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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 inheritance.

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 It is recommended that dogs that are homozygous for the lagotto epilepsy mutation are withdrawn from breeding programs.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 for carriers.

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 mutations soon.

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 get born.

Lyosomal Storage disease (LSD) and Cerebellar Ataxia (CA)

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 high.

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

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.

Eye Cataract

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 basis.
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