Breed Health

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The Finnish Lapphund is generally healthy in comparison to many other breeds.

The Kennel Club, the British Veterinary Association and the breeders in the Finnish Lapphund Club of Great Britain have worked together to ensure that mandatory health tests on Finnish Lapphunds are carried out before breeding. 

If you are thinking of buying a Finnish Lapphund, then please go to a breeder who is a member of the Finnish Lapphund Club of Great Britain and who should have carried out recommended tests before breeding and made informed decisions on the sire and dam to increase the likelihood of having healthy pups. We advise all litters not meeting this requirement to be reported to the club. 

If you have a health question, would like to report a health problem or send a test result into the club then please see the links below or contact Mary Starling, Health Coordinator, at

*If your dog is showing any sign of distress or discomfort or any unusual symptoms, then always go to your vet as soon as possible - there is no substitute for professional advice.*

21/02/2016 - FLCGB joins the Animal Health Trust's Genome Project. 

We would like to inform all of our members of a new project, we are delighted to be taking part in. The Finnish Lapphund Club of Great Britain has used monies from a legacy to join the Animal Health Trust Genome Project. We have sent £1000 to become a part of this exciting new investigation . By funding this and being one of the first ten breeds to join we will have matched funding from the Kennel Club only available to the first fifty breeds to participate. It is a step in the direction of discovering the genetic make up of our breed. Please visit AHT's website to find out more. Please watch this space for future announcements!

The mandatory health tests for the breed are; 

BVA/KC Hip Dysplasia Scheme. The breed average is 12, currently the Finnish Lapphund is not high risk for HD.

Annual Eye testing  Ideally carried out yearly, but always with 12 months of a mating taking place. This test can only be carried out by BVA appointed eye panelists 

We also strongly advise that breeders also carry out the following DNA tests.

The results process for these three tests places dogs into three categories, Clear, Carrier and Affected. Affected dogs are discarded from our breeding programs. We continue to use carriers, by mating them to only Clears and then testing the puppies. We can also use clear to clear, resulting in hereditary clear puppies.

DNA test - prcd-PRA

DNA test - GSDII

You can read a little more about these below.

Other tests.

We are also aware breeders are starting to carry out BVA/KC Elbow Dysplasia Scheme and Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) testing. At this time there are no plans at all to introduce these tests for the breed.

BVA/KC Elbow Dysplasia Scheme - Curently 11 dogs have been tested, and 100% have recieved a '0' grade. We consider these results to mean that as of this moment in time the breed has no concerns with Elbow Dysplasia. At this current time there is no reason to routinely test.

Degenerative Myelopathy (DM) We continue to work with Finland and follow their research on DM and await their results. At this current time there is no reason to DNA test.

Hip Dysplasia

Hip Dysplasia (HD) is a common inherited orthopaedic problem of dogs and a wide number of other mammals. Abnormal development of the structures that make up the hip joint leads to joint deformity. ‘Dysplasia’ means abnormal growth. The developmental changes appear first and later one or both hip joints may become mechanically defective. At this stage the joint(s) may be painful and cause lameness. In extreme cases the dog may find movement very difficult and may suffer considerably. (Source BVA) You can read more infomation on hip scoring here.

Hip scores should be considered along with other criteria as part of a responsible breeding programme, and it is recommended that breeders choose breeding stock with hip scores around and ideally below the breed median score, depending on the level of HD in the breed. HD status of parents, siblings and progeny for Kennel Club registered dogs should also be considered. As of 2018 the current average score in the breed is 12. HD is not a simple inherited condition, many factors over the dogs life can contribute such as rearing, trauma and exercise. 

Progressive Retinal Atrophy (prcd-PRA)

The genetic disorder, prcd-PRA , causes cells in the retina at the back of the eye to degenerate and die, even though the cells seem to  develop normally early in life. The “rod” cells operate in low light levels and are the first to lose normal function. Night blindness results. Then the “cone” cells gradually lose their normal function in full light situations. Most affected dogs will eventually be blind. Typically, the clinical disease is recognised first in early adolescence or early adulthood. Since age at onset of disease varies among breeds, you should read specific information for your dog. Diagnosis of retinal disease can be difficult. Conditions that seem to be prcd-PRA might instead be another disease and might not be inherited. It’s important to remember that not all retinal disease is PRA and not all PRA is the prcd form of PRA. Annual eye exams by a veterinary ophthalmologist will build a history of eye health that will help to diagnose disease.

Unfortunately, at this time there is no treatment or cure for PRA. There are clinics available for those who would like to test their dogs, please contact us for more information. 

Hereditary Cataracts (HC)

Hereditary Cataracts are a clouding of the lens of the eye caused by a breakdown of tissue in the eye. This condition generally results in an inability to see clearly and can cause total blindness. Dogs are subject to many forms of cataract, some of which are hereditary. Cataract appears as a whiteness or greyness of the lens, visible through the pupil, making it look cloudy. We have seen occasional instances of Cararacts in the breed, it tends to occur after the dog is one year of age.

Work is currently under way to identify the gene(s) responsible for cataracts in our breed. We will let you know once we know more.

Pompes Disease (GSDII)

Glycogen storage disease, also known as glycogenosis, is characterized by deficient or defective

activity of the enzymes responsible for metabolizing glycogen in the body. It is a rare inherited

disorder with various types, all of which lead to the accumulation of glycogen, the main

carbohydrate storage material in the body which aids short term energy storage in cells by

converting to glucose as the body needs it for metabolic requirements. This abnormal

accumulation in the tissues can result in the enlargement and dysfunction of various organs,

including the liver, heart, and kidneys.

Pompe’s Disease has been reported in three litters in Finland, GSDII is caused by an enzyme

deficiency that leads to abnormal glucose levels in tissues such as cardiac (heart), skeletal and

smooth muscle.

There are four types of glycogenoses known to affect dogs, with certain species being more

susceptible to some of these than others. We are concerned with Type II, usually found in

Lapland dogs, is characterized by vomiting, progressive muscle weakness, and cardiac abnormalities.

Death usually occurs before two years of age.

Finland keep a detailed list of all dogs tested worldwide. There are clinics available for those who

would like to test their dogs, please contact us for more information. Please click here to view the Finnish list.

Ivermectin Sensitivity

MDR1 is an inherited condition that makes affected dogs particularly sensitive to drugs like ivermectin (anti-parasitic) and loperamide (opioid to treat diarrhoea). In normal dogs, the blood/brain barrier protects the brain cells from various drugs and toxins. P-glycoprotein is a protein which physically pumps drugs and toxins from the cerebrospinal fluid (a serum-like fluid that circulates through the brain ventricles and spinal cord cavity) back into the blood circulation. The MDR-1 mutation results in an inactive P-glycoprotein which mean that drugs and toxins can accumulate in the cerebrospinal fluid and begin to inhibit brain activity.

Some breeds mainly collies are known to display a sensitivity to Ivermectin and it has been known that a similar reaction is seen in a very small number of Finnish Lapphunds. Many breeders will provide you with a factsheet about this and a note for your vet, it is possible to avoid this family of wormers altogether. You can find out more information on this here.