Tornjak’s Health Issues and Preventive Measures for Working Dogs


Welcoming a Tornjak into your life can be an incredibly rewarding experience. These majestic working dogs are known for their loyalty and intelligence, making them great partners for those who require a reliable companion. However, like all breeds, Tornjaks are susceptible to certain health issues that owners need to be aware of. By taking preventative measures and implementing proper care, Tornjak owners can ensure the longevity and quality of their pet’s life. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at some of the common health issues Tornjaks face, as well as the preventative measures owners can take to promote good health.

About Tornjaks

Tornjaks are a breed of large working dogs originally from Bosnia and Herzegovina. They are known for their loyalty, intelligence, and incredible strength, making them excellent protectors of livestock and property. Tornjaks are livestock guardian dogs and have been used for centuries to help farmers in the Balkans preserve their way of life.

Tornjaks have specific traits that set them apart from other breeds. They are incredibly loyal and protective of their owners and their territory. They are also independent thinkers and can be challenging to train and socialize. However, with proper training and socialization, they can be trustworthy and affectionate companions.

In traditional Balkan communities, Tornjaks are highly respected and valued for their contributions to ecological livestock farming and the preservation of cultural heritage. They are recognized as the best protectors of livestock and are often used to guard flocks of sheep, goats, and cattle. Tornjaks are trained to be alert and vigilant at all times, especially at night when the predators are more likely to attack.

As modern farming practices have evolved, Tornjaks have adapted to new challenges. They are now used to protect not only livestock but also crops and property. These dogs are an important part of many farms and rural communities worldwide.

Tornjaks have a rich history and have proven to be valuable working dogs. Their loyalty, protective nature, and intelligence make them excellent protectors of livestock and property. However, proper training and socialization are necessary to ensure that they are trustworthy and affectionate companions. If you want to learn more about Tornjaks and their training, please click on this link: /train-socialize-tornjak-shepherd/.

Common Health Issues

Common Health Issues
As much as Tornjaks are known for their incredible loyalty and protective nature, they are still susceptible to various health issues. It is important for any Tornjak owner or enthusiast to understand these common health issues and how to prevent them to ensure these working dogs maintain optimal health throughout their lives. In this section, we will discuss some of the most common health issues that affect Tornjaks and provide insights into the measures to take to prevent them. Additionally, we will suggest some helpful tips for grooming and hygiene to help maintain their overall health and wellbeing.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip dysplasia is a common health issue among Tornjaks and other large breed dogs. It is a condition where the hip joint does not develop properly, which can lead to pain, stiffness, and arthritis in the affected joint. This condition is partially inherited, and partially influenced by environmental factors such as injury, excessive weight or nutrition.

Symptoms of hip dysplasia include:

  • Lameness or difficulty walking or rising
  • Discomfort or pain when touched on the hip area
  • Decreased activity level
  • Loss of muscle mass in the hind legs

Diagnosing hip dysplasia involves:

  • X-ray imaging to visualize the structure of the hip joint
  • Physical examination of the dog’s hip joint movement and range of motion

Preventive Measures:

The good news is that preventive measures can be taken to reduce the risk of hip dysplasia. Here are some ways to prevent this condition:

Preventive MeasuresDescription
Controlled NutritionTornjaks need balanced nutrition to avoid excessive weight gain. Overfeeding or giving high-calorie treats can increase the risk of hip dysplasia. A balanced diet with appropriate levels of calcium and phosphorus can help prevent hip dysplasia.
Regular ExerciseRegular exercise is important for keeping Tornjaks healthy and preventing hip dysplasia. Exercise strengthens muscles and prevents obesity, which can contribute to hip dysplasia. A moderate exercise routine that includes walking, swimming and fetch-play will keep the dog healthy and not put too much strain on the hip joint.
Avoid High Impact ActivityTornjaks should avoid high-impact activities like jumping or running on hard surfaces before the age of two years. These activities can put too much pressure on their developing hip joints, which may increase their risk of hip dysplasia.
SupplementsThere are several nutritional supplements, such as glucosamine and chondroitin, that can help prevent and alleviate the symptoms of hip dysplasia.
Orthopedic BedsOrthopedic beds can help to provide the posture support needed to allow the dog to rest comfortably without putting additional pressure on the hips.

By taking preventive measures such as controlled nutrition, regular exercise, and regular vet check-ups, you can reduce the risk of hip dysplasia in your Tornjak. Being attentive to their health from an early age is critical in developing a healthy, active and a mature Tornjak.

Entropion and Ectropion

Entropion and Ectropion are two common eye conditions that Tornjaks may face. Entropion is a condition where the eyelid rolls inward, causing the eyelashes to irritate the cornea. On the other hand, Ectropion is the opposite condition where the eyelid droops outward, exposing the cornea and making it prone to infections.

These conditions can be genetic or may arise due to injury or simply due to aging. Symptoms include tearing, discharge, and redness. If left untreated, they can lead to vision impairment and even blindness.

To prevent such situations, it is crucial to keep an eye on your Tornjak’s eyes and notice any unusual signs. Regular visits to a veterinarian for check-ups are highly recommended, as they can not only detect such conditions early on but also recommend the necessary preventative measures. Additionally, proper nutrition and exercise can help maintain good eye health.

The selection of a good breeder plays a critical role in the prevention of these conditions. It is vital to choose a breeder who carefully selects their breeding adults, ensuring their dogs are free from such eye conditions. Vetting the breeder can take time and effort, but it is a necessary step towards preventing your dog from developing serious eye conditions.

In case your Tornjak develops such eye conditions, treatment options may vary from medications to surgical procedures depending on the severity of the condition. In severe cases, surgery may be the only option. However, it is essential to consult a veterinarian first to determine the appropriate course of action.

Tornjaks are loyal working dogs that require a lot of attention and care, and it is up to their owners to ensure they provide the best possible care. By following proper preventive measures and regularly monitoring their Tornjak’s eye health, owners can avoid future eye-related health issues.

If you want to learn more about Tornjak’s traits and practices, you can read some of our other articles, such as Tornjak Shepherd Dog Traits and Tornjak Loyalty as Working Dogs.


Tornjaks, just like every other breed, are prone to certain health issues. One of the most serious conditions that can affect Tornjaks is bloat, which is a life-threatening condition characterized by the rapid accumulation of gas in the stomach. Bloat is common among large and deep-chested breeds, and it can become severe in a matter of hours.

Some common signs of bloat include:

  • Unsuccessful attempts to vomit
  • Swollen or distended abdomen
  • Excessive drooling
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Difficulty breathing

If you notice any of these symptoms in your Tornjak, it’s critical to seek veterinary attention immediately. Delayed treatment can lead to complications or even death.

Several preventive measures can help reduce the risk of bloat. First, it’s essential to feed Tornjaks smaller, more frequent meals instead of one large meal per day. Additionally, avoid feeding your dog from a raised food bowl, since this can increase the risk of bloat.

Other preventive measures include:

  • Keeping the dog calm and relaxed after meals
  • Avoiding excessive exercise before and after meals
  • Limiting access to water before and after meals

Tornjak's intelligence and ability to work make them a valuable breed. Their role in livestock guarding and local community traditions is not to be underestimated. However, modern farming and agronomy face new challenges that can affect the breed’s health. Tornjaks’ contribution to ecological livestock farming and the preservation of cultural heritage are essential.

As a Tornjak owner, you play a critical role in maintaining your dog’s health. Regular veterinary check-ups can help identify potential health issues early enough for treatment. By observing preventive measures and maintaining a healthy lifestyle, you can minimize the risk of bloat and other health issues in your Tornjak.

If you want to learn more about the Tornjak breed or its role as a livestock guardian in the Balkans, you can check out this informative article.

Heart Disease

Heart disease is a serious issue in Tornjaks, just as it is in many other dog breeds. In fact, it is one of the leading causes of death in dogs. Tornjaks can suffer from a variety of heart conditions, but the most common is dilated cardiomyopathy (DCM). This condition is characterized by an enlarged heart, which struggles to pump blood effectively, leading to a range of symptoms such as coughing, difficulty breathing, lethargy, and weakness.

Although heart disease cannot be cured, there are several things you can do to reduce the risk of your Tornjak developing DCM:

  • Feed your dog a balanced diet that includes high quality protein and nutrients important for heart health.
  • Restrict their salt intake to prevent high blood pressure, another risk factor for DCM.
  • Avoid feeding grain-free dog food, as studies have linked this diet to an increased risk of DCM in some breeds including the Tornjak.
  • Provide your Tornjak with regular exercise to promote overall cardiovascular health.
  • Take your dog to the vet for regular check-ups, including blood tests and echocardiograms to monitor their heart health.

Remember that Tornjaks, as working dogs, can be prone to certain health issues that are preventable. By taking a proactive approach to their health, you can reduce the risk of them developing heart disease, as well as other common health problems. As guardians of livestock, Tornjaks play an important role in local communities, as well as having a significant impact on the preservation of cultural heritage and the maintenance of ecological livestock farming. They have managed to adapt to changing modern farm challenges without losing their unique qualities. To learn more about their contribution in this respect, please check out the Tornjak Modern Farm Challenges article.

Preventive Measures

Preventive Measures
Taking care of your Tornjak’s health is crucial as a pet owner, especially if you’re an owner of a working dog. Preventive measures, therefore, become necessary to ensure your Tornjak lives a healthy and happy life. Regular exercise, proper nutrition and regular health check-ups are some of the preventive measures you can take to provide the necessary support to your Tornjak. However, preventive measures don’t just end here. Grooming and hygiene also play an important role in maintaining your Tornjak’s overall health. In this section, we’ll discuss some of the preventive measures that you should be aware of to keep your Tornjak in optimal health.

Proper Nutrition

Proper nutrition is key to keeping Tornjaks healthy and preventing various health issues. A balanced, high-quality diet is essential for these working dogs, as they require a significant amount of energy to carry out their duties. Feeding your Tornjak a well-balanced diet with proper nutrition will help strengthen their immune system, support optimal growth, and reduce the risk of various health problems.

When choosing food for your Tornjak, it’s important to consider their age, activity level, and overall health. High-quality dry dog food is generally recommended for these dogs, but you can also supplement their diet with fresh, lean meats, vegetables, and fruits. Avoid feeding your Tornjak table scraps or human food, as this can lead to obesity and other health problems.

To ensure that your Tornjak is getting all the nutrients they need, look for commercial dog food that contains protein, fats, vitamins, and minerals, such as calcium and phosphorus. Avoid foods that contain artificial preservatives, colors, and flavors, as these can cause allergic reactions or digestive problems.

Additionally, make sure your Tornjak always has access to plenty of fresh water. Dehydration can lead to a range of health issues, including kidney and bladder problems.

Proper nutrition is not only essential for your Tornjak’s physical health, but also their mental well-being. Keeping them full and satisfied can help prevent destructive behaviors and keep them focused on their jobs as protectors of livestock and property.

If you want to learn more about the contribution of Tornjaks to ecological livestock farming and the preservation of cultural heritage, you can check out this article.

Regular Exercise

Regular exercise is crucial in maintaining the health of your Tornjak. It helps to keep them physically fit, releases pent-up energy, and prevents the onset of various health issues. For Tornjaks, a long walk or jog every day is necessary. Apart from that, you can also engage them in fun activities like fetch or agility games to keep them mentally stimulated.

It is important to note that exercise needs may vary depending on the age, weight, and health status of your dog. Puppies and senior dogs may need shorter walks and gentler exercise routines compared to younger adults. Meanwhile, Tornjaks who are overweight may require more intense workouts.

As natural working dogs, Tornjaks thrive in outdoor environments. It is best to allow them to run freely in a secure and fenced area to prevent them from wandering off or encountering dangerous situations.

Exercising with your Tornjak is also a great opportunity to strengthen your bond with them. Bring them to different places and let them explore the surroundings. However, you have to make sure that your Tornjak is sufficiently trained to obey commands and behave appropriately in public areas.

Regular exercise can help avoid the onset of various health issues like obesity, hip dysplasia, and heart diseases. Give adequate time to exercise your Tornjak to keep them in optimal health.

Health Check-ups

Regular health check-ups are essential for any dog, but especially for working dogs like Tornjaks. These check-ups can help detect any health issues early, which can prevent them from becoming more serious problems in the future. It is recommended that Tornjaks have a check-up at least once a year but more often if they are experiencing any unusual symptoms or are getting older. During these check-ups, a veterinarian will perform a complete physical exam, check for any signs of disease or illness, and update any necessary vaccinations.

In addition to regular check-ups, it is important to keep up with preventative treatments such as flea and tick prevention and heartworm medication. These can also be discussed during a check-up with a veterinarian.

To ensure that your Tornjak receives the best possible care, it is important to find a reputable veterinarian. Ask for recommendations from other pet owners in your community or research online reviews. When choosing a veterinarian, it is important to consider their experience with Tornjaks specifically, as some health issues such as hip dysplasia are more common in this breed.

Tip: Regular health check-ups don’t just benefit your Tornjak’s physical health, they can also contribute to their mental well-being by detecting and treating any issues that may be causing them discomfort or anxiety.

FrequencyWhat it involves
At least once a yearA complete physical exam, updating vaccinations, discussing preventative treatments
More often if experiencing symptoms or agingAdditional tests or treatments may be recommended

Regular health check-ups are just one aspect of responsible Tornjak ownership. By prioritizing their physical and mental well-being, you can help ensure that they live a long and healthy life. For more information on Tornjaks, check out our article on why they are considered the best protector for livestock in the Balkans.

Grooming and Hygiene

Maintaining proper grooming and hygiene is crucial for the health and well-being of Tornjaks. These magnificent dogs are known for their thick, long coats that require regular attention to prevent matting and tangling in their fur. Additionally, good hygiene practices such as regular nail clipping and ear cleaning can help prevent infections and other health issues. Let’s explore some important grooming and hygiene measures you can take to keep your Tornjak healthy and happy.

Coat Care

Maintaining the Tornjak’s coat is crucial for its overall health and appearance. Given their thick and long coat, it is recommended to brush them at least once a week, especially during shedding periods. Brushing helps to remove dead hair, dirt and distribute natural oils throughout their fur, keeping it shiny and healthy.

Choosing the right brush is important as different brushes have specific purposes. For Tornjaks, slicker brushes and undercoat rakes are great options. Slicker brushes are gentle and perfect for untangling and removing mats from their fur. On the other hand, undercoat rakes are great for removing undercoats, which helps to reduce matting and shedding.

It’s essential to bathe them regularly, but not too frequently to avoid stripping their coat of essential oils. Only use dog-specific shampoos and conditioners that will not cause skin irritation, and rinse thoroughly to avoid any residue that might cause skin irritation.

Although Tornjaks can handle different weather conditions, trimming or shaving their coat is not advisable as it protects them from sunburn, insect bites, and skin infections. However, their paw pads and the areas around their anus should be trimmed to avoid matting and hygiene-related problems.

Proper coat care can also help to prevent skin infections and other skin-related health conditions such as hotspots. Hotspots are painful and can lead to severe skin problems when left untreated. It is essential to check for any skin irregularities regularly and seek professional help if needed.

Tornjaks require regular grooming and coat care to maintain their overall health and appearance. Brushing, bathing, and choosing the right tools are essential aspects of coat care. With proper coat care and hygiene practices, Tornjaks can live a long, healthy, and happy life as the best protectors of their owners and livestock.

Nail Clipping

Keeping your Tornjak’s nails trimmed is essential for their overall health and well-being. Overgrown nails can lead to discomfort, pain, and even infection. It is recommended to trim your Tornjak’s nails once every two to three months, depending on how fast their nails grow.

To begin the nail clipping process, you will need a pair of sharp nail clippers and some styptic powder or cornstarch. It is also helpful to have someone else hold your Tornjak steady while you clip their nails.

Step-by-step Guide on Nail Clipping for your Tornjak:

1Position your Tornjak comfortably on a non-slip surface, making sure they are calm and relaxed.
2Take one of your Tornjak’s paws and hold it firmly but gently.
3Take your nail clippers and cut the tip of the nail, making sure to avoid the quick (the pink part of the nail that contains blood vessels and nerves).
4If you accidentally cut the quick, apply some styptic powder or cornstarch to stop the bleeding.
5Repeat steps two to four on each nail, taking breaks if your Tornjak becomes restless.
6When you are finished, reward your Tornjak with praise and treats for their good behavior.

It’s important not to forget about your Tornjak’s dewclaws, which are located on the inside of their front legs. These nails do not touch the ground, so they may not wear down naturally and need to be trimmed more frequently.

Regular nail clipping is just one part of maintaining good grooming and hygiene habits for your Tornjak. If you want to learn more about this breed, check out our article on Tornjak Livestock Guardian Dogs in the Balkans.

Ear Cleaning

Taking care of your Tornjak’s ears is an important part of ensuring their overall hygiene and health. The ear canal can often be a breeding ground for bacteria and yeast, leading to infections and discomfort for your dog. Here are a few tips for keeping your Tornjak’s ears clean:

  • Inspect regularly: Make it a routine to inspect your Tornjak’s ears on a weekly basis. Look for any signs of redness, discharge, or foul odor, which could indicate an infection.
  • Clean gently: When cleaning your Tornjak’s ears, be sure to use a gentle touch. Avoid using cotton swabs, as they can push debris further into the ear canal and potentially lead to injury.
  • Use a cleaning solution: You can purchase an ear cleaning solution specifically made for dogs from your local pet store or use a homemade solution with equal parts water and vinegar. Apply the solution to a soft cloth or gauze and gently wipe the inner ear flap and visible portion of the ear canal. Be sure not to insert the cloth or gauze too far into the ear canal.
  • Dry thoroughly: After cleaning your Tornjak’s ears, be sure to dry them thoroughly. Moisture can lead to infections, so gently dry the ears with a clean towel or allow them to air dry.
  • Seek veterinary care: If you notice any concerning symptoms or your Tornjak has a history of ear infections, seek veterinary care. Your veterinarian can recommend an appropriate treatment plan and provide you with further guidance on ear cleaning.

By following these tips for cleaning your Tornjak’s ears, you can help prevent infections and keep your dog feeling comfortable and healthy. Remember, keeping your dog’s hygiene in check is essential to their well-being.


In conclusion, it is important to note that Tornjaks, like any other breed of working dogs, require special attention and care to maintain their health and well-being. Hip Dysplasia, Entropion and Ectropion, Bloat, and Heart Disease are some of the common health issues that Tornjaks may face. However, with proper preventive measures such as proper nutrition, regular exercise, and health check-ups, these health issues can be minimized or prevented altogether.

Grooming and hygiene also play a vital role in the maintenance of a Tornjak’s health. Proper coat care helps to prevent skin irritation and infections, while regular nail clipping and ear cleaning prevent discomfort and potential infections.

It is also important to note that Tornjaks are loyal and hardworking dogs. They thrive when given a job to do, such as guarding livestock or keeping a watchful eye on their human family. Their intelligence and eagerness to please make them excellent candidates for obedience and agility training.

In summary, Tornjaks are a wonderful breed of working dogs that make great companions for those who have the dedication and commitment to care for them properly. With the right attention to their health, grooming, exercise, and training, these dogs can lead a long and healthy life as a cherished member of their family.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is the lifespan of a Tornjak?

A Tornjak typically lives for 10-12 years.

Do Tornjaks require a specific diet?

Yes, Tornjaks require a high-quality diet that is rich in protein and essential nutrients to maintain their health.

How much exercise does a Tornjak need?

Tornjaks are working dogs and require at least 1-2 hours of exercise per day to stay healthy and happy.

Are Tornjaks prone to separation anxiety?

Yes, Tornjaks are known for being loyal and attached to their owners and may experience separation anxiety if left alone for long periods.

What are the early signs of hip dysplasia in Tornjaks?

The early signs of hip dysplasia in Tornjaks include difficulty standing up, limping, and decreased activity level.

Can Tornjaks be trained for protection work?

Yes, Tornjaks can be trained for protection work due to their size and natural protective instincts.

How often should Tornjaks be groomed?

Tornjaks should be brushed at least once a week to maintain the coat’s health and prevent matting.

Do Tornjaks shed a lot?

Yes, Tornjaks are seasonal shedders and shed a moderate amount of fur throughout the year.

Is frequent bathing necessary for Tornjaks?

No, Tornjaks do not require frequent bathing and should only be bathed when necessary to avoid stripping the coat’s natural oils.

What is the best type of exercise for Tornjaks?

Tornjaks thrive on physical activity that allows them to use their natural instincts, such as hiking, jogging, and playing in open spaces.


Britta Thygesen

Britta Thygesen

A passionate dog owner and a full-time certified dog trainer. Aspires to make DogCareHacks a go-to place for all the doggo info. Shares personal experience and professional knowledge.

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