Health Report 2009

The year 2008 was interesting, not only for the Skye Terrier breed but for all breeds of pure bred dogs.  The unforgettable negative propaganda conducted in the media resulted in huge concerns for the future of all our beloved breeds.  The questionnaire issued at the beginning of December by the Kennel Club for their new Breed Health Plans caused frantic activity to enable return of the questionnaire by the deadline of the 30th of December.   The Skye Terrier Club was one step ahead in fulfilling the new requirements since we already had a Health Committee in place and I was nominated as the Health Co-ordinator.  The Skye Terrier was, like all other breeds, attributed with a list of conditions found in published scientific literature.  These then had to be commented on, omissions noted and final conditions listed in order of perceived importance.  The Skye Terrier is of course a generally healthy breed, but disease does nevertheless occur.

There seems to be a quite common belief that a great number of cases have to exist for a condition to give cause for concern.  It is, however, much more complex than a strictly numerical issue.  An incidence of even relatively few cases, at certain frequency, of any hereditary condition causing severe symptoms and reducing life expectancy cannot be ignored especially in a numerically small breed. The way forward in caring for the future wellbeing of our precious breed is based on the ability to openly face and declare any matter of concern.  Active health monitoring is necessary to prevent the possibility of a somewhat minor problem maybe turning into a major one.  The only way to find out about the actual health status of a breed is through real-time recording, including records of age at and cause of death.  Such recording is actually now also a KC requirement and I must again, as in earlier Health Reports, stress how important it is that all cases of significant illness can be logged.  Vigilance is important, so please keep me informed.  Received information is treated in strictest confidence.

One death from coronary failure in elderly dog and two cases of Epilepsy have been reported during 2008.  The cases of Epilepsy, both in relatively young dogs, are obviously most distressing and hard for both the dogs and their owners to cope with.  I sincerely hope that both patients will improve with time and treatment.

A cheque for £50 has been sent to the Animal Health Trust (AHT) re swab donations.  No new cases of Renal Dysplasia (RD) have been reported.  This is of course good news but must not be taken as proof that the condition has gone away.  Hereditary conditions do unfortunately not vanish from the gene pool ‘just like that’.  It has, for example, been argued that the Hepatitis has completely disappeared now but scientific evidence sadly disproves that.  It is therefore disappointing to find that only 12 of the 27 registered puppies have contributed their DNA to the collection at the AHT.  This is not disappointing from a RD point of view, but generally.  The ideal is that DNA from the whole population eventually will be in storage and thereby available for any research if or when the need occurs.  It would be so much quicker and more feasible to tackle any problem that could be solved by a simple DNA test if we had the genetic material readily available.  We have already got a good start with a total of 84 samples stored so please keep submitting samples!

Fund raising and donations have yet again added money to the Health Fund and it has now grown to the quite impressive sum of £1051.  Many thanks to all who have given their generous contributions!


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!