Project Hope and Hypothyroidism

Hope after successful treatment for hypothyroidism

Project Hope

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Canine Hypothyroidism: Anything New?


What is the thyroid gland and what does it do?

What causes hypothyroidism in dogs?

Signs and Symptoms of Hypothyroidism

Hope before treatment
A rare syndrome int eh extreme expression of hypothyroidism is myxedema coma

Some dogs show few, if any, signs of hypothyroidism other than behavioral problems

What happens to people with hypothyroidism?

More signs and symptoms

The most important diagnostic pointer for episodic dyscontrol is the lack of provocation to justify this type of behavior.

OFA Rank and Thyroid

GERMAN WIREHAIRED POINTERS showing clinical signs suggesting thyroid disease or unexplained behavior or aggression should be tested for hypothyroidism

Testing for Hypothyroidism

State-of-the-art assay technology is constantly being refined to determine a correct OFA thyroid classification. Currently, OFA Thyroid Profiles include:

  1. Serum Total thyroxine or TT4

There are currently THREE MAIN INDICES that determine the OFA Thyroid Classification:

Alternative Explanations for decreases in thyroid laboratory values

Treatment is usually simple with medication

Treatment for Hypothyroidism


  • With your veterinarian’s help, learn to read and understand your dog’s OFA Thyroid Profile. Check for TGAA- if present, results suggest thyroid pathology- usually autoimmune thyroiditis, but in older patients, possible thyroid neoplasia (cancer). The absence of TGAA doesn’t exclude the possibility of thyroid dysfunction, but it’s less likely. The OFA Thyroid Profile will help identify dogs that are phenotypically normal for breeding programs. An OFA number is issued to all dogs found to be normal at 12 months of age, but dogs in a breeding program should be re-examined at 2, 3, 4, (6 and 8) years of age. Because of the variable onset of the presence of thyroid autoantibodies, periodic testing is necessary. The majority of affected dogs will have autoantibodies by 4 years of age. ***All data whether normal or abnormal should be submitted to OFA for completeness. A GWP must be 2 years of age for the thyroid profile to qualify under current GWPCA CHIC requirements.
  • Canine hypothyroidism is heritable, so knowing the status of a dog and the status of the dog’s lineage allows breeders to decide which matings are most appropriate for reducing the incidence of autoimmune thyroiditis in GWP offspring. ***Laboratory and pedigree analyses of affected families show a progressive earlier age of onset of thyroiditis and clinical signs of dysfunction, as well as an increased portion of affected vs normal offspring in successive litters.
  • Breeding normal testing dogs that have come from litters which have mostly tested normal is recommended. ***Always retest equivocal results. Testing is not simple or perfect. Discordant test results are common and retesting can be required
  • Ruling out hypothyroidism as a contributing factor to aggression, “irritability”, and abnormal behavior is valuable.
  • It would be interesting to analyze our GWP data checking trends in our TT4, fT4, numbers as a “group.”


  1. Brunette, David. Canine Hypothyroidism. Chicago Vet 2019
  2. Hanseltine, Johanna. Canine Hypothyroidism: Diagnosis and Treatment. TVP March/April 2019
  3. Dodman, NH, Miczek, KA, Knowles, K, Thelhammer, JG, Shuster, L. Phenobarbital-responsive episodic dyscontrol (rage) in dogs. JAVMA Vol 201 No 10 Nov 15 1992 1580–3
  4. Aronson, LP, Dodds, W. J. The Effect of Hypothyroid Function on Canine Behavior. Pet Shrink 2008
  5. Landsberg, GM. Is It Medical or Is It Behavioral? Companion Animal Behavior Therapy Study Group 2008
  6. Peterson, M. Hypothyroidism in Animals. Merck Manual 2019
  7. Leviton, D M. Canine Hypothyroidism — Are You Over Treating? Atlantic Coast Veterinary Conference 2016
  8. Horowitz, D, Lansbury, G. Puppy Behavior and Training- Socialization and Fear Prevention. Behavior Pet Services
  9. Shell, L, Rothrock, K. Hypothyroidism, Acquired. Vincyclopedia of Diseases 2018
  10. Please refer to Dr Sharon Albright’s article Spring 2020 Wire~News page 17 for the latest research regarding new test method development for Canine Hypothyroidism.

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We believe that the more we educate people the more likely we are to accomplish our mission of matching homeless GWPs with loving owners.