Hereditary conditions potentially affecting Finnish Lapphunds:
Canine Hip Dysplasia
Canine Hip Dysplasia (CHD) is where there is a loose fit of the femoral head or ball of the thigh bone with the hip socket. It can occur in most breeds of dogs, as well as mixed breeds. This can cause excessive wear within the hip joint that, over time, can result in degenerative joint disease (or arthritis), resulting in increased pain and immobility for the dog. One of the causes of CHD is
through genetic inheritance.
As such, both the sire and dam should have their hips X-rayed and assessed by an Australian Veterinary Association approved specialist. Both the hips and elbows are usually X-rayed and assessed, (though Finnish Lapphunds are not generally prone to Elbow Dysplasia). The specialist will give each hip a rating which, when added together, gives the total hip score of a dog.
Generally a lower score indicates a better fit of the hip joint. The table below gives a comparison of hip scoring ratings from
Australia (and the UK), Europe and North America.
Australia/UK Europe USA/Canada
0-4 A1 Normal (Excellent)
5-10 A2 Normal (Good)
11-18 B1 Normal (Fair)
19-25 B2 Borderline
26-35 C Dysplastic (Mild)
36-50 D Dysplastic (Moderate)
51-106 E Dysplastic (Severe)
Source: Mark Flückiger (2007) Scoring radiographs for canine Hip Dysplasia -The big three organisations in the world. European
Journal of Companion Animal Practice (17/2), pp 135-140
Careful consideration needs to be given when breeding dogs with higher hip scores. If for a particular reason it is decided to breed a dog with a higher hip score (in the middle range), the other dog of the breeding pair should have a low hip score (A1 or A2 in the European rating system). Dogs which have Grade D and E hips should not be bred from.
Hereditary Cataracts & Other Degenerative Eye Conditions
While prcd-PRA is the main concern in Finnish Lapphunds, there are a few other eye diseases that, while rare, can and do occur. Both the sire and dam of the litter should be opthamologically tested by a vet qualified under the Australian Canine Eye Scheme (ACES) within the last 24 months prior to breeding.
Progressive Cone Rod Degeneration (prcd-PRA)
PRA (Progressive Retinal Atrophy) is an inherited disease that causes blindness in dogs. There are a few different types of PRA, which is essentially a progressive hereditary eye disease that affects a number of breeds (most commonly Labradors, Poodles, Cocker Spaniels and Australian Cattle Dogs).
Most other breeds have been reported to have PRA and it’s important to understand
that cross bred dogs can also be affected with PRA. Cats are also prone to PRA, and is seen most commonly seen in Siamese and Abyssinians.
In Lappies, the most common version of PRA is Progressive Cone Rod Degeneration-PRA. This type of PRA is a hereditary condition where the retinal tissue of the eye gradually dies over time, causing gradual blindness in the dog. The eyesight of affected dogs starts to deteriorate around the age of five, although the age of onset can vary from one to eight years of age. This type of PRA is often first noticed as a loss of night vision, with actual loss of sight then occurring over a relatively short period of time, usually culminating in total blindness.
It is the only hereditary eye disease that can be genetically tested for in Finnish Lapphunds. Dogs are either classed as Clear (not carrying the gene), a Carrier (carrying the gene but not actually affected) or Affected. In Australia there are currently no known Affected Finnish Lapphunds. If a dog is classed as Clear, there are no restrictions on breeding in regards to PRA-prcd as there is
no chance that Carrier or Affected progeny will be produced. If a dog is classed as a Carrier, the dog should be bred to a dog classed as Clear as any other pairing produces a risk that an Affected pup could be produced.
Article thanks to Steve Horton Health officer of the Finish Lapphund Club of Victoria