Health Report 2008

The DNA collection has been gathering strength and is progressing very well since the last report.  There are now samples from 73 dogs in storage at the Animal Health Trust (AHT).  Most breeders have co-operated by submitting swabs from the puppies they have reared during the last twelve months.  Many thanks to all the contributors and please keep up the good work.

Another cheque for £100 re swab-donations was therefore sent by me to the AHT last autumn. And, by the way, always get proof of postage and try and inform me immediately when you have posted off samples so I can check that they have arrived safely at AHT. Some samples appear to have been lost in transit but it didn’t come to light before it was far too late to approach the Royal Mail about it. Please don’t forget that it is also extremely important to inform me and the AHT if any significant health changes occur to any of the puppies in their future life.
 All data and received information is treated in strictest confidence as per the general rule in dealing with such information.

No cases of Renal Dysplasia have been reported to me, which presumably means that there are still no samples from affected dogs. The whole idea with the DNA work is to find a usable test so that the birth of genetically predisposed dogs can be avoided already at the time of mating.  It has to be understood that it is not a specific culprit/dog to blame that one is looking for but a disease causing gene mutation which exists in the gene pool of the breed.  I was myself made aware of the condition already in a puppy born in the 1970s and other cases have been brought to my attention over the following decades.  Those who attended the breed Seminar on the Isle of Skye may recall that both Kirsi Sainonen and I agreed that we are dealing with a gene mutation that seems to be distributed within the breed at a fairly low, but significant, level.

I did, in the last Health Report, stress that the function of having the Health Committee is not just about the kidney disease but also about dealing with the whole health situation in the breed. I have had one single case reported during the year.  I did receive the full case history, veterinary report and pedigree of a nine year old Skye, who sadly (and so prematurely) died from Haemangiosarcoma.  This is an especially nasty form of cancer which typically affects the spleen and I have myself been unfortunate to have two of my Skyes die from it in the past. My two were certainly not closely related and there was, thankfully, a very long time between those extremely sad losses.

The Skye Terrier is overall a fairly healthy and robust breed, so please let it remain that way by openly addressing and dealing with any problems that occur. Our breed is so unlike any other breed I know of and it is certainly for me the ‘Heavenly Breed’.  But it is unfortunately also a breed with a very small global population and a seriously depleted gene-pool. Any health problem that is not kept under control can have very serious consequences.  We must all work together in a proactive, non-selfish way if we want this breed to be around to give the same delight to future generations as it has done to us. It is therefore very reassuring that so many people must feel very strongly about the health of our wonderful breed because fund raising and donations have contributed the impressive sum of £848.50 to the Health Fund since it was opened in July 2007.


Maud Hawkes BSc (Hons) Animal Science

Please do not hesitate to contact me via email:,

Tel: 01623 812856, if you want to discuss or report any health matters in confidentiality, or if you require swab kits!