German Pinscher Health



Normal Thyroid Gland composed of colloid-laden follicles,

thyroid follicular epithelial cells (black arrow)

and parafollicular C-cells (white arrow).


Thyroid Health


The endocrine system is responsible for secreting hormones that assist in the management of various body processes.  The thyroid gland, which lies on the dog's trachea, located just below the larynx, produces triiodothyronine and levothyroxine to govern the body's basic metabolism throughout the life of the canine.  The thyroid is responsible for controlling the growth and development and maintenance of protein, carbohydrate and lipid metabolism.  When the thyroid gland is not functioning properly, various problems can be caused, which can include alterations in cell metabolism, neuromuscular problems, dermatologic diseases, reproductive abnormalities, gastrointestinal disorders, hematologic diseases and ocular disorders.  Thyroid malfunctions can be hereditary or of unknown origin.

According to Dr. W. Jean Dodds, a research scientist and independent veterinary practioner, autoimmune thyroiditis is the most common cause of canine thyroid disease.  This immune-mediated process is characterized by the presence of antithyroid antibodies in the blood or tissues.  Thyroiditis develops in animals that are genetically susceptible, and usually begins around puberty, gradually progressing through mid-life and old age to become clinically expressed hypothyroidism, when the body had depleted the thyroid glandular reserve and is no longer able to sufficiently produce triiodothyronine and levothyroxine to maintain healthy body functions.  The prerequisite genetic basis for susceptibility to this disorder has been in established in humans, dogs and several other species.

Because the genetic relationship regarding thyroid malfunction, complete thyroid panels and antibody tests are very important for screening our German Pinschers to evaluate their soundness for breeding.  A female who is subclinical for hypothyroidism, but possesses the antithyroid antibodies in her blood is capable of passing them to her puppies through the milk while nursing.  If this antithyroid antibody is present, clinical symptoms of thyroid and other autoimmune diseases can develop.  It is very important for breeding females to be tested, starting with a baseline test by 14 months, every year until they are four years of age.  If no indications of antithyroid anitbodies are present by that time, the likelihood of developing thyroiditis is greatly diminished. 

The Orthopedic Foundation for Animals is a private, not for profit corporation, founded in 1966, originally to help control hip dysplasia by supplying valuable information about the quality of canine hips.  Over the years, the breadth and depth of their database, including elbow dysplasia, patellar luxation, autoimmune thyroiditis, congenital heart disease, Legg-Calve-Perthes disease, sebaceous adenitis, congenital deafness, shoulder OCD and several DNA based databases such as von Willebrand's disease and progressive retinal atrophy, as well as screen felines for various health issues.

The OFA is guided by the following four specific objectives:
  • To collate and disseminate information concerning orthopedic and genetic diseases of animals.
  • To advise, encourage and establish control programs to lower the incidence of orthopedic and genetic diseases.
  • To encourage and finance research in orthopedic and genetic disease in animals.
  • To receive funds and make grants to carry out these objectives.

OFA's Thyroid Results

Normal    Positive
FT4   Normal   FT4  Low
cTSH  Normal   cTSH High
TgAA   Negative   TgAA Positive
Equivocal   Positive compensative
autoimmune thyroiditis 
FT4  Normal   FT4  Normal
cTSH High   cTSH Normal
TgAA Negative   TgAA Positive
Or   Or
FT4  Low   FT4  Normal
cTSH Normal   cTSH High
TgAA Positive   TgAA Positive
FT4  Low   Idiopathically reduced
thyroid function 
cTSH Normal   FT4  Low
TgAA Negative   cTSH High
    TgAA Negative

OFA's Statistics on German Pinscher Thyroid Health

Registry Rank Evaluations Percent Abnormal



Percent Normal
THYROID N/A* 20 0.0 10.00 90.0
Number of Dogs   20 0 2 18

*OFA does not produce rankings for breeds with under 50 animals having been tested.


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