In general terms, the Finnish Lapphund is a very robust and healthy breed with an expected life-span of 10-15 years. Here follows some information about health issues that particularly relate to Finnish Lapphunds. Although these conditions are known to occur in the breed, they are not common. If you have questions about other dog health problems, you should always ask your vet. Some further (non breed specific) information is available here : Information Guide – Health Screening and the Kennel Club

What the Kennel Club does for dog health – update from KC

Tthe SFLS has a number of recommendations/requirements set out in its Rules/Code of Ethics regarding health testing. The salient points are noted below:

  • Members will agree not to breed from a dog or bitch which could be in any way harmful to the dog or to the breed.
  • Breeders shall breed only from stock that is free from known hereditary defects except where a DNA test exists (see code of ethics).  Breed only from sound stock of good temperament.  If an animal is born with any defect or subsequently develops an inherited condition, the full details shall be made available to the Breed Archive Secretary.

Sensitivity To Wormers and other drugs

Some breeds (esp. collies) are known to display a sensitivity to a family of anti-parasitic drugs known as ivermectin and it appears that a similar reaction is seen in Finnish Lapphunds. Before worming your dogs it is worth mentioning this fact to your vet and to read the information available and familiarise yourself with the drugs involved, it is possible to avoid this family of wormers altogether.

GPRA = Generalised Progressive Retinal Atrophy
The Finnish Lapphund is listed under the British Veterinary Association (BVA)’s Schedule A for this condition, which is known to be inherited , see https://tinyurl.com/praeye  for current information about the KC/BVA Eye Schemes.  Since the introduction of the Gene test for the condition, the incidence of the disease has as expected dropped, and in UK the results are available on the KC’s online results service  where both parents are known to be clear either as a result of testing or hereditarily – then any offspring will be identified as hereditarily clear.

Hip Dysplasia

A condition common amongst many breeds, where the ball and socket joint of the hip is not properly formed, leading to pain and difficulty walking. The Kennel Club/BVA operate a scheme whereby dogs are x-rayed and scored for the degree of displasia of the joint, the lower the score the better. The breed average for each breed of dog will vary, and at the time of writing the breed average for the FL is 12. The Kennel Club advises breeding from dogs with lower than the breed average. However it should be noted that HD is not a simple inherited condition, other factors such as feeding, exercise and unknown damage may play a part in the development of the condition.

The Hip Scoring scheme is the oldest of the health schemes in operation with the Kennel Club, and the results for individual dogs can be found on the Kennel Club’s on line Health test Results finder https://tinyurl.com/ps25jb4 Dogs cannot be scored under the UK Scheme until they are 12 months of age.  The Hip Score is given as a point score for each hip, with lower scores being better; the highest score possible is 53 per hip.  More information on the Hip Scoring Scheme

For data collected to 31/12/17  the 15 year median score is 13.1 (total on both hips)

Source – BVA – https://tinyurl.com/hipscore17

In Finland, as a result of testing under the PEVISA scheme they have recorded a reduction  in the overall score of the breed of -0.5 between 1993-2012  more information at  https://www.kennelliitto.fi/en/news/frequency-of-canine-hip-and-elbow-dysplasia-decreasing-in-finland

The BVA recommend that Hip Scoring should be considered along with other criteria as part of a responsible breeding programme, and, ideally, breeders should choose breeding stock with hip scores WELL BELOW the Breed Mean Score (BMS) and ideally below the Median for their breed. Further advice from BVA

The Finnish Hip score statistics can be found at http://jalostus.kennelliitto.fi/frmTerveystilastot.aspx?R=189&Lang=en

Hereditary Cataracts (HC), Multifocal Retinal Dysplasia (MRD), Persistent Hyperplastic Primary Vitreous (PHPV) and Persistent Pupillary Membrane (PPM)
A number of other different type of eye conditions have been seen in the breed in UK and abroad, but the variety and incidence has meant that to date the BVA does not deem them all to be inherited, though this position is under review as new instances of the conditions are seen.  Therefore the breed is listed under Schedule B for these conditions, ie conditions under investigation, where information is being actively sought by examination.  So when eye tests are carried out these will be examined for/tested, and results given to the owner, but the results are not displayed on the KC’s health results finder or in the Breed Record Supplement.

It is therefore important that when buying a puppy you ask for copies of the parents’ latest eye test certificates so you can be assured they are clear of ALL conditions not just those published by the KC.

In respect of Cataracts, the Animal Health Trust (AHT) is undertaking research into inheritance of cataracts in Northern breeds; samples are required from dogs that have been examined and found to have cataracts and their parents/siblings.  In addition samples are also needed from dogs over six years of age who have a clear eye test.  At present large volumes of sample are not required as initial work requires targeted investigation.  For sampling kits either contact health@sfls.org.uk or visit  https://tinyurl.com/zqk3p9z for more information.

Hypothyroidism
Information from Finnish Club at http://www.lappalaiskoirat.fi/?id=jalostus/kilppari_slk

Hypothyroidism is a deficiency of thyroid hormone which can be the effect of immune-mediated destruction of the thyroid gland, by natural atrophy of the gland, by dietary iodine deficiency, or as a congenital problem. In dogs, the first two causes appear to be the most commonly seen and the atrophy maybe secondary to the autoimmune effect.  The condition is usually seen in middle aged or elderly dogs.

Indicative symptoms can include; hair loss (often creating a rat tail appearance), skin infections, (dogs can become scaly and smelly due to an excessively oily coat.), brittle or dry coats, obesity, lethargy, and anaemia.

Addison’s Disease
Information from Finnish Club at http://www.lappalaiskoirat.fi/?id=jalostus/addison_slk

Addison’s disease is hypoadrenocorticism, or adrenal insufficiency, it has a large number of symptoms which are common to other conditions making it hard to spot, and often only identified through a process of elimination. But once Addison’s is correctly diagnosed, a properly treated dog can live a normal active life.

The Royal Veterinary College, are interested in the genetics and autoimmune response in canine Addison’s disease and have identified autoantibodies in the blood that react to proteins in the adrenal gland. They are interested in carrying out further research into this disease, to measure these autoantibodies, to see whether they can be used as part of diagnostic testing and potentially to identify dogs that have an autoimmune reaction, before they develop clinical signs. The RVC are keen to recruit dogs that are undergoing blood sampling as part of diagnostic testing for typical or atypical Addison’s disease or who are being monitored for their response to steroid replacement therapy (regardless of when they were originally diagnosed). The SFLS have donated £1000 to assist in the funding of this research and we ask owners of any Finnish Lapphunds diagnosed with Addisons to arrange a blood sample to be taken with their next monitoring sample and to send to the RVC, further information at http://www.rvc.ac.uk/about/our-people/brian-catchpole#tab-research or from health@sfls.org.uk

Epilepsy
Information from Finnish Club at http://www.lappalaiskoirat.fi/?id=jalostus/epi_slk

Epilepsy is defined as recurrent seizures as a result of disorder of the brain due to imbalance in electrical activity.  It can be as a result of an injury or tumour, or factors which affect metabolism eg poison, illness, temperature.  Idiopathic epilepsy is where the cause is unknown, and in such cases it is likely to be inherited, though the mode of inheritance is likely to be complex.

The Finnish Lapphund Club of Finland publish details of the dogs who have been reported with the conditions listed above in an English summary – see http://www.lappalaiskoirat.fi/english/breeding/health_data_finnish_lapphund.pdf

Canine Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)

Canine Degenerative Myelopathy (DM)  is a spinal cord disorder which affects older dogs with age on onset varying – but in the breeds studied it appears to have onset varying from 8 to 14 years of age.  The symptoms are usually a gradual degeneration of the spinal reflexes and muscle weakness causing loss of coordination in the hind legs. Sadly the symptoms worsen over time until the dog is unable to support itself, and these symptoms can appear worse in larger heavier breeds.  There are a number of breeds eg GSD, Cardigan corgis, Rhodesian Ridgebacks to name a few where there is a strong correlation between the presence of the SOD1 mutation and symptoms of the condition, however the test can be carried out on any breed – though it is IMPORTANT to stress that there is insufficient evidence to show a direct correlation for Finnish Lapphunds and the condition.   The situation is complicated as there are many other spinal cord illness and of course injuries which can produce similar symptoms, and the only true way to prove the condition is actually present is from histology post mortem.

Therefore in those breeds where a strong correlation exists between the SOD1 mutation and the disease DM, the DM test is effective tool for estimating the relative risk of developing the disease for a given dog but it cannot take into account other unknown genetic factors that influence the trait developing, as it is noted that there have been instances of dogs with two copies of the SOD1 mutation that did not develop the disease, as well as cases when dogs clear of the mutation were diagnosed with DM  (more information at http://www.optigen.com/opt9_dm_test.html)

As yet there is no significant evidence for this condition in Finnish Lapphunds and recent research highlights some issues with understanding the genotyping of the SOD1 allele adding further queries as to whether this is a valid test as yet  –   read the research at http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/age.12525/full  – but a number of breeders in Finland have already started to routinely test their dogs and the results are available as below

http://www.lappalaiskoirat.fi/english/?id=breeding/dm-tested_slk

http://paimensukuinen.fi/wpress/terveys/dm-testatut/

GSD II/Pompe’s Disease
Pompe’s Disease was reported in three litters in Finland, it is a severe storage disease, which usually results in early euthanasia of an affected animal. Following quick action in Finland and a genetic investigation the genes responsible have been identified and a diagnostic test is now available, requiring a simple buccal (mouth) swab.

The condition is inherited by a simple recessive gene (like prcd-1 PRA) and therefore it is easy to identify risk matings based on the generic results of individuals, and thus ensure we do not produce any affected puppies in future.  The condition has not been seen (to our knowledge in UK).  Test results are available at http://www.lappalaiskoirat.fi/?id=jalostus/pompen-testatut_slk

Testing for the condition is now available from three laboratories; Genoscoper as part of their MYDOGDNA pass  see http://www.genoscoper.com/en/products/tests-dog, Labokolin, see http://www.laboklin.co.uk  and Animal Health Trust – http://www.ahtdnatesting.co.uk/

The majority of UK breeders now test for Pompes and the breed clubs’ Code of Ethics requires that matings are carried to safeguard the puppies from developing the condition.

The following detail is taken from the Genoscoper site:

Glycogen storage disease type II is also known as acid maltase deficiency or generalized glycogenosis type II. Glycogen storage disease type II is a disorder of glycogen metabolism that affects Finnish Lapphund, Swedish Lapphund and Lapponian herder. The disease can manifest as vomiting, muscle weakness with exercise intolerance, and poor growth. Hannes Lohi’s research group at Helsinki University and FolkhŠlsan has identified the mutation causing Pompe’s disease. The disease shows autosomal recessive inheritance.

Glycogen storage diseases (GSD) are disorders of glycogen metabolism. GSD type II (GSD II) is a form of the disorders that affects Lapland Dogs and Lapland Reindeer Dogs. In GSD II, there is a deficit in breakdown of glycogen due to lack of the acid alpha-glucosidase enzyme. The result is cellular glycogen accumulation, and altered glucose homeostasis in tissues such as cardiac, skeletal, and smooth muscle. Signs of GSD II include poor growth, recurrent vomiting and regurgitation due a dilated esophagus (food pipe), progressive muscle weakness leading to exercise intolerance, frequent panting, and heart abnormalities. First symptoms are typically observable at 7 month of age, and affected dogs usually die or are euthanized before 2 years of age as long-term management of the disease is currently ineffective.

The genetic test results are reported as follows:

Normal: The dog carries two normal copies of the gene and has no or reduced likelihood of developing the disease during its life.

Carrier: The dog carries the mutation in one of its chromosomes and transfers it to approximately 50% of its offspring. If a carrier must* (sic) be mated, it should only be with a genetically tested healthy non-carrier.

Affected: The dog carries two copies of the mutation and is at high risk of developing GSD II during its life. An affected animal, even if not yet showing symptoms, will pass on the mutation to all its offspring, and its use in breeding is not recommended.

References:Walvoort, HC., Dormans, JA., van den Ingh, TS. Comparative pathology of the canine model of glycogen storage disease type II (Pompe’s disease). J Inherit Metab Dis 8:38-46, 1985. Pubmed: 3921759.Walvoort, HC., Slee, RG., Sluis, KJ., Koster, JF., Reuser, AJ. Biochemical genetics of the Lapland dog model of glycogen storage disease type II (acid alpha-glucosidase deficiency). Am J Med Genet 19:589-98, 1984. Pubmed: 6391168.

Health Reporting

Any health results for any of the above conditions can be submitted to the Finnish Club using the form at http://www.lappalaiskoirat.fi/english/?id=breeding/health_survey_for_lappish_breeds providing the information helps build up an accurate centralised picture of the health of our breed.  This is especially useful for those conditions for which the results are not routinely published by any Kennel Club e.g. Addison, Autoimmune, cataracts etc.

Members should note that they are obliged under the Breed Club’s Code of Ethics to inform each UK Breed Club of any health issues at birth or that arise.

Health