Health Report 2015

Two important events for the breed did take place 2014: the unveiling of the Skye Terrier statue on the Isle of Skye and the Skye Terrier Seminar, hosted by the Finnish Skye Terrier Club last August in Helsinki. The latter was a full day of presentations on various health issues concerning our breed and will be dealt with further down in the text.


The number of DNA samples is steadily increasing and new cases and valuable case histories have again been added. The Animal Health Trust (AHT) confirms that the sample contribution stands at 441 samples (including 12 re-samples) with 40 reported as having some kind of clinical issue.

7 cases of Renal Dysplasia (RD)
7 Skye Terrier Hepatitis (STH)
3 Haemangiosarcoma
2 Epilepsy
2 Kinked tail
2 Lymphoma
2 Premature elbow closure
2 Skye limp
1 Craniomandibular osteopathy (CMO)
1 Congestive Heart failure
1 Ectopic ureter
1 Heart murmur
1 Luxating patella
1 Malignant oral melanoma
1 Mammary cancer
1 Mandibular osteosarcoma
1 Pancreatic disease
1 Parathyroid adenoma
1 Perineal hernia
1 Thyroid carcinoma
1 Tumour on sciatic nerve

Thank you to the owners, who have submitted new DNA samples or reported significant change in health status for dogs with DNA held in store! Sad deaths have also been reported with the oldest dog being 15 years 8 months.

Notes from the Skye Terrier Seminar, hosted by the Finnish Skye Terrier Club.

This very well organised health event was held at the Rantasipi Airport Congress Center and was attended by a large number of delegates from all over the world, which is clearly a sign that the future wellbeing of our breed is taken seriously. The three speakers were Dr Kirsi Sainio, Dr Anu Lappalainen DVM, PhD, Finnish Specialist in Small Animal Diseases and me, Maud Hawkes BSc(Hons)Animal Science. Hanna Granlund opened the Seminar and then Dr Kirsi Sainio started the presentations. She established that the overall health situation is quite good, but that more information is still needed. Existing problems are: Bone structure, especially the fronts, puppy limping/premature closure, patella; Skye Terrier Hepatitis; Skye Terrier Renal Dysplasia; Cancer; Ivermectin (drug sensitivity?); Allergies/atopy; Structural anomalies in urogenital system; Temperament; others? Kirsi then gave a detailed update on Skye Terrier Renal Dysplasia. She confirmed that this is a hereditary disease with autosomal recessive trait that resembles juvenile renal dysplasia, as seen in Soft Coated Wheatens, but differs from this with a typically later onset and progression. Ultrasound examination, looking for abnormal size and structure of the kidneys, with diagnosis supported by clinical tests (blood & urine) only way to detect the disease at the moment. Ultrasound check should be done at the age of 1 or older. Samples (DNA swabs) collected by AHT and we need more samples of diseased dogs + their parents. Kirsi followed this presentation with an in depth talk on Haemangiosarcoma, a bad form of cancer affecting certain breeds more often than others and the Skye Terrier being one of them. Common primary sites are the spleen, the right atrium of the heart, and the subcutis.There is no readily available, effective test or miracle cure for the disease. Mapping of risk alleles is being done in Portuguese Water Dogs, Golden Retrievers and German Shepherds. Kirsi concluded her talk with the question: Should we try to join these studies? The next speaker was Dr Anu Lappalainen. She gave a talk, entitled ‘Dysplasia of front limbs in Skye Terriers’, divided into two parts, one before and one after lunch. It was richly illustrated with radiographs and first described the anatomy and development of the front limb in both noncondrodystrophic and chondrodystrophic breeds. Incongruity (“don’t fit together”) due to too short ulna, too short radius or too big humeral condyle and premature closure in achondroplastic breeds like ours was explained. The Finnish “Skye elbow project” was then introduced. A suitable screening protocol has been developed and, using this, 46 Skyes were radiographed 2010. The radiographs were then analysed and graded into 4 grades: INC0=normal; INC1=mild; INC2=moderate; INC3= severe. The Conclusions were that moderate to severe incongruity is common (50%); Puppy lameness is common (30%); incongruity and lameness are associated; radiographic screening protocol is suggested, as is breeding dogs with INC grades 2 (and 3 ?) with dogs with INC 0 and INC 1. It is hoped that this will gradually lead to better fronts. I did then introduce, and explain the purpose of, the Skye Terrier DNA Bank, to this wider audience. No need to go into details here to the UK readers, I presume. I also presented the last talk on the day, entitled Skye Terrier Hepatitis Not Copper Toxicosis. The title came about due to many sites still listing Copper Toxicosis as a Skye Terrier condition, despite the research undertaken by Dr Susan Haywood in the 1980’s disproving this. This is of importance since treatment for the two conditions differs greatly. My pedigree analysis seems to indicate an autosomal recessive mode of inheritance. Case histories were introduced, as was the present, ongoing research undertaken by Dr Penny Watson and her team at University of Cambridge UK.

Many Thanks for continued support and donations to the Skye Terrier Health Research Fund!

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