Health Issues

HEALTH ISSUES (Updated November 2006)

The Lagotto Romagnolo of Great Britain has established three genetic banks with the aim of collecting genetic material from all the Lagotto in the UK. Blood samples are held by the Animal Health Trust in Newmarket; Nail and Hair samples are held by the Club. It is now a requirement for breeders to take nail and hair samples before puppies go to their new owners. Each dog that contributes sample is given a unique genetic bank number and most Lagotto in the UK have such a number.

Lagotto like all dogs carry a variety of genetically inherited diseases. Access to comprehensive genetic material is the first requirement of successful genetic research so as abnormal genes are identified and new tests become available; the LRCGB will be well placed to take advantage of tests to identify inherited diseases in Lagotto. The Club welcomes samples from overseas Lagotto. Please contact the Secretary to obtain a set of forms carrying a unique number.

It may be helpful for new owners reading this health update to understand the difference between inherited disease; congenital disease; familial disease; breed disposition to a disease; familial disposition to a disease.

Inherited disease is passed from one generation to another in the genes passed on by the parents of the individual. It may be apparent at birth such as dwarfism in Pointers or it may develop later in life such as Primary Cataracts in Labradors.

Congenital disease is present at birth. It might have the probability of being inherited such as Aortic Stenosis a heart condition which has occurred in Lagotto or it may not be inherited. E.g. puppies born partially blind due to the bitch contracting kennel cough in the early weeks of pregnancy.

Familial disease is where a condition occurs in related individuals more often than just chance but as yet is not known what part genetics play in the development of the disease. Certain renal diseases are thought to be familial in several breeds of dogs. Hypothyroidism may or may not prove to be familial in Lagotto.

Breed disposition to a disease is where a particular breed has a higher than average chance of developing a condition sometimes due to its physical characteristics. For example heavy coated breeds with long pendulous ears such as Italian Spinone or Cocker Spaniels are far more likely to develop ear infections than short coated breeds with upright ears. Breed disposition to a particular condition does not mean that the dog will develop the disease.

Familial disposition to a disease is where related dogs within a breed e.g. all descended from one individual have a higher chance than the breed average of developing the condition. For example within Italian Spinone (a breed predisposed to acquired infections of the ear) there are several family groups where the ear canals are very narrow. These Spinone have a higher than average chance within their breed of ear infections leading to surgery.

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