense, just like it is for people. Watch her diet, make sure she gets plenty of exercise, regularly brush her teeth and coat, and call us or a pet emergency hospital when something seems unusual (see “What to Watch For” below). Be sure to adhere to the schedule of examinations and vaccinations that we recommend for her. This is when we’ll give her the necessary “check-ups” and test for diseases and conditions that are common in Mudis. Another very important step in caring for your pet is signing up for pet health insurance. There will certainly be medical tests and procedures she will need throughout her life and pet health insurance will help you cover those costs.
Routine Care, Diet, and Exercise
Build her routine care into your schedule to help your Mudi live longer, stay healthier, and be happier during her lifetime. We cannot overemphasize the importance of a proper diet and exercise routine.
- Supervise your pet as you would a toddler. Keep doors closed, pick up after yourself, and block off rooms as necessary. This will keep her out of trouble and away from objects she shouldn’t put in her mouth.
- Brush her coat as needed, at least weekly.
- Mudis generally have good teeth, and you can keep them perfect by brushing them at least twice a week!
- Clean her ears weekly, even as a puppy. Don’t worry—we’ll show you how!
- She’s a smart dog with lots of energy, so keep her mind and body active, or she’ll get bored. That’s when the naughty stuff starts.
- She loves the water, and swimming is a great form of exercise for your Mudi.
- She is an energetic and active dog that excels at canine sports like agility, obedience, flyball and herding.
- Keep your dog’s diet consistent and don’t give her people food.
- Feed a high-quality diet appropriate for her age.
- Exercise your dog regularly, but don’t overdo it at first.
What to Watch For
Any abnormal symptom could be a sign of serious disease, or it could just be a minor or temporary problem. The important thing is to be able to tell when to seek veterinary help, and how urgently. Many diseases cause dogs to have a characteristic combination of symptoms, which together can be a clear signal that your Mudi needs help.
Give us a call for an appointment if you notice any of these types of signs:
- Change in appetite or water consumption
- Tartar build-up, bad breath, red gums, or broken teeth
- Itchy skin (scratching, chewing, or licking), hair loss
- Lethargy, mental dullness, or excessive sleeping
- Fearfulness, aggression, or other behavioral changes
Seek medical care immediately if you notice any of these types of signs:
- Scratching or shaking the head, tender ears, or ear discharge
- Inability or straining to urinate; discolored urine
- Cloudiness, redness, itching, or any other abnormality involving the eyes
- General reluctance to run or play
- Any abnormal shaking, trembling, or excessive involuntary tremors
- Dry, scaly, sometimes itchy hairless patches on face or paws
Partners in Health Care
DNA testing is a rapidly advancing field with new tests constantly emerging to help in the diagnosis of inherited diseases before they can become a problem for your friend. For the most up-to-date information on DNA and other screening tests available for your pal, visit www.Genesis4Pets.com.
Your Mudi counts on you to take good care of her, and we look forward to working with you to ensure that she lives a long and healthy life. Our goal is to provide the best health care possible: health care that’s based on her breed, lifestyle, and age. Please contact us when you have questions or concerns.
- Ackerman L. The Genetic Connection: A Guide to Health Problems in Purebred Dogs. Second edition. AAHA Press; 2011.
- Mudi [Internet]. Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia. 2013 Feb 22- [cited 2013 Apr 3]. [cited 2013 Apr 3]. Available from: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mudi
- Mudi Breed Information [Internet]. Mudi Club of America. c2000-2011 [cited 2013 Apr 3]. [cited 2013 Apr 3]. Available from: http://www.mudi.us/pb/wp_b54b6d2b/wp_b54b6d2b.html
- Health Testing [Internet]. Mudi Directions. [cited 2013 Apr 3]. [cited 2013 Apr 3]. Available from: http://mudidirections.blogspot.com/p/health.html
- Health [Internet]. American Mudi Association. [cited 2013 Apr 3]. [cited 2013 Apr 3]. Available from: http://www.americanmudiassociation.org/page-29.html
- Mudi Information and Pictures [Internet]. Dog Breed Info Center. c1998-2013 [cited 2013 Apr 3]. [cited 2013 Apr 3]. Available from: http://www.dogbreedinfo.com/mudi.htm
What You Should Know
Little known outside Europe.
A puppy will probably have to be imported.