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National Entlebucher Mountain Dog Association

Health & Genetics Open House Series
Raising a Healthy Entlebucher

The NEMDA H&G Committee sponsors Open Houses on the theme “Raising a Healthy Entlebucher”. The open houses kicked off in 2022 and have been extended due to popular demand. In each open house, you’ll learn from experts and other Entlebucher owners tips and tricks to keeping your Entlebucher physically and mentally fit and injury-free. Each session features content from an expert or facilitator, as well as interactive discussion and Q&A with participants. Please bring your own ideas on the topic as well as your questions! Live sessions are held on zoom (in a US time zone). Specific dates and times for each session are announced about a month in advance. The entire series of open houses is recorded and available on the NEMDA website for those who can't attend the live session, or for reference. If you missed any, take a look back at prior sessions. There is a lot of great content in there! As always, we welcome your suggestions or comments at

The H&G series is just one of the ways NEMDA membership supports Entlebucher breed education, health research, and other great things. Not a member? JOIN US!

Upcoming Open Houses

Past Open Houses

Special Event: Dr. Chris Zink

Dr. Chris Zink

We are thrilled to be joined by Chris Zink, DVM PhD DACVP DACVSMR CCRT CVSMT CVA*, past President of the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, and owner and founder of Canine Sports Productions and Zink Integrative Sports Medicine. Chris will speak with us and take our questions on canine fitness as well as the implications of spay/neuter on canine health and temperament.

Chris is a consultant on canine sports medicine who presents Coaching the Canine Athlete® seminars worldwide and designs individualized rehabilitation and conditioning programs for canine athletes. She is the award-winning author of the books Peak Performance: Coaching the Canine Athlete, Dog Health and Nutrition for Dummies and The Agility Advantage and co-author of the book Jumping From A to Z:: Teach Your Dog to Soar and the DVD Building the Canine Athlete. She co-edited the first ever book on Canine Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation, which was published by the veterinary textbook publisher Wiley-Blackwell. Dr. Zink was instrumental in establishing the American College of Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation as the newest specialty in veterinary medicine.

Chris has published influential research into the effects of spay and neuter on dog health and temperament. Her latest article, published by the Journal of the American Veterinary Medical Association in January 2023, is “Vasectomy and ovary-sparing spay in dogs: comparison of health and behavior outcomes with gonadectomized and sexually intact dogs

Chris has obtained over 150 titles in Agility, Obedience, Conformation, Tracking, Hunt Tests, Barn Hunt, Nosework, Coursing, and Rally on dogs from the Sporting, Hound, Working, Terrier and Herding groups. She is currently competing with her Golden Retriever Hobby and her Norwich Terrier Helix in all of the dog sports possible. Helix also travels to events as Chris’s demo dog.

*What do all those letters mean anyway? Chris is a board-certified specialist in Veterinary Sports Medicine and Rehabilitation (DACVSMR) and Veterinary Pathology (DACVP) and has additional training in Canine Rehabilitation (CCRT), Veterinary Spinal Manipulation Therapy or Chiropractic (CVSMT) and Canine Acupuncture (CVA). She sort of can’t help herself – she’s passionate about educating herself in all things dog.

Date & Time:  October 25, 2023 @ 7:00 PM Eastern

How to Live with an Intact Dog

Dr. Gayle Watkins, PhDSo you’ve heard the recommendation that you should keep your Entlebucher intact longer, for all the benefits to health, temperament, and longevity. But now what? What is it like to live with an intact male or female dog? How to handle heat cycles? How to prevent pregnancies? Do you need to manage interactions with other dogs differently? How to explain to the neighbors?

Dr. Gayle Watkins, PhD, AKC Breeder of Merit, founder of Avidog, has coached thousands of people over 40+ years and is a renowned expert in all things canine. Join us for one of her famously clear and engaging sessions, where she will demystify what it means to live with an intact male or female dog and provide simple life tips for handling the practicalities. Come with your questions and get them answered. Come away feeling like: you’ve got this!

Date & Time: Wednesday, July 12 @ 7 PM Eastern

Spay & Neuter: Navigating Whether (or not), When, and How

Dr. Michelle Kutzler, DVM Conventional wisdom in the US is to spay and neuter dogs at an early age, for supposed benefits to male temperament and to avoid reproductive system cancers, as well as to prevent unwanted puppies. But breeders and breed clubs (including NEMDA) increasingly recommend keeping dogs intact until later in life, to decrease the risk of orthopedic problems, cancers, and other health issues. Meanwhile, European dogs are often kept intact well into adulthood. How can a responsible Entlebucher owner make sense of all of this? Should we spay or neuter our Entlebuchers? If so, at what age? And what are the options for spay and neuter methods?

Dr. Michelle Kutzler, DVM, PhD, DACT, is a veterinary specialist in reproductive health and a full professor at Oregon State University. She has been closely following and contributing to the changing conversation around spaying and neutering our canine companions. Join Dr. Kutzler for an eye-opening discussion on this topic, including:

  • The original rationale for spaying and neutering in the US, and what has changed
  • Updated science on the risks of pyometra and mammary cancer in females and testicular and prostate disease in males, for traditionally spayed and neutered vs. hormonally intact dogs
  • Risks associated with removing the canine reproductive tract, including cancer and orthopedic disease, changes to behavior and cognitive function, urinary incontinence, and weight gain
  • Options for spaying and neutering without altering dogs’ hormonal function, and how to determine if these options are right for your dog and your lifestyle

Dr. Kutzler is a leading speaker on this important topic, and we are honored to have her present and answer questions for our club.

Date & Time:  June 26, 2023 @ 8 PM Eastern

Acupuncture & Chiropractic Care for Entlebuchers

Acupuncture and Chiropractic Care for Entlebuchers
Although sometimes considered “alternative” medicine, both acupuncture and chiropractic care have long histories as effective, scientifically supported treatment modalities. Join a discussion with Dr. David MacDonald, DVM. Dr. MacDonald blends modern medicine with the practice of Chinese herbal medicine and other holistic modalities to offer a fully integrative approach to pet healthcare. He is a certified veterinary acupuncturist (CVA) and a certified veterinary spinal manipulative therapist (CVSMT). He has been practicing veterinary medicine for over 20 years with extensive experience in surgical procedures and dental care. He believes integrative practices have been successful when handling cases of chronic illness where a unique solution may be the best treatment option.

Date: June 12, 2023

Tick Talk

tick-borne illnesses
Join Dr. Brittany Gross, DVM and Dr. Rachel Roberts, DNM, MHE for this (unfortunately) trendy topic. As ticks continue to expand their range, we all need to be prepared to prevent and treat tick-borne illnesses in our dogs (and ourselves).

Dr. Gross practices general and emergency veterinary medicine in a very tick-infested area (Northeastern Pennsylvania). She will discuss the types of tick-borne illnesses, risks, vaccinations, other preventive measures, signs and symptoms of tick-borne disease, and treatment options.

Dr. Roberts is a naturopathic/integrative physician, with an extensive practice in treating tick-borne illness in humans. Additionally, she is an Entlebucher owner and runs a small livestock farm. She will discuss how she applies naturopathic/integrative principles and remedies to prevention and treatment of tick-borne illness in dogs. She will also discuss general tips for keeping dogs healthy, to make them more resilient to tick-borne and other illnesses.

Date & Time: April 17, 2023 @ 6PM Eastern

Prevention & Rehabilitation of CCL Injuries

Join Melinda Harris, CVT, CCRP (Certified Canine Rehabilitation Practitioner) for a discussion on CCL injuries, including physical therapy and rehabilitation post-CCL surgery, ongoing techniques for maintaining ligament health post-injury, and tips from a rehab specialist POV on how to prevent CCL injuries in the first place.

Melinda helped launch the Canine Rehabilitation Program at Riverbend Animal Hospital in MA, where post-orthopedic surgery patients go through a rehabilitation regimen with her. She also specializes in pain management and improving quality of life in her work with arthritic dogs, overweight dogs, and geriatric patients.

As an additional resource, click here to read Kari Gilje's informative account of Inga's CCL / TPLO journey. (That's Inga in the water tank photo!)

Date & Time: Sunday, March 12, 2023 @ 3:30 Eastern

Melinda was not able to play the videos during her live presentation but has provided them to us for our reference. 
Links to videos below

March 2022: Spring Splash! Teach your Entlebucher to swim.

Swimming is a great way for Entlebuchers to get out that famous energy, without putting strain on joints. It's also a fantastic therapy for dogs recovering from injury, or older dogs. But not all Entlebuchers take naturally to water. Unlike some other breeds, even many Entlebuchers who love the water originally needed a little encouragement to take the plunge. In this session, Eve Tetzlaff of Dyberry Creek Farm shares an approach to teaching Entles to enjoy the water. Plus, hear tips from other Entle owners who have also taught their dogs to swim.

April 2022: Chill, Baby! Train your Entlebucher to relax.

"Again! Again! Again!" Sound familiar? Left to their own devices, our Entlebuchers will enjoy themselves fast and furiously, sometimes to the point of injury. Teaching your dog to take a break or to tone down the intensity can make exercise more enjoyable, healthier, and better for your dog's injury-free longevity. Remember: just because your Entlebucher can do something doesn’t mean he or she should! As owners, we need the skill to recognize when our beloved furry cannonball needs a break. We also need to learn how not to give in to our dogs’ demands for “more” to the point of injury (and how to keep everyone in the household on board). In this session, Health & Genetics' own Tracey Vatcher (Entlebucher owner and trainer) will lead an informative and interactive session on the why's and how's of teaching your Entlebucher to moderate and relax.

May 2022: Socializing (with) your Entlebucher

Join renowned expert in all things canine Dr. Gayle Watkins, AKC 

Breeder of Merit, founder of Avidog and creator of Savvy Socialization, who will give tips and lead a discussion on how to teach you and your Entlebucher to navigate the world together with calm confidence. The more we and our Entles can do together with enjoyment and ease, the happier we all will be. Covid hasn't done any of us any favors on the socialization front! So come along to this session to learn and discuss how we and our dogs can get out into the world, for exercise, pleasure, and strengthened bonding, while teaching or reinforcing for our dogs (and let's be honest, ourselves!) how to navigate a variety of situations including with other people and dogs.

We have two recordings:
  1. Gayle's Recording is a duplicate of our May Zoom presentation. We had a mechanical error and that part of the presentation did not get recorded. Gayle graciously agreed to re-record it to share with NEMDA. 
  2. The Q & A session after Gayle's presentation was from our Zoom meeting that day.

June 2022: Exercising the Entlebucher Brain.

Entlebuchers need to exercise their brains as much as their bodies. Getting that Entle brain engaged helps burn off energy and makes for a more satisfied dog (and happier you). In this session, hear from other Entlebucher owners about their experiences with nose work, puzzles, Adventure walks, and more. Please attend to add your ideas to the collective, as well as to ask questions and get some great tips.

Part I: 47 minutes

Part II: 16 minutes

July 2022: Explosions are for Fireworks! Safe Exercise & the Entlebucher.

In this “high impact” session, learn from a veterinary orthopedic expert about the injuries we most want to avoid with our Entles, and how to do so while exercising appropriately. We are thrilled to be joined by Margret Lenfest, DVM, who will present and answer our questions.

Dr. Lenfest is a third-year veterinary resident at Cornell University in the canine Sport Medicine and Rehabilitation department. Her interest in sports medicine developed from her involvement with high performance horses as a breeder and competitor. This interest flourished during vet school when she worked at the University of Pennsylvania Working Dog Center helping with the research, training, and development of working dogs for search and rescue, law enforcement, and single purpose occupations.

Dr. Lenfest has also travelled to Alaska the past two winters to work as a veterinarian for the 1000 mile Yukon Quest sled dog race to care for the racing teams. She loves working with athletic dogs, and there is no better example of extreme athleticism than endurance sled dogs. 

In her limited spare time Dr. Lenfest and her Australian Shepherd Zara love to hike, eat good food, and travel.  

August 2022: Dog Sports for the Dog Days of Summer (and Beyond)

Is there a sport you've always wondered about trying with your Entlebucher? This Open House features Entlebucher Mountain Dog owners sharing experiences, tips to get started, and advice on how to keep Entlebuchers participating healthfully in a range of sports including Freestyle (Alice Madar), Tracking (Joyce MacKay), Dock Diving and Fly Ball (Linnea Roy Shirk), Skijoring (Billy Sneed), and Agility (Kim Manuelides).

September 2022: Back to School - Dog Tricks with Louise & Samba!

If you use Instagram, maybe you've seen Samba (@samba_entlebucher), the prettiest little Entlebucher in France, joyfully doing the most amazing of tricks together with her equally delightful human, Louise Walckenäer. In this session, special guests Louise and Samba joined us live from France to showcase their wonderfully joyful approach to learning and teaching tricks. Then Louise led a Q&A with all of us on how to get started following in their fancy footsteps. [Note there are two approx. 20 second segments when Louise shared Instagram videos she and Samba created, which included music. Those have been muted since the copyright permission for that music did not translate to YouTube.]

October 2022: Tricks to Treat!

Learn from H&G co-chair and vet tech Brittani Brooks some tips and tricks for diagnosing and treating your Entlebucher at home for common injuries and issues. Brittani will also discuss what to have in your home First Aid kit, and how to tell when you should be headed to the vet.

National Pet Poison Hotline: 800-548-2423
ASPA Poison Control Center: 888-426-4435
Note: Have credit card available to pay the fee ($75 to $100)

November 2022: House Guests & Other Holiday Hazards

How to avoid common holiday hazards to dogs, plus training tips to help your Entle navigate house guests, including how to cut down on all that barking.

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