The Lagotto Romagnolo is a healthy breed, that easily can become 14
- 16 years. There are only a few health problems reported in some
lines that are known to be inherited. There are tests available to make
sure that dogs used for breedig are healthy so the risk of producing
sick puppies can be minimized. But no matter how many health tests
we do and how carefully we select our breeding dogs, there always is
a small percentage of risk left, because dogs are living creatures and
mother nature sometimes has her own will...
Benign Familial Juvenile Epilepsy (JE)
Clinical studies indicated that the Lagotto Romagnolo can suffer from
inherited benign juvenile epilepsy, which resembles idiopathic
childhood epilepsy with benign outcomes in human.
Typical symptoms: tremor, loss of balance,
uncoordinated movements and occasional falling.
Clinical and diagnostic evaluations of affected dogs including
electromyography, electroencephalography, and other testing
indicated that seizures in puppies begin at 5 to 9 weeks of age and
usually resolve by 8 to 13 weeks. There are some adult-onset cases in
the breed too. Dogs with the most severe seizures also have other
neurologic signs such as generalized ataxia and hypermetria. Routine
laboratory screenings of blood, urine, and cerebrospinal fluid did not
reveal abnormalities. Electromyography, brainstem auditory-evoked
potentials, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) remain normal in
analyzed dogs. However, most affected puppies and adult cases
revealed epileptiform activity in the electroencephalogram (EEG).
Histopathologic examination shows cerebellar lesions in two studied
lagottos. Pedigree analysis suggests an autosomal recessive mode of
A laboratory in Finland has studied the genetics of the juvenile
epilepsy in Lagottos and has identified one of the causative genes and
now can perform a DNA test to verify if a dog is affected, even without
showing any clinical signs.
If a dog carries one copy of the mutation, it can transfer the gene
defect to approximately 50% of its offsprings. If the dog has two copies
of the mutation it transfers the defect to all of its offsprings. It is
recommended that dogs that are homozygous for the lagotto epilepsy
mutation are withdrawn from breeding programs. Normal and carrier
dogs can be used but it is advised to choose mutation-free partners
There still is a second (or maybe even third) mutation causing
Epilepsy in the breed with very similar symptoms that cannot be tested
yet, but the laboratory is researching and hoping to find these
All our breeding stock is tested for JE. All our JE carriers will be breed
only to mutation free partners to make sure that no sick puppies will
Lyosomal Storage disease (LSD) and Cerebellar Ataxia
Recently, a new neurodegenerative storage disorder was identified in
the Lagotto Romagnolo breed. The genetic background of the disease
has been studied as a collaboration between the University of Helsinki
and the University of Bern, Switzerland. A likely disease-causing
mutation has now been found. Altogether 1300 Lagottos have been
tested (using samples supplied for other purposes) as a part of the
research. Out of all the tested dogs, 11% were carriers of the recessive
mutation and 1% were affected.
The storage disorder is characterized by movement in-coordination,
which is seen as a staggering, uncoordinated gait. Some affected dogs
also suffered from involuntary eye movements (nystagmus) and
behavioral changes, such as aggression. The onset of symptoms has
varied from 4 months to 4 years. The condition is progressive and
affected dogs deteriorate to the point where they need to be
euthanized. On the pathological level, storage material accumulates to
the affected dogs’ cerebellar neurons and other cells, causing
dysfunction and cell death.
The results of our genetic study indicate that the storage disorder in
the Lagotto breed is inherited through a single gene, in an autosomal
recessive manner. In recessive disorders, affected dogs have to
inherit two copies of a disease-causing gene mutation. Those Lagotti
that have a NORMAL result have inherited two normal copies of the
disease gene; they do not pass the mutation down to their offspring.
CARRIER dogs have inherited one normal copy and one with the
mutation. Their risk of being affected is minimal but they pass the
mutation down to approximately half of their offspring. If a carrier dog
is used for breeding, it should be mated with a dog that has been
tested as normal. In carrier/carrier -matings, the resulting offspring
can be either affected, carrier or normal, whereas in carrier/normal
—matings, only carrier or normal dogs are born. AFFECTED dogs
have inherited the mutation from both parents, and so they have two
copies of the mutation. Their risk of developing the disease is very
In addition to the storage disorder, progressive cerebellar abiotrophy
(CA) has been reported to occur in the Lagotto Romagnolo breed. The
clinical signs and age of onset a similar between the different
disorders, and therefore it is not possible to make a diagnosis based
just on the dog’s symptoms. The genetic cause of the cerebellar
abiotrophy has not been identified yet but ongoing research is aiming
to shed light to this.
While cerebellar ataxia can be caused by tumors or brain infections,
it's most commonly passed down through families as a genetic illness.
In cases of hereditary cerebellar ataxia, some or all of the cells of the
cerebellum deteriorate. The cerebellum is a vital portion of your dog's
brain, responsible for coordinating movement. As the cerebellum
deteriorates, motor coordination decreases, and sometimes cognitive
impairment also occurs.
Cerebellar ataxia is a progressive canine disease that causes
symptoms to appear in a certain order. Initial symptoms typically
include clumsiness and slight swaying. As your dog's condition
worsens, he will fail to keep his balance and begin falling down
frequently. Your dog's head and eyes may begin to move rapidly and
at random. Your dog will have trouble walking and may lose weight.
Vets do not completely understand how cerebellar ataxia occurs or
how it progresses. In some dogs, symptoms appear slowly and cause
only mild disability for up to five years. In other dogs, symptoms
progress swiftly and cause rapid, serious impairment. Symptoms
usually appear in dogs older than two years of age.
All our breeding stock is tested for LSD. All our LSD carriers will be
breed only to mutation free partners to make sure that no sick puppies
will get born.
Unfortunately there is no test yet for the CA, but so far we haven't had
any cases in our breeding program or the lines we use.
Hip Dysplasia is a genetic disease of various degrees of arthritis (also
called degenerative joint disease, arthrosis, osteoarthrosis), it can lead
to pain and debilitation.
The very first step in the development of arthritis is articular cartilage
(the type of cartilage lining the joint) damage due to the inherited bad
biomechanics of an abnormally developed hip joint. Traumatic
articular fracture through the joint surface is another way cartilage is
damaged. With cartilage damage, lots of degradative enzymes are
released into the joint. These enzymes degrade and decrease the
synthesis of important constituent molecules that form hyaline
cartilage called proteoglycans. This causes the cartilage to lose its
thickness and elasticity, which are important in absorbing mechanical
loads placed across the joint during movement. Eventually, more
debris and enzymes spill into the joint fluid and destroy molecules
called glycosaminoglycan and hyaluronate which are important
precursors that form the cartilage proteoglycans. The joint's
lubrication and ability to block inflammatory cells are lost and the
debris-tainted joint fluid loses its ability to properly nourish the
cartilage through impairment of nutrient-waste exchange across the
joint cartilage cells. The damage then spreads to the synovial
membrane lining the joint capsule and more degradative enzymes and
inflammatory cells stream into the joint. Full thickness loss of cartilage
allows the synovial fluid to contact nerve endings in the subchondral
bone, resulting in pain. In an attempt to stabilize the joint to decrease
the pain, the animal's body produces new bone at the edges of the
joint surface, joint capsule, ligament and muscle attachments (bone
spurs). The joint capsule also eventually thickens and the joint's range
of motion decreases.
However it is very important to distinguish between radiographic hip
dysplasia (where the x-ray plates shown noticeable joint changes but
the dog shows no sign of the condition) and clinical hip dysplasia
(where the dog becomes stiff, lame and in obvious discomfort with
arthritis setting in at an early age.) Many dogs with radiographic hip
dysplasia will never show any signs of the disease even in old age.
Others with genetically better hips will develop the condition. The main
factor in the development of clinical hip dysplasia is environment not
genetic inheritance (which is generally thought to be about 30-35%).
Overweight and over exercise plus poor diet will vastly increase the
chances of a dog developing hip dysplasia particularly in big heavy
breeds with slow bone growth. Lagotti as a breed are not predisposed
to hip dysplasia. They are fast growing, sturdy but agile puppies with
lightish bone for their size. If reared correctly there is little chance of
them developing clinical hip dysplasia but dogs always should be
checked for HD before used in breeding.
All our breedings stock is tested for HD and has a
passing hip score.
Like a camera, eyes have a clear lens inside them that is used for
focusing. A cataract is any opacity within a lens. The opacity can be
very small (incipient cataract) and not interfere with vision. It can
involve more of the lens (immature cataract) and cause blurred vision.
Eventually, the entire lens can become cloudy, and all functional vision
lost. This is called a mature cataract.
Cataracts may be primary (where the condition is probably inherited)
or secondary e.g. the cataract occurs as a result of inflammation;
metabolic disease; congenital anomalies; trauma. Some cataracts may
be detected at an early age; others develop later, may occur in
different part of the lens and may progress at different rates.
All our breeding dogs are tested for genetic eye diseases on a regular
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