Health Report 2018


April 2018



The collection at the Animal Health Trust (AHT) is growing steadily with 69 new samples added, bringing it to 638, including re-samples.

13 Skye Terrier Hepatitis (STH)/hepatic failure/acute onset ascites

9 Renal dysplasia (RD)

4 each for: Elbow dysplasia/Premature elbow closure, Haemangiosarcoma, Kinked tail

3 Skye limp

2 each for: Congenital ventricle septum defect, Epilepsy, Lymphoma, Mammary cancer, Pyometra

1 each for: Bladder tumour, Brain tumour, Congestive heart failure, Craniomandibular osteopathy (CMO), Ectopic ureter, Heart disease (details unknown), Heart murmur, Luxating patella, Malignant oral melanoma, Mandibular osteosarcoma, Pancreatic disease, Parathyroid adenoma, Perineal hernia, Squamous cell carcinoma, Spinal tumour, Thyroid carcinoma, Torsion, Tumour on the sciatic nerve

Many Thanks to all owners and breeders, here and abroad, who have either submitted new DNA samples or reported changes in health status for dogs with samplesalready in the collection! Your cooperation is so very important to the future health of our wonderful breed.    



One more dog has sadly died from this dreadful disease, this time in Finland. The conscientious owner did forward liver samples to Dr Penny Watson at Cambridge University and the case was confirmed. We have now also, with the owners’ much valued cooperation, managed to add DNA samples from a close family group of the diseased dog, to be included in the ongoing research.

The following update was received at the end of March from the AHT:

Skye Hepatitis Research update

With funding from the breed we (the Kennel Club Genetics Centre at the Animal Health Trust, in collaboration with Dr Penny Watson at Cambridge University) have already sequenced the whole genomes (WGS) of 2 affected dogs, resulting in a large number of variants to follow up. We investigated some of the most promising variants and unfortunately eliminated them. We are left with a very long list (1000s) of possible variants, but no way of systematically and economically investigating them further.

Our next step is to try and find some way of slimming the list of possible variants down to a manageable number. We aim to undertake a whole genome association study (GWAS), where we will compare DNA markers across the genome in a group of hepatitis cases and controls, looking for differences between the cases and controls. The hope is that we will be able to identify a specific region of the genome that looks the same in all of the cases, but not in the controls; it is likely that the disease-causing mutation will be inside this region, so we can then go back to the WGS data and focus on variants within this region.

The breed have already donated significant funding towards the WGS and GWAS. However, this will not be enough to complete the GWAS and subsequent work that will be required. As the breed have already been incredibly generous, it is only fair that we at least attempt to find the funding elsewhere. We have therefore applied for external funding to complete all the additional work we need to do.

This does not mean that the work has come to a grinding haltwhile we wait to hear about funding. Within the next few weeks I will be attempting to identify the best possible controls to use for the GWAS, probably unaffected dogs closely related to cases, and when I have the best possible selection of cases and controls, DNA from these dogs will be used for the GWAS.

It would of course be excellent, if the application for a research grant was successful, but we are fully prepared to continue donating towards the project. It has so far been funded by the Skye Terrier Club Health Research Fund well in excess of £8000. This has been made possible through all the generous donations to the Fund by owners, plus regular fund raising activities at Club events. Sincere Thanks!


The Finnish ‘Skye Elbow project’

This research is undertaken by Dr Anu Lappalainen at Helsinki University. Elbow x-rays are taken, then examined and graded for degree of incongruency from 0 to 3 with 0 being the best. The scores are then combined from both elbows, so dogs may be given, for example, 0/0, 0/1 or 1/2 and so on as measure of degree of incongruency. The elbow results are now public (those that owners gave permission to publish) and can be viewed at – the link is at top of page.


The Global Skye Terrier Cancer Survey

This online survey is in collaboration with STC of UK, STC of America and STC of Finland and was launched early in 2016. It was mentioned in the 2015 Health Report and paper copies of the questionnaire were also available at some Club events. The results so far were compiled 25.2.2018. The list of replies is quite lengthy, so only the Introduction will be included here:

“The owners of 60 Skye Terriers participated in the survey. The majority of dogs were spayed or neutered at over 12 months of age. The Cancer was diagnosed at the average age of 9 years and 4 months. The average time of death was 10 years 4 months of age (9dogs were alive at the time of answering the survey). The most common type of cancer was hemangiosarcoma (22 cases). There were 21 cases in the category “Other”, including liver cancer, kidney cancer and spleen cancer (3 of each). The most common method of diagnosis was ultrasound scan and the most common treatment method was surgery. In 25 cases no treatment was given, due to either poor prognosis and/or old age. In 39 cases the treatment was not successful. Only 12 Skyes had DNA samples sent to AHT.”

The Survey is ongoing and information does not have to be on recent cases. The earliest Date of Birth was as far back as 1971, with 2010 for the most recent one. Link to do the online survey can be found on both the Finnish and UK Clubs websites. Paper copies can also be sent on request.


We are the privileged custodians of a truly wonderful and unique, ancient breed. It is sadly also a seriously endangered one, so concerted efforts from us all are needed to secure its future survival. Something to bear in mind…

Maud Hawkes BSc(Hons)Animal Science; Tel:01623 812856

(internet connection can be rather troubled here, so please ‘phone in case of urgency)