Overall, the Flatcoat is a relatively healthy breed. Reputable breeders help maintain this by performing a variety of health tests prior to breeding dogs. At the very least, those tests include checking for hip dyplasia and inherited eye disease. Other common tests include gonioscopy (which checks for a predisposition to developing glaucoma), elbow dysplasia, and thyroid disease. Most of these conditions are sporadic in the breed and by screening breeding animals, we can help prevent them from becoming a significant problem.
The most common orthopedic problem seen in Flatcoats is luxating patellas. This is a condition where the kneecap slips out of it's proper location as the dog moves. All Flatcoats should be checked for this condition before being bred. Many dogs are only mildly affected and go on to live a perfectly normal life, but they should not be bred. Some dogs are affected more severely and require surgery. The vast majority that require surgery, also go on to live normally.
As in people, the incidence of cancer in dogs is of concern, and to this end Flatcoat fanciers have contributed large sums of money supporting scientific research, especially for studies on malignant histiocytosis, a type of cancer seen more commonly in Flatcoats than in the average dog population. Unfortunately there is no screening test for this and there is no bloodline completely unaffected by it. The only tool available to breeders is studying pedigrees and selecting bloodlines with a predominance of long-lived dogs. Currently there is some very exciting research going on looking at this very problem, that will hopefully improve our understanding and help minimize the occurance of this disease.
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