Lagotto Romagnolo Health
Overall, the Lagotto Romagnolo is a very healthy breed with a life expectancy of 15 to 17 years. As with any breed of dog, some health concerns exist.
It is important for fanciers of this breed to educate themselves as to these conditions and talk to your breeder about them and the tests they have done.
Benign Familial Juvenile Epilepsy was first recognised and reported in the Lagotto Romagnolo as early as 2002. The disease is described as an inherited benign juvenile epilepsy. A similar disease is described in human medicine. The affected puppies usually show evidence of seizures and ataxia from 5 to 9 weeks of age and these resolve spontaneously by 8 to 13 weeks of age. Research at the University of Helsinki identified the causative gene in 2007, showing an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance.
Test results are reported as follows:
NORMAL: The dog carries two copies of the normal gene and therefore has no predisposition to epilepsy.
CARRIER: The dog carries one mutant and one normal copy of the epilepsy gene. The dog does not develop the disease but can transfer a gene defect to approximately 50% of its offspring.
AFFECTED: The dog carries two mutant copies of the epilepsy gene and will likely develop the disease in early puppyhood. If bred from the dog will transfer the gene defect to its entire offspring.
Carrier dogs should only be mated to clear dogs so as to avoid producing BFJE affected puppies. It is NOT recommended to withdraw carrier dogs from breeding, as this would greatly reduce the already small Lagotto gene pool.
It is recommended that affected dogs be removed from the breeding program.
There is currently no test available for Cerebellar Abiotrophy.
Cerebellar abiotrophy is a rare neurological disease that involves progressive degeneration of cells in the cerebellum. The cerebellum is the part of the brain responsible for the co-ordination of voluntary movement in the body. Cerebellar abiotrophy is known in several breeds of dogs, and has now been reported in the Lagotto Romagnolo.
Symptoms develop between 3 weeks and 3 months of age and include loss of coordination, an unsteady wobbly gait (ataxia), and an awkward wide legged stance to compensate for poor balance. Cerebellar abiotrophy symptoms usually progress rapidly, leading to euthanasia of the affected puppy within weeks or months. There is no treatment for cerebellar abiotrophy, the cause of which is currently unknown, but is suspected to be a recessive genetic mode of inheritance as it is in other dog breeds. Cerebellar abiotrophy is unrelated to the gene mutation that causes BFJE or the gene mutation that causes LSD.
Initially CA symptoms can appear similar to BFJE, but whereas BFJE remits, cerebellar abiotrophy is progressive. Symptoms can also appear similar to those of Storage Disease, as both diseases involve the cerebellum. However the causes of these 2 diseases are quite different. In LSD, cell waste accumulates in all cells, including cerebellar cells, causing cell dysfunction and death; whereas in CA, an inborn error of metabolism causes the cerebellar cells to die prematurely. Definitive diagnosis of CA in the Lagotto can only currently be made by pathological examination of the brain after euthanasia.
Canine elbow dysplasia involves abnormalities of the complex elbow joint, in the same way as for hip dysplasia.
There are various eye diseases that can affect any breed of dog and although problems are not common in the Lagotto, all breeding dogs should be screened yearly by a specialist veterinary ophthalmologist. This will ensure any problems are discovered early and affected dogs removed from breeding.
Canine hip dysplasia is an abnormal formation of the hip socket that, in its more severe form, can eventually cause lameness and arthritis of the joints. As a small/medium breed the Lagotto is not prone to joint problems and this disease is more commonly seen in large breed dogs (generally greater than 22 kg).
During growth, both the ball and the socket in the pelvis must grow at equal rates. In hip dysplasia, this uniform growth during puppyhood does not occur. The result is laxity (looseness) of the joint.
It is a genetic trait that is affected by environmental factors ( diet, environment, exercise, growth rate, muscle mass, and hormones). During the first year of life, puppies should not be over fed, over exercised or allowed to jump from anything but the smallest height as this can adversely affect their growing joints.
To test for dysplasia, X-rays are taken of the dogs hips, whilst the dog is under sedation or anaesthetic. These X-rays are evaluated by experts and a score given to the degree of hip dysplasia found.
The New Zealand Veterinary Association (NZVA) moved to the PennHIP scheme in 2014.
Hyperuricosuria is an inherited disorder in dogs that can cause hyperuricemia and predisposes affected dogs to the development of urolithiasis (urate stones) in the kidneys and bladder. Clinical signs of urolithiasis include hematuria, pain while urinating, and blockage of the urinary tract. Patients with urine stones are more susceptible to urinary tract infections. Blockage in the urinary tract is a life-threatening condition that requires immediate veterinary care.The disease is very common in Dalmatians but is seen in several other breeds as well. Hyperuricosuria is inherited in an autosomal recessive manner.
Very rarely a Lagotto can be born with a flat or short coat. The dog is perfectly healthy, but will not display the usual Lagotto curls. The Lagotto’s curly coat is determined by a gene called Furnishings but occasionally a recessive gene for improper coat turns up. If both parents carry a copy of this improper coat gene, it is possible for some short coated puppies to appear in the litter. This is not a health issue, but an appearance issue.
Lagotto Storage Disease is characterized by uncoordinated movements and difficulties in walking. In some affected dogs, involuntary eye movements (nystagmus) and behavioral changes such as aggression are also seen. The onset of clinical signs and pattern of progression vary considerably between individuals. The first signs can be seen at the age of 4 months to 4 years. The disease is progressive and affected dogs deteriorate to the point that they must be euthanized. The life expectancy of affected dogs depends on the progression of the disorder and the severity of the signs. Some dogs can live for several years with mild signs, but dogs with severe clinical signs are usually euthanized earlier. Upon pathological examination, ‘storage material’ (incompletely broken down cellular waste products) is found in nerve and other cells. This impedes cell function and ultimately leads to the cell death.
The study showed that Storage Disease is controlled by a single gene and is inherited in an autosomal recessive pattern. In order to be affected with the disease, dogs must inherit two copies of the mutated gene, one from the mother and one from the father.
Lagotti with the test result of ‘NORMAL’ have two normal copies of the gene. They will not be affected with Storage Disease and they will not pass on the predisposition for the disease to their offspring.
Lagotti with the test results of ‘CARRIER’ have inherited one mutated copy of the gene and one normal copy. These dogs also will not be affected with the disease, but they will pass the mutated gene to approximately 50% of their offspring. If ‘CARRIERS’ are used for breeding, it is essential that they be mated only to dogs who have tested ‘NORMAL’. In a CARRIER X NORMAL mating, there will not be affected puppies.
‘AFFECTED’ lagotti have inherited two mutated copies of the gene from their parents and these dogs have a very high risk of developing Storage Disease.
It is recommended that affected dogs be removed from the breeding program.
Patellar Luxation is a condition that affects the kneecap (patella) in dogs. The patella is dislocated from its normal position in the groove of the thigh bone. It is a common condition in dogs, can be congenital, and dogs may exhibit varying degrees of lameness. If left untreated the condition can lead to arthritis and orthopedic problems. Because patellar luxation may be an inherited condition, breeders must take care to eliminate this condition from their breeding program.
Evaluations can be done as early as 6-8 weeks of age prior to the puppy’s release to a new home and should be part of the well-puppy checkup.
© Rose Cottage Enterprises