This is still a robust and healthy breed in the main. There are some genetic conditions known and as science develops, more screening will become available. Sensible breeding strategies, (utilising as much of the gene pool as possible; balancing the presence of popular sires with less used dogs and avoiding 'doubling up" on popular dogs) can help mitigate against increases in autosomal and other recessive disease.
- Eye conditions. The FL is predisposed toward four eye conditions. PRA (1.6%), HC (3.8%), RD (1%) and PHTVL/PHPV (1.5%) - prevalence levels shown are taken from Lappalaiskorat Ry, Finland. Only PRA is DNA screened, the remainder are identifiable at BVA/KC annual eye tests. All breeding stock should be screened for these conditions unless clear by lineage. Further detailed information with helpful explanatory links from the FLCGB
- Hip dysplasia. Again all breeding stock need to be scored but environmental as well as genetic considerations need to be taken into account when selecting breeding pairs as well as when exercising immature animals.
- Elbow dysplasia. Possibly at a higher prevalence than previously suspected (6%) but only 20% of breed stock are currently tested in Finland, with many breeders now screening for patella luxation in addition. Screening not yet required worldwide, and the majority of dogs have no problems with either. The elbow takes a pounding in agility, regular jogging and working trials. I would recommend checking the elbow status before embarking on these activities
- Idiopathic Epilepsy. Thankfully, not common in our breed, currently around 1% prevalence in UK, compared with an all-breeds average of around 3%. Difficult to assess accurate prevalence as breeders are frequently not forthcoming about dogs with seizures of any kind, let alone those diagnosed with idiopathic epilepsy.
- Drug sensitivity. A few FL owners have reported adverse reactions to certain wormers, anaesthetics, sedatives, anti-diarrhoea and chemotherapy medications. Along with some other pastoral breeds it is thought that a few FL may have MDR1 mutation, but as yet no FL has had a positive test result. Inform your vet that MDR1 is a possibility and inform the breed clubs of adverse reactions.
- Auto-immune and emerging conditions. Recent reports from Finland (Jan 2012, Lapinkoira Magazine) indicate a small (<2% on voluntary reporting over a decade) number of FL suffering from thyroid disorders, Diabetes and Addison's. More recently, 3 litters have been found to suffer from Osteogenesis Imperfecta. A new gene test (available late 2012) has been found for a glycogen storage disease (Pompes). Inheritance is autosomal recessive and the carrier rate is thought to be low. With careful planning it should be easy to avoid illness. There has also been much discussion about Degenerative Myelopathy since a DNA test became available. However only 2 dogs have been positively diagnosed in Finland, so changing breeding practice is unecessary and possibly harmful to the gene pool.
Lapphund Club of Finland health pages - best viewed using a translation engine or a more concise version in English. The items are updated regularly and subject to owner approval information is given about unwell dogs.