Eyes

The UK Lagotto Romagnolo gene pool is known to carry a number of eye conditions. Eye examinations and certification are carried out under the BVA/ KC/ ISDS Scheme (www.bva.co.uk).

Dogs are examined for hereditary and non-hereditary conditions affecting the eye and surrounding structures. Significant findings within breeds are listed on two Schedules: for known conditions, and those under review. Currently the Lagotto does not appear on either Schedule. 

Sedation is not required for the test. Eye drops are administered to dilate the dog’s pupils which facilitates the examination of the interior of the eye.

Results of the examination are given at the time of the test and discussed with the owner. They are published on the KC Mate Select Website and the Breed Record Supplement. Certificates are valid for one year.

The Club requires dogs to have a clear certificate at the time of mating.

Older dogs (>8years) are offered examinations at a reduced fee to encourage ongoing testing which may be of particular importance for Lagotto in respect of Hereditary Cataract. 

In mainland Europe, dogs’ eyes are assessed by ECVO (European College of Veterinary Ophthalmologists). ECVO list the following conditions as occurring in Lagotto, and their heritabilty:

CONDITION

HERITABILITY

Cataract

Inheritance unknown
No gene marker

Multiple Ocular Defect including Microphthalmia, Corneal Oedema and others

Inheritance unknown
No gene markers

PRA

Late onset
Unknown inheritance
No gene marker *

*  NB: List dated 2017, a gene marker has now been found and a test is available

Other reported conditions include Lens Luxation, Distichiasis/Ectopic Cilia and Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca (KCS aka ‘dry eye’).

The following gives a brief overview of conditions mentioned:

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (PRA) describes a number of conditions affecting the light and colour receptors in the eye which, over time, lead to blindness. We have a gene test for one type in the breed; however, the Swedish breed Club have identified a different type, and research to find a gene marker for this type began in late 2020.
Cataract (Hereditary Cataract/HC) describes an opacity of the lens and consequent blindness. Only one type of Cataract has been found in UK Lagotto but this was not consistent with the type identified by ECVO.
Distichiasis and Ectopic Cilia are conditions associated with the eye lashes. Although none have been reported to the Club Health Committee social media postings reveal their occurrence in the breed.
Keratoconjunctivitis Sicca is a condition affecting tear production and therefore the protection provided to the eye. It is thought to be hereditary and of immune mediated cause. Again, although not officially reported, social media postings reveal it to have occurred.

Given the ever increasing influence of dogs from mainland Europe in UK breeding programmes, the importance of eye screening cannot be over-emphasised.

The eye examination does not require sedation or anaesthesia of the dog and cost is not as high as the radiographic orthopaedic examinations, indeed “eye clinic ” days make the test very affordable. Obviously the more Lagotto are examined the truer the health of our dogs’ eyes becomes. All owners, not just potential breeders, are encouraged to make use of this test.