The patella, or kneecap, is part of the stifle joint (knee). In patellar luxation, the kneecap luxates, or pops out of place, either in a medial or lateral position. luxation can also be caused by injury, many dogs that jump up and down on their back legs or bounce off furniture can develop luxating patella's this is not a genetic problem. it is an aquired injury.

Bilateral involvement is most common, but unilateral is not uncommon. Animals can be affected by the time they are 8 weeks of age. The most notable finding is a knock-knee (genu valgum) stance. The patella is usually reducible, and laxity of the medial collateral ligament may be evident. The medial retinacular tissues of the stifle joint are often thickened, and the foot can be seen to twist laterally as weight is placed on the limb.



All toy breeds are subject to periodontal disease. Because their mouths are so very small, the lips are very close to the teeth, the plaque tends to build up. you can take several routes in cleaning the teeth, you can have a regular schedule with your veterinarian to clean the teeth, you can also brush the teeth, I have found that the easiest way for me is to wrap a piece of gauze around my finger and rub the dogs teeth with the gauze, they tend to not fight it as much as a toothbrush in their mouths, I get them used to my fingers in their mouths from very young puppies.


PRA in Papillons is late onset, usually after 6 years old, PRA usually presents itself with night blindness, it is a gradual progression. it is also a painless disease. All paps that are to be bred should be Cerf'd or have their eyes tested by a ophthalmic veterinarian starting at age 2 and continueing until at the least age 11. The most effective way to determine if the dog is affected is to have an ERG test. PRA a double resessive trait, both parents must carry the gene in order for them to pass on PRA. The gene pull in the us is large enough that responsible breeders who have their dogs tested regularly have little chance of passing on the trait. However breeders who are breeding for profit typically do not have the testing done and if they continue to breed we will have a very difficult time eliminating this problem from the breed.


Liver shunt is not a common problem in Papillons, there seems to be a small increase in numbers lately.

Portosystemic Shunts:

Karen M. Tobias, DVM, MS, Diplomate American College of Veterinary Surgeons
Professor, Small Animal Surgery, University of Tennessee Department of Small Animal Clinical Sciences


Portosystemic shunts are a common topic of conversation amongst breeders and owners of small and toy breed dogs. Congenital portosystemic shunts are being diagnosed with increasing frequency, and many breeders and veterinarians are questioning whether heredity may play a role in the spread of this disease.

What are Portosystemic Shunts?

A portosystemic shunt is a blood vessel that bypasses liver tissue, carrying blood from the intestines, stomach, spleen, and pancreas to the heart before it can be filtered and cleansed of proteins, sugars, bacteria, and toxins. Shunts are present in all fetal mammals and usually close down shortly before or after birth so that the baby's liver takes over the functions of filtration, storage, and production. In some individuals the shunt doesn't close down or develops in an abnormal place, and the animal's liver doesn't get enough blood supply to grow or function properly.

Types of Shunts:

Shunts may be congenital (found at birth) or acquired (developing after birth). Dogs with acquired shunts usually have cirrhosis, or "hardening" of the liver, secondary to severe liver disease. These dogs develop multiple shunting blood vessels to relieve high blood pressure in the liver. There is no effective surgical treatment for these patients, short of a liver transplantation.

Congenital shunts are usually single blood vessels that are present at birth. In large breed dogs, they are found inside of the liver ("intrahepatic") and may be a result of improper or incomplete closure of the fetal shunt. Surgical treatment of these shunts is possible, but difficult, because of the location of the abnormal blood vessel.

Small and toy breed dogs usually have "extrahepatic" shunts: the blood vessel is located outside of the liver. These shunts are easier to find and treat and therefore the outcome of surgery is better.

Clinical Signs of Portosystemic Shunts

Clinical signs are often seen at a young age and may include poor growth, behavioral changes (circling, disorientation, unresponsiveness, staring into space, head pressing, blind staggers), seizures, and quiet demeanor. Many of the clinical signs may be confused with puppy hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Other less common signs include diarrhea, vomiting, and excessive drinking or urinating.

In many animals the signs are seen 1-3 hours after eating meat or puppy chow. Proteins in the food are broken down by intestinal bacteria to ammonia and other toxins which are absorbed and, instead of being filtered by the liver, are allowed to reach the brain. The depression and signs are often temporary; once the proteins are emptied from the colon, the signs usually abate. Some animals may not show clinical signs until they are anesthetized to be castrated or spayed. These animals may take days to recover from anesthesia, depending on what drugs were used. Other animals show no signs until they are older, when they develop bladder and kidney problems from excreting toxins and forming urine crystals and stones.


hypoglycemia: is low blood sugar in small pups, if you read my article by Ann Seranne under the link newborn formula it will explain this occurance.

In an pup older than 8 wks hypoglycemia is like a car running out of gas, they literally run out of blood sugar, either by playing too much or by not eating. they become lethargic, and if it is allowed to progress far enough it can result in death. Most papillon puppies do not have this problem however it would not hurt to have Kayro syrup or neutra cal handy just in case.


A dog going under anethesia is always a concern, particularly small dogs. The prefered Anesthesia for Papillons and all small breeds is Isoflurane, or Cevoflurane, these are easily controlled by the veterinarian, Papillons are especially prone to problems as they have the same bone density as a sight hound, the bones tend to soak up the anethesia. and there fore it is released slowly. the dog should be monitored closely until it is completely back to it's normal self.

They following diseases are rarely seen in Papillons, however not totally unheard of:

Legg-Calve-Perthes - very rare in papillons
Deafness - somewhat rare in papillons
Seizure somewhat rare in papillons