What is liver shunt?

Liver shunt is a condition that affects about 2% of wolfhound puppies and reputable breeders usually test for shunt at about nine weeks. After birth, a malfunction in the development of the puppy circulatory system allows some blood to bypass the liver and waste products, including ammonia, build up in the blood. Symptoms are weight loss, a coat with upright hair, apathy and brain damage leading to circling, apparent blindness and seizures.

The onset of these symptoms is affected by various factors such as diet and the severity of the shunt (degree of bypass) and may only become apparent once the pup
is in its new home. In South Africa liver shunt has been corrected surgically at least twice (and at significant cost) but puppies with liver shunt are usually euthanized.